By now, anyone who reads any of progressive political blog out there has probably come across this argument by Conor Friedersdorf against voting for Barack Obama in November, even if you think he’s the better of the two mainstream candidates in the election.
From my perspective, the instrumental version of the argument being made here is more interesting, and has received less attention in much of the discussion (that I’ve seen) of the piece. That is, if we accept that Friedersdorf wants to change US policy in the conduct of the War on Terror (WoT) it remains an open question question whether that goal would be better served by voting for (andmore significantly, promoting) a 3rd party candidate, or by voting for Obama while arguing publicly for a serious reconsideration of the President’s poor record on human rights in the conduct of the Obama-era WoT.
Photo credit: Postbear, http://www.flickr.com/photos/postbear/
My instinct is to say the latter, given the very limited ability of political fringe parties in the US to influence political discourse in a meaningful way. Rather, in the deeply entrenched two-party system, political change (at least in recent electoral cycles) has moved from the periphery to the centre within the context of a single party. If Friedersdorf is serious about changing US policy, his best chance would seem to be to change the policy of the Democratic Party, and do everything possible to put that party in control of both the legislative and executive branches of government.