I was prevented by hurricane preparations from participating in TAC‘s election symposium. For the record, however, I’d like to add my thoughts to the excellent contributions by staff and friends of the magazine.
The first consideration, as Peter Brimelow points out, is that our votes don’t matter much in many states. New York, where I live, will inevitably go for Obama.
On the one hand, this is liberating: I can vote however I like without feeling responsible for the outcome. On the other hand, it’s a bit dispiriting. In a democracy, one likes to feel that one’s voice counts. It’s not that I hope to be the deciding vote, which both statistics and common sense find to be very unlikely. But it would be nice to believe that the outcome in my jurisdiction isn’t predetermined.
Nevertheless, we have the Electoral College, and New York is now and perhaps forever solidly Democratic. So what to do?
I could cast a symbolic vote for Mitt Romney. But I find his lack of principle, glib salesmanship, and indulgence of the neoconservative imagination impossible to approve. His economic plan is non-existent. And his utterances on foreign policy range from oblivious to frightening. Strongly pro-life voters might have a reason to overlook these defects. I do not.
Or, I could join Noah Millman, Justin Raimondo, and Leon Hadar, among others, in voting for Obama. This was, in fact, my original plan. But I just can’t do it.
Many of my objections to Obama revolve around his responses to problems that he did not create: the Bush precedents on executive power; the mounting fiscal crisis; the capture of the economy by the finance industry; and the intellectual bankruptcy of his party. But the President is a rather colorless political operator rather than the visionary many of his supporters expected. He has demonstrated no ability, and perhaps not even the ambition, to escape these poisonous legacies.
If I lived in a swing state, my fear Romney will seek another war would outweigh these objections and lead me to vote reluctantly for Obama. I live in a blue state, however, and I’m free to be irresponsible. So I will vote for Gary Johnson, who is personally unimpressive but promotes a number of positions that I care about, including reducing our military commitments, restoring our civil liberties, and ending the disastrous drug war.
I suppose that it will be a protest vote, then. But isn’t it worth protesting the fact that we’re presented with two bad options in election after election?