There's a particular kind of American progressive that drives me nuts. They are, to put it bluntly, Nader voters from the year 2000. Or today, unrelenting Clinton supporters from the year 2008. People convinced that, if only their preferred candidate were in a position of power, things would be better. And, as a corrollary, that pointing out the reality of the American duopoly of party politics amounts to saying "you have to vote for Barack Obama."
Well, of course you don't have to. But Democrats -- especially Democrats! -- who spent the last 8 years blaming Ralph Nader and his vanity-quest/Republican-care-package for all that has come since have no reason doing anything at this point other than supporting Barack Obama, if they're at all interested in the consequences of more GOP governance.
Look, I vote NDP, and I believe strongly that people have the right to support the occasional quixotic party. But the White House isn't a parliament -- there's no minority government, no multiple opposition parties, no role for anyone outside of victory. And if you think you can vote for the Democratic Congress and things will be just peachy, I'd just ask you to reflect on the reality of the last 2 years and how disappointing they've been from a progressive perspective. You think President McCain will be more accomodating than the current occupant?
If the structure of American governance were different -- if America were a Parliamentary democracy, and we were considering Barack Obama for Prime Minister -- then I'd say go ahead, vote Green for all I care. If the Democrats can't hang on to voters who should be in their tent, they don't deserve them.
But screwing a party with whom you agree in most particulars, and whose second-most prominent leader you supported vocally up until two months ago, is just insane. And don't kid yourself: Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, who wants to see a Democrat elected President. (What, you calling her a liar?) If you don't plan to vote for Barack Obama, not only are you not supporting him, you've given up any pretense of supporting her. Instead, you're clearly supporting some animatronic version of her that says what you want to hear, instead of the actual Hillary Clinton has been saying for months now -- vote for Obama.
Finally, there's the constant whinging from the American left that the Democrats are always a disappointment. Well, sure, if you expect social democracy, cradle-to-grave welfare and national healthcare to break out between the 49th parallel and the Rio Grande. America isn't there, and some days I fear it never will be. For lack of a better phrase, wake the fuck up. The Democrats do not have to reanimate the cryogenically frozen corpse of FDR to get my support. You know what I look for in the leadership of the most heavily-armed state on Earth? The least crazy person around. If Obama and McCain are both likely to wage a war against some poor country in the middle of nowhere (historically, most postwar Presidents have) I want the one who's not going to go nuclear. If I can get the least-crazy person and they want national healthcare, then goody for us all. Supporting the least-bad option isn't a sacrifice, you whiny children, it's a moral imperative.