More on ‘Vanity of Perfectionism’

Exclusive: Americans are faced with a tough choice this fall: to stick with Barack Obama despite his faults, switch to Mitt Romney who is surrounded by neocons and trickle-down economists, or essentially boycott the process by voting for a third party or staying home. Some are angry because Robert Parry criticized Option Three.

By Robert Parry

My recent article, “The Vanity of Perfectionism,” has stirred up some anger, in part, because of my choice of the word “vanity” to describe some behavior that I have witnessed on the American Left in people who sit out presidential elections or cast ballots for third-party candidates who have no chance of winning.

So, let me explain what I was driving at. The central point of the article was that Americans, especially on the Left, need to get realistic about elections and stop using them as opportunities to express disappointment, anger or even personal morality. Through elections, Americans are the only ones who can select our national leaders, albeit in a limited fashion.

Ralph Nader, who ran as the Green Party's presidential candidate in 2000. (Photo credit: Don LaVange)

The rest of the world’s people have no say in who’s going to run the most powerful nation on earth. Only we can, at least to the extent permitted in the age of Citizens United. The main thing we can still do is stop the more dangerous major-party candidate from gaining control of the executive powers of the United States, including the commander-in-chief authority and the nuclear codes, not small things.

So, when we treat elections as if they are our moment to express ourselves, rather than to mitigate the damage that a U.S. president might inflict on the world, we are behaving selfishly, in my view. That’s why I used the word “vanity.” U.S. elections should not be primarily about us.

U.S. elections should really be about others those people who are likely to feel the brunt of American power Iraqis and Iranians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans, Vietnamese and Cambodians, Palestinians and Syrians, etc., etc. Elections also should be about future generations and the environment.

Whether we like it or not, the choice this year looks to be between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. People were free to run in the primaries to challenge these guys and, indeed, Romney faced a fairly large field of Republicans whom he defeated. Progressives could have challenged Obama but basically chose not to.

I believe it is now the duty of American voters to assess these two candidates and decide which one is likely to inflict less harm on the planet and its people. One of them might even do some good. We can hope.

If you do your research and decide that Romney is that guy, then vote for him. If it’s Obama, vote for him. (Before you make your decision, I would recommend that you read Romney’s book, No Apology, a full-throated neocon manifesto, which he claims that he wrote himself.)

In my view, everything else that Americans do — throwing away their votes on third parties or sitting out the election are acts of vanity. Maybe it’s moralistic vanity or intellectual vanity or some other kind of vanity, but it is vanity. It has no realistic effect other than to make the person feel good.

I’ve known people who say they have always voted for Ralph Nader or some other third-party candidate. Thus, they say, they are not responsible for whatever the United States does to other countries. But that attitude, too, is vanity.

Instead of doing something practical to mitigate the harm that the U.S. does in the world by voting for the person who might be less likely to overuse the U.S. military or who might restrain the emission of greenhouse gases these folks sit on the sidelines basking in their perfection. They won’t make a call.

The hard decision is to support the imperfect candidate who has a real chance to win and who surely will do some rotten things but likely fewer rotten things than the other guy and might even make some improvements.

I know that doesn’t “feel” as satisfying. One has to enter a morally ambiguous world. But that it is the world where many innocent people can be saved from horrible deaths (though not all) and where possibly actions can be taken to ensure that future generations are left a planet that is still habitable or at least with the worst effects of global warming avoided.

Has That Technique Ever Worked?

Though the choice of the word “vanity” may have been the most controversial part of my article, the bulk of it addressed another issue. Has the Left’s recurring practice of rejecting flawed Democratic candidates actually done any good? Was it preferable for Richard Nixon to defeat Hubert Humphrey; Ronald Reagan to beat Jimmy Carter; and George W. Bush to elbow past Al Gore to the White House?

If the Left’s tendency to punish these imperfect Democrats for their transgressions had led to some positive result, then the argument could be made that more than vanity was involved here, that the effect of causing some Democrats to lose was to make later Democrats more progressive and thus more favorable to the Left. Or maybe that the Left is on its way to building a viable third party that can win nationally.

But any examination of those three case studies Elections 1968, 1980 and 2000 would lead to a conclusion that whatever practical goals that some on the Left had in mind were not advanced by the Democratic defeat. The Democrats did not become more progressive, rather they shifted more to the center.

All three Republican presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush-43 extended or started wars that their Democratic rivals might have ended or avoided. Those elections plus congressional outcomes in 1980, 1994 and 2010 also bolstered the Right and helped consolidate anti-progressive attitudes on domestic and foreign policies.

More than four decades after 1968 and a dozen years after 2000, there is still no left-wing third party that can do more than play the role of spoiler.

Yet, if there has been no positive practical result from these electoral tactics in the past and there is no reasonable expectation for the future then what’s the point of repeating them? There’s the old saying that one definition of madness is to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

Nor, by the way, is there a popular movement that can significantly alter government policies strictly through civil disobedience or via protests in the streets with all due respect to Occupy Wall Street. So, what’s up here?

The only explanation that I can come up with for throwing away a vote on a third-party candidate or not voting for “the lesser evil” is that such a choice represents a personal expression of  anger or disappointment. And I don’t mean to disparage anyone’s right to feel those emotions. Given the recent history, it’s hard not to.

But when some lives can be saved, when some wars can be averted and when the planet can possibly be spared from ecological destruction the true moral imperative, in my view, is to engage in the imperfect process of voting for the major-party candidate who seems more likely than the other one to do those things.

To ignore that imperative, I’m sorry to say, is an act of vanity.

To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

77 comments for “More on ‘Vanity of Perfectionism’

  1. elkern
    August 9, 2012 at 19:14

    As a long-time Green living in a reliably Blue State, I can safely vote for Dr. Jill Stein this year. If I still lived in PA – assuming it’s still a “swing state” in November – I’d gladly vote for Obama over RMoney.

    The Electoral college is a screwy system, but it’s relatively benign (has positive side-effects, at least) compared to the plurality-rules elections we’re stuck with (for now).

    My vote for Nader in 2000 provably did NOT hurt Gore (who really won the election but lost the legal fight), because he won my state handily. Nader got 5% of the vote in my state (RI, then) which gave the Green Party guaranteed ballot status for the next four years. This allowed me to run for local office twice as a real candidate, not just a write-in. I used the campaigns to advocate for clean water, bike paths, Instant Runoff Voting (look it up), and other positive progressive options.

    That’s my favorite reason for voting Green in Quixotic top-of-the-ticket races.

  2. Max J. Skidmore
    August 9, 2012 at 08:49

    Parry is precisely correct, regardless of whether it is vanity, self-indulgence, ignorance, or simple foolishness. No one can doubt that the winner of the election will be either Obama or a Republican, presumably Romney. That said, unless one believes that the Republican will be no worse, it is irrational to complain about voting for the “least worst,” and not recognize that votes have consequences. Whenever you hear, “let’s send a message,” be wary; remember that Ralph Nader’s vanity in Florida gave us the presidency of Bush II. Those who whine that “if Gore even carried his own state of Tennessee, he would have won,” are begging the question. That is irrelevant. If, as Michael Moore conceded, “Ralph had stayed out of Florida” as he should have, we would have been spared the worst presidency since that of the raging racist, Andrew Johnson.

  3. August 6, 2012 at 10:16

    “The only explanation that I can come up with for throwing away a vote on a third-party candidate or not voting for ‘the lesser evil’ is that such a choice represents a personal expression of anger or disappointment.”

    Then you have overlooked the case where both major party candidates are equally repulsive to within a small margin of uncertainty. One must also allow for the fact that candidate’s policies often mutate once in office and the winner of the election will take his base for granted and try to gain support from opponents. The lack of predictability devalues the “least evil” vote relative to the value of the protest vote.

    As of today, I intend to vote for Gary Johnson as I believe encouraging him and the Libertarian Party is the most productive use to which I can put my vote.

