Pesky Greens
July 30, 2003 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Attack Nader early and often to prevent the Greens from throwing another election into the hands of the Republicans. Michael Tomasky in the American Prospect argues that Howard Dean is the man who can best profit from this technique. Will Nader give us four more years of GW? He makes a good point that the Green Party would get more results from working within the Democratic Party than from essentially attacking it like they did in 2000.
posted by caddis (77 comments total)
 
In other words: Give up your desire to build a 3rd party and throw away your beliefs just to elect someone who might not be as bad as the other candidate. Yep, that makes sense.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:30 PM on July 30, 2003



In other words: Give up your desire to build a 3rd party and throw away your beliefs just to elect someone who might not be as bad as the other candidate. Yep, that makes sense.


Given what we've been experiencing over the last few years, I'd say yes it does indeed make sense.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:31 PM on July 30, 2003


How would this work? Every Nader voter I know voted for him exactly because of the positions he held that Tomasky now wants the Democrats to attack. It seems his idea is geared more towards more moderate Democrats, people who would never vote for Nader in the first place. Wouldn't a better idea be to pay lip-service to some of the positions that Nader holds and throw his supporters a few bones?
posted by gyc at 12:33 PM on July 30, 2003


Yep, that makes sense.

Well, it does, doesn't it? At least for now.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:34 PM on July 30, 2003


I have a hard time understanding why so many people slag Nader for 'throwing' the election to the republicans. By my recollection, that was the supreme court's decision. If this is the reaction that people can expect to a third party, why would anyone bother trying to become the third party - all they get is misplaced scorn. It's not Nader's fault that Bush is in office - it's the fault of a corrupted court, the sunshine state of confused geriatrics and no-show eligable voters across the country.
posted by holycola at 12:34 PM on July 30, 2003


If only it were that simple a choice.

I understand the bitterness that dyed-in-the-wool Democrats feel the role Nader played in the last election; Bush is worse than I ever dreamed possible. He's so bad that I'm almost willing to reconsider my voting habits.

Almost.

I think it's unjust to condemn the Greens (or any other group) for voting their conscience. Yes, the outcome of the last Presidential election damaged their cause more than it helped, but these people should not be chastised for voting with their convictions.

Me?

I think the two-party system is ludicrous, and no real political change in this country is possible until we have strong, viable third- and fourth- and fifth-parties from which to choose.

To that end, in every Presidential election I vote for the strongest third-party candidate. If that means Ross Perot of the Reform Party, I vote for Ross Perot. If that means John Hagelin (no matter how much that makes me wince) of the Natural Law Party, I vote for John Hagelin . If that means Ralph Nader of the Green Party, I vote for Ralph Nader.

Crazy? Maybe. But it's a strongly-held belief and I'm going to adhere to it until I die.

Except for in the next Presidential election. I'm going to vote for the candidate most likely to defeat Bush in the next Presidential election. I'll compromise principles just this once. :)
posted by jdroth at 12:34 PM on July 30, 2003


If only it were that simple a choice.

I understand the bitterness that dyed-in-the-wool Democrats feel the role Nader played in the last election; Bush is worse than I ever dreamed possible. He's so bad that I'm almost willing to reconsider my voting habits.

Almost.

I think it's unjust to condemn the Greens (or any other group) for voting their conscience. Yes, the outcome of the last Presidential election damaged their cause more than it helped, but these people should not be chastised for voting with their convictions.

Me?

I think the two-party system is ludicrous, and no real political change in this country is possible until we have strong, viable third- and fourth- and fifth-parties from which to choose.

To that end, in every Presidential election I vote for the strongest third-party candidate. If that means Ross Perot of the Reform Party, I vote for Ross Perot. If that means John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party, I vote for John Hagelin (no matter how much that makes me wince). If that means Ralph Nader of the Green Party, I vote for Ralph Nader.

Crazy? Maybe. But it's a strongly-held belief and I'm going to adhere to it until I die.

Except for in the next Presidential election. I'm going to vote for the candidate most likely to defeat Bush in the next Presidential election. I'll compromise principles just this once. :)
posted by jdroth at 12:35 PM on July 30, 2003


Nice. I'm not sure how I double-posted, but I did. sigh
posted by jdroth at 12:38 PM on July 30, 2003


Given what we've been experiencing over the last few years, I'd say yes it does indeed make sense.

Yes, it makes sense for the Democrats to keep blaming Nader/others for their lack of committment to the ideals that might make them an important force in American politics. If they can't win an election (not counting 2000), they have no one to blame but themselves.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:40 PM on July 30, 2003


The only person responsible for Gore losing in 2000 is Al Gore. He did not make a compelling enough argument to win over a clear majority of the population.

Regardless of what role the Supreme Court played, even Al Gore didn't have a clear, stunning, overwhelming majority. Of course, in American elections all that's needed is one more vote than your opponent, but putting blame on the Greens, or any 3rd party is nonsense.

What this country needs is to change its voting system to a weighted system, where each person gets to put down preferences. Then Gore might have been president and this whole mess could have been avoided.
posted by PigAlien at 12:44 PM on July 30, 2003


I think the two-party system is ludicrous

Sure, but it would be twice as good as the one-party (RepubliCrat) system we have now.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:45 PM on July 30, 2003


Blast him especially hard on foreign policy, saying that if it were up to the Greens, America would give no aid to Israel and it would cease to exist

I found this to be particularly cynical.
posted by dgaicun at 12:47 PM on July 30, 2003


Regardless of what the Dems think and regardless of Nader's impact on the 2000 Election, there are still going to be millions of votes that don't matter, thankyouverymuch electoral college. I know that whether I wanted to vote Green or brown or dem or red or whatever, Bush is going to take this state and all votes cast in this state that aren't for him are going to be flushed.

