June 23, 2004


Ralph Nader tried to explain to the Congressional Black Caucus what the hell he's doing in the presidential race ... and it didn't go so well.

Apparently, his explanation is that "he will help elect presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry in November by splitting the conservative vote and siphoning support from President Bush."

In what world does that make sense? Which conservatives are gonna say, "You know I was gonna vote for Bush because I'm a pro-life supporter of the war in Iraq, but now that Nader's involved I just gotta make sure that whacko liberal doesn't get elected. Count me in John Kerry!"

Ralph Nader, I invite you to explain yourself at your earliest convenience.


Gwynneth said...

Until I started to read your blogs, I didn't know you were this liberal. It isn't a bad thing...just an observation

ktpetals said...

(Your brother's girlfriend here)

Well, I've heard Nader actually say that he thinks conservatives who are annoyed with Bush's policies are actually going to vote for him, thus taking votes away from Bush.

How he got this idea remains a mystery.

goldman said...

You are a coward, Ralph Nader! Sending my brother's girlfriend to defend you instead of showing up in person.

So, there certainly are conservatives who won't vote for Bush. Those upset about the deficit, libertarians who don't like his social policy, veterans upset about the treatment of the rank and file.

However, none of those groups are more likely to vote for Nader than they are for Kerry. None!

If you're a libertarian, who believes that government should be as small as possible, why would you vote for a Green? Let alone Ralph Nader who really doesn't like the idea of you driving SUVs anymore.

It's like Stalin up and deciding to privatize the USSR.

And, yeah, I did compare libertarians to Stalin.

Dgcopter said...

Careful there, bro. Yer gettin' awfully close to Godwin's Law.

goldman said...

Nice! Godwin's Law came up at lunch yesterday but no one could remember the name. God bless you Wikipedia!

And fuck you, Ralph Nader. Fuck you in your stupid asses.

If your ego trip of a candidacy gives us another 4 years of Bush - another 4 years in which the man doesn't even need to worry about being re-eleected - you're worse than the Nazis.

That's right! I said it.

You're, like, Nazis+. Or is it -.

Anyway, your refusal to own up to that in this most public of spaces is appalling.

Nazi coward.

Chester said...

The idea that anyone but a dyed-in-the-wool Progressive would vote for Nader/Camejo is ludicrous. The only way I could see a Republican voting Green is if the Republican in question were determining their vote via an eeny-meeny-mynie-mo procedure. And, if so, it wouldn't be a vote cast out of spite for Bush, as Nader is apparently claiming.

Still, I respect Nader's decision to enter the race and think there are reasons other than ego-stroking. As Camejo said in what I thought was a very eloquent concession speech following Arnie's gubernatorial win, the Democrats are being lazy in blaming the Greens for their own shortcomings. When Republicans are confronted by the the far-right, they co-opt them. When Democrats are confronted by the far-left, they chide them. Al Gore lost the 2000 election because he was a shitty campaigner; he did not lose it because of a Florida conspiracy or because Nader diverted too many votes.

I agree that the idea of a second W. term is akin to The Actual Apocalypse, as Patton Oswalt put it, but I can't fault the Greens refusing to abstain from entering the fray. For too long, the Democrats have been holding back true, Progressive change. They're like me, when I was younger, telling my brother that he had to wait to jump in and play some Nintendo game because he wouldn't be able to pass the level and I would. Problem for him was that every time I passed a hard section and he'd ask for his turn on the controller, I'd tell him that yet another hard section was coming up, so he'd have to wait, yet again.

Obviously, the fate of the world is a great deal more consequential than Metroid, but you get my drift. At what point are the Greens and other Progressives going to be allowed to play with the big boys? If I were in a hotly-contested state, I would definitely vote for Kerry, but I wouldn't begrudge anyone their vote for Nader/Camejo, because, if the Greens cannot demonstrate any sort of electoral might, then true Progressive sentiments will be forever buried via eternal coddling of Democratic Party whining.

I'm just glad I live in California and, despite the fact that we elected Commando as governor, Bush cannot take the state and I'll have the freedom to vote my conscience. (Which doesn't necessarily lie comfortably with the Greens, but that's an entirely different topic and this is already The Longest Comment Ever.)

(Oh, and in case you're wondering, this is Chris Sacca's friend from that night at Cobb's/The Phoenix.)

Steve said...

Word, Jason.

Much as I'd like to believe otherwise, Democrats just don't win by moving left. (When was the last time you can remember one who did?) Yeah, you might pick up a few people here and there, but that's almost never enough to make up for the swing voters you lose. This is, I suspect, in no small part because, for example, each would-be Kerry voter who votes for Bush is, in practical terms, worth *two* would-be Nader voters (or nonvoters) who votes for Kerry.