  4. bluepilgrim
    August 5, 2012 at 23:48

    Well, here’s where I am — about ready to chuck most of it and do other things, with occasionally trying to bring down both Republicans and Democrats, who are really about the same: both arroagnt, both imperialist, both ignorant, so forth.

    I saw a post on another web site referring to this piece as published on Alternet, and he was laughing at those who objected to it saying he was glad they were annoyed by the piece. Typical Democrat and liberal, and much the reaction from many others: insult people with crap and then laugh when they object.

    One thing I have already chucked, much of it centering around this issue, was managing and doing the tech upkeep for the mailing list of the local peace group. They were going out, as a group, and also calling themselves “occupy”, to campaign for Obama. It’s not a peace group any more, but a branch of the Democratic party. I resigned. I can’t be party to that.

    Turns out that Dems and liberals are as arrogant and treacherous as the Republicans and conservatives — typical American, I suppose — and I’ve had a craw full of it. Thems that knows knows, and thems that don’t, don’t want to, and refuse to listen. So I’ll keep up with things, from a few good sources (not this one), for my own curiosity, and mostly forget the rest, but I’m finished trying to talk to people, spread information, get people working together, or being involved. I’ve concluded it’s useless. Congratulations fascists — y ou win (for the moment, until the collapse).

    Maybe I’ll vote, maybe I won’t — depends on the weather, mostly, and how I’m feeling that day. But it’s no big deal and it won’t change anything.

    Maybe something will motivate me to get involved again, beyond doing what I can to support socialism, but probably not. I suspect this was the last straw in my getting burned out and it’s time for me to move on, and just wait and try to prepare for the coming collapse, and deal with my old age and my own problems. That’s where I am now.

  5. More 5th-grade civics
    August 5, 2012 at 15:50

    Here’s Parry digging in on the statist’s Big Lie, that electoral politics is the only form of civil society. That even if voting does not permit the free expression of the will of the electors, in breach of the legal requirement of the supreme law of the land (you really don’t know what I’m talking about, Do you?), you HAVE to vote or else the next corporate puppet might be worse than the war criminal you’ve got now.

    C’mon, just go out to eat with Parry at the Uncle Sam Diner, his treat, and have anything you want on the menu. You want the dee-licious shit sandwich with beet smears? Or the lip-smackin’ shit sandwich with little pieces of corn? It’s pree-fixx, that’s what you get! Because face it, the real franchise is the bundled seven-figure contribution, and poor lumpen chumps like you only get a fake ceremonial voting ritual. And you have to pretend that your futile choice is important, or else you’re vain.

  6. August 4, 2012 at 23:59

    Frankly, ideas are ideas, opinions are opinions, theories are theories and most are just words that have no significance except for the meaning we give them.

    What matters most is that we follow our truth not matter what other people think. We are are free to do whatever we feel is right. If voting for a third party person is our choice, then we must do so. Whether someone calls it vanity or not who cares. That is just his opinion and his opinion is no more than that.

    Isn’t it time we all move fully into taking responsibility for the mess we have collective let happen or help create instead of blaming others? The mess is because we have done little except to blame and complain.

    If you really want change you have to do something to help make that happen.

    My choice today is to vote for Rocky Anderson because he most represents the truth for me. I also am committed to do something every day to make a positive difference. I am creating a website to encourage daily action. Soon I will write about that on my blog.

    No more blame, action is what stirs the heart, energizes the mind and speaks truth.


  7. Barrett Revis
    August 4, 2012 at 22:08

    So, I’m supposed to vote for the guy who suspended habeas corpus because the other guy *might* do something worse? What?
    No, you are wrong. If we can’t vote for someone who represents our values, we should at least vote against a person who has betrayed them.
    The lesser of two evils is still evil, and to support evil is collusion.

    August 4, 2012 at 22:03

    “The only explanation that I can come up with for throwing away a vote on a third-party candidate or not voting for “the lesser evil” is that such a choice represents a personal expression of anger or disappointment. And I don’t mean to disparage anyone’s right to feel those emotions. Given the recent history, it’s hard not to.

    But – when some lives can be saved, when some wars can be averted and when the planet can possibly be spared from ecological destruction – the true moral imperative, in my view, is to engage in the imperfect process of voting for the major-party candidate who seems more likely than the other one to do those things.”

    With all due respect to Robert Parry for all the great investigative journalism he has done, he is ignoring the following FACTS: that Obama is murdering people without habeas corpus, including U.S. citizens, all over the world and claiming that he has the “right” to do this; that Obama is escalating the U.S. Empire into Africa and the South China Sea; that Obama is threatening Iran and imposing war-like sanctions on Iran in violation of the U.N Charter, the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles, therefore violating the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and the oath he took; that Obama wants to increase the militarist/security budget and expand the Empire of 1,100 bases in foreign countries; that Obama REFUSES to prosecute the Bush/Cheney war crimes, in violation of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the Nuremberg Principles, all in violation of his oath of office (he should be impeached, not re-elected); that Obama REFUSES to create jobs as FDR did, and stop coddling the Banksters who brought down the economy and prosecute them for their massive fraud, and help “underwater” mortgage homeowners. Obama is clearly a willing tool of the Military-Corporate-Media-Banking Complex and voting for him is voting for evil. Voting for either the Dimocrap Imperialist Murderer or the Repulsive Imperialist Would-be Murderer is voting for EVIL. More and more of us will NO LONGER vote for evil. If Parry cannot understand or accept this, too bad.

  9. Cory Hinman
    August 4, 2012 at 21:21

    LOL “This is probably the least important Presidential election since the 1950s. As an experienced political hand told me, the two candidates are speaking not to the voters, but to the big money. They hold the same views, pursue the same policies, and are backed by similar interests. Mitt Romney implemented Obamacare in Massachusetts, or Obama implemented Romneycare nationally. Both are pro-choice or anti-choice as political needs change, both tend to be hawkish on foreign policy, both favor tax cuts for businesses, and both believe deeply in a corrupt technocratic establishment.”

  10. fathead morgana
    August 4, 2012 at 20:17

    Robert Parry is far more admirable that I could ever be. But, on the “lesser of two evils” bit, he is wrong:

    Obama is the greater of two evils. No one has done more to advance the policies of Mittens and the like than Obama has.

    I am of the bizarre opinion that Pierre Laval was worse than Hitler.

    Bizarre isn’t necessarily wrong.

  11. Kevin Schmidt
    August 4, 2012 at 19:42

    Definition of madness:
    Continuing to vote out of fear for the lesser of two evil fascist political parties, while expecting different results.

  12. Michael Cerkowski
    August 4, 2012 at 19:16

    I find it amazing that so few people understand how the American electoral system works. There can be no one argument for or against voting for a third party candidate (or not voting for President at all) because whether or not your vote can be a deciding factor *depends on the state in which it is cast*. An argument can be made for voting for the lesser of two evils in states that are actually ‘in play’ – those in which one candidate or the other realistically can win, as opposed to ‘locked’ states in which the outcome is essentially guaranteed for one candidate or the other. Here in New York, if you vote for Obama while holding your nose, you are in fact “wasting your vote” because NY is “locked” for Obama. It would be foolish to do anything other than vote your conscience here.

    Someone will now invoke Reagan, who won New York. My response to that is twofold: states are not “locked” in every Presidential election, but when “Blue” states are in play the Democrat is going to lose. Why? Because the so-called “swing states” will reliably vote Republican when the Blue states are up for grabs, guaranteeing that the Republican will win. In this case you would *still* be wasting your vote voting for a Democrat you oppose, because the mere fact that your vote is needed to carry your Blue state means that the election is lost for the Democrat anyway.

    I’m going to vote Green again in New York this November, because I lack the “vanity” to believe in magic elections, and want to show the country that Obama isn’t a “progressive” (or a Socialist, for that matter). Dissent can make a difference even when it loses elections, because it still moves the debate about social and political norms to the Left. Without us ‘vain’ third party voters Obama would *be* the candidate of the Left, and that’s an appalling idea.