Nader brought up a lot of issues that I hold dearly that neither Gore nor Bush would touch. He was the only candidate to visit every state (even the ones that he didn't get on the ballot for). Whether I'd vote for him in 2004 or not, I like his presence in the public eye because it can hopefully raise issues other than economy and war. Those may be the two biggest issues, but there's plenty more that needs to be discussed and I don't see it coming from either of the major parties.
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:50 PM on July 30, 2003


nader isn't even running in 2004. in fact...

I usually don't say this kinda thing about people, but Michael Tomasky is a dumbass.
posted by mcsweetie at 12:55 PM on July 30, 2003


Give up your desire to build a 3rd party and throw away your beliefs

Right. "Throw away your beliefs," or "compromise."
posted by callmejay at 12:57 PM on July 30, 2003


Ufez Jones: He was the only candidate to visit every state (even the ones that he didn't get on the ballot for).

This jumps out at me. Either he wasn't really "running" for president (and was just trying to get his message out), or he's nuts! Who in his right mind tries to make a sale where no one can buy his product?
posted by trharlan at 12:59 PM on July 30, 2003


when will the democrats ever understand that the greens are in COMPETITION with them just as much as the dems are in competition with the republicans? why is this such a hard thing to understand? just because their numbers currently define them as only a spoiler party, that doesn't mean that "spoiling" an election is their INTENT.
posted by luriete at 1:04 PM on July 30, 2003


Nader made the election closer than it needed to be. But don't take it out on him. Blame each and every person who were dumb enough to vote for Bush. Point 'yer finger at them.
posted by ghastlyfop at 1:07 PM on July 30, 2003


This jumps out at me. Either he wasn't really "running" for president (and was just trying to get his message out), or he's nuts! Who in his right mind tries to make a sale where no one can buy his product?

Given that he wasn't believing he himselv was going to win the presidency in 2000, I think that he was concerned with giving a face to the 3rd party / Green movement as much as he was seriously campaigning.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:09 PM on July 30, 2003


Who in his right mind tries to make a sale where no one can buy his product?

I know! usually candidates will try to win no matter what it takes so it's weird that one would have more principles than that.
posted by mcsweetie at 1:10 PM on July 30, 2003


Right. "Throw away your beliefs," or "compromise."

OH, I get it now. Next election, I'll compromise and vote for the Republican candidate instead of the Green candidate.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:10 PM on July 30, 2003


How are we supposed to work within a Democrat party whose candidates are bought by corporate interests? Are they going to throw us a few crumbs for cooperating with their brand of Corporate Government?

Sorry, no sale.
posted by pyramid termite at 1:14 PM on July 30, 2003


Say, here's an idea. Don't fire at the charging elephant, instead go kick the little green bichon frise. Sounds at least as bold as any Dem plan I've heard so far.
posted by jfuller at 1:17 PM on July 30, 2003


[Al Gore] did not make a compelling enough argument to win over a clear majority of the population

Um, actually Gore did win over a clear majority of the population.
posted by Nelson at 1:20 PM on July 30, 2003


This jumps out at me. Either he wasn't really "running" for president (and was just trying to get his message out), or he's nuts! Who in his right mind tries to make a sale where no one can buy his product?

An appearance in Alaska (or wherever) can get you 100 votes in New York if the media coverage is right. And on preview the stuff that Space Coyote said too.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:20 PM on July 30, 2003


The Green Party has many virtues. However, the Democratic Party has the virtue of being (possibly) electable, and this time out, just like in 2000, that's the only virtue that counts.
posted by Prospero at 1:27 PM on July 30, 2003


I don't blame Nader, personally, for Gore's losing of the election (heck, I voted for Nader, myself). It was Gore's election to lose, and he blew it. I could rant on and on about why this was and what my dissatisfactions with Gore were, but I'll put that aside for now to talk about why I ultimately agree with Tomasky....

Namely, whoever is running the Green party is turning it into a destructive organization. On a state and local level, they have insisted on running candidates in which the Green party would explicitly draw votes away from the democratic party candidate in close elections, rather than running candidates in places they would have a chance at winning. They seemed more interested in throwing a temper tantrum rather than party building.

The rank and file voters that supported the Greens were the voters who felt alienated by the major party candidates. Any candidate who says, "I love Green voters, but I dislike the Green party" is going to get the support he needs.
posted by deanc at 1:28 PM on July 30, 2003


If Dean or any other Democratic candidate decides to target the Greens, that would be more likely to swing my vote back to the Greens than to the Democrats.

You don't heal a rift by creating a chasm, and Dean is hardly inassailable himself. He's as far right as Bush in many categories, and his supposed opposition against the conflict in Iraq is a fallacy.

On January 31, Dean told Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times that "if Bush presents what he considered to be persuasive evidence that Iraq still had weapons of mass destruction, he would support military action, even without U.N. authorization." and on February 20th, Dean told Salon.com that "if the U.N. in the end chooses not to enforce its own resolutions, then the U.S. should give Saddam 30 to 60 days to disarm, and if he doesn't, unilateral action is a regrettable, but unavoidable, choice."

In other words, Dean would have gone along with the war in Iraq, just like so many others did. This article has more info on his flaky stance on Iraq.

The arguments suggested against Nader just don't stick. Israel would still exist without US foriegn aid. He would have gone after the terrorists directly, rather than invading countries. And the concept that he is harming consumers by not supporting the Democrats? That's ludicrous. He's had to work against both Republicans *AND* Democrats for years to get them to pay attention to consumer issues, not to mention issues like campaign finance reform. If Dean actually took tough stands on consumer issues and made promises to offer true campaign finance reform and remove lobbyists from Washington, he could win over the Greens.

Nader is also saying that he would hardly have a need to run if Kucinich was nominated. This is really something rare -- other third party candidates don't give defacto endorsements to other party's candidates.

The way I see it, Dean can attack and isolate the left of the Democratic Party, possibly win the party nomination, and then blow the presidential election against a popular incumbent due to low voter turnout, or he can find a way to unite Democrats, Greens, and minorities, energize them all in a united grassroots effort, and maybe just win. He can't expect people to come out and vote for him, however, if he's only offering more of the same.

