The A/N forum seems to be pretty left leaning place, and includes a lot of people that are to the left of the Democratic Party. Personally, I vote Democrat because it's better than the alternative. I used to be opposed to voting for the lesser of two evils, and even did some leg work for the Nader campaign in my neighborhood until I realized how futile it all was.

My question for you is this.

If you vote Democrat, why?
If you vote for a third party, why?
Is ideological purity more important than tangible political results?

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Your point should be not ideological purity so much as the practical concern that you can never build the Libertarian Party into electoral success if you flit from election to election. You voted for the Libertarian candidate for President, who just incidentally happened to be Bob Barr. That cimmitment is absolutely required for party building.
I always vote for the person that I feel will best represent "ME" in Government, often that means I end up voting for a party whom I might not agree with on some issues. However for the sake of honesty I don't agree with a lot of things in most major parties up here in Canada. I am also not sure that I am a liberal or a conservative as I like ideas from both sides and hate ideas from both sides as well. If anything I lean more left centre then right centre. I also guess because of this I am more a "tangible results person" then any idea of Ideology, the closest I get to a real ideology in terms of politics is the pirate party, and even then its probably more of a backlash against censorship/freedom of choice then anything else (I hate being told what to do and how to do it).

This is what I see when I vote every 1-4 years (this is what Canada seems to offer in way of choice).

NDP (New Democratic Party) how new can you be when you have been around for over 20 years
Nice social platforms but no real understanding of the day to day of real world economics I find.

Liberal Party
Pretty much the centrist party up here though they say they are lefties, but way to much cherry picking sides/ideologies during an election, I find they flip flop often even in the middle of an election run.

PC (Progressive Conservatives)
Fairly decent fiscal idea's, extremely poor execution and they would like to dismantle all the social safety nets (ie Health Care, Unemployment Insurance, ...)

Green Party
Environmental and fairly decent social/business understanding... no real chance at anything past 1 seat because of how our election processes works here.

Because of our parliamentary system here we don't vote directly for the leader of the party, rather we vote for the local representatives of the party and the party that walks away with the most seats in government takes control of government. What that really means is we end up with a lot of minority governments that are not really effective.

Honestly if the pirate party makes the ballot next election that's who I am voting form, provided of course I have a representative in my riding to vote for.

The sad part is here in Canada its often a tactic to specifically not vote or vote in a direction which somehow directly weakens another party. The last election everyone here was terrified that the PC's would get a real majority of seats in parliament, so a lot of people ended up voting not for the party they really wanted but for the party that had the best shot of taking away seats from the PC's. I don't vote this way and I always seem to be criticized for it by my peers.
Quite a few non-Americans out here....so let me represent some of them. I vote for the Communist Party though they never win at the centre. They win a few states though, including mine. A third alternative can never form to mainstream parties if we keep playing the "pragmatism" card. An alternative cannot form overnight. Yet it is needed so that our options/choices are not artificial ones. Do you truly believe there is a real difference between the Dems and Repubs? I don't. They're both capitalist and imperialist. In such situations, I just say one thing..."Vote with your conscience."
Your actually going the opposite direction than me. But I think I only noticed that you called me out on one of my conflicting political beliefs. Yes it is better than having a republican. But you have to keep in mind that who ever is elected will have to pay attention to their current swing voters which are just the democrats republicans, and the independents that would only vote for democrats and and republicans and maybe a few indys which whos politics are often a mix of dems and and repubs. Ron Paul I should point out while is great on certain issues don't realize how much of an asshole he is.
i usually don't vote. there isn't a party in this country whose ideas i fully support. i did however support Obama from the very beginning of his campaign for presidency and voted democrat for the second time in my life, possibly the last time i vote ever. i voted for Obama because i thought and still think that he's the only real person in politics. i wanted to see what he would do.
as to why i don't vote it's fairly simple. i was raised in an extremely bad neighborhood and on welfare. i knew very early on that for the impoverished it doesn't matter if you vote in a republican or a dem. the clinton years were the same in that ghetto as they were during the bush family years. why bother?
I agree with you that the policies of Democratic and Republican candidates are only superficially different. A socialist friend of mind calls them "the second most enthusiastic capitalist party". However if voting is pointless then what remains? How do you feel about how Obama has handled the past 65 days in office? Doesn't it seem like he's working for the corporate elite as opposed to against?
it's too early for me to have formed an opinion about Obama's presidency so far. we all know that it's going to take his entire term to get this country back into a stable position economically. i don't shit myself about this country being a democracy - it's a capitalist country calling itself a democracy. so of course the government will be working with the corporations! they possess everything - the labor, the land, the means. what is the government's really supposed to do? even better - what is it that the government really can do?
i said and say that voting is pointless for the impoverished here, it's still relevant for the middle and upper classes as new laws and tax breaks / levies affect their lives. although i no longer live in poverty and am now a member of the middle class i still shudder at the thought of anything so bourgeoisie as voting, the rachael ray anything, the gap, you get the drift.
Well, I'm not going to say I disagree with what you are saying, but I guess I try and take a more optomistic approach to politics.
Voting is pretty superficial. I do vote, but putting to much energy into methods set out by a given status quo is bound to hit the wall.

