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Why the Democratic Party would rather lose this election
November 5, 2000 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Why the Democratic Party would rather lose this election -- Michael Albert clarifies the strategic implications of voting Nader: "Liberals talk and write as though the most important thing in captivity is their winning the election, or at least Bush not winning it. But at the top of their campaign, centrally important policies demonstrate that winning the election is not, in fact, their first priority. For them, priority one is serving the interests of their elite constituencies, and, just below that, of the Party itself...."

Also: hard-core Nader junkies should check out this vigorous (but quite long) rant: What every Republicrat should know (but is afraid to ask)

And, finally, a reason to join Greenpeace: new executive director John Passacantando takes a refreshingly sane, nonhysterical approach to Election 2000. Amen.
posted by johnb (24 comments total)

 
Good article from Michael Albert.

On Rebutting Lesser Evil Logic

"What is missing from the prevalent Naderite reply to the lesser evil argument is therefore to highlight that the most important impact of the Nader campaign is changing the political climate in the country by energizing the left.

"Take the cases most often bandied about: Supreme Court Justices, taxes, police violence, abortion, and interventionism. The issue isn't can we plausibly predict that Bush's preferred personal agenda for each of these policy areas would be sufficiently worse than Gore's to adversely impact many suffering people if it were to be fully implemented. That’s a given. We can predict that, yes. The issue is, instead, if lots of people throughout the country support and vote for Nader, thereby awakening not only hope but also organizational clout and commitment, will either Gore or Bush be as able as otherwise to pursue their full elitist agendas on these issues? In other words, the real choice is Gore winning without Nader getting lots of support and therefore with a typically un-aroused populace that will allow him to pursue his full corporate agenda nearly unopposed, versus Bush (or maybe nonetheless Gore) winning but with Nader getting lots of support and therefore with a highly aroused sector of the populace impacted very positively by Nader's campaign and ready to fight up a storm."




posted by lagado at 5:18 PM on November 5, 2000


Great post, lagado!
One my friends said it this way: "With Gore or Bush, you're gonna get screwed. The only difference is that one of 'em will bring some lube!"

Classy-I know. But its the truth!
posted by black8 at 7:16 PM on November 5, 2000


Yes, it's the truth. There's no difference. So everyone who's concerned about abortion remaining legal should vote Bush, and everyone who wants school choice and privatized Social Security should vote Gore.
posted by lileks at 9:21 PM on November 5, 2000


Yeah, great points if you ignore that we've had Republican presidents before and yet we still have roe v. wade. Funny isn't it? Or the fact that Bush when asked if he would try to overturn it he said only if lots of people changed their minds. Its political suicide, not to mention its overturn would return the decision back to the states.

Unless there's a huge Republican majority in both the house and senate I wouldn't sweat his fantasy bills about vouchers and SS making it to law or his already dead in the water tax plan.


posted by skallas at 10:02 PM on November 5, 2000


I have to admit I am more worried about having to see George Bush and that imp Dick Cheney on TV all the friggin time for the next four years. Not that it would influence my desire to vote for Nader, but I am really worried about that.
posted by donkeymon at 7:37 AM on November 6, 2000


Statements like this one from the Greenpeace article help convince me to not join:

4) Stopped Clinton-Gore negotiators at the international negotiations on global warming from inserting loopholes on behalf of industry -- like a provision to allow the construction of nuclear plants to count toward a solution to global warming.

Guess what? Nuclear plants do help the cause against global warming. The question of fuel and waste do make a strong case against utilizing it, but it's hardly a loophole.


posted by norm at 7:49 AM on November 6, 2000


Yeah, great points if you ignore that we've had Republican presidents before and yet we still have roe v. wade. Funny isn't it?

Nader's candidacy has sent a lot of people into fantasyland when it comes to abortion rights.

Since 1980, presidents have gotten much better at picking Supreme Court justices who follow their agenda. Only David Souter is considered a surprise -- Reagan, Bush and Clinton have gotten the results they expected from their nominees, for the most part.