  13. Phil Restino
    August 4, 2012 at 13:13

    For all those contemplating voting in the 2012 U.S.
    Presidential elections, please take the 6 minutes to watch the following YouTube
    video entitled “Obama, Romney and Goldman Sachs – 2012” linked at:

    How about a Ron Paul – Dennis Kucinich ticket in 2012 ???

    • Kevin Schmidt
      August 4, 2012 at 19:45

      Ron Paul is a fascist Libertarian Republican.
      Dennis Kucinich is a Progressive Democrat.

      Neither one would ever choose the other to be his running mate, which is why there is absolutely zero chance that your fantasy will ever come true.

      • dahoit
        August 6, 2012 at 11:44

        Another village idiot,trapped in his red team blue team fantasy speaks.
        This miseducated traitor POTUS deserves his porch monkey ass out of office now,and I voted for him,and even went to Washington to celebrate.
        Our two whores of ZIOMIC intentions care not one whit for US Americans,and to reward this creep,will only make our rescue from neolibcon capitalist warmongering scum that much harder in the future,and how could the victorious Rep. Romney look at reelection with this morons message of defeat,and maybe his stupid rhetoric(doesn’t the feather in the Ziowind Obomba’s actions speak louder than words) is for Ziomic consumption(and don’t tell me that the MSM isn’t in the tank for Obomba,witness the attacks on irrelevant issues of Romney)to blunt their MSM info assassination campaign.
        The latest hit by the Ziomonsters;Orwell was an antisemite.Yawn,like the history of the world is full of pro semites?We are living in a nightmare of a hamster wheel of Zioidiocy as reason.
        And I just saw something about Dems attacking Obomba(the capitulator) for being not supportive enough of Israel?My God,the BS never stops in our Orwellian nightmare.

  14. Robert1014
    August 4, 2012 at 13:02

    Obama has had the Office of the White House for nearly four years to prove to the citizens he deserves our vote for a second term, to demonstrate he would expend his energies on our behalf. There can be no better (or more revealing) campaign ad for any President’s worthiness or worthlessness to serve again than his own record in office, and Obama didn’t even try. His record is appalling. He threw away a unique historical opportunity to push through necessary and obvious changes, or to do his best fighting for those changes, even if he were to have failed. But he never once tried. He is not committed to fighting for specific goals because they will benefit we, the people, but only to avoiding the appearance of defeat. I think he essentially has no core convictions, or none so deeply held that they will rouse him from terminally feckless timidity, from trying to make all parties happy. In his commitment only to protecting himself he has become as the criminals who preceded him.

  15. Robert1014
    August 4, 2012 at 12:48

    Mr. Parry, I completely understand your point, and respect it, as it reflects your priorities and understanding of circumstances. However, I think it is not so easy to assume who will be either the “worst” OR the “least bad” choice. I infer you consider Obama preferable to Romney. However, Obama in his first term has already harmed citizens of America and the world while favoring the financial elites and furthering the prerogatives of the expanding American military empire. In this latter regard, he has ordered actions that amount, bluntly, to premeditated murder, and he has continued the war crimes of his predecessor. If I vote for a demonstrated murderer, torturer, warmaker, persecutor of whistle-blowers, expander of the Security State, because, on a granular level, he may be arguably less bad than his opponent, then I have signed off my approval on those evil deeds. I won’t do it.

    • fathead morgana
      August 4, 2012 at 20:19


  16. joe
    August 4, 2012 at 12:21

    “People were free to run in the primaries to challenge these guys… Progressives could have challenged Obama but basically chose not to.”

    Question for Robert Parry: At the time of the primaries, were you in favor of running a progressive challenger to Obama? Did you write anything to that effect?

    • Stephanie Remington
      August 4, 2012 at 18:43

      The statement “Progressives could have challenged Obama but basically chose not to,” is false.

      As Paul G. pointed out in the comments above, “The California Progressive Caucus proposed a primary challenge to Obama and was informed they would be descertified if they continued.”

      • Stephanie Remington
        August 4, 2012 at 19:19

        I should also point out that the CPC did proceed with the resolution to offer a primary challenger to Obama and they were decertified — the only caucus to be decertified.

  17. Ernest Spoon
    August 4, 2012 at 10:41

    Hooboy! The inhabitants of Myshitdontstinkastan are up on arms over this Robert Parry essay for simply pointing out a an evident truth.

    Sure I too am not an enthusiastic supporter of President Obama and the Democrats, but at least they have some noblesse oblige whereas Tea Bag Republicans have no oblige at all! But that doesn’t seem to bother the inhabitants of Myshitdontstinkastan, many of which are comfortably well-off in relation to the unwashed, whose condition they cry copious tears over yet do nothing about.

    Let’s go back to the origins of Myshitdontstinkastan, the 1968 presidental election. Several years ago I was struck by this statement by American Civil Liberties Union counsel Joel Gora in an PBS Newshour interview with Gwen Ifill, “…We got involved in representing Senator Gene McCarthy, a political hero, for having challenged Lyndon Johnson. How did he do so? He got a small number of wealthy contributors who agreed with his anti-war message to fund his campaign…” It has been my observation over the years that the 1 or 2% never do anything unless it benefits them where it counts most. As we now know Richard Nixon’s secret plan for ending the war in Vietnam was to sabotage the Johnson-Ho Chi Minh peace talks, expand the war in Cambodia; wind down the war and grant North Vietnam the same conditions as Johnson’s peace plan in time for the 1972 US presidential campaign! Cui bono? Obviously the small number of wealthy contributors to Eugene McCarthy’s campaign if they had stock in defense contractors! Hedge funds were in their infancy then.

    Then let us touch upon a a couple of leading figures of Myshitdontstinkastan, the Pope, Noam Chomsky, and the Grand Vizier Ralph Nader. Why does the grand old man of the antiwar movement continue to collect his pension check from an institution of higher learning that is consistently the number one or two US university recipient of Pentagon and DARPA grants, scholarships and funds? And how would Nader live in the manner to which he’s become accustomed if the United States ever set up an agency like Germany’s DIN, or the German Institute for Standardization?

    Let us face facts: The leading lights of Myshitdontstinkastan, like their counterparts of the Tea Bag Republic, ensure themselves a comfortable income through actions that maintain the status quo. So, sorry all you sincere dupes living in Myshitdontstinkastan, all your effects to end wars, poverty, sexism and so forth are all for nothing.

    • bluepilgrim
      August 4, 2012 at 12:16

      I’d like to end poverty — I’ve been living in it for years.

      As for your insulting ranting, it’s meaningless.

    • Stephanie Remington
      August 4, 2012 at 18:46

      Your comment says a lot more about you than it does about your intended target.

      • bluepilgrim
        August 4, 2012 at 20:13

        I understand poverty fairly well at this point, from first hand experience. It’s amazingly hard work to be poor (especially with disability, or being old). When in the past I could solve a problem by buying something now even relatively cheap items are often beyond the budget, and I have to find alternatives. It’s a constant source of annoyance, if nothing else. And I’m not nearly a bad off as many others.
        There is something to be learned by looking at Maslow’s Pyramid and hierarchy of needs: it’s more difficult to be concerned for others when one’s physical environment is falling down — but yet, the poor are often more generous than those attached to wealth (who often don’t have a clue what poverty is actually like).

        So I don’t what it says about me except ‘been there, got the tee shirt’ and I maybe understand the situation better than may others.

        • Stephanie Remington
          August 4, 2012 at 22:09

          I was referring to Earnest Spoon’s comment. Your comments are thoughtful and articulate.

  18. Stephanie Remington
    August 4, 2012 at 07:39

    I’m amazed at how many people feel completely comfortable demanding that all Americans who call themselves liberal or progressive adopt their personal choices about voting. The same people assign blame for deviating from the supposed moral imperative of voting for Obama – blame for risking, or causing, a Romney win. None of them, apparently, consider Obama’s aggressive, illegal, violent, anti-democratic actions as president to be a reasonable cause for refusing to vote for him. Nor do they consider Obama’s horrible record at least part of what is risking his loss.

