The proprietor of another blog, to which I from time to time contribute, regrets the vote he cast in 2004. (He doesn’t say whether he regrets his vote in 2000.) Since he was voting in Georgia, an abstention or a vote for Kerry wouldn’t have made a difference in the outcome, which I regard as a good thing. Unlike him, I don’t regret my votes, given the choices we had. I can’t imagine a President Gore on 9-11 or a President Kerry at any time.
What interests me at the moment aren’t my friend’s reasons (which are relatively nuanced, though I could pick some fights, if I wanted to), but the response he offers to Kate’s comment. Here it is, in full:
[O]ne of the problems with our country is our lack of choices in elections. It is almost impossible for an independent or third party candidate to get on the state ballots. And the deck is stacked against this happening. I think that it is a myth that we have choices in our elections. This is probably one of the primary reasons that many people don’t vote.
Ballot access is a bit of an issue, though plenty of parties and candidates seem to be capable of overcoming it. Indeed, if they can’t, then they don’t deserve our serious consideration.
But there’s something else here, as well. It seems to me that the Electoral College, with its winner-take-all (in most cases) state races, actually makes possible what I would regard as "responsible" third-party voting. In Georgia or any other relatively deeply red state, I could cast a "protest" vote without contributing to the election of someone whose views I regarded as anathema. A liberal voter in New York or Massachusetts could similarly vote Green without making it any less likely that his or her candidate would win the state. Such protest votes enable incipient replacement parties to test their electoral viability, setting the stage for a more sustained challenge to one of the major parties down the road.
In a straight popular vote election, the fact that my vote would "count" would make me less likely to choose an alternative to the Republican candidate, because I would then be a little more directly contributing to something I really don’t want.
What do folks think of this tentative and sketchy defense of the E.C. as the incubator, not of third parties (it discourages them), but of incipient replacement parties?