Thursday, October 23, 2008

'Sending a Message'

In a pre-election roundup by Will O'Bryan ("Outing the vote: Gay locals talk politics in the final stretch to Nov. 4"), Metro Weekly, a publication with a largely gay readership in Washington, D.C. (not to be confused with The Metro Herald, a publication with a largely African-American readership in Alexandria, Virginia, for which I write), quotes a supporter of Bob Barr who will be casting a write-in ballot for the Libertarian nominee:

Outside Washington, you might have former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, also of Georgia, on your ballot, running for the Libertarian Party. Of course, you can always just write him in on a D.C. ballot. That's what D.C.'s Berin Szoka says he'll be doing.

''When I vote for Barr, the point is not whoever the Libertarian candidate is. Voting Libertarian is a way of sending a message.... The more votes the Libertarian Party gets, that communicates something. That's why I'm voting at all.''

Before supporting Barr, however, Szoka had publicly -- and somewhat jokingly -- dubbed himself the ''HomoPaulertarian-in-chief,'' promoting Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) dark-horse candidacy for president.

''He's always been a hero of mine. I was delighted when he ran for president,'' says Szoka. ''At the same time, I was astonished by the enthusiasm among young people.''

While Szoka's philosophical leanings tend toward the libertarian, the 28-year-old shares a view probably not uncommon among many who eschew Democrats and Republicans for smaller political parties.

''I think both the major political parties are philosophically corrupt.''

With such strong convictions, one can imagine how difficult it might be for Szoka to pull the lever for either.

Instead, says Szoka, ''I vote for limited government in all respects: social issues, economic issues, foreign policy. Keep the government away from the bedroom, the boardroom and invading foreign countries.''

In a winner-take-all political system, he readily admits, any ''third-party'' presidential vote will remain a largely symbolic gesture. But Szoka is surely not the only gay Washingtonian making that gesture.
I should note that I have known Berin Szoka since he was a law student at the University of Virginia, and I was pleased to see that Metro Weekly sought out his views for this article, which also looks at local elections in D.C. and its suburbs and congressional races as well as the big kahuna, the presidential race in which either Barack Obama or John McCain is the most likely victor.

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