Though Nader and those who voted for him were accused as "spoilers" who threw the election to George W. Bush, I don't regret my vote. I would have voted for Nader again if he were on the Illinois ballot in 2004 and if I was certain that my write-in vote would have been counted, as well as votes for the other offices.
But times change and the Green Party has shifted its focus to building at the local level. That's good because now people can begin to see that there are viable options to the same old stuff.
Now, for the first time in Illinois history, there is clear dissatisfaction with gubernatorial candidates for both parties. When I posted my last article about that, I got several comments that they would vote for the Green Party candidate.
I finally read many of Richard Whitney's positions and they are intelligent, original and offer fresh solutions to old problems plaguing Illinois. And now I'm considering voting for him.
Apparently I'm not the only one who's considering voting outside my party once again. This time, there are several independents and - get this - Republicans who are considering casting their votes for Whitney.
It would be an anomaly if dissatisfaction were so strong in Illinois that Whitney would actually win. I realize that. I think others realize it as well. But let's say that Whitney gets about 10% of the vote in a couple of weeks. That 10 percent would have easily decided who would have been sitting in the state mansion in January - Blagojevich or Topinka and could easily make the parties sit up and take notice. Maybe listen to their voters and not the party line on issues?
Maybe not. As many states have taken to knocking Nader off the ballot in 2004 (and the state Democratic party tried that with Whitney, though he's getting his support mainly from Republicans and independents), both parties would probably try to knock the Green Party off the ballot in the next election should that happen. Even five percent of the vote would determine the Green Party's ability to survive in Illinois.
Regardless of how Whitney performs in this election, and how Green Party candidate for other offices in this and other states, Republicans and Democrats will have to realize that their positions are not resonating with voters the way they once did. Right now, they're content to bash each other on the news channels and all that does is tune out voters.
I think party officials secretly hope that the other guy stays home on Election Day and that their people are energized to come out for them. If people do come out, it will be to support local races.
If people really do care about the future of their communities and want to vote for someone who they feel truly addresses their concerns, then they do have alternate choices. Maybe they'll find their hope in the Green Party and turn to them. Or other parties.
The important things to remember:
You get one vote.
Use it to let everyone know how you feel.
Vote your conscience and not your party.
If you do that, your vote is not wasted. Even if your candidate does not win.
The only wasted votes are the ones not cast at all. We are the only country that does not appreciate the power of the vote, and we need to get back to it.
Even if it's to vote for the other guy.
And if you're interested in Rich Whitney: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/poli