Unrepentant Nader
April 23, 2001 6:02 AM   Subscribe

Unrepentant Nader Is Nader a Sancho Panza, the realist, or Don Quixote, the dreamer, when he says Bush policies toward environment help ignite attention to our needs and thus good to have? Or is he just a guy who can't believe he might have been wrong?
posted by Postroad (76 comments total)

 
Why should he apologize? For being too popular? Nader said repeatedly that both GOPs and Dems are equally crooked... granted, he didn't take into account the fact that liberal votes weakened the Dems solidarity, thus handing the election to The Right, but considering his view that the entire process is fundamentally flawed, we can't say he is "wrong" in a strict sense.
posted by greensweater at 6:26 AM on April 23, 2001


If he was serious about his agenda, he would've run in the Dem. primary, where he would've garnered more votes, perhaps giving Gore a nice challenge. More importantly, he wouldn't have taken votes away from Gore in the General. (Mind you, I don't mind. I supported Bush.)

He's just a demagogue. And with Bush in the White House, it's much easier to continue being a demagogue.
posted by Witold at 6:37 AM on April 23, 2001


granted, he didn't take into account the fact that liberal votes weakened the Dems solidarity, thus handing the election to The Right

Bullshit. He knew full well that that might happen and he didn't care. He probably welcomed it, as in his mind it made his "party" more powerful. The guy is a crackpot and a loon, a bomb-thrower. He's made his political reputation by proclaiming himself "not a politician," when he's worse than a politician. He's a power-monger and a manipulator who doesn't have to answer to the People.

The Green Party platform was entirely unsound, politically and economically. When the legitimate environmentalists proved to be not enough for the elusive 2%, his campaign began to feed off the politically naive and uninformed. He sought out Americans who don't understand how politics works, in a vain effort to pad his numbers. He spoke to those who couldn't be bothered to understand the difference between Gore and Bush, and told them that there was no difference, and that he was different, when the few things that actually separated him from them (a lack of experience in government, support from neither party in congress) would have made him a much worse President than either of them.

I pity those who felt they were "voting their conscience" while sucking down this guy's kool-aid.
posted by jpoulos at 6:49 AM on April 23, 2001


I voted for Nader and now I regret it. Not because I'd rather've voted for Gore, but because I wish I'd voted for Hagelin. I still agree with much of what Nader says, I do think that the two parties are too comfortable in their entrenched positions. However I think he does make a big mistake, not just in terms of actually being right, but (more importantly?) in terms of his credibility, when he says that the two parties are indistinguishable. From a certain, good government perspective, he's right. However, the way most people look at politics (which I'm not saying is incorrect), he's wrong. And that he so disastrously doesn't recognize makes him pretty indefensible (of course, most of his critics don't really recognize this either). As an example of how far he, as well as the entire (environmental, eg) debate, is off-base, I recommend Gregg Easterbrook's defense of Bush in this week's TNR.
posted by claxton6 at 7:01 AM on April 23, 2001


I'm sorry, greensweater, if that was a bit harsh. I just now noticed that you're new to MeFi, and I hope I didn't scare you off by jumping down your throat. I've got to remember to have my coffee before I read MeFi in the morning. :-)
posted by jpoulos at 7:18 AM on April 23, 2001


jpoulos: I thought you were passionate, but not too harsh. Of course, I was reading your comments going YES! YES! YES!!! so take that with .03 grains of salt....
posted by darren at 7:32 AM on April 23, 2001


jpoulus, it might give you a warm fuzzy feeling at night to think that those who voted for Nader where ignorant, and apolitical, but that simply isn't true. Some of us are knowledgable of politics, and KNEW the difference between Gore and Bush, and didn't like either of them. I don't know why the concept is so mind shattering, but there can be more than two political modes of thought.
posted by Doug at 7:46 AM on April 23, 2001


"There ought to be limits to freedom," especially you jpoulos! :o) j/k ... I agree with much of what you said but I still think there's room for idealism in the political arena. Nader took his stand and ran on it, something he's done , and there's something inherently good about that. Another argument is that Nader helped to mobilize voters who otherwise would not have voted. Also there's the whole media thing, with the "Let Ralph Debate" debacle and the fact that stadiums full of admission-paying supporters got buried. He's run twice before, he finally starts getting it right, and he's vilified for it. I just don't buy it.
posted by greensweater at 8:01 AM on April 23, 2001


Doug: I understand that Nader voters preferred Nader to Gore; what I don't understand is: what did you want to happen? Nader couldn't win, there isn't going to be a third party any time soon, the Democrats have the pro-consumer and environmentalist constituency, and even if Nader had gotten the Greens matching funds in '04 they would only have more effectively split the left and given Bush his second term.

I know you didn't like Bush or Gore and didn't want to vote for either. But, why would you prefer the greater of two evils?
posted by nicwolff at 8:47 AM on April 23, 2001


I voted for Nader. Originally it was to participate in the vote swapping thing. Then there was the question of its legality so the other guy backed out. Being in Texas, Gore was a wasted vote, so I voted for Nader. At least there'd be a chance of breaking the two-party system for next time, if only he coulda gotten that elusive five percent. I don't agree with everything Nader stands for but I don't stand for anything Bush is after either.

I learned an important lesson in this last presidential campaign. The system itself is corrupt. It doesn't matter who you vote for. If he's not corrupt when he starts out, he'll be corrupt by the time he gets to the finish line, whether he wins the game or not. Next time I'm voting for Tom Servo.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:47 AM on April 23, 2001


I'm with greensweater. It is very easy to pull out the Nader is a bed-wetter, a bomb-thrower, a self-centered instigator arguments. For the record GWB is stupid and Gore's a bore if we are going to get into that game.

Nader gets associated with the downfall of the Dem ticket as if he did them a disservice. People do that because Nader comes from the "Left". Traditionally the Democratic territory. Can you really tell me that the Democratic party is still coming from the left side of things? Dem and Rep are so close together now they have smeared the line. So close that this country could barely tell the two apart.

How can it possibly be a bad thing to have more choices on the ballot (unless you live in West Palm Beach)? Choices that you may not buy into should still appear on the ballot. Even if the candidates never planned on winning. It is good to stir the pot once in a while. Nader knew his purpose in the election was to do just that.

Going back to the Postroad question, Nader is correct. Bush's policies are good for those who need to feel the pinch before they go into action. Clinton made the US feel at ease about many issues. Bush does not put people at ease. I for one feel like checking up on the guy. Nader has been billed as 'Washington's watchdog' and I a going to support him in his efforts to continue as such.

