September 1, 2003
Here we go again. George Bush is all Ralph Nader's fault, Democrats are
muttering. He cost Al Gore the election.
Never mind that Gore actually won by half a million votes; forget that the election in Florida was stolen by the illegal blocking of tens of thousands of mostly democratic voters; ignore the Supreme Court's judicial rape of the electoral system; forget Gore's lackluster 'me too' campaign against one of the weakest presidential candidates in US history.
It was all Nader's fault.
He had no right to run -- God ordained that only Democrats and Republicans can -- and he better not run again. It will only cost the Democrats the election again.
I tried to think of a more socially acceptable term, but nothing fits.
The Democrats forfeited the right to the automatic vote of progressives, liberals, and what Paul Wellstone used to call "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" a long time ago, and there is no sign that they intend to earn it back soon. They have sold their soul to the same fat cats as the Republicans have and totally ignored their base.
Jim Hightower suggests the absurdity of this: "Go where the Democratic voters are? Well, sure, why not! Democrats have tried winning over Republicans, so what's to lose? Think of the genius of this -- appealing directly to Democrats. Specifically, what if the party reached out to the 67 percent of disenchanted to disgusted folks who aren't voting? Overwhelmingly, they're working stiffs and the poor (often both in the same person, thanks to today's wondrous economy -- a twofer). That's 121 million people who are politically homeless. Add even 10 percent of them, and the Democrats start winning every race."
But forget it. The Democrats are addicted to the big money from the corporate donors and aren't about to give it up.
The anti-Nader message comes from all sides. A friend recently e-mailed me an article from Michael Ventura of The Austin Chronicle which savages Nader as a clueless nincompoop who never saw how bad Bush was. "Ralph Nader revealed himself in a most disturbing fashion. In a New York Times interview published on Nov. 18, 2000, Nader said he remained untroubled by the possibility that Bush would become President because the Green Party took votes away from Gore. If Mr. Bush prevails, he said, his very narrow margin, the closely divided Congress, and Mr. Bush's personality will limit the danger he can do. 'He doesn't know very much,' Mr. Nader said of Mr. Bush. 'He is not very energetic. He doesn't like controversy.'" Ventura concludes, "... a political leader who's that wrong about his opponents ... is not a man to vote for or to follow, no matter what his other qualifications may be."
Whether he was right or wrong, of course, is neither here nor there; but in fact, before 9-11 gave him the opening, Bush was pretty much where Nader said he'd be.
Ventura took Nader to task for losing Florida for Gore. "Nader refused to admit that his 97,000 votes in Florida tipped the scales in a state where, when the tallies were done, there was only a 537 vote difference between Bush and Gore..." Besides the fact that this is irrelevant -- it wasn't his fault Gore ran so poorly -- it ignores the tens of thousands of Florida voters, most of them Democrats and nearly half of them black, who were illegally denied the right to vote. Their votes would have overwhelmed Bush's puny lead. The story is outlined in Greg Palast's book "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy;" and if you are unaware of it, that's because the corporate media essentially ignored it and the craven Democrats made no effort to pursue the matter, although it cost them the election.
Not only that, more "registered democrats" in Florida voted for Bush than voted for Nader. This is a matter of public record. Check the record... Stop scapegoating and bullshiting!
Ventura sums up his indictment by claiming, "With Nader's refusal to admit the consequences of his acts; with his brazen evasiveness when asked a direct question about the 2000 campaign; and with his inflexible, petulant rejection of anything that contradicts his doctrines -- the politician he most resembles is George W. Bush. In their behavior (which is more crucial than their beliefs), George W. Bush and Ralph Nader are twins separated at birth."
That bizarre comparison is not untypical of anti-Nader sentiment, as irrational as it may be.
Picking from the two major candidates is picking between tweedledum and tweedledee, just as Nader often points out.
It's likely that Gore would have been a less dangerous president, but probably marginally so. Many of the most ugly aspects of the Bush presidency, including the rape of Iraq, were pioneered by the Clinton administration, with Gore's enthusiastic backing.
Iraq was not the first illegal attack on a sovereign state. Take the destruction of Yugoslavia by NATO in 1999. In both cases the ultimate goal was 'regime change.' In Yugoslavia's case the excuse was trumped up charges of genocide instead of 'weapons of mass destruction.' Both were equally bogus, and in any event didn't justify an unprovoked attack.
Jim Hightower reminds us that "NAFTA and the WTO -- twin sledgehammers giving global corporations the power to crush the strength of workers and environmentalists around the world -- were rammed through congress by Bill Clinton." And then there is the 'welfare reform' that Clinton pushed that has caused untold misery to countless people. Make your own list.
The latest batch of Democratic presidential hopefuls is no better. For one thing, nearly all of them supported the Iraq war. It's true that Howard Dean has spoken out against the war. Sounded hopeful -- until he told The Washington Post he's 'no dove;' he supported the 1991 Gulf War and the Bush campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
He thinks it was wrong to attack Iraq this time, but now that we're there, he says, we're stuck. "whoever will be elected in 2004 has to live with it. We have no choice. It's a matter of national security. If we leave and we don't get a democracy in Iraq, the result is a very significant danger to the United States."
We illegally and unconstitutionally (Congress can't foist off its responsibility to declare war) invaded a nation that has never harmed us, killed untold thousands of its people, including babies and children, are brutally occupying it, and our soldiers are getting killed. But "we're stuck" and now have to occupy it forever.
And, by the way, Dean wants to send five times the troops to Afghanistan.
So much for the peace candidate.
Once again, the voter is going to have a choice between Bush for the Republicans, and Bush-lite for the Democrats.
Is it any wonder that so many of us yearn for a real progressive candidate like Nader?
If he runs, I'm voting for Nader. If he doesn't, I'll find somebody comparable. Never again am I voting for the lesser of two evils. They aren't enough lesser to matter.
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The Greens on Swans
Deck Deckert has spent nearly two decades as copy editor, wire editor and news editor at several metropolitan newspapers, including the Miami Herald and Miami News, before becoming a freelance writer. His articles and stories on everything from alligator farming to UFOs have appeared in numerous U.S. publications. He has written two young adult novels under a pen name, and co-authored a novel about the NATO war on Yugoslavia, Letters from the Fire, with Alma Hromic.
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