    There is, evidently, no standard below which a major Democratic candidate may sink that could justify voting for someone else, as long as his main opponent is worse. In this world view, it is not Obama’s obligation to do better if he wants our votes. It is our obligation to vote for him, no matter how horrific his record, as long as he appears better than a man who has absolutely nothing of value to offer Americans.

    And now, those of us who choose NOT to ignore Obama’s record or our “personal morality” are accused of vanity. The hubris and self-deceit necessary to make the arguments and assumptions in this piece are staggering.

    The best thing I can say about this article is that – as far as I know – trees did not have to die for its sake.

  19. Daniel Pfeiffer
    August 3, 2012 at 17:48

    Mr. Parry, I enjoy your writing, but vanity has nothing to do with my casting a vote FOR someone whom I support, not just whomever is the lesser of the two-party evils. This is what voting is – voicing your preference for the candidate you feel most suited for the job of leadership. Just because corporate media pays no attention to 3rd party candidates doesn’t mean they don’t exist or are unworthy of consideration – in fact, it is nearly the opposite. And it is your prescription for what ails us that creates a throw away vote – a self-perpetuating problem which has led us to where we are today and will only continue to enable our downward spiral. If we continue to vote for the lesser of two evils as we’ve done, well, that’s still evil, isn’t it? And evil is not something I practice in my own life – in fact, I’d be arrested for following any real evil impulses at all.

    People are so dissatisfied right now, and so ready for real leadership on the myriad issues that Obama and Romney refuse to address seriously, that if a 3rd party candidate was allowed to participate equally and speak truth to power, he or she might just get 35-40% of the vote. Do I want a Romney presidency? Hell no. But I do not support Barack ‘lesser-of-two-evils’ Obama’s policies of indefinite detentions, drone warfare, kill lists, rapid expansion of the police state, the recently signed NDAA, the JOBS Act, lack of accountability for the bank fraud perpetrated on all Americans, the poorly designed ACA, punishment of whistle-blowers, etc., etc., etc. Obama had his shot to fight for justice for the people – even promised it – but fought for nothing that was considered too politically risky for him.

    The whole system needs shaking up by someone not bowed to the powers that be and who is not concerned for whether they win or lose legislative battles – it’s the fight that matters at this moment in history, and neither Obama nor Romney have the will or courage.

  20. Frances in California
    August 3, 2012 at 16:47

    Nowhere do you condescending people who don’t seem to have jobs so much as MENTION the Electoral College. Until it is abolished – because it really is a relic from a less democratic stage in American development – no third party can gain enough traction to affect change (at the National level). It all becomes posturing and assuagement. It’s difficult and we won’t see the results in our lifetime but that’s not a reason NOT to do this difficult work to achieve REAL democracy.

  21. nveric
    August 3, 2012 at 16:05

    OK, I’ve read more of the article, and your reasons are not your own. By this I mean you accept the corruption of the national government and their damage to the Constitution, you accept the Empire confirmed after W.W.II. Lincoln, although I use his name now and then, started the entrenchment of Nationalism over Federalism. T. Roosevelt, although I use his name also, gave Nationalism and Empire another great push, and so on through the century. This does not imply I desire to return pre-Civil War States-Rights, however, we are guaranteed a republican form of government, and are supposed to be a republic of united states, not a nation ‘ruled by’ nationalism.

    It’s time to come home and end this Empire and end all of the wars against the people of this country too. That is how you end the damage by this country. Export non-violent action instead of the mass of weapons we do. Peace of the gun doesn’t last.

    Perpetuating the two-party dictatorship is a violent act. Americans must mature past this simplistic political system and create something new. Americans, whether holding the Constitution as the supreme law of the land or not, are to timid to restrain government, as they must. Can we still be that last, best hope of Earth, if we rule by Imperial force?

    The validity of the Federal government ended long ago by silent acceptence of the National one.

  22. chmoore
    August 3, 2012 at 14:35

    Maybe I missed something, but out of all the comments so far, I did not see even one that addressed the following salient point of this article, which was, if – at the high level of office of the U.S. President – staying home or voting third party is such a good idea, then where’s the past evidence that doing so produces a beneficial result?

    Beyond that, considering the Supreme Court from a left point of view, has anyone considered who might have been in the Court instead of Kagan and Sotomayor, and whether the current result is at least less-bad, if not better?

  23. bluepilgrim
    August 3, 2012 at 13:02

    I can’t argue that zionism is not evil or that Israel isn’t in a social and political morass of madness, but I want to point out a few things.

    First, most zionists are not Jewish, and the US is filled with Christian zionists (Biden bragged about being a zionist).

    Second, for all the propaganda power or military might Israel has it’s a mere shadow of the US and would melt into insignificance without the US (and European) empire behind it, and that’s been true since it’s creation. If Israel ever turned to sanity and opposed the empire it fade like an old attack dog abandoned to fend for itself in Death Valley. But it serves the purposes of the empire and international corporate fascists (both living in Israel and elsewhere). Even now the people of Israel are in the process of being devoured by those vampires (who have a number of proxies).

    A good source of information and commentary can be found at and one of the frequent writers there can also be found at
    Stop NATO e-mail list home page with archives and search engine:
    Stop NATO website and articles:

    US politicians are another tool, a pack of attack dogs, of this oligarchy, and that makes voting for them, hoping to make a significant difference, an exercise in futility. That’s the nature of class war. The war against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, the targets of AFRICOM, etc., are all part of the plans of PNAC ‘New American Century’, of which zionism is just a useful aspect in the vampires’ strategy in the ‘Great Game’ to control the whole world. This, world-wide fascism, is just a later stage of maniacal greed and cancerous growth of capitalism (an expression of deadliest sins of humanity).

    We all need to understand the ‘big picture’, historical currents, and the tendency for psychopaths to take over the world so to put these events and forces into perspective. This epic struggle of class war predates the US and will likely continue long after, if the species survives the inevitable destruction of the US empire. We need to understand the deep politics, and endless struggles of trying to form a workable social order within the rather predatory human species with its biological heritage and flawed ‘monkey brains’.

    Just looking at how these elections work with the emphasis on struggle and winners and losers, rather than cooperation, community, and consensus, points up the basic problems, and the current extremes of those forces. First horse past the post? Simple majority rule? Divine right? What an absurd way to install authoritarian “leaders” to rule the world! Surely people can figure out how to do better than that.

  24. Hon'Rev Joey Retana
    August 3, 2012 at 10:43

    Well well looky looky hell ima Election Offical legal Rev biracial Gay Democrat Tx Voter & find all this election year has been not challenge’n.I am a quite demandn queer i hear once you go black you wonkt go back… aint like me an my sordid affairs drive around thnkn were we wanna stop an eat we have a central market an a sushi bar next to our chick fi’las hahaha go figure a boy like me got options:)

  25. August 3, 2012 at 08:26

    “Is it that no sugar daddy has set up the sort of training and outreach that the Kochs did in 2009? Is it that it’s not glamorous enough, or that it requires planning and patience rather that street theater?”

    Could it be because ‘liberal’ voters are no less stubbornly ignorant and self-serving than their ‘conservative’ counterparts?

    I’m currently volunteering on a Green U.S. congressional campaign in a very Democratic district in the Chicago Metro area, and my fellow volunteers– including the candidate herself– wore out a ton of shoe leather getting nearly twice the required petition signatures to get her on the ballot. That means that a small band of dedicated people exercised “planning and patience” and hard work (all sans “street theater”).

    Now the candidate is on the ballot, but she has a very limited budget for advertising. The Democratic incumbent has hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of it from sources that he hasn’t yet disclosed. Here is where the rubber hits the road: again, the Green candidate and her volunteers did the “not glamorous” work to get her on the ballot. She has no corporate/wealthy “sugar daddy” to bankroll her campaign, so her best chance of getting elected will be for those enlightened, pragmatic, and savvy liberals and progressives in our district to educate themselves about who’s on the ballot and why. The hard work has been done, and a better option made available. Will the voters hold up their end, or will our district send back another rubber stamp for corporate imperialism?