Bed-wetting, bomb-throwing, self-centered instigators still make good watchdogs don't they?

I am enjoying the Kool Aid, by the way jpoulous. Bush only offered me crude oil.
posted by jasonshellen at 8:49 AM on April 23, 2001


Gore lost the election because he ran a bad campaign, period. 11% of registered DEMOCRATS voted for Bush. Nader wasn't responsible for that.
posted by muppetboy at 8:55 AM on April 23, 2001


It doesn't matter if Nader is wrong. It doesn't matter what type of president he might be. For me the issue is how stagnant, centrist, and aloof both main parties have become.

In my opinion, voting for my big toe would be a good vote if it would hack away at the "lease common denominator" politics we've seen lately.

We have a government that *refuses* to make tough decisions, is 100% owned by contributors and special interests, and is trying very hard to move *more* in that direction.

Is Nader wrong? Sure. But vote for him anyway.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:00 AM on April 23, 2001


Nicwolff, believe it or not, I wanted Nader to win. So I voted for the man I wanted to win. Will the world be monumentally worse off because Bush is president? No, I don't think so. We had 8 years of a democrat in the Whitehouse, and the only changes I saw were for the worse.
I feel that if a strong progressive third party is built, this country may not be so God awful when I eventually have kids. I don't feel that the democrats or republicans are looking out for he best interest of the people of this country. Now, this might seem idiolistic, but how could I vote someone into office who I sincerely believed did not have the interest of the people at heart?
posted by Doug at 9:08 AM on April 23, 2001


As far as Nader's politics go, I think he's actually a conservative moderate. What's "radical" is the ideas these two parties have about how they and their corporate bosses can do anything they want with our country without even consulting us. Consider this... over the weekend, a bunch of corporations and their government representatives agreed behind locked doors with 20,000 people outside protesting on moving forward with the FTAA, a policy which to my knowledge hasn't even been publicly released. What kind of democracy do we have left if we don't challenge the status quo? This is the most important economic decision in recent memory and it's laughable to consider the process OPEN, let alone democratic. The truth is the DEMOCRATS will be behind the FTAA too. Until, people wake up and stop partipating in the status quo 2 party political system, things are going to keep sliding gradually towards corporate totalitarianism. Let's hope the people don't wake up too late. I may already be too late.

"Government is the shadow cast over society by Big Business." -- John Dewey
posted by muppetboy at 9:13 AM on April 23, 2001


Doug, I like how you knew that Nader was lying to you about his central reason for running and voted for him anyway.

Good call, much more defensible than voting for Nader out of ignorance.
posted by NortonDC at 9:14 AM on April 23, 2001


Nader also blew a whistle of sorts, wising up the marks on some of the regulatory failings, and other failings of our government. I didn't know about many of them until last summer, and now I am seeing how right he was/is as it all continues. He was pointing out all this stuff while everyone else continued with the bullshit. I wish he would keep a site up to continue his commentary so we could see the new developments in his view.

Doug, I too am distressed that people with power do not have the best interests in their hearts, especially because they have such an opportunity. They play with our wishes for this too, by baiting us. And on the news, they wonder out loud about why people distrust government-- without laughing even.

NortonDC, Nader said he was in it to win.
posted by mblandi at 9:17 AM on April 23, 2001


...and I had Xavier picked to win the men's college basketball championship, because I WANTED them to win. Riiight... just because you WANT someone to win doesn't make it a smart move to vote for them when there's isn't a chance in hell of them actually winning.
posted by fusinski at 9:31 AM on April 23, 2001


I voted for Nader as well. Anyone who meets the minimum requirements is allowed to run for president in this country, so why are people still trying to vilify him? Geez. He went out, said what he stood for, and asked for votes. How is this evil when this is simply what candidates *do*? I don't get it.

I voted for him because I valued my vote. I felt that an election is a sacred thing, and that it was my duty as a citizen to vote for the person that I felt would best lead the country.

It didn't matter how likely he was to win - what mattered was that I thought he had the most integrity of the choices presented. Who, of all the candidates, has actually made *meaningful positive change* in *my* life? Nader was the only one - just look at what he did for car safety. Seriously.

Do those of you who despise him think he did all that work just to get attention? Personally I think he did it because he was genuinely concerned about safety. He saw a problem, and he yelled from the rooftops so that people would notice.

Sure beats a robot married to a music censor or a frat-boy oil baron in my book.

And I live in Texas, to boot. I don't feel my vote was wasted. So what if the non-mainline candidates didn't get much this time around? They got *my* vote, and many others, and in time, the support for alternative choices will grow. Either that, or we'll descend flaming towards some kind of apocalypse...
posted by beth at 9:34 AM on April 23, 2001


Now more than ever I'm glad I voted for Nader. The end product produced by republicans or democrats is virtually the same. When Bush said he wanted to drill Alaska people yelped "See, there is a difference between democrats and republicans!" Nah, not really. The end result is usually the same.
posted by fleener at 9:34 AM on April 23, 2001


So, what is the smart move? Vote for someone who you do not believe is suited hold any office higher than that of dogcatcher (oops, "animal control officer"), just so you can say, "I voted for the winner"?
posted by harmful at 9:37 AM on April 23, 2001


I saw Nader speak here at school last week, and it only reinforced my already high opinion of him(Yes, I did vote for the guy, simply because neither Gore nor Bush showed any care at all for most issues I find important. Yes, I knew the differences between the two, but I also knew that voting for either was a vote for the status quo. It was probably blind, youthful idealism, but I voted my conscience, torpedoes be damned.) Anyway, he displayed a wide grasp of the issues and tempered his pessimistic stance on the state of things with lots of hopeful tales about the power of popular, progressive movements to make real change in society. And, I think that's ultimately what he's trying to do... get some sort of semi-united grassroots progressive movement organized to address all of the issues that the two parties are ignoring.

And, I think his current role as watchdog / rabble-rouser suits him much better than the one of candidate did. I think he can do a lot more good going around to college campuses and encouraging activism and awareness than making futile attempts at office. But, perhaps he had to do the latter in order to get enough notoriety for the former to be effective.
posted by jdunn_entropy at 9:49 AM on April 23, 2001


I don't hear any Nader supporters actually defending his policies. All this "he follows his heart," and "he speaks to the people" BS is the same as not voting for Gore because he's boring. You'd like to see someone with his character in office, fine (although I don't think his character is nearly as solid as he'd have you believe). But if you actually think Ralph Nader would be successful as President (with a Congress that wouldn't give him an inch) or that the US would benefit from the bureaucratic anarchy that would result from his election, I've got to say you don't have a firm grasp of how the US government works. In the real world.