What this country needs now to unseat Bush is a populist, but populists win by uniting, not dividing. Attacking the Greens and the left of the party would be a great way to lose the election.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:30 PM on July 30, 2003


half of the people at the dean meetup i went to voted Nader last time, myself included.

it isn't going to be an issue this time.
posted by th3ph17 at 1:33 PM on July 30, 2003


Why are the hardcore Greens in this thread so self-defeating? You'll never elect a president out of the blue, how about building up the local presences first, elect more state legislature members. It doesn't do any good pissing off a large number of potential voters who consider themselves Democrats at the moment by spoiling a presidential election you ha no hope of winning in the first place. Better to build up legitimacy first, IMO.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:33 PM on July 30, 2003


I think it's time for Godwin to intervene.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:34 PM on July 30, 2003


It's not Nader's fault that Bush is in office - it's the fault of a corrupted court, the sunshine state of confused geriatrics and no-show eligable voters across the country.

Whatever. The Supreme Court is a partisan and corrupt institution when it resolves the election dispute in favor of Bush, but it's, or at least some of the Justices are, enlightened and nonpartisan defenders of rights when they reject sodomy laws. What, do they wake up every morning and flip a coin, like Two Face? No. Read the opinions and follow the ideological conflicts among the Justices, and you'll realize that the Court as a body and the Justices as individuals are a lot more principled than most pundits give it or them credit for.

And of course, Florida is full of confused geriatrics. Again, whatever.

Your crack about elgible voters, on the other hand, is certainly valid. This election should be interesting, because given the results in the last one, I think more voters will turn out, and less will vote for third party candidates. Even without attacking Nader, I think most of the voters who voted in 2000 to make a statement against the "establishment" candidates will make more pragmatic decisions this time around.

Is this an ideal situation? Of course not. While any system of aggregating social preferences is imperfect, discussed most notably by Ken Arrow, our system of voting is particularly so. Preference voting would be better, but I don't see that being enacted anytime soon, as it would probably require a constitutional amendment (aside, of course, from destablizing, for good or ill, the two-party system).
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:35 PM on July 30, 2003


the Green Party would get more results from working within the Democratic Party than from essentially attacking it like they did in 2000.

Yup. And there in lies the strength of the libertarians - they often work within the GOP -- although for them the last 3 years have been pretty rough too.

I voted Green in 2000 and I kick myself for doing it. It defiantly WASN'T the proper election to "send a message" with -- I didn't realize at the time what was at stake and secretly I think I thought that Gore was shoe in. Oh well...
posted by wfrgms at 1:39 PM on July 30, 2003


Don't forget the huge wildcard that's being dealt in California - the Recall campaign.

Arrianna Huffington is thiking about running as a Green. Salon wants here to, and the Greens seem ok with it, too. Since, if Davis is recalled, you only need a plurality to win, the next governor could be chosen by only 20 percent of voters - maybe 10 percent, maybe even less.

So my question is, how would electing a Green gov (Arriana?) in Cali effect the Greens' '04 presidential election? - and the Dems who are attacking the Greens? ...
posted by Jos Bleau at 1:40 PM on July 30, 2003


While I can't see myself voting Green anytime soon, I certainly share the desire for a third party. It is the Greens' misfortune that, as the alterna-party of the left, they don't have a counterpart alterna-party of the right (the Reform party doesn't count, since nobody knows what the hell they stand for). That would probably innoculate them against charges of election-stealing.

The Republican party clearly is not the "big tent" that some wanted it to be, but it is an uncomfortably crowded one, what with country-club Republicans, neo-cons, and social conservatives all crammed in there. These constituencies have antagonistic interests to some extent, and it wouldn't be much of a surprise if one of the three bolted--except for the fact that they'd be ceding the upper hand.
posted by adamrice at 1:56 PM on July 30, 2003


Its the Democrats that spread the "Nader cost us the election" meme, when the Florida numbers don't add up to that conclusion, Gore's campaign was terrible, and Gore himself played the role of a Rupubliclone. This gave Bush's BS "compassionate conservative" nonsense a lot more credibility as the difference between the candidates seemed hair-thin.

Now here's an interesting question: what if the dems made an effort to let Ralph in the debates? Sure he would have attacked Gore, but Bush would have been exposed for the ultra-conservative fraud he is. Something Gore was "too nice" to do.

I guess its easier for the Democratic party to blame Nader than consider how they managed to lose so many votes, including Gore's home state.

Frankly, most third-party voters, in my experience, are life long protest voters anyway and any appeal from those in power to help them is surely a sign of more corruption or at least a lot of disrespect for the democratic elements in our government.

I'd love to see Nader run and tear both candidates a new one, especially in the debates. The whole system plays out like this "Gentlemen's agreement" and one of the refreshing things of Nader's campaign was that he could have cared less about such things. Openly using the word corruption and lies in politics? That's a big no no for the establishment.

RE: Arrianna Huffington

Anyone who went from Newt Gingrich's apologist to populist fat-cat and SUV basher will clearly be seen as an opportunist fraud. Unless she can justify why she did a 180 to the voters she's another marginal candidate.
posted by skallas at 2:09 PM on July 30, 2003


If you want a third party, you're going to need some sort of preference voting. This isn't possible without a constitutional ammendment. In the mean time, our system basically means that you have two parties. It's very ironic how the greens are so pro-union, yet they can't understand that just like unions, political parties work because they take varied interests, find a compromise, and vote as a bloc.
posted by cameldrv at 2:10 PM on July 30, 2003


Just to weigh in on the blame-game for the 2000 election: if Gore had acted like a histrionic fuckhead in the debates, he might have won the election. Moron.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:21 PM on July 30, 2003


... had not acted.... *Sight* Who's the moron now?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:22 PM on July 30, 2003


Something that hasn't been brought up -- wasn't Nader's goal in 2000 to achieve 5% of the popular vote so that the Green Party would receive federal matching funds in 2004? That was one of the major points that sold me on voting for the Greens in 2000.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 2:22 PM on July 30, 2003


I give up.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:22 PM on July 30, 2003


I think the two-party system is ludicrous, and no real political change in this country is possible until we have strong, viable third- and fourth- and fifth-parties from which to choose.