George W. Bush has said his favorites are Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. If he wins and gets two more jurists in that mold, which is highly likely, there's nothing stopping them from undoing Roe v. Wade.
posted by rcade at 8:22 AM on November 6, 2000


rcade: Describe for me if you can, what happens in America the day after Roe v. Wade is struck down? I could be dim, but I don't think anything is gonna change no matter who is elected. We have a generation of people who have had legal access to this procedure. It is very hard to take away a right, and I don't think any politician is gonna risk what would happen if they tried. If it is made illegal, people will defy the law, and no matter what happens we will not be returning to pre-legal abortion tech. I don't think the Christians are ever gonna get their way on this one.
posted by thirteen at 8:45 AM on November 6, 2000


However, there are no guarantees as to how any particular justice will rule in any particular case. In the unlikely event that Roe is overturned, the decision is thrown to state legislatures. I somehow doubt that every state in the union will immediately pass a total ban on abortions.
My only problem with Gore appointing the justices is that liberal justices have shown more of a tendency to "legislate" through judicial activism. Whereas conservative justices tend to return power to the individual states (for the most part), liberal justices tend to want to place constraints on them. Pardon me for believing in the Constitution, but I think the states should decide most of the issues for their citizens, rather than having the S.Ct. or Congress decide what's right for all.
posted by CRS at 8:50 AM on November 6, 2000


If he wins and gets two more jurists in that mold, which is highly likely, there's nothing stopping them from undoing Roe v. Wade.

I would say "unlikely"; as skallas pointed out, it would be political suicide to mess around with such a divisive issue. Bush may be dumb, but he's not stupid. (or, at least his advisors aren't)

Also, the right to an abortion is clearly not the only cause worth fighting for.
posted by johnb at 8:51 AM on November 6, 2000


I don't think anything is gonna change no matter who is elected. ... It is very hard to take away a right.

If Roe v. Wade was overturned, more than a dozen state legislatures have enough pro-life members to easily pass laws to ban it entirely. Millions of women would lose the right to a safe legal abortion.

If you believe that it's difficult for the Supreme Court to make a landmark change, look at what has happened since the court reversed itself on capital punishment. Several states are breaking records in the number of people they put to death.

A Bush victory on Tuesday would almost certainly be accompanied by Republicans keeping the Senate. If that's the case, Bush will have an immense amount of pressure among the conservatives he elected to carry out their full agenda. Does he strike you as someone who stands up to pressure in his own party? He hasn't even entertained the thought of a moratorium on executions in Texas, despite growing evidence around the country of errors in prosecution.
posted by rcade at 9:04 AM on November 6, 2000


the right to an abortion is clearly not the only cause worth fighting for.

Spoken like Ralph Nader himself. Abortion rights aren't the only thing worth fighting for, but does that mean we should give up the fight entirely?

I somehow doubt that every state in the union will immediately pass a total ban on abortions.

It is a certainty that many states will ban abortions, taking away the right for millions of women.

I would have more respect for Nader, and for his supporters, if they would admit that a Bush victory is a serious threat to abortion rights in this country, but that other things are more important. Instead, the Greens are selling a fiction -- that abortion will continue to be safe and legal no matter who is elected president.

If Bush wins and abortion rights face a serious challenge, the Greens instantly lose whatever credibility 4 percent of the vote got them. His voters will come running back to the Democrats faster than you can say "back alley abortion," and Nader's only achievement this year will have been the election of George W. Bush.
posted by rcade at 9:14 AM on November 6, 2000


Norm -- nuclear plant construction shouldn't be allowed to count towards a solution (just as mass starvation shouldn't count, regardless of its technical merit as a "solution"). That's why the provision to give points for nuclear plant construction qualifies as a loophole.
posted by johnb at 9:16 AM on November 6, 2000


I think, on the abortion issue, it's important to point out that 84% of U.S. counties already have no access whatsoever to legal abortions. Most of those counties serve working-class and lower-middle class women. The only women who would really lose access to safe abortion are upper middle class, urban women (wealthy women will always be able to get safe abortions). To me, a committed feminist, this would be bad, but it doesn't justify voting on that one issue alone. I think Michael Albert's point about energising the left outweighs this single, narrow issue. Clinton did see the law passed about access to clinics, but not much has been done in the past eight years to stop the slow, nation-wide erosion of abortion rights (the whole furor over intact dilation and extraction, or "partial birth abortion," being a case in point). If we can generate energy within the leftist movement through Nader's campaign, perhaps we can see some more vigorous opposition to this sort of deceptive legislation.
posted by Annabel.Gill at 9:47 AM on November 6, 2000


Abortion rights aren't the only thing worth fighting for, but does that mean we should give up the fight entirely?