I don't doubt for a second that many Naderites are politically knowledgeable. Just as many conservatives are not racist, intolerant Bible-thumpers (although, by-and-large, most racist, intolerant Bible-thumpers are Republican), many Nader supporters are not the political neophytes who "drank the kool-aid". BUT....clearly Nader pandered to that crowd, especially near the end of the campaign.

I'm not a mindless drone who eats whatever the Democratic Party feeds me. I think there should be room for other voices in the political process and for third (and fourth and fifth) parties on the ballot, but in this instance, given how close the election was (and everyone knew it would be close), and given how much was at stake (remember, Bush is still going to pick Supreme Court Justices), this should not have happened. It was irresponsible of Nader to withhold his endorsement of Gore, and it was irresponsible of the politically-aware (and especially the environmentally conscious) Naderites to put a President in office who was bought and paid-for by Big Oil, in order to make a statement.

I expect my dumb uncle Larry to make poor, irresponsible choices in the voting booth, based on some off-hand comment he may have heard the candidate make ("I dunno, I just like the guy. And I couldn't stand listening to Gore drone on and on for the next four years."), but I expect more out of the politically-aware crowd. I just wish they hadn't used the Democratic process as a vehicle for protest.
posted by jpoulos at 9:56 AM on April 23, 2001


Given Nader and the Greens' affinity for Instant Runoff Voting, maybe spoiling the election was a wakeup call to the dangers of our current system.

It should be, anyway.
posted by daveadams at 9:58 AM on April 23, 2001


Nader was in it to get money from the feds for the Greens next election. He said what ever it took to get people to vote for him. Apparently it worked, even on some people that knew not to believe the words coming out of his mouth.

Fleener, would Gore have tried to drill for oil in national monuments? Would Gore have tried to remove birth control from federal employees health care, as Bush is doing? Might Gore have picked an attorney general lacking a history of interrogating prospective employees about the sex of their bed-room companions? If you don't like Gore any more than Bush, fine, but pretending there's no difference between them is ludicrous.

Harmful - The smart thing to do is to cast your vote in the way that will best advance your interests. That does not always mean voting for who you would most like to win; sometimes it means limiting your options to only the set of viable candidates and choosing from that set the one that best represents your values.
posted by NortonDC at 10:07 AM on April 23, 2001


you don't have a firm grasp of how the US government works. In the real world.

Let's learn then, shall we?
posted by dukejohnson at 10:08 AM on April 23, 2001


NADER! NADER! NADER!
posted by Avogadro at 10:19 AM on April 23, 2001


you don't have a firm grasp of how the US government works. In the real world

Or perhaps the case is that we know all-too-well how it works, and we want to see some changes get made. That's certainly not likely as long as the DemReps don't think they are accountable to the people anymore. If anything, I hope that the Gore debacle will swing the Democrats away from this DLC nonsense and back in a bit of a more leftward direction. Or, maybe it has/will help save campaign finance reform, by guilting more Democrats into voting for it than otherwise might have, in order to at least appear to have the interests of the people in mind. If either of those things happen, it was probably worth 4 years of Bush in the long run.
posted by jdunn_entropy at 10:23 AM on April 23, 2001


Wow, all these Nader voters and still no-one will tell me what they wanted to happen - except ZachsMind, who wanted to "break the two-party system", which really isn't going to happen - the last successful third party was the Republicans, and they had slavery as their wedge issue and Abraham Lincoln as their candidate.

And you can't pull the Democrats to the left - why would they give up any of the thick middle of the bell curve for a little more of the thin left end?

You make a certain selection in the present, because you desire some specific condition in the future, right? So, in the hopes of what specific present or future condition did you vote for Nader last November?
posted by nicwolff at 10:26 AM on April 23, 2001


All this talk to of wasted votes seems meaningless as it is all in retrospect. For example, if you kind of wanted to support the Greens but didn't and voted for Gore . . . well, look what it got you. You "wasted" your vote on Gore when you could have been helping to build that crucial 5%.

See, it's easy to tell people after the fact that they "wasted" their votes, because you already know the results.

I just wish they hadn't used the Democratic [sic] process as a vehicle for protest.

What?!?

What exactly is the democratic process for, then? Voting is a means of expressing an opinion, and is often a case of for or against the status quo. Protesting is expressing an opinion, usually against the status quo. Voting is perhaps the best vehicle for protest -- it is a peaceful expression of collective opinion.
posted by warcode at 10:28 AM on April 23, 2001


Oh, and here's the usual no-registration NY Times backdoor link for the article.
posted by nicwolff at 10:31 AM on April 23, 2001


I voted for Nader because I liked his ideas. Specifically such as getting more people and less corporations involved.
1 Making election day a national holiday to encourage more people to vote.
2 Giving a voter a PIN number so they could vote online ideally through ATM machines.
3 Charging the TV companies for the airwaves. The payment would be in free commercials for those running for office. That way the candidates would not have to raise such enormous amounts of money making them vulnerable to corruption.
Just a few reasons why he had my support.
posted by keithl at 10:33 AM on April 23, 2001


I just wish they hadn't used the Democratic process as a vehicle for protest.

Wish all you want. When the process isn't working for you it's time to find another way. Voting for 'the lesser of two evils' seems a very temporary solution. How about looking at the big picture? Say the next election? Say big changes in the way elections in America are run?

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin
posted by jasonshellen at 10:33 AM on April 23, 2001


I voted for Nader. Nader didn't do anything to be repentent for, and neither did Nader voters. Nader represented a point of view significantly different from the other candidates and a different vision of America's future. It's the voters' job to vote for the vision they want. They don't owe anything to a particular candidate or party.

Gore couldn't even carry his own state. Look that up for precedents. The Dems sold out after the McGovern/Carter double body blow to represent half of the big fat middle of the herd.

Not that it matters anyway. Presidents come and go, but Policy is forever.
posted by Twang at 10:49 AM on April 23, 2001


jpoulos wrote:
I just wish they hadn't used the Democratic process as a vehicle for protest.

WHAT??? As I recall it was protest what *created* the "Democratic" process in this country? It's just that so many people have been Sominexed (new verb) that it has little result any more.

NortonDC wrote:
He said what ever it took to get people to vote for him

Stuff and nonsense. Whatever you think of Nader, he's been saying the same things for 40 years. Did it take you that long to start listening? 'Cause what he was warning about back then has come to pass.

