The Price of Political Purity
In 1980, many on the Left abandoned Jimmy Carter because of his tacking to the political center, thus clearing the way for Ronald Reagan. In 2000, nearly three million voters cast ballots for Ralph Nader (who dubbed Al Gore “Tweedle-Dum” to George W. Bush’s “Tweedle-Dee”), thus helping Bush get close enough in Florida to steal the White House (with further help from five Republican partisans on the U.S. Supreme Court). Today, some on the Left are turning their backs on Barack Obama because he has disappointed them on health-care reform, the Afghan War and other policies. It seems that on the Left – even more than on the Right – there is this quadrennial debate over whether one should withhold support from the Democratic nominee out of a sense of moral purity or hold one’s nose and accept the “lesser evil,” i.e. the major-party candidate who will inflict the least damage on Americans and the world.