Why don't Republicans have the same problem? I don't know exactly, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that hard-core Republican interest groups have tons and tons and tons of money. Not only that, but, in part because they don't have to worry about not being to put food on the table, or losing their health care, or getting harrassed by the po-po, etc., they can spend all their free time getting organized and shit.

And, it's worth noting that independents/moderates/swing voters may finally have caught onto the fact that the GOP has gone off the deep end. So it may be that not even the Evil Empire can get away with pandering to the wingnuts forever.

I guess my thinking is, We've got a two-party system, and that ain't goin' away -- Ever! -- and this means the median voter rules all. And the sooner our people come to grips with this, the better off we'll all be.

So screw you, Ralph, and the high horse you rode in on. There are real people who have real problems whose lives will actually be materially affected by the outcome of this election, and they can't afford to throw their votes away.

Matt said...

Yeah, but to extend your analogy, if your brother had just taken the controller, you'd've kicked his ass, right? There isn't a massive mandate out there for a progressive agenda, and if the demo's were to swerve to the left, they run the risk of losing swing voters in the middle. Nader pulls single digits, remember, so it's not like there's massive support for him. Dems swerve left, and we lose votes. As evidence, Clinton was massively successful and extremely centrist (welfare reform, third way, nafta, etc).

As for godwin, the law just sez that at some point that discussions will reference nazis, not that this is a bad thing. And when it comes to libertarians, I don't think comparing them to genocidal maniacs is all that unfair. I mean, most of these people like Ayn Rand books, for chrissakes.

goldman said...

They like Ayn Rand books and raping bunny rabbits in the name of Liberty. And I'll be damned if those bunny fuckers are gonna hijiack our country.

Additionally, whereas you can say that Al Gore should have been a better candidate and thus won by a margin sufficient to keep the 2000 election out of the hands of the Supremes, it nonetheless remains an empirical truth that he would've won Florida if only 1 in 10 Nader voters had voted for him. I guarantee that 1 in 10 of those folks feels pretty fucking retarded right about now.

Look, California is one of the most progressive states in the union and we still have a blind spot when it comes to affirmative action, immigration and former movie stars who wanna play Governor. The point being, as Steve and Matt point out, America's not on the verge of becoming a progressive country.

We're on the verge of becoming a fascist theocracy and that needs to be the primary concern right now.

Chester said...

I wouldn't argue with much of that. I also place high personal urgency upon foiling the agendas of Ayn Rand fans.

But...just to be a pain in the ass Devil's Advocate: if the far left is too inconsequential to accomodate in order to gain their votes, how come they suddenly become such a consquential voting bloc when they vote their conscience? I just don't see how they can simultaneously be too few to co-opt, yet be a scapegoat for failure.

And while an endorsement from Nader might have helped Gore win Florida...
1. Gore still could have won Florida regardless of Nader had he presented a public facade other than that of a bloodless golem.
2. Fuck Nader. Had Howard Phillips of the "Official Constitution Party" not run, and his 4000+ votes swung to Gore, then Gore would have won by the same margin that Bush was originally thought to have won by.

Would all of Phillips's votes have gone to Gore? Probably not (I don't even know what the fuck the Official Constitution Party is). Gore probably couldn't count on those votes. But that's the point: the Democrats should not take the Far Left's votes for granted either, and that's what Nader and Camejo are trying to show. The Democrats should not take Nader's camp for granted any more than the Republicans should take Buchanan or Robertson's camp for granted. If the dickwad higher-ups in the Republican Party can figure out how to co-opt the wacko Right, why can't the Democrats figure out how to co-opt the gonzo Left?

At what point are Progressives allowed to stop sublimating their goals and sacrificing their ideals in order to coddle the Democrats' campaign ineptitude?

Anyway...I think this election will be very different. I don't see Progressive voters in swing states using their votes to make a Phyrric/symbolic point. The current groundswell of anti-Bush sentiment reminds me a lot of the rabid anti-Clinton sentiment that helped elect Bush in the first place.

So I expect and hope to see Kerry being sworn in next year -- for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that his daughter wears translucent dresses.

goldman said...

Chester, your devil adocacy is well argued. But let's go back to the issue of Lucifer himself. The fact is that we will or will not be kept from Apocalypse by how several thousand folks in Ohio, Florida & Missouri end up voting in November.