Half the people who voted, voted for Bush, a guy still trying to put sentences together. They represent the prevailing wisdom. Ask yourself how it got that way.
posted by Twang at 11:07 AM on April 23, 2001


Oh, man. Twang says the Dems sold out. jasonshellen wants "big changes in the way elections in America are run". keithl voted Nader because he "liked his ideas".

Guys, you didn't get Nader, or his ideas, or any changes in the way we run elections, or any movement left from the Democrats. Take from the Democrats on the left and they'll make it up where it's easy: in the middle.

warcode wants to believe that his or her vote was not wasted, because warcode believes that "[v]oting is a means of expressing an opinion" rather than primarily a means of electing a leader, which is where the Nader voters differ on principle from we, jaded if not corrupt, who just preferred that the most powerful man in the world be a smart liberal bore rather than a greedy conservative dimwit.
posted by nicwolff at 11:13 AM on April 23, 2001


I learn something new everyday on Metafilter. Today I learned Al Gore is liberal. Neet.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 11:33 AM on April 23, 2001


Several contributors to this thread have made the perverse claim that I -- a Nader voter -- actually ought to have voted for Gore. Even putting aside for a moment the fact that I don't live in Florida, I am having trouble understanding why anyone would ever have a reason to vote for a candidate whom they don't want to win.

I am familiar with the records of both George Bush Sr and Bill Clinton. As far as I can determine, Clinton was decidedly worse. And up to now, Bush Jr hasn't done anything too dramatically evil (relative to what Gore is expected to have done). To be sure, Bush may *try* to be more evil, but trying isn't good enough. Only results count, and achieving results depends upon political competence.

It's becoming clearer and clearer that Bush lacks political competence. Just listen to him defend the FTAA, mumbling something to the effect of "Trade is good, I like trade. Liberty is also good." Bush is weak, lazy and -- crucially -- ineffectual.

So why did I vote for Nader? As the man says, "to build a long-range political reform movement." To build a third party not beholden to corporate interests. And what if this bit of "idealism" results in the death of the Democratic Party? The sooner the better, I say. Parties come and go.

At any rate, I'm not (and probably never will be) a Democrat. If a Green hadn't run, I'd have voted for another third party candidate. After all, I wouldn't want to waste my vote.
posted by johnb at 11:35 AM on April 23, 2001


I'm just glad Tipper Gore and Joe Lieberman aren't running things from behind the scenes.

For those interested in what Nader's up to these days, read his weekly column.
posted by snakey at 11:49 AM on April 23, 2001


I am having trouble understanding why anyone would ever have a reason to vote for a candidate whom they don't want to win. - johnb

OK, so you prefer Bush's agenda, if ineffectually implemented, to Gore's. I'm pretty sure that Bush will quite competently appoint one or two more Scalia types to the Supreme Court and fuck this country up but good, but maybe you don't care.

You're asking why you would vote for the lesser of two evils. And my answer is as always: why wouldn't you, if you could by so voting prevent the election of the greater evil?

Yes, I know, you think that your vote for Nader went towards a third party not beholden to corporate interests. That's a fantasy. The chance for campaign finance reform - which at this point is necessary for greater political reform - is with the Democrats, and if you undermine their chances because they're part of the currrent corrupt system then all you'll have is Republicans until the ice caps melt.

(Come to think of it, the rising oceans will drown all the liberals in New York and California and Chicago, and then we'll have Republicans until the cockroaches take over.)
posted by nicwolff at 12:17 PM on April 23, 2001


Anybody trying to defend their Nader vote might as well stop trying. You are never going to convince anybody who believes they "own" your vote that you are entitled to vote for whomever you choose. It is irritating to me, who did not vote for any of the people mentioned thus far, to realize that so many people think that way. I will say it once again. Gore supporters, you should be talking to the people who voted for Bush, not Nader.
posted by thirteen at 12:18 PM on April 23, 2001


...or even just the higher proportion of registered Democrats who voted for Bush than who voted for Nader.
posted by harmful at 12:21 PM on April 23, 2001


Unless he has joined since the election, Ralph Nader isn't even a member of the Green Party. By running in swing states instead of states like Texas and New York where more people were free to vote Nader, he drastically reduced his own chances of getting 5 percent and federal matching funds, an essential part of party building. Based on these things, I think it's incredibly naive of Nader voters to believe he was going to build a long-range political reform movement.

Are any of you actually members of the party you're supposedly building over the long-term? Do you know the names of any Green politicians other than Nader?
posted by rcade at 12:28 PM on April 23, 2001


Thought: voting against one's desired candidate to make defeat of another candidate more likely is a metapolitical gesture in the literal sense of the word, effectively cancelling the voter's own voice. A search on metapolitics yielded this interesting note.
posted by greensweater at 12:30 PM on April 23, 2001


13: >>Gore supporters, you should be talking to the people who voted for Bush, not Nader.

Very good advice. Bush voters who are registered Democrat clearly have not yet rejected the two party system, so there's at least a chance of luring them back.

nicwolff >>The chance for campaign finance reform - which at this point is necessary for greater political reform - is with the Democrats,

McCain's the real force behind the ban on soft money -- which, incidently, the Democratic leadership is lukewarm about (they reckon it would leave them at a disadvantage).

>>and if you undermine their chances because they're part of the currrent corrupt system then all you'll have is Republicans until the ice caps melt.

The ice caps will melt (if they melt, which seems likely) whether the president is Democrat or Republican. Neither has the political guts to defy his paymasters and do something about climate change. The Democrat, of course, will always express "concern" about the problem, but history does not point to a difference in results.

(By the way, rhetoric aside, Democratic administrations tend to be associated with more pounds of carbon emissions than Republican administrations - just so you know.)
posted by johnb at 12:54 PM on April 23, 2001


do you want an end to the constant bi-partisan bickering and gridlock in congress? vote nader into the oval office. there's nothing like a common enemy to bring people together, very close together, and anyone who is elected president without coming through sanctioned routes will be seen as a threat by nearly everyone who did.

if the green party wants an effective green president they need to work on electing greens in local and congressional positions first. this will produce candidates who have governmental experience *and* give a green president a foot into building congressional support. you have to have a congress who will support you to get anything made into law.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 1:00 PM on April 23, 2001


rcade: Joe Szwaja, for one; he ran for U.S. Congress against the incumbent Jim McDermott and came away with 20% of the vote. I'm particularly familiar with him as I spent a good amount of time working in his campaign last fall.

