I’ve made comments on a number of occasions that I’m not sure whether I’ll end up voting for McCain or Bob Barr. When I have, I have received DMs via Twitter, e-mails, and text messages with much the same comment, “If you vote for Barr, you’re just giving the election to Obama.” True enough. That is essentially the reason I’m still undecided. I’m not sure that I want to help tip that particular scale.
Making that argument to someone like me, however, is kind of a goofy thing to do. I’ve been involved in campaign politics for almost twenty years now. I’ve worked in politics at just about every level. If I’m looking at a third party, I fully understand the implications of that.
Further, I think anyone who watched the elections in 1992 and 2000 knows full well what that means. Even if I didn’t, however, it’s still a lame argument. It assumes you know more about what I want than I do.
When I decide to vote Libertarian (and that day will come soon, I suspect, though maybe not this year), It should send a signal that on my set of issues, I have determined the GOP has completely abdicated it’s support. Yet the best argument you can offer is I should vote for the guy that’s giving me nothing because it’s a better option than the other guy who will give me nothing.
The other rejoinder is, “you should vote GOP for no other reason than the possibility that liberals will retire from the Supreme Court.” Well, neither Republican nor Democratic appointees have done a lot for me lately. I have jokingly said, “the Constitution’s not perfect, but it’s better than what we’ve got now.” By that I implicate the Supreme Court as bit players in the larger partisan manipulation of society. Yesterday’s 5-4 decision on the rights of detainees is exemplary of that.
Look at the attempt to deny habeas corpus to the detainees held at Guantanamo and the GOP’s willingness to toss that out for at least one set of people. The Constitution seems pretty clear on trials:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Now, admittedly, I’m not a legal scholar, but I don’t see any reference in the the sixth amendment that carves out military tribunals, Guantanamo Bay, and enemy combatants. That almost half the court (the conservative appointees no less) would toss out long held Constitutional protections in an overtly partisan manner is discouraging. Add to that the willing treatment of these detainees as somehow less than human and you’ve got a court that makes me more nervous than thankful.
With that precedent set, what would stop another Congress from deciding that Republicans did not deserve such rights if we protest? Based on the anti-militia group fever that ran rampant in the mid 1990s, I could see a Democrat political machine rounding up the most activist Republicans and holding them without trial as enemy combatants because “they might belong to militias.”
That also argues that the five liberal members of the court were not exactly acting with pure motives, either. The fact that the majority’s decision read like it was written from DailyKos talking points was not lost on me. The Supreme Court has become as partisan as Congress and now makes decisions based on prevailing partisan views, not based on the Constitution.
Why would your best argument against my third party vote be, “We’ll give you even more reactionary judges willing to set dangerous precedents for partisan reasons?”
So here’s what I’m trying to say… Don’t talk to me as if I have no idea what a third party vote means, and don’t talk to me as if you come from a position of moral authority when warning me against it. If either of the political parties stood for something beyond winning in the next election, I’d vote based on that. Unfortunately, I see no evidence that’s true.