Wasting My Vote?
Like many Nader supporters, I have been pestered, harassed and generally made to feel like a traitor by many of my friends in the progressive movement. "Kelly," they ask, "why are you purposely choosing to waste your vote?" "Isn't a vote for Nader a vote for Bush?" Or, when they're feeling particularly colorful, "I hate you. We are no longer friends." I've taken more than a little such abuse this year -- most of it, oddly enough, during the past few weeks, as Gore's campaign has experienced what one might call a "technical difficulty" (i.e., Al Gore.) While I appreciate the concern shown by my fellow liberals, I'd like to take a moment to remind them that I'm NOT voting for the enemy, I'm voting for the only candidate who truly represents our views.
Campaign finance reform: The highlight of Nader's platform is his commitment to campaign finance reform. The Democrats and Republicans have each offered a decent amount of prattle on the topic, but Nader is the only candidate who has proven his commitment to the concept by refusing to accept PAC or "soft money." (Despite this self-imposed handicap, he is well on his way to raising five million dollars -- no small feat given the fact that legally, individuals are only allowed to donate up to $1000 per candidate.) If we want the U.S. to truly be a democracy, and I think most of us do, it is imperative that we take big money out of politics. It is virtually impossible for the guy down the street to have much of a voice in a country whose leaders' livelihoods depend on huge contributions from corporations and unions.
The environment: The environment is my main area of interest, and Nader is by far the only candidate to represent my views. He has a comprehensive plan for combating global warming, something the other two candidates, even Al "environmentalist" Gore lack. (Bush, in fact, was rattling on the other night about the "scientific uncertainty" surrounding the issue of global warming -- apparently he hasn't heard of the UN appointed, 2000+ member, scientific, Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change whose recently released report suggests the effects from global warming will be even worse than previously predicted.) Nader is also the only candidate to advocate the U.S. withdrawing from the WTO in order to renegotiate crucial trade treaties and ensure that corporate interests do not drown public health and environmental concerns.
National health care: Currently, more than 42 million Americans have no health insurance. When you look at the issue from racial and class lines, the problem is even worse: 11 percent of whites lack health insurance, compared with 21 percent of African Americans and Asians and a shocking 33 percent of Hispanics. This translates directly into higher infant mortality and lower life expectancy for those groups. National health care is a plan that has been all but abandoned by Gore, whose goals for health care in the U.S. extend little beyond his proposal that Medicare cover prescription drugs.
A small part of me would like to see Gore beat Bush tomorrow. The greater part of my being, however, demands that I cast my vote for a man I respect and a movement I believe in. Ralph Nader is receiving my vote not because I'm pissed off at the Democrats and want to spoil their shot at the presidency, but because he has integrity, is straightforward and candid about his beliefs and has spent his life as an outspoken proponent of the causes I care deeply about. As far as I'm concerned, the only way my vote would be wasted is if I were to vote any other way.