|A Third Party Victory is Inevitable||Part 1: ...So Why
Part 2: I'm Outraged!
Part 3: How I Became a Green
Part 4: Comparing the Platforms
Part 5: An Open Letter to Al Gore
Part 6: Vote for Ralph! (Unless...)
...unless you live in Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, or Maine (or possibly California, Pennsylvania, Florida or Nevada).
Well, here we are, down at the actual wire, my last column before the election. A lot has happened since I first came out in support of Ralph Nader's campaign for president; but a lot has also failed to happen. Ralph's campaign hasn't entirely taken off, due in large part to his exclusion from the debates; without a voice there, he had a difficult time communicating his message to the drowsy American public. Even so, he's doing well enough in the polls to have the Democrats running scared and me hopeful he'll at least get that much needed 5% that will qualify the party for federal funding next time around, a vital step in the long term goal of building the Greens into a viable third party. Meanwhile, Al Gore has failed to energize the voters enough to defeat GW Bush without pulling votes away from Nader, thereby forcing many Nader supporters into voting for Gore out of fear of another Bush administration. By convincing us that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush, those who complain that Nader is a spoiler are themselves spoiling Ralph's chances of getting that crucial 5%.
It's not that I don't see their point; while I dislike both Bush and Gore, I do dislike Bush more than Gore. I cannot deny that Bush would be worse than Gore on many issues that I care deeply about. But the fact remains that on my number 1 issue, the failed drug war, both candidates have equally misguided and hypocritical policies, and I am personally unwilling to vote ever again for someone who just wants to build yet more prisons and arrest yet more drug users.
So I'm still gung-ho for Ralph, and I'll be pulling the Green lever on Tuesday. But then, I have the luxury of living in a state that is expected to go Democratic anyway. I'm sure some of my readers aren't so lucky, and if you happen to live in one of the so-called battleground states listed above, you should - and it pains me to say this - probably go ahead and vote for Al. I certainly respect that point of view.
If you're on the fence, you might want to wait until late in the day to cast your vote. Listen to the results of the exit polling and if it sounds like Gore needs your help in your state, vote for him. On the other hand, if he's already got it sewn up, or if it's clearly going the other way, vote for Ralph and help the Greens get that 5%.
As for the failed drug war, Bush and Gore may have managed to avoid confronting the issue during the campaign, but whoever wins will have to deal with the problem sooner or later, and one thing that will help is if all of the drug law reform initiatives on the ballot this year are successful. A couple of them are quite significant, particularly Proposition 5 in Alaska, which would totally legalize marijuana in that state, and Prop 36 in California, which would mandate treatment instead of prison time for those convicted of non-violent drug offenses. Also, voters in Colorado and Nevada will be deciding on medical marijuana initiatives, while those in Massachusetts and Utah will be voting on asset forfeiture reform measures. If you live in any of those places, I hope you'll support these proposals.
And if you live in the DC area, you might want to join us at the final Nader Super-Rally, being held on Sunday at the MCI center downtown. It promises to be an exciting event!
Anyway, the suspense is killing me. I'm glad it will all be over soon...