I should like to thank David Palmeter for his extremely useful and insightful contribution to the on-going discussion of the painful choices facing progressives in this election cycle. He takes us back to the 1968 Humphrey/Nixon contest, which I recall vividly. I think I have already told the story of my voting experience that year. Depressed by the course of events, and momentarily possessed of the fantasy that things needed to get worse before they could get better, I went into the polling place on Amsterdam Avenue in Morningside Heights determined to vote for Richard Nixon. In those days, one went behind a curtain and pulled a lever. I reached for the lever to vote Republican, but my right arm, wiser than my heart or head, refused to obey, and in the end I voted for Humphrey.
David Palmeter's comment illustrates an important fact about complex rule-governed bureaucratic institutions like the America government: sometimes seemingly minor changes can trigger major consequences. Had the Florida "butterfly ballot" not been so confusing, 50,000 or so Jewish voters would not have accidentally voted for a candidate -- Pat Buchanan -- who could not possibly have been their intended choice, and Gore would have become President. There would have been no opportunity for a politicized Supreme Court majority to go down in history as a disgrace to the legal profession.
I offer a consoling compromise to those who are faint of heart: If you live in a solidly blue state, indulge yourself by withholding your vote from Clinton, and instead be sure to vote in every down-ballot race, selecting the leftmost available candidate. However, if, like me, you live in a purple state that could turn blue by a slender majority, then work for and vote for the entire Democratic ticket, regardless of your feelings about Clinton. Would you really like to explain to a middle-aged Iraqi, orphaned during the "shock and awe," why you voted for Ralph Nader in Florida because you found Al Gore too centrist for your refined tastes?