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Conor Friedersdorf and Henry Farrell Picked the Wrong Day to Call for People to Abstain from Voting for Obama

The day when Mitt Romney's national security staff leaks that they want the U.S. to torture prisoners, that is.

And Hilzoy joins the rest of us ululating at the moon beneath the dead uncaring stars:

On Not Being Obliged to Vote Democrat: Sweet Jesus.

I am beyond disappointed by Obama on civil liberties. But I have also been voting for the lesser of two evils for my entire adult life. This is not because I think I have to vote for the Democrat; it’s because it has always seemed to me to be the right choice. There are things that could make me not want to do so, but they involve either some plausible path to political change or two alternatives so awful that they would make me either emigrate or join the resistance.

The plausible path to political change is key here. I see the obvious problem about how a third party gets to displace one of the other two if everyone votes the way I do. But the reason there is no viable third party now isn’t primarily that; it’s that given the present electorate (including its news-gathering habits), no third party (that I’d be tempted to vote for) would be viable now.

The question is: how do you move the objectives you favor forward? Do you say to yourself that having Supreme Court justices who, in addition to eviscerating women’s rights, what remain of labor rights, etc., etc., would set Citizens United in stone, define money as speech for the foreseeable future, etc.? Do you say: ha ha, I don’t want to settle for the Affordable Care Act, even though Democrats have been trying to get something like this for half a century; I’ll just let a lot of people sicken and die while I wait for single-payer? Do you react to the recent study that says that climate change might kill a hundred million people by 2030 by saying: well, let’s just heighten the contradictions?

If I saw some plausible path to actual political change that would in some way compensate for these things, not to mention the many extra dead people that a Republican administration and its wars would probably produce, I might consider it. But I will not now. This is not because I think it’s not a choice, that I am “obligated” to vote Democratic, etc. It’s because I think it is a choice with immense moral ramifications, all of which lead me to vote for Obama.