I agree, but the key word there is "viable" -- and Nader was very plainly not going to win the election last time around. Knowing that, and knowing how close it was going to be, the Green party would have been much better served by making a deal with Gore and dropping out of the race. By doing that, the Greens would have really achieved a measurable amount of change for the better in this country. Nader knew he would lose, and had the choice of throwing it to Gore in exchange for massive funding of Green pet projects, or throwing it to Bush in exchange for a massive rape and pillage of Green pet projects. This you call a wise leader?

The reality is, until we get a truly viable third party candidate, the best a third party can hope for is to influence the debate in some meaningful way, and get promises out of the other candidates that they otherwise wouldn't bother to make. That is a good and noble cause. Positioning yourself as a spoiler purely for egotistical reasons is not a noble cause.

And yes, I had the same opinion of Ross Perot's campaign, although I was certainly more pleased with the results that time around.
posted by spilon at 2:24 PM on July 30, 2003


"It's very ironic how the greens are so pro-union, yet they can't understand that just like unions, political parties work because they take varied interests, find a compromise, and vote as a bloc."

But that is *exactly* the problem. The Greens are being criticized for not compromising, but compromising implies give and take -- something that the Democrats are loathe to do.

Nader has said that he could support Democratic candidates, and he could probably support a candidate like Dean, if Dean deigned to actually talk to him and throw him a populist bone that the majority of America could support, such as campaign finance reform or greater environmental protections. Hell, campaign finance is a Republican issue -- just ask all the McCain supporters.

Instead, the raison d'être of this post is that Dean should smear the Greens insome kind of clever political trick. No compromise. No give and take.

If you used such offensive tactics in any kind of negotiated settlement, the other side would tell you to take a flying f*ck and then walk away from the table. If Dean did the same to the Greens without actually trying to achieve a compromise, I think the Greens should walk away from the table too.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:26 PM on July 30, 2003


I often wonder why it is that the Democratic party think that the Greens are, fundamentally, their bitch. Why do they just assume that they have any right to my vote and that when I vote for a Green candidate I'm spoiling their parade?

This is true on the local level as well. The local chapter of the Green party ran several candidates in the last election cycle and, while none managed a victory, several did manage to get quite close. The Democrats who lost for some reason blame the Greens for throwing the entire local slate to the Republicans. It would be just as easy for the Greens to blame the Democrats, but they refrained from holding press conferences chock full of angry, blaming rhetoric.

I bring this up only because several posters here have called on the Greens to start locally and stop spoiling national elections. Well, truth be told, we are active on the local level and we will continue to 'spoil' elections because, in our eyes (if I may be so bold to speak for Greens everywhere) there really isn't much of a difference between the Republicrats.

Compromise does not mean, 'vote for the us because we both hate the Republicans.' Compromise would entail the Greens getting something in return. If you ask me, (and you haven't, though this is my rant) I'd be willing to sell my vote this term if the Demoncrats promise to eliminate the barriers to ballot access that cause a significant portion of our effort to be spent merely getting on the ballot in the first place. Heck, you really want to compromise? We'll vote for your presidential candidate if you pull your local candidates and provide support in the form of endorsements for the local candidates we run. These are examples of compromise.

Finally, as was pointed out earlier in this thread, there will be no significant change in the way this country is run until there are more than two parties to choose from in any election. The Republicrats know this and that is why they work to keep any other party (right or left) off the ballot. The way the system works now, if I am absolutely enraged by the actions the elected representative of my party, my only other choice is someone who is probably abhorently worse. Selecting the lesser of two evils is hardly an optimal way of electing a government. If we value the judgement of the market so much, why are you (the royal you) so afraid of actually operating in a political marketplace? Open up the ballot. Open up the debates. God forbid, open the damn forum so that a plurality can be heard.

Oh, and what's up with the Libertarians? Surely you've got the brass to step out of the shadow yourself. It's an opportune time given that your vote won't necessarily go to putting a tax and spend liberal on the throne. I liken this to competitive cycling. All third parties are stuck in the peloton of mediocrity with the two biggies. If we break out one at a time, the pack will catch us. If we break out en masse, well, then we've got a chance of pulling away.


Right. **Takes off speculative ranypants**
posted by Fezboy! at 2:28 PM on July 30, 2003



Oh, and what's up with the Libertarians?


The Libertarians are doing fine. They got a decent showing last time around. I believe they won more of the Florida vote than the Greens did.

Several small elections were won, and they never would have accepted the filthy matching funds that the Greens were all het up to get.
posted by thirteen at 2:40 PM on July 30, 2003


Um, actually Gore did win over a clear majority of the population.

Actually, Gore did not win a "clear majority" of the population. According to the FEC, Bush won 50,455,156 votes, or 47.87% of the total. Gore won 50,992,335 votes, or 48.38% of the total. Gore's total may have exceeded Bush's, but it was not close to a "clear majority."
posted by Durwood at 2:42 PM on July 30, 2003


OH, I get it now. Next election, I'll compromise and vote for the Republican candidate instead of the Green candidate.

The problem here is the key word "compromise" which, to paraphrase the great pragmatist Ben Franklin, means that both sides give up a little and both sides go home with a little bit of what they wanted. I campaigned green on 2000 hoping, waiting, even praying for a Dem-Green coalition to develop. While Gore was preening as an environmentalist, most of the international treaties regarding pollution, fishing, maintenance of public domain seed stocks, and GMO testing were being quietly torpeedoed. Activists had been arrested in Philadelphia on bogus charges later thown out of court using intelligence from federal law enforcement. Meanwhile, the WTO, World Bank and G6 summits contined to define international trade policy behind closed doors.

