Many people in Toronto hate Rob Ford and are horrified that he might soon be the mayor of their great city.
Many of the same people are uncomfortable with George Smitherman, who is less offensive than Ford, but politically different only by degree. There's a reason Joe Pantalone calls Smitherman "the return of Mike Harris," and why dozens of Tories line up to endorse him.
These same folks who hate Rob Ford and dislike George Smitherman tend to like Joe Pantalone. They believe he would make a good mayor. But, because they believe he has no chance of winning, they claim they must "vote strategically" for the "lesser of two evils".
Your candidate has no chance of winning? Vote for him and give him a better chance of winning.
Lesser of two evils? You are voting for evil. Why do you want to vote for evil? Why are you content to vote for evil when there is an alternative?
I'm not here to argue Ford vs Smitherman vs Pantalone. To me it is very obvious that Pantalone is the only progressive candidate, and progressive people should vote for him.
I'm here to state a very simple fact: vote for who you want. Vote for the candidate who best represents your values. If every Torontonian eligible to vote votes for the person he or she prefers for mayor, Toronto will get the mayor it wants. But if people vote for who they think is less-worse, then the best you'll get is less-worse. And less-worse is not good.
Don't be fooled by appearances and rhetoric. The mainstream Canadian media acts like Barack Obama is the polar opposite of his predecessor in the White House. But their policies are nearly identical, and in some areas, Obama is worse. George Smitherman may not be as scary as Rob Ford, but what does he stand for? What is his vision for Toronto?
And for dog's sake, don't vote for the man because he's gay. That's just stupid. Unless you're prepared to argue that all gay people think exactly alike - meaning, gay people are stereotypes and cartoons, not real people - then don't vote for someone because he's gay. Or because she's a woman. Or brown. Or white.
When you vote for a centre-right candidate to keep a right-wing candidate from getting in, you help move the centre further to the right. And every time the centre moves rightward, so does the right wing. And progressive thought becomes ever more marginalized, and more people say the progressive candidate has no chance of winning, and so they vote centre-right, and on it goes.
For a demonstration of what happens when people continually vote for the lesser of two evils with no viable alternative, look no further than our neighbours to the south. If you think you can distinguish between the Democrats and the Republicans - not on rhetoric, on action - you might want to check the voting records.
When there are only two candidates running, the "lesser of two evils" argument might make sense. I say "might," because I am personally done with voting for evil, at all, ever. But if there is an alternative, you don't have to vote for any evil. You can vote for the person you want.
So please, do that.