Obama has already been a non starter. The tax increase on the rich is pretty marginal, the wars continue with most of the pull outs being mostly superficial rather than actual. No discussion about living wages, and I don't see single payer health care being around the corner.

One thing that I noticed that doesn't seem to be discussed very much is why is it that the government is bailing out manufacturers that failed us, instead of financing workers to buy the factories. Workers are more concerned about what happens to them in 10 to 20 years while corporations are only interested in what happens to them in the next 2 years.
I am a registered Republican, but lean more towards libertarianism in my beliefs. In elections, I vote for the person who I feel is the best candidate, or at least the best of the candidates that have a reasonable chance of winning.

In the 2008 Presidential primary election, I voted for Ron Paul because I agree with his views on fiscal and foreign policy. I disagree with him on abortion (he is pro-life), but it isn't a major issue to me. While Paul is religious, abortion is the only issue in which I feel his religious beliefs dictate his policy views.

In the general election, I voted for Obama. While most of Obama's views are almost polar opposite of Paul's, I felt that he would do far better than McCain in regards to bringing diplomacy to our foreign policy and restoring respect of our nation around the world. I also appreciate his call for volunteerism and self-sacrifice. Plus, it is nice to have a President who speaks to the nation as adults and doesn't use fear as motivation to get what he wants.

In past elections, I've voted for Republicans, Democrats, and 3rd party candidates. In my opinion, while the platforms of Republicans and Democrats may be different, the results are typically the same. I don't know if the direction Obama wants to take the country will work, but I'm willing to give him a chance. What we've been doing hasn't worked, in my opinion, so I'm willing to try something else. I strongly disagree with the bailouts, but what is done is done.
I vote for the lesser evil realizing that the two-party system as it now exists paralyzes any substantive positive change. Obama will institute many improvements in secondary though matters, but he will preside over the self-destruction of American capitalism and doesn't seem prepared or inclined to fight corporate America.

As for the question of socialism, there are two groups on this site of relevance. One is "Socialist Atheists", which so far is mostly about the intersection of the two concerns. The other is "Karl Marx", which is mostly about the ideas of Marx and Marxists on religion, its history, and relation to society.
This is not as clear as it once was, but if you are not really truly wealthy, voting republican is not a good idea.
However the Dems had to get in bed with the business community, for the money,. . .

So if I was mostly in my past a Democrat, it was for advancement of civil rights, employee rights/protections, public education, consumer protection, environment all that. . . liberal stuff.

I did have to go third party during Dukakis/G.H.W.Bush, I never consider a vote wasted. I consider an uncast vote a crime.

Yes I am still a Democrat, yes, I would consider straying again . . .
Ideological purity is anti-democratic.

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