Carnival of the Vanities XCIX

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This week marks the second-to-last Carnival of the Vanities of the first century of COTVs. (Keep in mind that it starts at 1.) This installment is at The Smallest Minority. Next week Fringe gets to host the centenary.

My submission was White Liberal Racism. The entry that stands out to me as most intereting is from The Flaven Experience. It's one of the best presentations of the reasons why voting for a third party candidate isn't always in some way immoral for supporting the wrong candidate (e.g. a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush). Some of what he says is great in terms of identifying which situations make this true. One of his arguments really worries me, though, because it reminds of the guy in the firing squad who says he didn't have anything to do with killing someone because the other ones would have killed the person anyway.

2 Comments

I think your firing squad argument cuts better the other way - that voting major party (when you don't like it) is like the guy in the firing squad. Each person says it isn't their fault that the major party gets elected, because if they hadn't voted major party than somebody else would have anyway.

That's right. It applies equally to that situation, but that doesn't mean it doesn't apply the way I used it. What I was thinking of was your argument that your vote doesn't count if you're in a state that leans strongly one way. For instance, I'm in New York, and it doesn't really matter if I vote for Bush, Nader, or Billy Joel. In none of those cases is it likely to make much difference. Your own response to this is to say that, if Nader is really worth voting for, it's worth remembering that if enough people do vote for him it would make a difference, but that goes the other way too. If enough people vote for Nader instead of Kerry, that really would affect the electoral vote, as it did with Gore and Bush in New Hampshire and Florida in 2000.

What I'm saying is that it goes both ways. Your very argument requires admitting that your vote can make a difference for, say, Nader if enough people were to realize this and vote for him. That actually undermines your resistance to the claim that such a vote for Nader would be unimportant when it comes to taking votes away from, say, Kerry, because if enough people did it (but not enough for Nader to win the presidency), then it would elect Bush.

Both are true, and which one seems more important to you depends entirely on which background information you're considering. That's why I agree with everything you say, but you're squeezing some of it in by ignoring other things that you also need to say that would support voting for one of the two main party candidates.

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