Monday, November 08, 2004


The Nation didn't print this one

Here's an old letter I sent to The Nation. They never printed it, but I thought I'd put it out there as food for thought.


Though I'm leaning toward a Kerry vote in this year's election, I think it's important to dispel the oft-repeated mantra that "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush."

Assuming a voter is deciding between Kerry and Nader, his or her Nader vote takes one vote away from Kerry while having no effect on Bush’s vote count. The net effect is plus one for Bush. Compare this to what would happen if this same individual followed the bumper sticker logic and voted for Bush: Kerry’s votes go down by one, and Bush’s votes go up by one: a net effect of plus two for Bush. Conclusion: A vote for Nader is, at worst, half a vote for Bush.

I say “at worst” because this conclusion only applies to Nader voters who would have otherwise gone with Kerry. In truth, many Nader voters might simply stay home (or vote "fourth party") on Election Day rather than subject themselves to a “lesser of two evils” contest. If so, their Nader votes make no difference at all to the contest between Bush and Kerry.

A final case worth mentioning, if only for the mental acuity required to imagine such a person, is the voter who is stuck on the fence between Nader and Bush. We can only hope this person realizes that his vote for Nader is actually a (half) vote for Kerry!

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