May we recommend the whole text of the 'Nader Dilemma' article? This is a very condensed version, just a soundbite really.
Nader can't possibly win; you're throwing your vote away if you vote for him. Given the nature of chaotic systems like markets and popular votes, "can't possibly" is a mathematical misstatement; "is highly unlikely to" would be more correct. The nature of large chaotic systems is that you cannot predict them; no one can! Something unexpected is always possible. But I would not quarrel with anyone who said that a Green Party victory in this election would be very surprising -- delightful, but very surprising.
Any vote for Nader is a vote stolen from Gore. Gore can't win if people vote for Nader. Here we are on shakier ground. There are many states in which either Gore or Bush is so darned far ahead that the other guy is already toast. In these states, a few votes for Nader are not going to hurt Gore, and will definitely help the Greens. In fact, in a state where there's little-to-no hope of a Gore victory, every Democrat of progressive principles might as well vote for Nader. In states where the two are close, the polls are focussing on "likely to vote" or "previously voted" registered voters. But there are a lot of people, maybe about 25 percent of the public, who usually don't bother to exercise their voting rights because they are so disgusted with both parties. If that 25 percent felt inclined to vote for Nader, it wouldn't affect Gore's tally at all; they wouldn't have voted for Gore anyway. And some of those who are switching to the Green Party are disaffected Independents and even a tiny handful of Republicans. These voters also don't subtract from Gore's score, in fact the Reps subtract from Bush's in their tiny maverick way.
If we don't get Gore in, Bush will win. Well, there are only 4 candidates. We hope we can disregard the lunatic Right. That leave 3 real contenders; but many expert observers feel that Nader cannot be considered a real contender. Some of these are just talking heads for corporate media, but others are expert analysts on the Left. There is difference of opinion even between people with very similar beliefs and principles; Kathe Pollitt vs Alexander Cockburn, for example. As things look today, it's a race between two contenders, not three; but whether things two months from now will look exactly the same is anyone's guess.
Therefore, if you vote for Nader, Bush will win; a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. See above. In a state with a very close race between Republican and Democrat, a registered Democrat who switched to Green Party affiliation and voted Nader might directly contribute to a Bush victory. In a state where the race is already over, or for the voter who hasn't voted for the last 15 years, it's not that simple.
If Bush gets in, he'll stack the Supreme Court with right-wing Christian conservatives and overturn Roe vs Wade. If Bush gets in, he'll start paying off his political and financial debts. Sheesh, he'll probably make the Clinton administration look clean. He will probably try to pay off debts and favours from the loony Right by appointing ultraconservatives to the court. But not all conservative appointees on the Court vote their party line at all times. Nor is it clear what the social repercussions of overturning Roe would be, and whether even such an egomaniac as Bush would be willing to face them. Whether Bush getting elected leads inevitably to an overturn of Roe is a matter of opinion.
Therefore, if you vote for Nader, abortion will become illegal, and it will be your fault. This is obviously a reductio ad absurdum, but it's the heart of the moral dilemma. Obviously, if you live in a state where Bush has already won months before election day, and you vote for Nader, your vote would never have swung your state for Gore anyway; so you can only laugh when people start firing the guilt-gun in your general direction. If you live in a state where it's running very close, then you're definitely in the Maximum Dilemma Group. But even so, in the humble opinion of this writer, it will not be your personal fault that an evil and corrupt man backs a repressive and hateful ideology; evil and corrupt men have been doing just this for hundreds of years, and it has never been the victims' fault, no matter how many people have tried to prove that it was.
Every feminist has to vote for Gore. To vote for Nader is antifeminist. To vote for the only candidate with a real social justice platform -- the only candidate in sight with a female running mate -- the only candidate who is not wholly owned by corporate backers; this can hardly be called "antifeminist". To vote for Nader means that you've wrestled with a dilemma, and with difficulty decided that you think that supporting the Green Party now, despite a degree of risk, is the best investment you can make in a decent future for women in this country. No one can do more with their vote than that. Those who vote for Gore, because they have come to a different conclusion after wrestling with the dilemma, are also trying to do their best. It would be foolish to say (as the Democrats and the pundits surely will) that a Gore victory implies the whole-hearted support of the American people for another four years of presidential malfeasance, corporate domination, and rich folks generally running riot... or that the war on Colombia will be all your fault because you voted for Gore. That kind of blame-throwing is silly.
Most feminists who vote for Gore will do so, figuratively speaking, with a gun held to their heads. The questions for all of us now are, Is the gun loaded or not? and How do I feel about voting with a gun held to my head?