Throughout all this, Gore stuck to the Clinton message ignoring the fact that for some, the Clinton years were not all that great. Furthermore Gore failed to offer much to the left beyond "I'm not Bush." The Gore campaign did its best to promote profound apathy among the left, if not outright antipathy by demanding endorsements and votes while refusing to address key issues of concern. As a result, key Labour and Environmentalist groups waffled for months before giving Gore lukewarm endorsements.

I think that a Green-Dem coalition is entirely possible, but it will require the Democrats to actually treat the left with something other than extreme condescention. In part, Gore lost in 2000 because he took it for granted that he can still pull in votes from the left while moving to the right.

Knowing that, and knowing how close it was going to be, the Green party would have been much better served by making a deal with Gore and dropping out of the race.

What kind of a deal was possible with the Gore campaign? This is a member of an administration that made a public show of providing information to Philadelphia police, to have activists picked up on the streets, and held on a $1 million dollar bond to keep them away from the Democratic convention. Gore was unwilling to even DEBATE key issues of the Green campaign, much less make any kind of a DEAL. The WTO, campaign finance reform, the death penalty, a trade war with Europe regardin GMOs were simply not open for discussion.

Instead, the raison d'être of this post is that Dean should smear the Greens insome kind of clever political trick. No compromise. No give and take.

Exactly, or to put it another way, why should the Greens give everything to a candidate that is moving in the wrong direction at a slightly slower trot than the Republicans. Many of the worst fears expressed about Bush and civil liberties had already been realized in 2000 by the Clinton Administration (that was already using the "ecoterrorism" label to justify clandestine surveilance of activist groups.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:43 PM on July 30, 2003


You're right, thirteen, Libertarians have stepped out in places. My bad.

If only they would do so around here (the hinterlands of South-Central Indiana).
posted by Fezboy! at 2:46 PM on July 30, 2003


skallas: Its the Democrats that spread the 'Nader cost us the election' meme, when the Florida numbers don't add up to that conclusion

According to the Florida Department of State election results for president in the 2000 election, Bush beat Gore by 537 votes, 2,912,790 votes to 2,912,253. Nader got 97,488 votes in Florida. If less than 1% of Nader voters had voted for Gore, and the rest voted for Nader, he would have won Florida, and the election.

thirteen: The Libertarians are doing fine. They got a decent showing last time around. I believe they won more of the Florida vote than the Greens did.

The Libertarians got 16,415 votes in Florida in 2000.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:51 PM on July 30, 2003 [1 favorite]


Er, "he Gore would have won Florida"
posted by kirkaracha at 2:55 PM on July 30, 2003


kirkaracha: But you're assuming that the Demoncrats have some right to the Nader votes. If less than 1% of the Nader votes had gone to Bush then it would have been less ambiguous. This statement makes as much sense as yours.

Greens voted for Nader because they believed that the Green Party candidate was the most desirable candidate on the slate. Gore had absolutely no claim to those votes.

End of story.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:57 PM on July 30, 2003



The Libertarians got 16,415 votes in Florida in 2000.


Oops. Change that to enough to swing the election either way. I had 3 years to mess up that memory.
posted by thirteen at 2:58 PM on July 30, 2003


The socialists, communists, and natural laws got enough votes to give gore the election as well.

But to echo what someone else said, why focus on the Green turn out rather than Gore's inability to offer something that the Greens want, or Gore's inability to motivate the majority that stayed home?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:02 PM on July 30, 2003


kirkarcha: Buchanan in Palm Beach.

So what are we seeing here? That you're rationalization that 457 votes must come from Greens, because err, Greens are owned by Democrats. Or how about the fact that millions of registered Democrats voted Republican that year. I would think the fact that there were that many swing voters speaks volumes about the campaign.
While estimates range, many journalists have stated that at least 20 percent of Democrats voted for Bush. That adds up to more than 7.7 million Democrats. Exit polls from the 2000 election show that Nader voters came from many political parties, including Greens, Republicans, Independents and Democrats. With the roughly 5 million total votes obtained by Nader, nowhere near the number of Democrats voted for Nader as voted for Bush.

The working theory that nearly all Greens would vote Democrat in the absence of the Green Party is an unproven assumption. Progressives -- whether Democrat, Green, Independent or Republican -- agree on many issues.
We do not, by association, believe in the same political leadership.
If anyone owes anyone votes, then I would think it was the registered Dems who should be blamed, but of course that would mean Gore did wrong. The dems have been playing the "Gore is a victim" card in hopes to use it in 2004 and/or blame Nader voters. Also, this blame game keeps people from asking "Why was the election so tight it fell on one state to give the final outcome?"

Personally, I blame Flordia's Kiss Army. There's thousands of them! Damn you Gene Simmons.
posted by skallas at 3:10 PM on July 30, 2003


Well, truth be told, we are active on the local level and we will continue to 'spoil' elections because, in our eyes (if I may be so bold to speak for Greens everywhere) there really isn't much of a difference between the Republicrats.

Anyone who claims that Paul Wellstone and Norman Coleman were so indistinguishable from each other that it necessitated nominating Ray Tricomo needs to reassess his priorities. In Tricomo's case, his share of the vote was so marginal that it did not influence the final outcome, but still-- the push by the Green party to pick a fight in Minnesota was more destructive than quixotic.
posted by deanc at 3:14 PM on July 30, 2003


Um, actually Gore did win over a clear majority of the population.

Um, according to the rules of the election and the supreme court, Gore didn't win a clear majority or he would be president today. Don't contradict the obvious. Our president isn't elected through national majority, he's elected through the electoral college.

If Gore had won a 'clear' majority, he would have clearly won the electoral college too and it wouldn't even have made it to the Supreme Court.
posted by PigAlien at 3:28 PM on July 30, 2003


I can't believe there are still people who think Nader ran the way he did to help the Greens. He chose to campaign heavily in swing states at the end of the race, which maximized his chances of being a spoiler at the expense of votes he could've gotten in the states where a Bush or Gore victory was a given.

