February 29, 2008


I just might wanna Ralph

My rarely-comments-on-this-blog sister sent me a link to this column by Neil Steinberg in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Just in case any Democrat is laboring under the illusion that winning the White House this year will be easy now that the Republicans are pinning their hopes on John "Bush's War is My War" McCain, up from the ash heap of history pops gadfly consumer advocate Ralph Nader, announcing he is ready to make his fifth, count 'em, fifth run for the presidency.

Sure, the dust of the tomb is upon him. Sure, his appeal is strictly limited to anti-corporate fanatics or anti-Israel zealots, the type of campus-bound leftie who reads Adbusters and wears a keffiyeh. But that is a tiny-yet-significant fraction of the Democratic Party, and in a tight race it could matter, as the nation discovered to its woe in 2000, when Nader helped George Bush swipe Al Gore's victory.

Any citizen can run for president, and while most perennial candidates are Harold Stassen-esque jokes, Nader is a special case -- deadly earnest, and drawing down his last reserves of attention and respect, based on the consumer activist movement he sparked some 40 years ago. That he feels compelled to spend his twilight years slurring the nation and grabbing frantically at relevance is his tragedy. That he has a chance to upend the election yet again, by his unwelcome presence, is ours.

Permit me a small digression here, but I wanted to point out how after Steinberg's screed his column continued with this little tidbit of revealing attitude about one of my old haunts:

Business brought me to Evanston on Saturday, and I took the older boy along for company, promising ... lunch out somewhere.

I suggested Blind Faith Restaurant, regaling him with tales of how, when I went to college 30 years ago, it was a hippie joint on the other side of the L tracks where you bused your own table, and had such good food - wonderful chili - that I patronized the place despite its offensive taint of vegetarianism...

Anyway, my sister's e-mail was accompanied by the following comment: "Please re-consider if you're seriously planning to WASTE your vote on Nader!"

The concept of a "wasted vote" is one of the most heinous and misleading constructs of the two-party system and its lackey, the mainstream media. It is quite akin to "Let's not have Kucinich in the debate - it would be a waste.* "

To say that Nader cost Gore the 2000 election is refuckingdiculous. Technically it was in fact the SCOTUS, but moreover it was the Democratic Party that could not convince more people not to vote for Bush (I mean how hard was that?). Being a true progressive, I'm not a huge fan of Al From and the Democratic Leadership Council, but From, who would have no reason to support Nader, dissolves the 2000 myth in a column he wrote just after Bush's first inauguration:

"The assertion that Nader's marginal vote hurt Gore is not borne out by polling data. When exit pollers asked voters how they would have voted in a two-way race, Bush actually won by a point. That was better than he did with Nader in the race."

Could this be because independents come out to vote when there is an independent candidate to vote for? The noive! Also, let's not sweep under the rug some other numbers: In the 2000 general election, 11 percent of Democrats defected from Gore and voted for Bush, but only four percent of Republicans swung away from their party. And yet people still have the audacity to excoriate the 2.6% of us who went for Nader?

I'm not convinced I will vote for Nader. In the previous post's comments, Joe the Troll contends that Ralph has been silent between elections. Well, it's not like he's gonna get invited on "Meet The Unimpressed" or "This Week with George Snuffleuppagus." He's been around, but the MSM ignores him. When Nader first made a name for himself the news media were actually in the business of reporting unvarnished news. Now, with Fortune 500 corporate ownership, consolidation of media and the inherent conflicts of interest this creates, voices like Nader and Kucinich are swept aside. The media and the DLC don't want all this talk of getting out of Iraq NOW and impeaching the two highest office holders in our gummint. Just because you didn't hear it doesn't mean it wasn't said.

And with that said, I contend that the reality is that Nader has not been effective at getting his message out to the mainstream, and that's what matters here. If Nader can say it's Gore's own fault for losing the election in 2000, he must also accept responsibility for his own political failures.

Still, to my beloved sibling I say there is no such thing as a citizen wasting their vote, and to assert such, madam, is to discount the very foundation of our republic.

