Election Day approaches. I stay outside of the fray of political ads and commentary. I care not what the talking heads or SuperPACs want me to think or believe. Besides, I’m not really one for marketing ploys. Nonetheless, a decision looms, and I’ve still not made up my mind.

No, I’m not on the fence between President Obama or Governor Romney; there is almost nothing on the Romney platform that entreats my consideration, much less my vote. The problem is, there’s not much of the President’s record of the last four years that attracts me either. Sure, in toto it’s far more than the Republicans have offered (or even thought about), but compared to the high hopes and soaring rhetoric of 2008 it appears we’ve fallen woefully short.

There are a handful of things I like from this administration, namely its views on women’s rights, progressive taxation, fairness in immigration, and finally, though bungled terribly, gay rights. With some significant exceptions, I’ve also been proud of their shrewd foreign policy, knowing full well that Secretary Clinton deserves most of the credit. And while I’m glad there’s been a step in the right direction on health coverage, the political missteps and far-too-concessive approach that enveloped it left a bitter taste in my mouth and conclude it a hollow victory at best.

That’s about where my congruence with the President ends.

When it comes to environmental protection, energy policy, corporate influence and lobbying, defense spending, human rights, civil rights, open government, tax reform, economic ingenuity, and campaign finance I’m left without sound representation in the Executive. Add to that the bumbling nature of so many policy announcements and proposals, the too-close relationship with a weak and ineffective Democratic caucus, and a continuation of the “please don’t hurt me” approach to policy-making and I really don’t have a lot of faith in their political astuteness either.

As a progressive, I just need to feel a little more love on the left side. I know we can’t have it all, and I don’t expect a Democrat to think, act, or talk like Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, or Bob La Folette. But would it be so bad to simply refer to these people or stand for some of their ideas and ideals from time to time? “Atlas Shrugged” is flying off of shelves because Paul Ryan mentioned Ayn Rand, a native Russian novelist who was never educated in public policy. Suddenly she’s the matriarch of the Tea Party. God forbid the President refer to any of the great minds and policy-thinkers of the Progressive movement. Or even the Democratic Party (if there are any, I’m not so sure). Thousands of environmental, conservationist, and Progressive quotes can be found in the writings and oratory of Theodore Roosevelt alone. Surely we can all relate to and rally behind the man who is the namesake of the Teddy Bear!

But since the mere notion of aligning yourself with progressives is treated as an infectious and terminal disease, I shall continue to get the cold shoulder from the Dems. Which leads me to look elsewhere.

There are other options to consider. Dr. Jill Stein is running on the Green Party ticket and former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson is the presidential candidate for the newly formed Justice Party. Either of these candidates more closely represents my views and stands up for many more of what I believe to be our most pressing issues than President Obama.

But I’m no fool either. The 2000 election result lends credence to the anti-3rd party “you’re wasting your vote” argument. Jimmy Weinstein, the founder of In These Times magazine said, “People should form third parties if they want to become even more irrelevant than they are.” (Rothschild, The Progressive – Sept. 2012) Ouch.

Still I wrestle. You can be sure that an Obama victory will be heralded by his spin doctors as a vindication of his policies (though I doubt the “mandate” moniker will be used, despite W’s tasteless example of a graceless win). And my vote for a true progressive may indeed signal to the Democrats that they need to get serious about issues that the real left cares about. But at the expense of a Romney presidency and possibly another two to four years of one-party rule in essentially all three branches of government? I don’t think I can stomach that again.

This is not new territory to me. In 1996 I found myself largely in the same situation – disenfranchised by Clinton’s right-turn after the ‘94 mid terms and dissatisfied with the result. To be honest, I abstained that year, and hoped I never would have to do so again. After all, it is my patriotic duty as a citizen to vote.

I really don’t know where I’ll end up. Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine, recently wrote a stinging and inconclusive piece on this very topic called “The Third Party Dilemma.” It seems he and I, and likely most passionate progressives, are all stuck in the same moat. Examining the pros and cons he still left me without an answer, which is too bad because I really wanted to cop out.

He concludes his piece by irritatingly flaunting, “There is no easy way out of this trap, and I’m not going to spring you from it. I’ll make up my own mind on November 6.”

I suppose I will to. What about you?

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