Of course not. I never suggested we should. Rather, I'm suggesting that the Republicrats put way too much emphasis on electoral politics as a tool for generating social change -- putting the cart before the horse. History teaches that change is generated through direct action and grassroots organizing. This is what creates the pressure for change at the electoral level, for passing new legislation, and so forth. The purpose of the Nader campaign is to energize and expand the existing pro-democracy movement. By that measure, probability of success is high.
posted by johnb at 9:50 AM on November 6, 2000


Chad Hanson, a national director of the Sierra Club, rejects Gore's "politics of fear" and endorses Nader.
posted by johnb at 10:10 AM on November 6, 2000


Norm -- nuclear plant construction shouldn't be allowed to count towards a solution (just as mass starvation shouldn't count, regardless of its technical merit as a "solution").

There is a huge difference here. The reason that mass starvation would work is because then there wouldn't be a number of people alive to use energy, grow crops, or drive cars. One step removed from the process of releasing greenhouse gases. As mentioned before, however, except for the nasty problem of fuel and waste, the process of generating energy by means of nuclear fission is remarkably clean -- just steam gets generated. Again, hardly a loophole.

Look, this little radioactivity "issue" is a thorny one, but I am not the only one to point out the nuclear power is the only means of large scale power generation that doesn't release greenhouse gases.
posted by norm at 12:46 PM on November 6, 2000


Nuclear power, however, leads to nuclear waste which is not environmentally sound. Nuclear power also uses way too much water from surrounding sources, and the world is already poised at the start of a water crisis.

Nuclear power would just put-off dealing with environmental degradation for a few years. It’s an excuse, not a solution.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 11:02 PM on November 6, 2000


It's also not answering my original criticism.
See above.

posted by norm at 7:20 AM on November 7, 2000


Join Greenpeace? I don't like fanatics. Free Willy? Eat him I say.
posted by geir at 11:33 AM on November 7, 2000


capt.crackpipe
Nuclear power would just put-off dealing with environmental degradation for a few years. It’s an excuse, not a solution.

This is true of everything that does not involve population reduction - or at the very least cessation of population growth. On the slowing-down-the-inevitable scale, nuclear power looks pretty good. I'd rather power the planet with nuclear plants than coal or hydroelectric plants, that's for sure - at least until we come up with a real solution to the power problem.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:30 PM on November 7, 2000


And I'd rather use solar or wind power, which works, if the government is willing to subsidize it.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 1:23 PM on November 7, 2000


If the energy consumption and population keeps going up, even wind and solar power will be unworkable, at least on the surface. Wind turbines and photovoltaic cells essentially steal energy from the earth. Although the amount of solar energy hitting the planet is tremendous, we could cause some interesting effects if we took too much of it.

Now, placing huge solar arrays far out in orbit and sending the energy down by microwave or really long wire (anyone read Red Mars?) might hold some promise. But that'll be expensive. And where exactly do we get the energy to put those solar arrays in geosynch orbit?

Ultimately, we should be using what fossil fuels (and nuclear fuels) we have left to ensure we have sustainable energy sources (wind, solar, whatever) to continue our society. Otherwise, we'll be in a world of hurt when the oil and coal dry up.
posted by daveadams at 1:52 PM on November 7, 2000


Nobody is gonna read this! I can say anything I want! The illuminati is real! Ain’t it great! Nader will be in the CPD and PPD debates in 2004! I know the future! loody-doody-doo! Go to Monticello! It’s more fun than you might think! Nader chicks are hot! w00t!

Yes, well.

The amount of solar energy we could feasibly soak up would have little if any effect on the Earth’s ground and air temprature. Especially since the best use of PV is sitting on top of roofs and down the side of buildings. Those photons just go to warming tiles and concrete. They don’t go bouncing back in the atmosphere much.

Beaming solar energy from outer space via microwave (I can’t remember the technical term) uses more energy than it takes to collect it. Theoretically, anyway, as no one has actually tried it. I guess it would be too expensive to prove something doesn’t work when no one thinks it will.

Anyway: The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems and American Solar something something.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 2:46 AM on November 9, 2000


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