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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That's kind of been my political process as well. The Democratic Party is certainly not as progressive as I'd like it to be, but given that the Republican Party is the only viable alternative on the national level, letting them get elected isn't an option. There may not be as much difference between the parties as there should be, but what difference there is matters, especially to the vulnerable.

I'm pro-third-party, but that movement should work up from the grassroots. It's just not going to happen that we elect a Green (for instance) President out of the blue without laying a hell of a lot of groundwork at the local and state levels first. It just won't, so if your goal is to have a viable national third party, you need to lay that groundwork, and in the meantime you need to take seriously the question of which of the actually possible Presidential options is better (or less bad, whatever).

And of course, voting for someone doesn't mean you then let them off the hook for four years. I voted and worked for Obama as a Senator and as a President, but I also contact him and complain when I think he's done something wrong.
This is always an interesting question. I've heard a wide range of voting strategies from people, but for expediency's sake, we could categorize them into several tracks. The "wasted vote" track seems to inspire people in both directions, either voting third party or not voting third party. Many people vote with their conscience, which of course leads to various decisions.

I tend to vote with the interests of the people in mind. I think about which candidate would most help or least harm constituents which I think counts as tangible pragmatism. Of course, this is extremely subjective because what I think of as helpful is harmful in the eyes of others. I do vote Democrat most of the time, although for some local offices I've voted otherwise.
I would also love to see a viable third party. There have been several times that I'd like to have had another option. (John Kerry vs. 'W' for example.) But a vote for anyone other than the Democratic or Republican candidate is like not voting at all.

I vote Democrat because they more closely match my beliefs. I'm definitely more 'left' than the mainstream Democrats are in most ways but at least they don't generally give tons of government funding to religious organizations or outlaw my personal reproductive rights. Plus they are concerned about the environment which is important to me as the mother of a two-year-old.

But if anyone starts a third party that really takes off, I'm more than willing to listen to new ideas.

So I guess in my case tangible political results are more important. It does no good to vote for someone, even if I truly agree with him/her 100% if I know there's no way he/she will win. I'd rather throw support behind the lesser of the two evils to make sure the things that are REALLY important to me (reproductive rights, church/state separation, gay/lesbian rights, etc.) aren't destroyed by the GOP.
Amy 24 wrote on January 23 (A) vote for anyone other than the Democratic or Republican candidate is like not voting at all.

A vote for a Democrat or a Republican candidate is like voting to never have a choice in the future.
I absolutely agree with you. I know I'm part of the problem.

I'm sitting here trying to think of a way to justify my thought process and can't. All I can say is that I'd feel like I was 'giving' a vote to the Republicans since I'd be taking mine away from the Democrats. The Republican Party stands for the opposite of everything I believe in. Maybe my need for them to lose makes me keep voting Democrat, I'm not sure.

Whatever the reason I just can't seem to 'throw away' my vote on a third party even though I know my logic is flawed. I usually don't let feelings trump logic but I can't seem to get around it when it comes to politics. Maybe by the next election I won't be so hostile since Fmr. President Bush (sounds nice) won't be around to systematically destroy the U.S. anymore and I'll be more comfortable taking a stand.

Thanks for calling me out. :)
Exactly. If you want them so badly vote for them!
I agree!!! I voted Dem last time just to let the powers that be know i was one of the millions of poe'd off folk.
I really feel no matter which party you vote for, you will be screwed over anyway. It's my observation that nether party listens to us,the bailouts are definite proof of that.
I sometimes ask myself why I even bother to vote.
Even if I cast a vote for a third party my vote is merely symbolic due to the fact that they will not win. Then again, if I vote Democrat my one vote isn't all that important anyways.

I guess we don't really have a choice in the first place and I may as well vote according to my principles. Thank you A/N I'm voting for either Ralph Nader or Brian Moore next election (assuming they run).
At this stage of America's political development, the important work to be done is not in the voting booth. Don't sit on your thumbs. Get involved in a party now. Go to the meetings. Get out and join in the party-building activities. It will be educational, and you will realize that in 2012 you will not be "wasting your vote."
Voting alone is doing nothing. To me I am hardly excited about elections. I was relieved to see Bush go, and while there are plenty of good things to expect from Obama, it isn't exactly enough to tickle my prostate. Voting for either the two main parties or to an alternative ends up getting so diluted that we tend to have only a fuzzy idea of what we really are voting for.

It is important to know that people must not just use what the government provides us with but also use what the government doesn't like us to use as well.
Do you mean resistance at the point of production, street demonstrations, general strikes and that sort of thing? We're probably only at the stage of party building for now.
I agree with George on this one. I'm a college student, so I've had the freedom to engage in a few street demonstrations and other grassroots events. To be honest, they are usually ignored by most people and not a very effective way to convince the established powers of changing. However, they are a good way to build "popular power" and establish a communities confidence in it's self.

You know what I'm starting to have a lot more confidence in? Consumer Co-Ops. Political power is just a reflection of economic power and a decentralized market is more conducive to democratic movements.

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