Besides, I'm not taking advice from a guy who proclaims Blind Faith Cafe (old or new) as having "the offensive taint of vegetarianism."


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"The concept of a "wasted vote" is one of the most heinous and misleading constructs of the two-party system and its lackey, the mainstream media. It is quite akin to "Let's not have Kucinich in the debate - it would be a waste.* "

I agree with you.

"To say that Nader cost Gore the 2000 election is refuckingdiculous."

I agree with this as well.

"Just because you didn't hear it doesn't mean it wasn't said."

No, but when the ENTIRE COUNTRY isn't in the forest when the tree falls, it really doesn't matter if it makes a sound or not.

"no such thing as a citizen wasting their vote"

Well, I'd say that anyone who voted for Bush expecting compassion, integrity, and competence sure wasted that vote.

My point is, what does he expect to accomplish? "Getting a message out?" If he can't do that between elections, how does he expect to do it now? "Keeping the others on line with the issues?" Ha. Kucinich has a better chance of debating them in the general election. All he can do is serve his own ego. I support the presence of independent candidates, but this clown has already done this four times with no results, period. Go away.

Also, it seems to me that anyone who can work up the money to make a presidential run can also get around the media's reticence the old fashioned way - by buying ad space. They'll take his money and print what he wants, just as they did with Soros. He can get his message out to folks between elections if he wants to - that is, if this "message" is what he really feels is important.

I used to feel that voting my conscience, even if the candidate obviously had no chance, sent a message about what people really want. No one looks for any message, however, beyond that which actually puts someone in office. I didn't waste all those votes for Libertarians, but they didn't help the "message" gain any momentum, either.

On another note, I see a new trend here in Blogovia. Nowadays, when I disagree with someone in their comments, they respond with a whole new post! I take this as a sign of my growing power and influence. Perhaps Blogovia is ready for its first Troll mayor?
Nader's positive is that he will bring up the forgotten issues: the environment and corporatism to name tow.
Denny K had some great ideas. Alas, he was never a serious contender. Vote for Nader if you like, O'T. I'll not condemn you for it. My question is this: Would you rather have McCain or Obama in '09? Nader will not be a serious contender and the only message that you will be sending is that you have contempt for the Democratic party. There will never be a seriuos third party in this country as it would upset the applecart too much for the power structure to allow it. You choose A or B:that is all.


"Nader's positive is that he will bring up the forgotten issues: the environment and corporatism to name tow."

How? By standing outside the building where the debate is held and hoping a camera points at him? Note that he got seatbelts put in cars and didn't even need to run for dogcatcher.

"I'll not condemn you for it."

Never. We can still HARANGUE him for it, though.

"There will never be a serious third party in this country......"

Never say never. The Republicans were a 3rd party once, but that was long before the media took total control. However, if it IS never, it will be because Americans are intellectually lazy and have been for decades. As long as we can tell ourselves that we're still the "leaders of the free world" because we spend more money on bombs than everyone else, we'll consider ourselves to be the best-educated as well. However, how can depth of political thought be expected from a nation that continues to whine that the metric system is "Too hard"?

That is really at the foundation of my disagreement with O'Tim. His mistake, as I see it, is in giving far too many of his fellow Americans too much credit for being curious seekers of truth and information. He's forgetting that those of us who pay more attention to the elections than American Idol are in the vast minority, as cynical as that sounds. People will ignore a third party candidate not because the power structure won't allow it (although that is tragically true as well) but because they're too fucking lazy to listen in the first place. Most people have their political affiliation chosen for them by their families - few parents are as careful as mine were not to indoctrinate, and many families proudly indoctrinate their kids anyway. With the two major parties, you have "cookie-cutter" political views, and all you have to do is decide how you react to the PERSON who is running. Thus, the only ones, like Tim said, to vote for him are those who DO pay attention and are disgusted with the Democrats. You can be sure that no Republicans are going to vote for him because they don't like McCain. If Nader has to run, we need to get Ross Perot back, too, as a counterweight.
Anything that can help us break from our two-party system is a good thing.
I agree that we need to break away from a two-party system.

I do NOT agree that this will help, or that "anything" is good.
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