Good question. What’s your breaking point? How much support for the death penalty, corporate welfare, corporate crime, saying one thing and voting differently, and silencing electoral competition will you continue to tolerate? How effectively can major-party candidates use fear to keep you from voting your interests?
I find it amazing that major-party candidate supporters ask everyone nationally to “do the math” (motivated by fear of the opposing major-party candidate, no doubt) and voters from electoral-college-insignificant counties (like all counties in Illinois except Cook county, where Chicago is) obey them concluding that they had better vote “defensively” for a Republican or Democrat. Millions of voters nationwide are in such positions and they apparently aren’t doing the math: their vote for US President is inconsequential because of the structure of the electoral college. It wouldn’t matter if nobody but Cook county Illinois voted for US President because Cook county basically dictates where all of Illinois’ electoral votes go. People apparently know that the way to speak out in such a rigged game is to not vote at all (and tell people you dislike all the ballot-qualified choices, and then organize politically for a binding “None of the Above” choice) or to vote for someone other than a major-party candidate. In counties with sufficient population to steer electoral votes, there is plenty of good reason to vote your values (which almost certainly aren’t well reflected by corporate-funded major-party candidates).
City, county, congressional, and state votes, on the other hand, matter a great deal because you have more power there. Unfortunately those elections are rigged in other ways (we couldn’t, for instance, have a 90%+ Congressional retention rate otherwise—everyone’s Congressperson is corrupt but yours, right?). The media is a major source of problems for any campaign who refuses to spout corporate-friendly views. Interviews are easily blacked out (consider how little air time third-party and independent candidates like Nader/Gonzalez get these days but how much time TV hosts like MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow have to talk about the latest round of ads from McCain/Obama; Maddow’s segment with Ron Paul on October 30th was getting interesting when she abruptly ended the segment without any real discussion of the issues Paul raised). Media buys are horribly expensive (particularly for cash-strapped small campaigns) and TV debate coverage is prejudicial and unreliable. Sometimes TV debates are canceled when participants don’t meet capricious qualifications (like the New York anti-war candidate, Jonathan Tasini, who couldn’t debate Hilary Clinton for US Senate because he hadn’t raised enough money, or the CPD restrictions which are set to keep everyone but the two major-party candidates out). Or sometimes they’re canceled when media outlets don’t want to push for broadening the terms of allowable debate (like when Google recently canceled its debate because Sen. Obama refused to appear; probably because Google would have had him debate Ralph Nader).