What went wrong for Ralph?
November 28, 2000 8:36 PM   Subscribe

What went wrong for Ralph? Now that the whining and accusations has died down a little, it's time to finally ask the hard question: So why did Ralph Nader do so badly?. Did his campaign drift too far left? Was Winnona LaDuke the right running mate? Did the Green party help or hurt him? What did Nader himself do to screw his own campaign.
posted by lagado (16 comments total)
I'm as surprised as the next person, seeing how all my close friends voted for him, but then that's not much of a sample.

I'd venture to guess people chickened out. I heard about a lot of people giving in and voting Gore, instead of Nader. I also heard "you actually did vote for him?" from some family members, so I have a feeling although people liked the idea of Nader, they didn't go through with it and actually vote for him.
posted by mathowie at 8:47 PM on November 28, 2000

I'd say people chickened out too- for the most part. My parents both voted for Gore... in Georgia... where Bush was definitely going to win.

However my brother (in CA) and grandmother (in FL, hahaha) both voted for Nader.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure that running a spoiler campaign actually brings issues to the forefront. Perot brought up a lot of pro-labor stuff in 92 and 96, and Clinton/Gore's failure to follow up on that was one of the main reasons for Nader's active campaigning.
posted by kidsplateusa at 9:14 PM on November 28, 2000

Speaking of LaDuke, where was she???

She was not present at any of the rallies (to my knowledge), and was never an active member of the campaign. I wanted to hear her speak, but was never given the opportunity.

Indeed, it seemed as though she was purposely held in check by the green party . . .
posted by aladfar at 9:28 PM on November 28, 2000

I think you're asking the wrong question.

Was there ever really any possibility of him doing any better than he actually did? I honestly think the answer is "no".

5% was an artificial goal. It wasn't set based on political reality of the candidate's chances of attracting votes, it was based only on the threshold needed to qualify for matching funds.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:09 PM on November 28, 2000

Simple... #1 He was virtually ignored by Big Media. Media exposure is *everything.* #2 He didn't take Big Money, and thus had minimal paid exposure. #3 The election was close, there was a concerted fear campaign launched to sway Nader voters, and in the end, most people are chickens.
posted by fleener at 10:24 PM on November 28, 2000

Had Bush been a better candidate, or if people weren’t so scared of the political red herrings we kept hearing about — Roe v. Wade overturned, civil rights abolished, the environment disintegrating — Nader might well have won. Every time I talked to someone about voting Nader they were scared of Bush or Republican. It took me awhile but I swung a few people. The others? Quaking in their goddamn boots, worrying about Bush-Cheney and a tax cut they’ll never get.

Registered Green Party members in some precincts tripled. That is a mark of a growing party.

Steven is right though. 5% probably was too lofty a goal. Nader wasn’t even in the debates. There is a certain dissonance that makes candidates in the debates okay to vote for, while the others are just spoilers, or worse, Libertarian.

I can joke. Everybody lost this election.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 10:51 PM on November 28, 2000

Y'know a long time ago in what would eventually be called TV, we had the red network and the blue network. This eventually evolved into NBC, CBS and ABC. For a long time, that was it. PBS followed eventually, and smaller independent stations cropped up, but before the advent of cable, it was The Big Three networks, and if you didn't like what they were showing, your only alternative really was to change the channel. The other stations were rarely strong enough to broadcast more than snow. It's taken well over fifty years, but my how times change. Now we have UPN, The WB, FOX, CSPAN, HBO, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, ESPN, The Discovery Channel, The Playboy Channel, the Home Shopping Network... Need I go on? Where there were originally only two voices, now there are hundreds. And we are all the better for it.

I voted for Nader. Originally it was cuz of the Nader Trader thing. I think that whole idea scared some influential people who quickly made waves to shut it down. The voters started playing the same kinds of games that politicians do all the time: strategic voting. How dare we voters use politicians' own tactics against them? Shame shame shame. =) Anyway. It's allegedly illegal to do the Nader Trader thing. So in the end I didn't. The people in the swing states could vote however they wanted. I honestly asked myself how, in the state of Texas where Bush would get the electoral votes even if Gore won the popular vote here, could my voting democrat possibly make a difference?

