Third Party & Independents Archives

Torn Between Conscience and Fear

I’ve heard the phrase many times in the last few years. I even say it myself every now and then. I take one look at President Bush and his smug facade or catch a sound byte of his choppy rhetoric and I just fall right out of my chair. In that instant I spill my cola and nearly choke to death on an ice cube. Before I regain composure I have reached the same conclusion I’ve been coming to for some time. Come November give me anybody but Bush!

When composure is regained though I realize again how torn a person can be between voting with conscience and voting with fear. The “anybody but Bush” mentality more often than not means voting for John Kerry and the Democrats. Where do I draw the line though? Do I succumb to the idea that a vote for a third party is a wasted vote? Do I vote for the strongest candidate facing Bush even though a candidate like Kerry is a far cry from whom I want as the figurehead of the United States of America? The questions go on and on.

I have friends who are huge supporters of Kerry. I often ask them how they can support a man like Kerry just to defeat a man like Bush. I want these people to identify in John Kerry something that hasn’t already failed us with Bush. They can’t identify anything except ghosts of an “anybody but Bush” mentality. I feel no more confident in John Kerry’s flip flop voting than I do with Bush and the way every social issue important to me took a back seat to the universally stupid War on Terror. Sure, the Democrats talk progressive, but when in the last few years have they actually legislated progressive?

I was told once that I should vote for Kerry to get Bush out of office, even though I don’t agree with John Kerry’s policies. When 2005 comes around and Kerry is safely in office I can then continue with more progressive social movements. Yeah, that’s an idea, but what happens when 2008 come around and John Kerry, hated as much as Bush ever was, is running for re-election? Isn’t today the best time to start supporting more progressive political movements and not four years from now?

Maybe the system we vote in is too corrupt to even try to be progressive with? Should we vote for the lesser of two evils in each race, while all the time working to change the electoral system to support things like Instant Run-off Voting? This idea seems to center around changing the system first to allow for progressive politics. Once the chokehold by the Democrat and Republican parties is released we should feel free to vote for a candidate of our choosing? The flaw here is that these two main parties are pretty happy with the way things go in the elections. As of now there is only one opponent to the party in office. Why would either party create the means for having numerous opponents more viable than the current alternative parties?

A lot of people live in the so called “secured states” with the idea that the state is guaranteed to swing to Kerry or Bush no matter how most people vote. Progressive candidates like David Cobb are focusing on these states in order to insure people that they can vote progressive and not worry about electing Bush. To accept the idea of “secured states” I would have to first accept two main ideas. First of all I’d have to accept the idea that a massive grassroots organization by the Greens or Libertarians can still never get enough support to win that state. Second of all I’d have to accept the idea that even grassroots movements with Democrats or Republicans would not even be enough to knock the pigeons down from their stools and swing the state another way. Those are hard ideas for me to swallow. Another idea I’d have to accept is that voting for a weak progressive candidate only takes votes away from the Democrat. That’s a bit hard to swallow as well. I’m just a left-leaning hick from Arkansas though, and Arkansas is still “up for grabs” come November. That makes the situation here a bit different, doesn’t it?

In the end I’m just back to square one. I can’t stand Bush but where do I place my support? Do I put my support for the ever-growing third parties in America on hold just to vote for a candidate I don’t agree with? I’d rather have Kerry than Bush, but voting for Kerry means I vote for somebody my conscience tells me is wrong for America. Any way I look it’s hard not to feel torn between conscience and fear. The only thing that builds my confidence is knowing that I am not alone with these fears.

Posted by Adam Ducker at July 23, 2004 12:57 PM