If he was really about helping the party, instead of increasing the ranks in his cult of personality, Nader would have focused on states like New York and California where sympathetic voters were most likely to turn out in large numbers for him.

The guy's a tool.
posted by rcade at 3:30 PM on July 30, 2003


If Gore had won a 'clear' majority, he would have clearly won the electoral college too

um, not necessarily. gore got 533,947 more votes.
posted by mcsweetie at 3:47 PM on July 30, 2003


fezboy and skallas, I did not say that the Democrats had a right to Nader's votes or that the Greens are owned by the Democrats. skallas said the Florida numbers didn't support the conclusion that Nader's votes cost Gore the election, when in fact the actual numbers could be interpreted that way. I didn't mention socialists, communists, natural laws, or the Kiss Army because we weren't talking about them.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:51 PM on July 30, 2003


Skallas: Nader intentionally chose to focus on swing states at the end of the race. How many of Nader's 9,800 votes in Florida were decided by his late campaigning focus there? All it would've taken was 1 out of 10 and Gore wins the election. The same kind of math played out in New Hampshire as well.

Your guy decided the election. Why aren't you willing to take credit for that? Since Bush and Gore were indistinguishable, Greens should be outspokenly proud of their role deciding the race. Instead, they respond defensively.

If I didn't know better, I'd think the Greens could tell the difference between Bush and Gore. Maybe there's hope in 2004 yet.
posted by rcade at 4:12 PM on July 30, 2003


Unless she can justify why she did a 180 to the voters she's another marginal candidate.

Someone notify Joe Lieberman ASAP!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:13 PM on July 30, 2003


"If Gore had won a 'clear' majority, he would have clearly won the electoral college too

um, not necessarily. gore got 533,947 more votes."


Oh, mcsweetie, why do you waste your time? Do we have to rehash the whole electoral college thing? Winning a majority has nothing to do with how many individual voters in the US voted for whom, its how many states' members of the electoral college vote for whom, and Gore simply didn't have enough.

You may not know it, but clearly Gore understands the electoral college, and he clearly didn't do enough to ensure victory. His fault, no one else's.
posted by PigAlien at 4:30 PM on July 30, 2003


Oh, mcsweetie, why do you waste your time? Do we have to rehash the whole electoral college thing?

you were the one that said that if he had gotten a majority of the votes then he would've also won the electoral college, which he didn't. I pointed it out, thats all. so you can come down from your tower now.
posted by mcsweetie at 4:35 PM on July 30, 2003


skallas said the Florida numbers didn't support the conclusion that Nader's votes cost Gore the election, when in fact the actual numbers could be interpreted that way. I didn't mention socialists, communists, natural laws, or the Kiss Army because we weren't talking about them.

I thought we were talking about why Gore lost the election? Why is it so hard to address the fact that people voted Green because Nader was willing to address issues and constituents that the Gore campaign and the Clinton administration treated with condescention and hostility? Here is a hint, between %15-30 of the American public do not support the use of unilateral American military force as a tool for foreign policy. Concerns about the death penalty run about %50 depending on how the question is asked. Many Americans actually lost jobs during the Clinton Administration due to trade policies. Support from environmental groups for a continuation of Clinton administration policy was lukewarm. For all practical purposes, abortion was unobtainable in %80 of American counties. Gore remained silent about Clinton's admitted pattern of sexual harassment and an aleged sexual assault.

Throughout both the primary and the election, the Democrats treated even discussion of these issues as an anathema. As the election grew closer, the Gore campaign treated these concerns with increasing levels of patronization.

Exit polls of Greens revealed just how much support the Green party was pulling from Gore. The answer is not much. The majority of Greens would have either stayed home on election day or picked another 3rd party. The remaining minority was pretty evenly split between former Republicans and Democrats.

It is interesting that all of the attention has been focused on Nader the man. Even Greens admitted that Nader was not a very energetic or inspiring leader. Nader did not win votes due to charisma, or personality, he won votes because of the basic message that both of the two major parties have become corrupt institutions, excessively influenced by corporate interests, and fundamentally out of touch with the needs of the American people. He ran a grass-roots campaign that gathered much of its support from non-voters. What will it take for the Democrats to wake up and smell the coffee that these issues are not going to vanish overnight? That there is no reason to vote for a candidate that refuses to even admit the possibility of intra-party dissent on these issues?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:34 PM on July 30, 2003


you were the one that said that if he had gotten a majority of the votes then he would've also won the electoral college, which he didn't. I pointed it out, thats all. so you can come down from your tower now.

First, Pig Alien said "clear" majority, not just majority. That implies to me a substantially larger margin that approximately .3% or 500,000 voters. The margin or error in the election has been estimated at anywhere from 1% to 3%, which makes the margin of error larger than Gore's "victory." Hardly clear.

Second, we aren't talking about a majority, we're taking about 48%. Last I checked, that's only a plurality.

Third, our President is elected by the states in the electoral college, not in the popular election. It is perfectly legitimate for the President to lose the popular election and win the Presidency, because the Constitution provides that the electoral college determines the outcome. Because of the ratio of electors to citizens varies slightly from state to state, and because electors are free to vote their conscience if they're brave enough, the President could conceivably lose the popular election and win the Presidency. In fact, it's happened twice prior to the 2000 election.

In 1876 there were a total of 369 electoral votes available with 185 needed to win. Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, with 4,036,298 popular votes won 185 electoral votes. His main opponent, Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, won the popular vote with 4,300,590 votes, but won only 184 electoral votes. Hayes was elected president.