    • fathead morgana
      August 4, 2012 at 20:29

      ans: another rubber stamp of corporate emperialism.

      Salvation will not come at the ballot box.

  26. Nathaniel Heidenheimer
    August 3, 2012 at 08:10

    I have voted for the lesser of two evils many times. No more. Not only is it not ideal, it is not even remotely pragmatic.

    You see, thanks to excellent sites like this one and the fact that I read about politics and history elsewhere, I have access to the single most dangerous thing to our current Corporate Government: the recent, useable past.

    Today’s Old Deal Democrats are NOT EVEN TRYING.

    How can you tell? Compare their efforts on ANYTHING to Republicans when they want to initiate something new… like the next war. Point-men everywhere. Cabinet mobilized, Senators on local, national, talking points chartered like the Times throughout the week. Now think of Harry and Nancy . Think of President Obama “really giving it the old college try” on Guantanamo.

    Not even trying.

    Today’s Old Deal Democrats are pragmatic from only one perspective: Wall Street’s. They give the Republicans the football and find the 11 slowest, and least charismatic people on the planet to play defense. Then they put that game on your TV in November, preceded by a three year half-time show.

    This is not democracy, and it is not even pragmatic. We have just witnessed a 1933 moment and what we got was 4 more years of Hoovers, interspersed with Chick Fil A social issues McNuggeted by the rich to distract from their fleecing us. Old Deal Democrats are nothing more than the foam packing peanuts protecting Republican policies from a real opposition.

    Legitimating these Fake, Corporate Elections will make things worse. Obama will continue to ignore every single class issue that might unite the working and middle class against the parasites of the finance, in favor of issues honed by masters of division. The rot will only deepen, and the protest will be less than with Republicans.

    I have heard lesser of two evilism preached for 45 years. This late it is clearly counterproductive.

  27. Big Em
    August 2, 2012 at 23:37

    Hmmm.. So Mr Parry is saying that Progressives, who — generally speaking — are (and I include myself) idealistic and motivated to try to create a more fair and equitable world, should mute virtually all of that and vote for what is reputedly the lesser of two evils, so that they MIGHT see a SLIVER of those ideals occur in a few limited areas. It sounds very ‘pragmatic’, very realpolitik. But then, if we’re getting so ‘realistic’, why bother with these Progressive ideas at all? It can be very easily (and perhaps successfully) argued that the world is inexorably slipping into something that is becoming unmanageable other than by the most fascist means, so why not just ‘get my own’ so that I can afford to live in a gated community, drink bottled water, breath air-conditioned air, eat my organic food, and the rest of the world be damned?

    I agree with most of the above posts and their many strong reasons more than I do Mr Parry’s impression of a DNC chairman. And Rham Emanuel IS wrong – – – we ‘fucking retards’ DO have somewhere else to go… there are (as noted above) several legal third party candidates. Mr Parry and like-minded can play the battered wife and vote for Obama because “he’s going to change… I just KNOW he won’t hit me again”, but I’m not so sure that I’ll be following that course of action.

    Unfortunately, in the larger picture, I doubt that any of this will make much difference. The national zeitgeist seems to have reverted back to something like the Gilded Age ethos/politics, and that was never very amenable to intellectual/rational discussion. Strikers could be shot down and the general population was mostly fine with that. It was only when the Great Depression started affecting large numbers of people (~25% unemployment) that we saw the general voting public starting to embrace some more liberal/progressive/left ideas. It will probably take something like that to jolt people back to a more benevolent reality, though it could obviously turn the other direction just as easily.

    • bluepilgrim
      August 3, 2012 at 01:20

      What is missing now that we had in the 30s, as Rick Wolff says, is that we had strong socialist and communist parties, and strong unions, which were able to push FDR into acting. Now the left is badly organized, the result of 50 or 60 years of big money working to dismantle their opposition — and the power of that money, and it’s ability to buy government and media, produce propaganda and fund psychological research into advertising and mass manipulation, should not be at all underestimated — the difference in wealth is immense. There is also the matter of buying mercenaries, police, and even military — all part of the history of busting unions and protests.

      Look at Air America as one example: badly funded right from the start, beset by financial problems and mismanagement, and with very limited outlets on the airwaves.

      The truth is that money does have power attached, and when one group, the predatory oligarchy, gains an advantage, that advantage is continually made stronger by using the edge it has (positive feedback — the stronger it is the stronger it gets). Remember how the game of Monopoly works: the more streets and hotels one owns the easier it is to accumulate more, and that’s how capitalism works, which is what the game was invented to teach.

      The counter to this is awareness and self-education of the masses, but public education is increasingly used to destroy that and dumb people down. The cultural system is designed to make and keep people ignorant and powerless, and both major parties, and the the structures and institutions of the hegemony, are part of that. (Look at Adam Curtiss’ films and Chomsky’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’ again, if in doubt.)


      BTW — my missing post which was messed up is and is somewhere in software purgatory is:

      “essentially boycott the process by voting for a third party or staying home”

      I didn’t even read the rest of the article after this statement because it is essentially untrue, deceptive framing. Staying home may be characterized as boycotting the election but voting for an alternative is hardly that.

      I’m voting for the socialist, Jerry White, because that’s who I want to vote for. Trying to say this is a boycott is profoundly dismissive and disrespectful of my right to vote freely, and to me as a knowledgeable, thinking, human being.

      Right there, in that statement, is the summation of the arrogance and the disrespect the Democrats and liberals (no less than the Republicans and conservatives) have for people. This was reflected in the slew of insults and denigration thrown at people in the last article and comment section.

      It also reflects either a profound misunderstanding of what democracy and self-government is, and of political science and society — or simply deceptive propaganda and an attempt at manipulation to bully everyone into the limited — essentially Hobson’s — choice presented by the fascist oligarchs.

      In addition to the above mentioned article
      I suggest reading and viewing the video at‘lesser-two-evils’-con-game

      but it is important to understand that all political opinion and action, and all thought, is NOT defined nor limited by what the major parties, as instruments of the oligarchy, or the so-called ‘liberal’ establishment, say or do. This is not Orwell’s 1984, and it is [not] The Village and I am not a number — I am a free man.

  28. August 2, 2012 at 22:11

    What is darkly comical here is the assumption that voting for someone other than the two corporate candidates is an act of protest. This is a loaded characterization, one that paints the non-corporate voter as a petulant child stomping his feet and snatching his toy from the sandbox.

    I can only speak for myself, of course, but I harbor no more ‘anger’ for Obama than I did for Bush or Clinton. Obama is what he is, and I saw enough of that quite clearly before and during his campaign. That’s why I didn’t vote for him in 2008; in other words, my vote was never his to lose. This is not a rebellious stance, but the stance of a citizen who did his homework and sought the best of all available candidates on the ballot at the time. For me in 2008, that was not Barack Obama; neither will he be such in November.

    It isn’t my fault that the popular choice was and shall again be the wrong one, and I will not shirk my duty as a citizen just to salve the deluded consciences of the cowardly and self-serving ‘liberal’ masses.

    In other words, Mr. Parry, et al, get over it. Spend some time and energy promoting better choices (e.g. Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, or Stewart Alexander) instead of wasting the same trying to castigate the few and the sane for refusing to toe your apocalyptic line.

  29. August 2, 2012 at 21:19

    Mr. Parry, you’ve made this argument before. A few points. First, under clean election laws that we demand of Third World countries, Mr. Gore would have been President, so that eliminates a third of that argument. Besides, you act as if Progressives were solely to blame for Gore getting beat. No mention of cheating or, frankly, the Supreme Court coming to such a bad decision that it stipulated said decision was not to be used as a precedent.

