Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thinking back 8 years

With Ralph Nader's announcement that he will be running for president again this time, everyone is dredging up the old nonsense about how he lost the election for the Democrats in 2000, thus creating the two-term reign of the Neocons that then followed. Let's analyze this particular bit of political fantasy...

First, the question should never have been "Why did that mean old Nader steal our voters and lose us the election?" The question the Democrats have never faced, never wanted to face, the real fundamental question is: "How did we stray so far from our core principles that so many voters who should have been at the heart of our base could not bring themselves to vote for our ticket?" Nader didn't lose the election, the Supreme Court didn't steal it. It never even should have been close, coming on the heels of a popular two-term Democratic president. The Dems lost that election all by themselves, with their own stupidity. And they repeated the accomplishment four years later, even without a significant Nader vote to blame. Think they'll be able to make it three in a row? I won't be at all surprised. And, of course, they have entirely forgotten that the only way the Dems WON the white house in 1992 was that Ross Perot stole enough Republican votes to tip the election to Clinton! As I recall, Clinton didn't win a majority of the popular vote in that election.

OK, so, let's just surmise that Gore had in fact won. Would we not be tangled up in Middle Eastern wars now? First, do you really think the attacks of 9/11/01 wouldn't have happened? Sure, maybe intelligence would have been handled differently, but the intelligence problems identified afterwards were mostly long-standing institutional issues, not just products of the very young Bush administration. I expect events would have played out similarly. OK, sure, but Gore never would have gotten us involved in this inescapable nightmare, right? Don't be so sure. We got into those wars because the American people were thirsting for blood and vengeance after the 9/11 attacks. If President Gore hadn't given them (us) what they (we) wanted, he'd have sunk to levels of unpopularity that would make Bush's current standing look good in comparison. He'd probably have been out on his ass in 2004, if not impeached in 2002, and replaced by someone who would have given us what we wanted: Muslim blood spilled in the desert and Muslim men in concentration camps. It is silly and dangerous to ignore the racist and religious drives behind Americans' initial fervor for this war. The idea of slaughtering vast numbers of (insert anti-Middle-Eastern racist slur here) only became unpopular in this country in hindsight, after it had already been done, when the long-term consequences of those choices began to bear down on us.

The thought that all this somehow rests on the shoulders of one man from a very minor party running in one election for one office is just absurd scapegoating. If the Democratic party can't win the votes of potential Nader supporters honestly (i.e. with policies and actions) rather than by attempting to scare them with nightmare scenarios, berate them with guilt trips, or wheedle them with electioneering games, then maybe it really doesn't deserve to win the White House back.


At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I watched "Meet the Press" yesterday and I thought Ralph Nadar did a good job explaining how the Dems lost the election to GW Bush.

Mike H.


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