In 1888 there were a total of 401 electoral votes available with 201 needed to win. Republican Benjamin Harrison, with 5,439,853 popular votes won 233 electoral votes. His main opponent, Democrat Grover Cleveland, won the popular vote with 5,540,309 votes, but won only 168 electoral votes. Harrison was elected president.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:43 PM on July 30, 2003


Having read this article, I'm having a hard time seeing how this strategy would work. Attacking Nader might win the approval of mainstream Democrats, sure, but they're not the ones that need convincing--they'll vote for whatever candidate the party comes up with. Meanwhile, it will just alienate the people who voted for Nader in 2000. (Believe me, it would--nonsense like this is one of the few things that make me consider voting Green again in this election). So a candidate who did this would be throwing away votes he needed in exchange for votes he already had. This is a winning strategy how?

Meanwhile, a lot of us voted for Nader in the first place because of eight years of Clinton, who just felt like Republican-lite. If a Democratic candidate showed some willingness to actually fight against his opponent, even on decent, broadly acceptable, middle-of-the-road issues, he'd automatically win over a lot of the Nader voters, while also convincing undecided voters in the middle--the ones that really matter--to vote for him over Bush.

And this, of course, is exactly what Dean seems to be doing. If he stopped that to start whining about Nader, he'd only hurt his chances of becoming president.
posted by moss at 6:19 PM on July 30, 2003


Thanks, Monju_bosatsu! You beat me to the punch and understood my point exactly.

McSweetie, I was being a bit condescending. I see that quite easily and do apologize! I wish I could say I didn't get the best of myself as much as I do, but unfortunately condescending seems to run in my blood.
posted by PigAlien at 7:10 PM on July 30, 2003


I think those who are berating Nader (or any other Green) for running for president are forgetting (or unaware of) a perverse and very deliberate aspect of our electoral system: In most states, third parties need to capture at least five percent of the vote in each general election (presidential and/or gubernatorial -- and that "and/or" has been taken to court here in Maine) to maintain their official party standing.

In fact, the highest-elected Green Party member in the country, Maine state Rep. John Eder of Portland, has said that he wishes his party didn't have to run a presidential candidate -- that the Greens are really more about local issues, anyway.

Grrr, I was going to link to the article in which Eder said that, but it’s not online. Anyway, I wrote the damn piece – trust me, he said it. And I think it’s an important point.

But the thing is, right now a Green is not electable. And until the neo-Cons are out of the White House and no longer in control of both houses of Congress, a Green will never be electable. Losing party status and having to collect sigs to rebuild their membership might be a compromise worth making this time for the Greens, not just to be the Dems’ bitch, but to foster a political environment that’s at least slightly more hospitable to their growth.
posted by damn yankee at 7:41 PM on July 30, 2003


>skallas said the Florida numbers didn't support the conclusion that Nader's votes cost Gore the election, when in fact the actual numbers could be interpreted that way

They don't unless, your "interpretation" involves a hefty amount of assumptions. There is no statistically significant data that even suggests the Greens cost Gore the election. Like I pointed out almost 10 MILLION registered democrats voted for the other guy. The dems sure as hell don't want to talk about that and their loudmouth supporters are all too happy to follow the party line and yell Nader everytime someone mentions the 2000 election.

The same goes for rcade's trollish post. Its attitudes like his that will cost the dems the 2004 election. Its much easier to blame Nader than to look at the problems in your own party. Distinguishing yourself from the other candidate, providing Americans with things they want to hear, and running a campaign that doesn't completely suck is a prerequisite to winning the presidency.

People like rcade will continue the blame game, and the democractic party has yet to learn the lessons of 2000. The DLC called Howard Dean's supporters "elitists" and more or less called him unelectable. Where's the consolidation? Why are these nutcases feeding conservatives and moderates with FUD regarding voting democratic?

You true-blue Democrats seem to want to run Lieberman and lose, and lose badly. Fine by me, but this time Ralph probably wont run and I wonder who you'll make your scapegoat this time.


>Exit polls of Greens revealed just how much support the Green party was pulling from Gore. The answer is not much.

Shh, don't confuse them with the facts.
posted by skallas at 8:08 PM on July 30, 2003


monju_bosatsu - despite attending public school my whole life, I do know how the electoral process works. I was just showing that getting the most votes doesn't equal winner.

PigAlien - kiss!
posted by mcsweetie at 8:37 PM on July 30, 2003


A two-term Bush presidency would do an incredible amount of damage to the county that would take decades to repair. Republican dominance of Congress is very likely to grow, not shrink, over the next few elections because of redistricting in the House and the number of vulnerable Democrats in the Senate up for reelection in 04. This means Bush will be free to pack the federal courts (including the Supreme Court) with ideological conservatives. Since 1980, there have been only four years in which the same party controlled both the Senate and the Presidency--two during Reagan's first term and two during Clinton's first term. Bush is likely to have six years in which he can appoint more or less whoever he wants to the courts.

He'll also have a rare opportunity to pursue a truly right-wing legislative agency, especially since he'll be a lame duck with little need to pretend like he's a moderate. If you think 2000-04 has been bad, just wait until 2005. On the regulatory level, he'll do far more damage in a second term, since his political appointees will have a more better grasp on how to bend the various bureaucracies to their partisan wills. And on foriegn policy, lord knows what he'll do, especially if Colin Powell is replaced by yet another crazy neo-con as some have speculated.

Given all this, it's hard for me to understand why any progressive would vote for the Greens over a viable Democratic candidate unless they really just don't care about what happens to the country.
posted by boltman at 9:24 PM on July 30, 2003


Given all this, it's hard for me to understand why any progressive would vote for the Greens over a viable Democratic candidate unless they really just don't care about what happens to the country.

The question is do you care what happens to this country? Do your care that during the Clinton administration actual availability of abortion decreased in most areas of the country far more than during 12 years of Reagan-Bush? Do you care about the quiet dismantiling of environmental laws and treaties to the point where they were not worth the paper they were printed on, as a result of catering to corporate interests? Do you care that activist groups during the Clinton administration were subjected to much of the same levels of surveilance that Bush made explicit? That real wages declined during the Clinton administration? That many communities lost their economic base under the same Clinton policies that the Democrats seek to restore?