    Second, let’s not equate getting Mr. Obama re-elected with congressional races. Progressives may go two ways on that, voting against Obama but for other Democrats.

    Third, Mr. Obama felt no compunction about throwing Progressives under the bus either with his economic team (not exactly shoved down his throat by Republicans) or with Health Care. If he had even sincerely TRIED for Single-Payer and lost, Progressives and others could have forgiven him. But he threw that out the window on day one. So why is it that you want to blame Progressives for not supporting him but don’t similarly take him to task for not supporting any Progressive positions. Not honoring campaign promises is one thing, but he basically threw his whole reason for people electing him under the bus!

    Fourth, have you ever heard of self-fulfilling prophecies? If everyone walks around SAYING someone like Nader can’t get elected, doesn’t that increase the chances of that result? Haven’t you yourself talked about the media repeating untruths long enough that they become “true”? Wouldn’t it also say, in true political fashion, to Obama, that instead of spending 29 days out of every month hewing to the right that he might have to acknowledge that Progressives are not, in fact f____ retards, and he should listen to them, at least once in a while?

    Fifth, is there not a difference, Mr. Parry, in letting a few things slide with your favorite candidate and letting just about every principle you hold dear get thrown out with the trash? Can you not see that if George W. had been doing the things that Mr. Obama has been doing his first three years that more than Progressives would be out in the streets in fury? The fact that they are not may not be vanity, but it is not very principled. Is there nothing that this man could do that would cause you to question him? Do we believe in principles or charismatics?

    Sixth, you seem to assume that it was the same Progressives who got Carter beat (and what about that October Surprise, the details of which surfaced only later and may very likely have been treasonable), Gore beat (see above), and Humphrey beat. I try to teach my composition students, during the arguing paper phase, that there are usually multiple causes for events, but your argument seems to assume there was only one in all of these cases.

    Seventh, what-if. We really have little idea what would have happened if Democrats had won in those years. I guess I’m one of those vain Progressives who somehow voted for Clinton. But even you must admit that Obama’s road would be a good deal easier right now if his Democratic predecessor hadn’t allowed Glass-Steagall to lapse.

    Finally, this all supposes that it makes a major difference who’s in the White House. I’ll grant some of your arguments, Supreme Court justices, for instance, but recent evidence suggests that if one read the news but not the names, one would think GWB still resided at 600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

  30. Louise Mowder
    August 2, 2012 at 20:55

    Thank you, Mr. Parry. I was not old enough to vote in 1968, but I remember the Left’s anger that Humphrey, rather than McCarthy, was the nominee. The fact that so many on the Left sat out the election as “protest,” and essentially gave us Nixon the criminal as President, was enough to convince me that it was foolish to refuse to vote because the candidates weren’t “pure” enough.

    At so many points in our history of the last 50 years, angry members of the Left have refused to participate, or voted for candidates like Nader with no hope of winning. The result has been the shambles of a democracy that we live in today. If Romney wins, it won’t even be a shambles anymore, because it won’t be a democracy. Romney and a Republican Congress will Fitzwalkerstan this country so fast that people won’t be able to keep up with the torrent of ALEC legislation – and they won’t be able to vote in order to overturn any of it, by the time it’s all over.

    What I have never understood is why the Left doesn’t engineer the same sort of base-level political takeover that AFP taught the Tea Party how to undertake. All it would take is finding a slate of candidates -even sacrificial ones – for the local Committeeperson jobs that exist in every town. Why not run a slate of 345 Progressive primary challengers? In some districts, you already have the candidates in Congress, as part of the Progressive Political Caucus. But if Progressives were a large enough bloc, they could force the President to the *Left.* Is it that no sugar daddy has set up the sort of training and outreach that the Kochs did in 2009? Is it that it’s not glamorous enough, or that it requires planning and patience rather that street theater?

    All I know is that the values and policy positions shared by 70% of Americans are progressive – yet their candidates do not reflect that. It is not just that the monied forces put forward their own henchmen. It’s that Progressives have done a poor job of organizing and electioneering. What could be done to change that>

    Because the time to start working on a Progressive sweep in 2014 is NOW. No matter who win, we need it. Obama would sign any legislation that such a Congress brought forward, and Romney would be stymied by the checks such a Congress would place upon him.

    It’s of vital importance to the survival of our country.

    • August 2, 2012 at 21:41

      Some very interesting ideas in the last three paragraphs. To the extent that I still have any faith in the system,they seem worth trying. But “If Romney wins, it won’t even be a shambles anymore, because it won’t be a democracy.” How on earth is it a democracy NOW? Of course, the very word torques me because we were never supposed to be a democracy in the first place. But it is a very nice sounding word. Perhaps it is like heroin for the ears because our politicians never tire of using it.

      • Louise Mowder
        August 3, 2012 at 18:49

        Right now, we still have the ability to organize and take back the Party, the Congress, and even the country with enough work. That is why I call it a democracy.

        If Romney wins, I do not believe we will be able to accomplish that any longer, because the rights of voters will disappear. If we can’t even vote, then we will not even have a democracy.

        I believe that a Progressive Party – or a Popular Position Party, call it whatever you want – could organize itself online now. It would start by holding local meetings of interested citizens who were determined to get representatives who espoused *popular* positions, like Medicare for All, and higher taxes on the wealthy, as their platform. People who chose to run with this platform would have themselves thus identified on the ballot. We would strive to have a Democratic primary challenger in every Congressional race, and every Gubernatorial campaign, in the 2014 elections.

        Once the Popular Platform Party candidates won the Democratic nomination, they would receive all the benefits of being one of the “Big Two” nominees.

        The obstacles to ballot access in every state are so high that third-party candidates traditionally cannot succeed. In order for progressive candidates to succeed, they must run as either Democrat or Republican. We can take over the Democratic Party, but it will take organization from the ground-level up. The Kochs have already shown us that this is the way to influence national politics. All we have to do is follow their example.

        It’s not like the Democrats have anything like a national game plan right now. This would be almost laughably easy to accomplish. The only thin is that it would take work and unity or purpose among those on the Left. The Plutocrats are literally banking on the belief that such a thing will never happen.

        What do you think can be done with this idea?

    • fathead morgana
      August 4, 2012 at 20:48

      Well, I understand why “the Left doesn’t engineer, … , that ATF taught
      the Tea Party to undertake.”

      It’s called MONEY.

      When the Left has sugar daddies to pony up tens of millions of $ to
      engineer something, then you may see something different.

      Until then, you won’t.

      It’s important to understand that lotsa money from rich people and
      corporations are what’s behind right-wing sucess. It is all bought
      and payed for.

      • Louise Mowder
        August 5, 2012 at 10:21

        You know, I understand that. The Left doesn’t have money.

        But it has *people*. It can network. It could do this even without the money – IF it bothered to. I reject the “They’re rich, we’re helpless” argument.

        Saying, “Oh, wah, they have all this money, that is why we can’t do what they do,” is just surrendering without even trying. Why don’t we use our energy to organize? That is the way that the labor union and Left political parties had to do it 100 years ago.

        They didn’t have the benefit of instantaneous long-distance communication either – but we do, in the internet.

  31. abi
    August 2, 2012 at 18:32

    Your posts on this subject don’t anger me, but they do sadden me. Voting your conscience isn’t throwing your vote away. Just the opposite. People who vote the lesser of two evils throw their votes away — and in my opinion, they’re throwing away a chance for a better America along with it.

  32. bluepilgrim
    August 2, 2012 at 17:16

    I think ethics and intellectual integrity has long lasting effects both personally and in the community, and so would not vote for either Romney nor Obama — but if I were to take a Machiavellian view, I would vote for Romney because Obama IS the more effective evil He would do much more to advance the downfall of the empire in the world, which all people need, and it would be much easier to mount struggles against Romney. Obama is able to do evil things that Bush could not get away with because of the massive opposition against him — opposition which is sorely lacking against Obama. In short, when you have two possible evil despots, put in the weaker of the two.