One data point proves nothing, of course, but you were asking a personal question in a discussion about the system at large so you weren't going to get a meaningful answer anyway. I am not a member of the Green Party, but I've never been a member of any political party and will probably never join one, so that's not saying much. Why do you care whether Nader is a party member, anyway? He's their candidate, so obviously his platform compatible with theirs. I don't see why it's even an issue.

The Green Party and its figurehead Nader-for-President campaign are important for two completely different reasons. One, there's the Green ideology itself; they value things I value, so as long as there are positions of authority I would like to see people who think like Greens occupying them. The only way to get Green politicians into political offices is to have them run campaigns and encourage people to vote for them. It's a hard job, yes, but if nobody runs nobody will be elected.

Two, there's the U.S. political system. A powerful Green party will necessarily take some power away from the Republicans & Democrats. Since I do not like the Republicans & Democrats, I am happy about this idea. More than that, the Greens propose several political reforms as part of their platform. If they manage to crack the door open, they will work to push it wider open - things like instant runoff voting, proportional representation, and campaign financing law changes will make it harder to exclude minority voices from the U.S. political system.

It is easy to talk about what the Green party believes in and plans to do because they aren't in power yet. I'm sure that if the Greens succeed and manage to become a third major party, they too will be corrupted, bought out, and effectively blunted. But my hope is that they will accomplish some lasting good before that happens and make the road smoother for future reformers. It has to happen somehow, and right now the Green Party has a chance to do it.

To those of you who gripe about the Green Party and the Nader campaign, I ask: what the hell else are we supposed to do? How are we going to get a good president if we don't vote for good candidates? How are we going to get new parties in power if we don't beat up on the old ones? What are you waiting for - twenty million voters to spontaneously jump ship? What is going to make people change their minds? How exactly do you expect political change to happen if you won't accept people shaking things up?

One break in the massive, much-decried wall of voter apathy, and everyone starts whining about "stealing votes from Gore." What a world.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:06 PM on April 23, 2001


In my idealistic naivety, I voted for Nader. I hope to God that if I was 10 years older, I would have done the same. I voted for him because I believe the leader of the free world should have some semblance of intelligence. There was a time in this country when the President was expected to be more intelligent than the general public. Those days have been buried by our culture whom idolize Jerry Springer. I would be willing to bet, that at 22 years, I have read far more books than Dubya has, at least the ones without pictures.

And Gore, well, there really isnt much difference between the two. I frankly I dont agree with either of them. So I voted for Nader, whose ideas coincided with mine alot more than either of the Big Two.

Any intelligent American should do the same. YOU VOTE FOR THE CANDIDATE WHO REPRESENTS YOUR IDEAS.

The election is NOT A HORSE-RACE. You are not trying to "pick the winner", as our pop-culture tells us.

America was founded on rebellion and standing up for what you believe, not blindly following the masses. It makes me sick that people think that others should "stop the fussing" and just pick one of the winners.

As a college student, quite a few of my peers were nader supporters, probably close to half that I spoke with. As a general rule, the young population does not vote as often as the older population. I see a changing tide as these voters grow older with the same ideals and hunger for change. You may be comfortable in your two party system, but it won't last.

And this, wow, what a great quote.....

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin
posted by Espoo2 at 1:13 PM on April 23, 2001


"The chance for campaign finance ... is with the Democrats"
That's funny, cause I actually see some of the biggest pushes from Republicans.
And Jpoulus, I voted for nader because I believed in his policies, which I thought were significantly different than the policies of Al Gore. You're a smart guy, and you're a democrat, but you just gotta realize not everyone who isn't a republican is a democrat. I am certainly not a democrat.
Should I have voted for Gore, who would be only mildly better than Bush? I opted to help build the Green party. We're each doing what we think is in the nation's best interest. But we disagree.
posted by Doug at 1:14 PM on April 23, 2001


rcade: >>Are any of you actually members of the party you're supposedly building over the long-term?

I am. Of course, the movement is more important than the party.

>>Do you know the names of any Green politicians other than Nader?

Of course. Medea Benjamin for US Senate. Also, many local candidates in San Francisco. And as expected, the Nader candidacy helped raise awareness of the Green party candidates in these local races.

Mars: well said.
posted by johnb at 1:26 PM on April 23, 2001


Why do you care whether Nader is a party member, anyway? He's their candidate, so obviously his platform compatible with theirs. I don't see why it's even an issue.

It matters because it's one sign among many that Ralph Nader isn't really a Green. I don't think he's building a party at all -- it's a cult of personality that will crumble the moment he gets bored with presidential politics (see also "Perot, Ross").

Most of the people who voted for Nader have no idea what Green Party USA advocates. I can't imagine many of them are for a maximum income limit where the government takes away all money you earn beyond $125.00 an hour, government grants that make sure everyone earns a minimum income ($26,000/year for a family of four), a 30-hour work week, or any of the other political-suicide policies advocated in the official platform.

If you folks are going to poison the Supreme Court for the next 25 years so you can create a third party, I wish it was a party you actually believed in.
posted by rcade at 1:28 PM on April 23, 2001


Several contributors to this thread have made the perverse claim that I -- a Nader voter -- actually ought to have voted for Gore.

Actually, johnb, I don't give a damn who you vote for. But I reserve the right to blame you if your foolhardy ballot-casting results in a moron like GWB in the Oval Office. It's not a matter of anyone owning anyone else's vote. It's a matter of common sense! If you want to piss away your vote by voting for Mickey Mouse or Bozo the Clown, go for it! But when Mickey Mouse doesn't win, but IQ-of-a-potted-plant does, don't say it ain't your fault.
posted by jpoulos at 1:30 PM on April 23, 2001


And this, wow, what a great quote.....

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin


Yeah it is, but I always thought it was a Jefferson quote for some reason. I have also never seen it used outside of a pro-gun ownership argument but it works nicely.
posted by thirteen at 1:32 PM on April 23, 2001


Rcade, I think each of the things you mentioned are fine ideas. So yes, this Nader voter KNEW the platform. And I was frankly shocked that as many people took to the Green party as did, considering it is pretty radical (and VERY different than the democratic platform).
posted by Doug at 1:33 PM on April 23, 2001


Nader's campaign had effects other than merely "stealing" votes from the Dems. I'm not sure if it's been posted to MeFi yet or not, but this short piece has a few words about some of those effects:

Among the most powerful Democrats in Washington, Nader is viewed in a far friendlier light. Yes, there is a measure of anger at him for having maintained a candidacy that hurt Al Gore in key states. But there is, as well, a grudging acknowledgment that Nader drew progressive voters to the polls, and that those progressive voters almost certainly provided the narrow margins of victory for Democratic Senate challengers Maria Cantwell in Washington state and Debbie Stabenow in Michigan — giving the Democrats a 50-50 split in the Senate — and for several Democratic House candidates, including San Diego’s Susan Davis and Madison’s own Tammy Baldwin.