If indeed the Democrats feel that the progressive vote is important, then would it not be in their best interest to actually court the progressive vote by selecting a progressive candidate?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:21 PM on July 30, 2003


Meanwhile, a lot of us voted for Nader in the first place because of eight years of Clinton, who just felt like Republican-lite.


Looks like that you're now getting megadoses of Republican ExtraStrong instead, and you'll probably get them for another five years (and Jebby and the twins are waiting in the wings). how does that feel?
posted by matteo at 11:55 PM on July 30, 2003


The same goes for rcade's trollish post. Its attitudes like his that will cost the dems the 2004 election.

I probably shouldn't bother responding, considering cheap personal shots like "trollish" and "people like rcade," but let me see if I understand your logic:

1) Nader had nothing to do with the Democrats' loss in the 2000 election.

2) Attacking Nader will cost the Democrats the 2004 election.

Like most of the stuff coming from the crowd that Ralphed in 2000, that political stance is self-contradictory. Nader either matters or he doesn't.

Nader ran a campaign based on a dishonest premise: the notion that an extreme conservative like George Bush was indistinguishable from a moderate Democrat like Al Gore. Hindsight makes it all the more clear; anyone who argues today that the parties are the same is a lost cause.

Criticism of Gore's campaign from Nader's supporters is funny considering Nader's failure to qualify for matching funds in the next election. It's a prerequisite to being taken seriously as a national party, and Nader blew it for the Greens. Two percent of the vote is dismal; by comparison Ross Perot got eight percent running as comedic relief in 1996.

I think Gore did as well as anyone could have hoped going into the election, short of the bogus court-mandated result. Historically, sitting vice presidents rarely do well running to succeed a two-term president -- the public refuses to give them credit for the successes of their predecessor, and after eight years many voters are ready for a change.

Gore won the popular vote by 500,000 and arguably won Florida (and the presidency) in a full accounting of the legally cast votes. He's still the only Democrat with a solid national following upon which to base a presidential run (aside from, by my guess, Hillary Clinton).

Your presumption that I'm anti-Howard Dean because I am anti-Nader is false. I support Dean's effort to take over the Democratic Party from within (though he's not the lefty flamethrower you seem to think; the guy's a moderate on most issues). If Nader had run as a Democrat, instead of cementing his place in history with a stunt that handed the White House to the Republicans, I would be singing his praises.
posted by rcade at 5:38 AM on July 31, 2003


>Attacking Nader will cost the Democrats the 2004 election.

No, the point of my posts is that the knee-jerk reaction to blame Nader without a real criticism of Gore is self-defeating. You think Gore ran well, I say he ran terrible. You say there's statstically stignificant proof Nader was a spoiler, I saw no one has the the numbers because they simply don't exist. You're making a powerful claim and as such you're going to need a powerful body of data and some kind of proof that points to cause and effect, not knee-jerk correlations that involve huge assumptions that all or most Greens are secretly Dems. I see all Nader bashers as just that: bashers; unable to deal with the realities of the 2000 election so they mindlessly lash out at a convienant target.

>Your presumption that I'm anti-Howard Dean because I am anti-Nader is false.

Actually I was focusing more on the DLC and other like-minded groups so ready to call Nader as spoiler. I think that the more dems call Nader a spoiler the more they are ignoring the issues in their party that will cost them 2004.

>though he's not the lefty flamethrower you seem to think

Oh, you're completely right. In many ways he's a nasty fellow, but if the dems are going to participate in conspiracy theories regarding Nader they really have no need to be rational at all, thus the attack on Dean and his grassroots campaign. I think it all ties in very nicely. The good news is that Lieberman is about as popular as Gore after the debates so the conspiracy theorists in the DLC won't be running their boy.

For the sake of this country I hope the Dem rank and file shuts up about Nader and gets focused on winning an election. So far we have DLC petty infighting and Nader conspiracy theories. Great. Four more years of Bush it is!
posted by skallas at 11:04 AM on July 31, 2003


Nader ran a campaign based on a dishonest premise: the notion that an extreme conservative like George Bush was indistinguishable from a moderate Democrat like Al Gore. Hindsight makes it all the more clear; anyone who argues today that the parties are the same is a lost cause.

Which is a bit of a straw man. Nobody seriously argued that an extreme conservative like George Bush was indistinguishable from a moderate conservative like Al Gore. What was argued is that both parties had very similar positions on key issues of concern. Both Democrats and Republicans treated the regulation of world trade as not open for debate in spite of the fact that entire communities lost their economic base during the Clinton years. The Clinton administration saw increasing disparities in economic power and declines in real wages over time, a fact that Gore refused to address. Even today all the Dem oriented political magazines are insisting on minimizing differences with the Republicans.

If Nader had run as a Democrat, instead of cementing his place in history with a stunt that handed the White House to the Republicans, I would be singing his praises.

The big question is how when one is pretty effectively shut out? The Clinton administration conspired to have any dissent kept well away from party meetings. Throughout the last election Gore treated the key issues of Nader's campaign such as campaign finance reform with open hostility and distain, rather than respect and dialogue.

Skalas: I see all Nader bashers as just that: bashers; unable to deal with the realities of the 2000 election so they mindlessly lash out at a convienant target.

Gore could have easily taken the Green vote by doing a bit of "gasp" politicking and coalition building. However in refusing to address the issues of party corruption, welfare reform, military actions and anti-democratic trade regulations, by dismissing the concerns of groups who found that 8 years of Clintonian opportunism left them worse off than before, Gore effectively managed to antagonize much of his support base.

When the best thing that people are saying about you is that you are not a Bush, it means that the campaign is pretty weak.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:44 AM on July 31, 2003


That's it.

I'm sick of taking guff from from Democrats who think they had a birthright to my vote -- that I would have given it to them had Nader not run.

Unless and until I find a valid quote from a major Democratic source apologizing for this arrogance, I will NEVER vote Democrat on ANY ballot EVER.
posted by RavinDave at 11:47 PM on July 31, 2003


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