As a result, every voting bloc is consequential. If we had a system of proportional representation, it would make sense for those groups to try to get as many of their MPs in Parliament as possible. And then they could build a minority coalition or, like, eat crumpets and shit ... whatever it is they do.

But given that we have a strong two party system those groups are just fucking up by voting third party in the battleground states. Let's say that progressives get nothing under Kerry. They'll also get nothing by voting Green/independent except a < 2% showing. However, they get buckwheats - literal, flaming AssDeath - for 4 years if Bush is re-elected. The winning, responsible strategy is to vote against that happening.

If you're in Cali, fine, vote for the progressives. There's a valid progressive strategy to keep the Dems honest. That is the time and place for progressives to stop "sublimating their goals" - by showing the progressive programs can work at state and local levels (I'd be psyched, incidentally, if just San Francisco could show that progressive programs can work).

With respect to Howard Phillips, the members of the Official Constitution Party are a bunch of New World Order conspiracy theorists whose founding political principle is "our full submission and unshakable faith in our Savior and Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ."

In short, fuck those people. Those who voted for Howard were going to do so regardless of any underlying political reality.

I believe that's not true for 1 in 10 Nader voters. I believe 1 in 10 didn't stop to consider the consequences of their actions. I believe that Nader used his name recognition to sway Gore voters away - folks who would have gone to the polls and voted Gore and saved us from this national nightmare.

Chester said...

I guess, to me, the idea that a Nader voter could cast his vote without understanding and accepting the consequences is unfathomable. But, as one grows older, the one eternal life lesson is that one ought never underestimate the stupidity of other people -- particularly Floridians.

Obviously, the fact that we have an intractably binary political system makes voting Green a quixotic venture. But I think the point is that this is an unavoidable step in the evolution of a third party. My personal belief is that Nader and Camejo don't want to see Bush win any more than any sane/non-evil person would, and are not in the race to stoke the furnaces of their egos, but feel they're part of a long-term effort to maintain the little traction the Green Party has managed to attain thus far. And they view the long-term promotion of the Green Party as a good that outweighs a possible second term in office by W.

Of course, depending on how apocalyptic one imagines another four years of W. would be, one might consider Nader and Camejo to be totally irresponsible lunatics. And perhaps they are. Personally, I can agree with both sides of the argument and don't feel really passionately either way.

So I'll stop littering your blog with my rhetorical obstinacy and note that, if Bush does win the election, Alec Baldwin might finally come through on his oath to move the fuck away and, so, some good might come out of the situation.

Matt said...

hey chester, I just looked at your profile and I noticed that you'd listed Heaven's Gate as a favorite movies. While I suspect that this was a bit of humor on your part, as you also listed films like Ishtar and Howard the Duck. I just saw a couple of scenes from Heaven's Gate, and they were amazing to look at.

Imagine a camera dollying along from left to right, so that you see an old west town in the background. In the foreground, there's a photographer who takes a picture at the beginning of the camera movement, such that the flash's chemical explosion causes a great billowing smoke cloud that follows the camera. Amazing stuff.

I understand your Nader argument, and I can sympathize, but I really just don't see Nader as a viable candidate. I mean, do you really think that Nader could handle North Korea? I'm no fan of American foreign policy, but is it really wise to support somebody so completely foreign to the political process and the status quo? Is it a good thing to have revolution-level change happen? What does that mean for the stability of society? Could Nader work in any way with the congress?

Nader is a fantasy, and as appealing as he may be (if you share his convictions), we're talking about the real world.

Chester said...

Sounds like a great shot. I haven't actually ever seen the movie.

Nader's obviously not viable in an electoral sense and, like you said, might make for a shitty president. Though, I would say that this would probably be more due to the likelihood that he'd appoint a bunch of ultra-Progressives. Because, on his own, I wouldn't say he's any less qualified to do the job than Bush was when he assumed office. Then again, look how shitty Bush has been, so...good point.

Like Jason, I think the best path for progressive Progressive change (hardy-har-har) is from the bottom up, starting from the local and that no Progressive has any business playing with the big boys on the inter/national scene.

I just don't begrudge Nader/Camejo for running, as I think the Democratic Party has to be responsive enough to meet a challenge from the left while they battle on their right flank. If they can't co-opt the Greens, then they're too incompetent to beat the Republicans, which we saw in 2000.

Anyway, hopefully Kerry raises the campaigning bar past Algore's pathetic efforts. I really feel good about the election coming up, because it seems like there's a massive amount of anti-Bush sentiment coalescing. Then again, I live in Northern California, so maybe my perception's skewed. Out here, people clown on Bush without first vetting the crowd for potential Conservatives...because there are none.

Well, not at cool parties, anyway.