Does it matter to anyone that Nader almost certainly got more progressives to the polls? Is it too much to ask that Nader's supporters (such as myself) and his liberal/progressive critics agree that his candidacy and campaign were at least a mixed bag?
posted by sj at 1:39 PM on April 23, 2001


rcade - is this October 2000 again? How many times has it been mentioned that Nader isn't running on that platform? Remember, there are two Green Parties... blah, blah, blah, ....
posted by johnb at 1:43 PM on April 23, 2001


>>But when Mickey Mouse doesn't win, but IQ-of-a-potted-plant does, don't say it ain't your fault.

Actually, I think the outcome was optimal, given the circumstances. (Although I naturally wouldn't describe it the way you do.)
posted by johnb at 1:52 PM on April 23, 2001


What bothered me so much about Nader was not that he "pulled votes away from Gore," but that he attacked Gore relentlessly (instead of Bush??!) -- but never offered up viable solutions to the problems he screamed about.

Some of Nader's staffers felt betrayed towards the end of the campaign; Nader had promised that he would campaign in safe states, and that his goal was to break the 5% threshold. But in the latter months of the campaign, Nader's goal seemed more personal: a personal vendetta to destroy Gore. Most staffers had joined the campaign, believing they were supporting their hero and breaking the two-party system. They did NOT join to see Bush elected.

But let's get past the whole Nader vs. Gore dynamic....Nader brought up a lot of social, economic, and political issues that should be examined. But he offered no policies to alleviate these problems. After a few months, he began to sound like an ornery man on a soapbox. This is why I have difficulty understanding why someone in a swing state voted for Nader.

(And I hate to point this out, but most Nader supports were middle- to upper-class whites -- people the least affected by the loss of abortion rights, social programs, health services -- which could very well happen under Bush's care.)

You want real social and political change? Change things from the inside. Run as a Green Party, progressive Democrat, etc. on the local level. Build grassroots support. Then run for Congress. Run for governor. Run for president.

To end on a positive note: the two outcomes from Election 2000 for which I am thankful are the 50-50 Senate and the lesson learned that every single vote counts.
posted by jennak at 2:16 PM on April 23, 2001


warcode wants to believe that his or her vote was not wasted, because warcode believes that "[v]oting is a means of expressing an opinion" rather than primarily a means of electing a leader, which is where the Nader voters differ on principle from we, jaded if not corrupt, who just preferred that the most powerful man in the world be a smart liberal bore rather than a greedy conservative dimwit.

Wouldn't this argument work roughly as well when applied to Republican voters? Do you think they are all big fans of Bush? Even Republicans will agree that actual leadership potential can take a backseat to other political factors when choosing a leader (ie. they chose a Republican White House moreso than Bush for president).

And examining the other side, I don't know that Democrats voted for Gore just because they think he is better than Bush. What if their candidate had been intellectually inferior to Bush? Would they have been much more likely to vote Republican? I would say no, but then maybe I am jaded, too . . .

Oh, and I never said that I voted. I'm not even American (gasp!).
posted by warcode at 2:19 PM on April 23, 2001


GWB or Gore, hrmmm sharp stick in right eye OR sharp stick in left eye....

jpoulos wrote:
I just wish they hadn't used the Democratic process as a vehicle for protest.

yeah, they should've burned some SUV's, or smashed windows of some capitalist pigdog's business...
posted by jbelshaw at 3:28 PM on April 23, 2001


[rcade] Most of the people who voted for Nader have no idea what Green Party USA advocates

Maybe not, but as johnb pointed out, Nader also didn't run as the Green Party USA candidate. Green Party USA endorsed Nader for president, but Nader didn't run under their platform. Instead, Nader was more closely associated and shared a platform with the less-liberal Association of State Green Parties, which advocates none of the points you ridiculed.
posted by daveadams at 3:34 PM on April 23, 2001


do you want an end to the constant bi-partisan bickering and gridlock in congress?

Of course not. I strongly support constant bi-partisan bickering and gridlock in congress. It keeps congress from passing major new initiatives, which is almost always good.

Aside 1: I could be wrong, but I think Florida is the only state where the Nader vote was larger than Bush's margin of victory; in every other close state with a relatively high Nader vote (most notably Oregon, Wisconsin, and Minnesota), Gore won anyway (if not by much).

Aside 2: Harry Browne and Pat Buchanan (both as much Rightists as Nader is a Leftist) also got more votes in Florida than the difference between Bush and Gore, and combined got about as many votes as Nader.

Aside 3: In 1996, Ross Perot's Reform Party got that 'magic 5%' for federal matching funds in 2000. This didn't help Reform Party candidates over the next four years; indeed, the party has pretty much imploded since then.
posted by drothgery at 6:17 PM on April 23, 2001


Mars - you kick ass

Doug:> ...it [the platform] is pretty radical

radical's relative

and what's wrong with a maximum wage law anyway? does anyone really need to make any more than the president? or us$250k???

jpoulos:> If you want to piss away your vote by voting for Mickey Mouse or Bozo the Clown, go for it! But when Mickey Mouse doesn't win, but IQ-of-a-potted-plant does, don't say it ain't your fault.

my take on it was "corporate bitch #1" vs. "corporate bitch #2" ... if i vote for ralph nader because i didn't want to vote for a corporate bitch, well i'm fucked using your logic - it's my fault a coporate bitch was elected!?

a pot of water only boils after reaching 100C and if my contributions (not just my vote, mind you) increase the temperature even slightly ... i own my part rather than resigning myself to sheep-think ... look at 'em ... so docile
posted by dukejohnson at 6:48 PM on April 23, 2001


I just finished reading all of the previous posts to this thread. There are two points that many Nader voters overlook. Nader's own minions organized a backlash against his campaign. There is no way that Nader would have found a compliant legislature if he had ever attained office. If your own teamplayers don't like you, and the people you have pilloried are the ones you need to play ball with, you are effectively dead in the water.