    “Romney Obama the Same?” shows, they have essentially the same policies, (determined by the oligarchy, pre-electoral posturing not withstanding), so better to have Romney without the silver tongue of deception Obama has.

    That’s the new politick thing to do — but I’d rather be straightforward and oriented towards building what is good than trying to compromise with evil.

  33. Robert Schwartz
    August 2, 2012 at 16:55

    Mr. Parry –

    I really don’t care or not if you in your considered opinion think my vote is vanity or not, that is your right, this is your site, and you are free to call it as you see it.

    However, let me point out, or try at any rate to once again articulate, that Mr. Obama is right now as we speak sabre rattling in the Persian Gulf. Mr. Panetta just declared in Israel that we would use force to deny Iran a nuclear weapon, when our intelligence agencies deny they are working towards one. Israel, of course, is the only nation in the middle east to have such weapons, and they are not even signatories to the NPT. The goal as you state it is to lessen the harm the United States brings to the world.

    So, Mr. Parry, look around. The U.S. is now, under this administration actively encircling the Russians and Chinese with military bases and missile batteries. We are engaging in warfare and drone strikes in more theaters than under Bush II. Obama has redefined the lose restrictions of the War Powers Act, so as to exempt anything but “boots on the ground,” such as in Libya. To the extent that we’ve withdrawn from Iraq, it was on Bush’s timetable and only because Malaki wouldn’t sign a new SOFA agreement. Still the private contractors remain there.

    Voting third party is not a feel-good measure. It is hard to feel good in this day and age under these conditions. It is perhaps the only way to register some measure of discontent at the polls. In my case it is done in addition to being part of Occupy and other activities. I remind you once again that friends of mine were gassed, beaten and rubber-bulleted by this administration’s Homeland Security goons in conjunction with local law enforcement.

    Of course, if you want to stand with Rahm Emanuel, and claim “Where else are they gonna go?” maybe you do think we’re “Fuckin’ Retarded.”

    I’ve always respected your reporting, else I wouldn’t be reading you, but in this case, I’m sorry, to my mind you’re wrong. And to quote Colleen Rowley from the comments in the first Vanity column, “Obama seems to be the gift that keeps on giving – to our rulers. Evil, yes; lesser, no.”

    • bluepilgrim
      August 2, 2012 at 17:35

      this is a duplicate post — please ignore

      • bluepilgrim
        August 2, 2012 at 17:39

        That is, the one starting

        “essentially boycott the process by voting for a third party or staying home”

        I didn’t even read the rest of the article after this statement because it is essentially untrue, deceptive framing. Staying home may be characterized as boycotting the election but voting for an alternative is hardly that.

        “is duplicate — the right post should read “and it is not The Village and I am not a number — I am a free man” at the end — NOT the village.

  34. bluepilgrim
    August 2, 2012 at 16:52

    “essentially boycott the process by voting for a third party or staying home”

    I didn’t even read the rest of the article after this statement because it is essentially untrue, deceptive framing. Staying home may be characterized as boycotting the election but voting for an alternative is hardly that.

    I’m voting for the socialist, Jerry White, because that’s who I want to vote for. Trying to say this is a boycott is profoundly dismissive and disrespectful of my right to vote freely, and to me as a knowledgeable, thinking, human being.

    Right there, in that statement, is the summation of the arrogance and the disrespect the Democrats and liberals (no less than the Republicans and conservatives) have for people. This was reflected in the slew of insults and denigration thrown at people in the last article and comment section.

    It also reflects either a profound misunderstanding of what democracy and self-government is, and of political science and society — or simply deceptive propaganda and an attempt at manipulation to bully everyone into the limited — essentially Hobson’s — choice presented by the fascist oligarchs.

    In addition to the above mentioned article
    I suggest reading and viewing the video at‘lesser-two-evils’-con-game

    but it is important to understand that all political opinion and action, and all thought, is NOT defined nor limited by what the major parties, as instruments of the oligarchy, or the so-called ‘liberal’ establishment, say or do. This is not Orwell’s 1984, and it is not The Village and I am not a number — I am a free man.

    • nveric
      August 3, 2012 at 15:12

      I agree.
      The only votes being thrown away are those not cast.
      Voting to block a candidate is dishonest to the voter and harms the system. Mr. Parry needs to be honest, and to support our system, and not to influence people away from themselves – brainwash or indoctrinate.

      Honesty is the largest factor missing from the voting process. Besides the rhetoric of candidates, the rhetoric of ‘news’ outlets, there’s the lack of full truth from our governments. Will we ever get close to the whole story on any story? If no one insists, we never will.

  35. Terry Washington
    August 2, 2012 at 16:14

    I basically agree with this argument- to quote John F.Kennedy, we must deal with the world as it is and NOT as we would like it to and differentiate between flawed allies(FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Carter, Clinton ,Obama)and flat out enemies- Nixon, Reagan, Bush , Romney!

    • bluepilgrim
      August 2, 2012 at 17:32

      Assuming that one knows what the world is — a very great assumption for anyone, but particularly for a politician. In my experience politicians are remarkably incapable of grasping reality or doing the correct thing.

      What this reminds me of is the people who would steal some tool or materials from the job saying ‘If I don’t take someone else will’. Sometimes that’s true, but sometimes he is the only one taking stuff. Importantly, however, is one guy taking stuff will force the company to institute measures to stop theft, and also the company will lose money on it, often meaning everyone working fo rthe company does too. It screws up the entire operation. When a tool is needed it’s found to be missing, and work can be delayed for a day or more while another is purchased.

      Soon this becomes the standard, and everyone steals as much as they can while the company is slowly going out of business and everyone suffers (gee whiz– sounds sort of the financial system and government, doesn’t it?).

      The word is “anomie”! A breakdown of all standards, ethics, and values — and it is the hallmark of a society as it self-destructs.

      Nixon an enemy? I’d rather see Nixon as president than Obama — he was more liberal and less destructive. That’s where this ‘lesser evilism’ has brought us.

      • August 2, 2012 at 21:33

        Interesting that we’ve floated so far rightward that Nixon CAN be seen as more liberal than Obama. He was a despicable man, however, and it reminds me of those arguments that say most countries, at most times, are led by psycopaths.

  36. J
    August 2, 2012 at 15:56

    It is quite plausible to assert that as many foreign deaths have occurred under Democratic presidents as Republicans — Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Viet Nam under Kennedy and Johnson, Gulf War sanctions contributing to hundreds of thousands if not millions of deaths under Clinton, support for dictators in Haiti, Nicaragua, Egypt, and Indonesia, among others, under many Democrats (e.g. Carter’s allowing sale of weapons to Indonesia’s military, who then wiped out a number of indigenous populations and opponents)–and on. It seems to me that a true tally of American Empire DOES show little distinction between presidents with a “D” or an “R” after their name. I would be interested in and open to calculations establishing otherwise.

    It seems to me that the main beneficiaries of Democratic policies are the lower middle class–Democrats DO create, I think, better (though still often horrible) domestic policy to support the most “well-off” of the working poor. But the true poor, I think, don’t see much different from president to president either. And the dead, imprisoned, or tortured Vietnamese, Egyptians, Nicaraguans, Panamanians, Iranians, Indonesians, Guatemalans, Haitians, and on and on through our history to our present–does it matter to them if they were killed as collateral damage, the necessities of realpolitick, expediency, unfair trade practices, agricultural dumping destroying their well-being, being mistaken for a terrorist and killed by a drone, or starved under ineffective sanctions?

    I am really quite eager to know, if I’m wrong about this, where I’m wrong.

    • August 2, 2012 at 21:30

      Wow! What a torrent of common sense. On the foreign deaths matter I defer to Gen. Smedley Butler (War Is a Racket) who finally realized he had been fighting, not for America, but for Standard Oil and a whole host of other US (now globalist) corporations who really call the shots.