I voted for Nader because I wanted to help him get that five percent. We need more than two parties in this country. Even if I disagree with the third voice, we need it. In fact, we need several voices. We need several parties. We need as many different political parties in this country as there are brands of cereal. And the stranglehold of power held between the two big parties needs to be diminished. These two choral voices are so loud, the other voices in this country (from the fringe to the mundane) simply cannot be heard. Unless you walk to the beat of the elephants or donkeys, people ignore you in the parade. I did vote in this election but I didn't vote for this election. I voted so that in the future, we might actually have a real election. We had no real choice in this election. We had Tony Tiger Frosted Flakes vs regular Corn Flakes with lots of sugar. Yes. Everybody lost in this election. We all lose. And because votes have been thrown out, technically none of our votes counted. It's a sham. But just maybe next time, the Green Party will get equal time in the debates and with the media. Maybe next time everyone's vote WILL be counted.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:13 AM on November 29, 2000

As long as we have a first-past-the-post, winner-take-all electoral system, we're going to have a two-party system. Nobody likes to support someone that doesn't have a chance of winning, so a third-party candidate only has a chance if both parties are extremely weak, or one party collapses.

I think this a Good Thing, as it usually keeps minor parties marginalized. OTOH, the Greens annoy the Democrats, so I wish they did better...
posted by drothgery at 4:41 AM on November 29, 2000

I'm not American and therefore can't vote (obviously) . I think Gore would be a better prez for the people than Bush who represents the interests of the priveleged industrialists and moneyed classes.

However, I own shares in Nasdaq-listed companies to whom a Gore presidency is market poison. Call me fascist, call me ignorant call me whatever, but I want Bush to win. Because Bush is good for greedy glaobal corporate profits/earnings. And they mean more $$$ for moi :-)
posted by murray_kester at 4:52 AM on November 29, 2000

I think five percent was certainly a reasonable goal, given the way Nader was polling in the final month before the vote. However, the race was just too close for him to keep many of the disaffected Democrats -- more than half of them came back to Gore.

If Nader had been allowed into the debates, he would have easily won five percent and Bush would have won an electoral landslide.

One thing I never understood about Nader's candidacy was the invisibility of his running mate. Was there a reason LaDuke was virtually absent from this campaign?
posted by rcade at 6:44 AM on November 29, 2000

Wow murray; from that comment, you sound pretty American to me!
posted by donkeymon at 7:09 AM on November 29, 2000

LaDuke was at the Milwaukee rally on November 2nd.
I was very impressed with her - well spoken, knowledgeable, and impassioned (very beautiful, too). She hadn't been at many of the rallies because she has a very small child.
posted by mimi at 7:17 AM on November 29, 2000

I haven't heard anybody mention a very disturbing fact about Nader's candidacy: he never accepted or officially supported the platform of the party that had nominated him. So why did they go through with it? My perception is that the Greens went through it because they believed - with some degree of justification, as it turned out - that it would get them the kind of media exposure they simply could not generate by nominating "one of their own" that nobody outside of the progressive movement had heard of. Unfortunately for them, though, I think Nader came with the built in crank-fringe reputation that kept people like me - who would have and in fact did vote for a non-Big-Two candidate - from voting for him.
posted by m.polo at 7:22 AM on November 29, 2000

I'd say it's cuz he's a friggin socialist.
posted by tirade at 10:49 AM on November 29, 2000

You think so? Well, then I'm even more glad I voted for him.
posted by Annabel.Gill at 2:28 PM on November 29, 2000

That is one of the most frightening things I've ever seen. Someone who, upon discovering that a candidate is a socialist, claims to be glad to have voted for him, and exhibits no shame in saying so publicly. Of course, nobody makes such a claim except in jest. I mean, think about it -- how do you expect your children to hold their heads high at school, when all the other kids know that their mother voted for a socialist?

For the record, the proper reaction is dismay, disgust, perhaps embarrassment, followed by a resolve not to be duped so easily next time. Certainly you should never admit to having voted for a socialist, as it will result in you receiving a large volume of solicitations for other equally improbable and silly causes. For the same reason, if you should ever make such an admission by accident, you certainly shouldn't sign your real name to the confession if you can at all avoid it.

There is still hope for you, however. Simply repeat the mantra "socialism is bad, mkay" over and over. This should allow you to remember this simple equivalence between elections. Good luck and God bless America!
posted by kindall at 3:26 PM on November 29, 2000

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