I'd tend to think that most voters like some segment of the Green platform, but without a vigorous organization supporting specific planks it becomes nothing but politically correct smoke and mirrors. A two party system is built upon local political action, not upon the enthusiasm of stadium crowds. You might not like Gore, but he had the urban centers committed to his agenda. You might not like Bush, but he represented the suburbs and rural areas of this country.

Ultimately this past election came down to one state. Nader should have accepted his defeat as strategically as McCain did. He could have negotiated support for Green platform issues in exchange for delivering his voters to the democrats. Instead he held out and fingerpointed and allowed enough confusion to irk the Supreme Court into political intervention. If Nader had listened to his own foot soldiers he could have negotiated a tangible gain for the Greens in Florida. He failed the job.
posted by Sqwerty at 7:11 PM on April 23, 2001


I could be wrong, but I think Florida is the only state where the Nader vote was larger than Bush's margin of victory; in every other close state with a relatively high Nader vote (most notably Oregon, Wisconsin, and Minnesota), Gore won anyway (if not by much).

Bush beat Gore by 13,000 votes in New Hampshire, a margin lower than Nader's 22,000 votes.

and what's wrong with a maximum wage law anyway? does anyone really need to make any more than the president? or us$250k???

Any party that advocates a maximum personal income in the United States isn't serious about winning any elections. Though the Green Party USA is more of a think tank than a party, it's still a strong part of the party you folks are building. At least the handful of you who are actually members.
posted by rcade at 7:23 PM on April 23, 2001


>>Nader's own minions organized a backlash against his campaign.

What are you talking about?

>>There is no way that Nader would have found a compliant legislature if he had ever attained office.

Anyone who actually thought Ralph Nader was going to be elected President of the United States (especially given his exclusion from the debates, etc) is not living in the same reality I am. Regardless, there are many other reasons to vote for Nader (see rest of thread).

>>A two party system is built upon local political action, not upon the enthusiasm of stadium crowds.

So is an n-party system, for all n. But before Greens can be elected into local positions, voters have to know they're running. The "mega-rallies" helped to draw attention to the local Green candidates.

>>He could have negotiated support for Green platform issues in exchange for delivering his voters to the democrats.

My vote isn't Nader's to give away (as he has stressed himself).
posted by johnb at 7:45 PM on April 23, 2001


>>Nader's own minions organized a backlash against his campaign.
>What are you talking about?

Look for info on a campaign called Nader's Raiders for Gore. The very people who knew Nader when he was at his most effective spoke out against his campaign.

The purpose of a presidential vote is to elect the most effective officeholder, regardless of current popular opinion a vote is not a polling tool.

You can hairsplit all you want about how many parties are tangible, but without a real and productive political network behind any candidate their campaign is nothing but a cult of personality. Nader complained about subversive advertising campaigns and ran equally negative ads on behalf of his own campaign. I began the season as a Nader supporter and was convinced by friends that the federal administration is too important to treat like a popularity contest. Nader has a strong history as a consumer advocate, but he is not strong as an employer or administrator. We all support his quixotic posture as a consumer advocate, but we should require more than Jesse Ventura style bravado as a hallmark of our national leader.
posted by Sqwerty at 8:58 PM on April 23, 2001


>>Look for info on a campaign called Nader's Raiders for Gore. The very people who knew Nader when he was at his most effective spoke out against his campaign

Oh come on, the "Nader's Raiders for Gore" was a small "astroturf" group set up by Toby Moffett, who is Chief Lobbyist for Monsanto and has financial ties to Gore. Moffett isn't Nader's "minion" any more than Steve Forbes is. And yes, this handful of lawyers once worked with Nader, but they represent a tiny fraction of all the former Nader's Raiders. If they represent anything, they represent the traiters who switched to the corporate "dark side."

>>The purpose of a presidential vote is to elect the most effective officeholder, regardless of current popular opinion a vote is not a polling tool.

A functioning democracy is a prerequisite to adopting that kind of high-mindedness.
posted by johnb at 9:23 PM on April 23, 2001


The stupidest thing I saw out of Nader's crew was having, on its home page, an attack on Al Gore for arguing in favor of the Florida Supreme Court. One of Nader's people said, and his web page cited prominently, a campaign connected attorney arguing that this put Gore on the wrong moral side, through echoing the state's rightists who were in favor of segregation. I just bet that Public Citizen has had more luck lobbying on the state level in recent years than the federal one. I don't think they'd have much luck before the Supremes much anymore either. Also, I guess all Canadians are racists for not utilizing their federal government as much as their provincial authorities.

Hmm, the state tobacco lawsuits, anyone? Was that initiated at the federal level? (No, hell, it was even initiated by Mississippi.) Progressive state health care laws, state gay rights laws, tremendous success in state environmental regulation, etc., etc.? Siding with an individual state is morally wrong, you say? What a total crock.
posted by raysmj at 9:23 PM on April 23, 2001


Probably most of us know Mr. Moffett's personal job history. Obviously the reason the group named themselves "Nader's Raders for Gore" is because they saw Gore more viable candidate than their former mentor. Try asking most former PIRG canvassers if they still support the goals or employment practices of Nader's organization, or if they have moved on to other more stable employment and political organizations.
posted by Sqwerty at 10:48 PM on April 23, 2001


Having just read this entire thread straight through, some thoughts:

• The "Vote for X because we can't let Y get to nominate SUPCO justices!" argument is largely a bugaboo. As Nader himself has pointed out quite often, the appointment of justices requires more than mere anointment by the president (Scalia and Thomas were both confirmed thanks to Senate Democratic support), and justices tend to waver quite a bit in their ideologies once on the bench (the biggest liberals on the Court today were named by Republicans). If you're voting for or against a presidential candidate based largely on worries over who he'll name as SUPCO candidates, you're making a mistake, and you're not thinking about the issues deeply enough.

and what's wrong with a maximum wage law anyway? does anyone really need to make any more than the president? or us$250k???

What's wrong with it? Would you like the academic reasons or the real-life reasons? What the hey, I'll give both. The academic problem is that the theories and arguments for a maximum-wage law are specious at best, and all end up boiling down to a purely emotional rationale: Some people are jealous of those who make more money than they do, and thus they want to make the act of being "too rich," as determined arbitrarily by themselves, into a moral crime. You want to argue the morality of being rich, fine, but don't try to bring logic into it. Real-life reasons: The economy would instantaneously - as in, the very day such a law took effect - enter a depression the likes of which the world has never seen, for a number of reasons I won't go into here unless someone who really doesn't understand why asks me to do so. More importantly, it would provide the government with less money in the end, not more. If you think people would simply keep on "technically" making >$250K while letting 100% of the excess go to the feds, you're nuts. All such salaries would immediately be cut below the $250K mark, while alternate ways of providing the excess would be discovered (there are always loopholes). In many cases, the motive to succeed, to take business risks, would simply evaporate. That means fewer new companies being created, little to no expansion of existing companies, etc. In other words, total nationwide economic slowdown, which equals major loss of tax revenue.