    • Stephanie Remington
      August 4, 2012 at 06:51

      You left out Clinton’s refusal to use the word “genocide” publicly to describe what was happening in Rwanda, which was his excuse for ignoring the killing of 800,000 Tutsis by Hutu death squads in three months. Intervention didn’t have to be military.

  37. August 2, 2012 at 15:39

    “Progressives could have challenged Obama but basically chose not to.”
    This is simply not true. The California Progressive Caucus proposed a primary challenge to Obama and was informed they would be descertified if they continued. Call that democracy. Another commentator has cited that, try reading the comments.
    “In my view, everything else that Americans do – throwing away their votes on third parties or sitting out the election – are acts of vanity. Maybe it’s moralistic vanity or intellectual vanity or some other kind of vanity, but it is vanity. It has no realistic effect other than to make the person feel good”
    You are being oh so insulting and degrading by oversimplifying others decisions, which have been explained very well by numerous comments to your other pandering articles. It is very presumptuous to assume you know others’ motivations and inner thoughts. Are you clairvoyant? Your reasoning has been seriously challenged by numerous comments and now you choose to turn to attacks on character and simply repeat the same old same old of the previous articles without responding to specific counter arguments.
    Let me state this clearly as I don’t think it is coming through, the “none of the above choice”(and I personally don’t care for the Green Party either) is a vote against both. It simply states the disapproval of the corrupt performance of the incumbent and the idiotic proposals of the challenger. It is not a “feel good” choice. It is a realization that Obamascam is so bad-unlike the other Democrats you cite- that his behavior must be rejected. Either way the whole thing makes me sick. Maybe when we get a series of one term Presidents these clowns will get the message. In the meantime focus on Congress, the Presidency goes to the highest bidder anyway. The choice(swing vote) will be made not by the independents who know enough not to like either party, but by those independents who know so little they exist in a state of confusion, and will respond dutifully to TV advertising.

    • bluepilgrim
      August 2, 2012 at 18:07

      I find the argument that doing one’s best to act ethically and morally is a form of vanity to be very strange — perhaps akin to the idea that man is born into original sin and can never do good, but only adhere to the commands of God (as told to them by the clergy or writers of religious texts, of course). But then, attempting to be “practical” and be a good follower of a belief system must be a form of vanity too — any sort of thinking or making decisions, and surely thinking outside the box, must be vanity in such an imperfect creature, even deciding which political pundit to put one’s faith into. So goes THAT line of argument. It’s not valid.

  38. lYNNE
    August 2, 2012 at 15:27

    The irony is trhat Mr. Nader was the spoiler candidate that allowed W to win. I have always admired mR. Nader and agree with most of his positions until he ran in 2000. I believe that was vanity and sadly we paid for it during the Bush yrs.

    • fosforos
      August 2, 2012 at 16:42

      What a load of crap! You know as well as anyone that Bush stole the election–and that Lieberman and Gore and every Democrat in the Senate were actively complicit in the theft. And so they blame–Nader. who is worth more than the lot of them combined!

      • August 2, 2012 at 21:24

        Well said. I get so sick of my “liberal” friends blaming Nader for 2000, as if there were no other variables to consider. If some of the “Progressive” candidates had been a little more so, Nader would never have had to run. Somebody had to tell the truth!

        • August 7, 2012 at 01:32

          Gore lost his home state. How is Nader to blame for that?

          Gore didn’t contest the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of people in Florida. How is Nader culpable?

          Yes, Gore and Clinton were not progressives by any metric, but rather right-of-center neoliberal, corporatist, free market fundamentalists.

      • macrophallus
        August 8, 2012 at 23:49

        Yes, yes, yes—-What you said.

    • Marshalldoc
      August 3, 2012 at 11:15

      Considering the number of eligible voters who failed to vote in 2000, attributing Gore’s lack of votes (Florida vote theft aside) blaming Nader for Gore’s inability to mobilize the voting public is merely assigning a convenient scapegoat for the unacceptable outcome. Surely we’ve hashed this out before…

      • Frances in California
        August 3, 2012 at 16:42

        Eligible voters? Or caged voters?

        • Stephanie Remington
          August 4, 2012 at 06:39


    • Chris Herz
      August 4, 2012 at 21:03

      What about the thousands of registered Democrats in Florida who voted for Bush? Their party had left them to the tender mercies of the wacko churches and the weird right wing media. If the Democrats were faithful to their own tradition Mr Nader (and myself) would have supported them to the death.

  39. fosforos
    August 2, 2012 at 14:56

    The much-lamented Gore Vidal once defined the American political establishment as “a bird with two right wings.” Parry’s monumental error is to assume that it matters which of those wings you vote for. In the vast majority of cases (all the “nonswing” states like California, New York, Illinois, Texas) nobody even pretends that your vote has more than zero significance. In big electronic-voting “swing states” like Florida and Ohio and Pennsylvania rampant fraud is the norm, so again your vote, even if counted, still counts for nothing. Moreover Parry strongly implies that you should vote for Obama as the lesser of the two evils. But he has no reply to the position of the Black Agenda Report that Obama is clearly the “More Effective Evil” because the liberals have always at least been critical of Republican policies (like presidentially directed assassinations) that they support when perpetrated by Democrats. Nowhere does a vote for either right wing do anybody any good. At least a protest vote, Green or Libertarian, is in its small way a marker of opposition, on which it is at least possible to build.

  40. jo6pac
    August 2, 2012 at 14:22

    I’m not angry at you, you’ve made your choice and I’ve made mine. It’s just a difference of ideas in what we want from govt.

    • SteveXS
      August 3, 2012 at 14:06

      A difference of ideas in what we want from govt? You never get the government you want if you vote for a third party that has no chance of winning. If you truly want to make a difference, you need to get involved at the grass-roots level and choose better candidates who will become better elected officials. Until then it’s either the imperfect Democrats or the genuinely horrible Republicons.

      • bluepilgrim
        August 4, 2012 at 19:56

        I suggest you look up electoralism ( and ) is a start.

        Overall in the current situation the major problem is that the process has been jiggered: it’s unreasonably difficult to get even better candidates on a state or even local level because of the established machinery. Real change does not come from within the system, except very rarely, because the system is devised and controlled by those already in power and with the money. There have been times in the past in the US, and is often the case in other countries, where many parties exist, and alternatives do win, so what now exists in the US should not be taken as carved in granite.

        Voting for alternatives is actually more working outside the machine than within it, and is an expression of other ideas in a way conducive to disseminating them to the people, even when repressed as happens here.

      • erichwwk
        August 7, 2012 at 20:32

        “If you truly want to make a difference, you need to get involved at the grass-roots level and choose better candidates who will become better elected officials.”

        That is what jo6pac and I are doing. I intend to vote for all third party candidates, that have no chance of winning. Unless we do that, we will forever be stuck with one or the other candidates presented by our ONE party system.

      • bdirnbac
        August 8, 2012 at 23:28

        There are progressive organizations fighting within the Democratic Party to promote change. Progressive Democrats of America ( has been working at the congressional level since 2004 to seat liberal candidates. We got close in CA with Norman Solomon (about 150 votes shy of getting him onto the Nov. ballot). We’re backing Alan Grayson in FL for the Nov. election, and we helped John Conyers (MI) win his primary, among many more candidates.
        Working with PDA is not glamorous but it’s the grunt work that gets voters to the polls. By email you get phone numbers to call with a script and you coordinate with leader Mike Fox to update his lists. The more of us that get out of our funk and pick up our phones, the more progressives we can elect.
        Use the link above to get involved; a few hours a week will be a great help.

    • R
      August 4, 2012 at 17:42

      Jo6pac: we understand you, even feel the same way, but the problem is the end result of your choice will not accomplish what you want, but will take you farther away from what you desire to begin with!! Who is your local, county or state 3rd party rep? Chance are there is no one practiced? Ralph Nader is a very intelligent and capable man and it would have been of great importance to many, and he could have actually made a REAL difference for all those he claims to want to help. Sadly, @ this point in time 3rd party candidates are a distraction.

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