• If you thought that serious electoral reform was going to come out of the Florida debacle, you're probably going to be disappointed.

• Campaign finance reform is doomed. As has been touched upon above, nobody on either side of the aisle really wants it. Other than McCain, the Democrats are more in favor of it publicly, but behind the scenes they're even more against it than the GOP, now that their own data seems to show they might get more hurt by it than the GOP would. So they're playing the game: Let it pass in the Senate while making positive public comments, then watch the press and the public completely forget about it as it's totally ignored in favor of a million other bills in the House, never even getting brought up for debate. And what little support it did get came largely from John McCain, not from Nader.

• There is no such thing as a successful third party in the American political system. Though the system was not intentionally designed as such in the beginning, it has turned out that our system pretty much creates two main political parties by default. We are not doomed to have the same two parties for ever and ever, but if a new party - say, the Greens - does come to power, it will only happen at the expense of (and cause the death of) either the Democrats or the Republicans. And the only way the Green Party would ever achieve that level of popularity - and thus power - is through a rather severe moderation of its more extreme policies. Which means in the end they'd just be the Democrats with a new name.

• One thing that seems to have escaped notice here - and I think it's the most important point of all - is that this thread shows just how massively fractured the liberals (and/or the Democrats, as it were) are in this country right now. The infighting is all-pervasive between the moderate and more leftist wings of the party, and this shitstorm over Nader is papering over the fact that until these factions can be united in some fashion, liberals in this country are doomed. Doomed just like the GOP was from the time of Nixon's resignation until Reagan united them all. Democrats will continue to get elected, of course, but without some sort of overarching platform that all liberals can support to some extent, all you'll have are a lot of elected Democrats arguing with each other and not getting much accomplished. (Note how famously, um, "freewheeling" shall we say, the Clinton White House was when it came to internal discussion of policy issues, and how well that worked out.)

And keep in mind that Americans, in general, think of themselves as moderate, leaning slightly to the conservative side. While a true-left Democratic party may be intellectually satisfying to many, it would end up turning off far more people than it would attract. And if things get so bad that the lefties break off from the Democrats entirely, well ... see what I said above about successful third parties.

• I'm surprised there's been so few mentions of Perot here, since he seems to show that 3rd-party candidates can work for you as well as against you. Without Perot, we probably never would have had eight years of Clinton in the first place. (Whether that's a good or bad thing is up to you, naturally.)

• One thing this thread has made crystal clear is that when it comes to politics, everyone will interpret what s/he sees in a subjective fashion, in a way that corresponds with his/her own political beliefs. Straightforward events and traits will be misjudged in whatever way it takes to internally correspond with one's own ideology, even when it can clearly be proved that there's one objective reality involved. (Examples: 1) The Supreme Court nominations issue I talk about above, which is very complex, is treated as a very simple "We must vote X to stop Y from appointing SUPCO justices!" issue. 2) Many slams above of the "Bush is an imbecile because he sometimes mangles sentences" variety. Great for establishing an emotional feeling of superiority, but it's scientifically proven that such malstructured syntax has nothing to do with ones innate intelligence. And of course there a tons of other objective criteria that show Bush is anything but an idiot.) In the end, if we cannot get to the point where we all are willing to put aside our emotional prejudices, and focus on the objective facts we face and the choices we have to debate, there will never be any meaningful changes to our political process or discourse.

This is a much cuter photo of a sheep.
posted by aaron at 12:04 AM on April 24, 2001



the biggest liberals on the Court today were named by Republicans ...

Anyone who is counting on Republicans to continue appointing Souters instead of Scalias is crazy. All it takes is two appointments on the court and you can kiss a lot of important rights in this country goodbye. If Bush is such a super-genius, as you seem to think, what are the odds he can't find a couple of reliable right-wing Clarence Thomases to replace Stevens and O'Connor?
posted by rcade at 6:40 AM on April 24, 2001


The biggest liberals on the court today: You mean Ginsberg? And Souter, the original "steal appointee," pushed just to get anyone through in the wake of Bork, etc., who Bush barely knew anything about?
posted by raysmj at 7:55 AM on April 24, 2001


excuse me, that's "stealth" appointee
posted by raysmj at 8:03 AM on April 24, 2001


In the end, if we cannot get to the point where we all are willing to put aside our emotional prejudices, and focus on the objective facts we face and the choices we have to debate, there will never be any meaningful changes to our political process or discourse.

I don't know whether this is possible. Our emotional and ideological leanings dictate which facts we focus on. There is an effectively infinite universe of data to choose from, and it is the nature of people to select the data which most nearly comport to their view of reality. And of course, most data may be interpreted in multiple ways.

People on all sides of an issue will claim to be dealing with it objectively. What that usually means is that they're unaware of how they're filtering data. And it's nearly impossible to make people recognize that that's what they're doing.
posted by anapestic at 8:14 AM on April 24, 2001


aaron: one of the problems that the "left" faces now -- at least until 2002 -- is that there's nothing in American politics to match the British "Leader of the Opposition". The Congressional Democrats are essentially neutered, and their only hope of action in the next 18 months is if Strom or Jesse expires. There's the traditional post-defeat retrenchment, as Presidential contenders in 2004 attempt to "not rule themselves in and not rule themselves out", especially those ex-Administration members such as Andrew Cuomo who need to win state elections before they can even consider a national run.

In short, from my transatlantic perpective, there's precious little that the party out of office can do in the first two years of an administration, except retrench and leave a nice big space in the papers for the President and his team to embarrass themselves. (Which, of course, was what Clinton managed to do in 1992-4.)

You have to wonder whether the Dems even have the taste for immediate political activism; like the Tories in Britain, it may take time to move things on a generation, and allow new figures to make their presence felt on the national stage. In the meantime, you're more likely to see single-issue opposition: hence the focus on the environment, on corporate interests, and most likely upon abortion.

As for Nader: well, it'd be nice if he used this opportunity for single-issue campaigners to, um, campaign.
posted by holgate at 8:33 AM on April 24, 2001


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