Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I pushed for Nader in '96. I didn't like that Blue Dog Democrat bullshit. Clinton was to the right of Dick Nixon and I thought NAFTA was a bad idea. I pushed so hard, in fact, that my wife began working for the Greens in 2000. Unlike me, she doesn't just chat people up and bitch and moan--she does things. So she ended up as Maryland State Green Party co-chair for a couple years. We used to have Green dignitaries stay at our house, and big Green meetings in our tiny living room, and Presidents of the San Fran City Council stayed over, and David Cobb crashed at our place during his 2004 Presidential run. He was a nice guy, but walked around with no shirt on and permanently borrowed one of my Philip K. Dick paperbacks.

We went to Nader Super Rallies in 2000. We went to debate protests.

And Bush won.

In 2004 I voted for Kerry. It was like chosing an enema instead of a colonoscopy, but I voted for his lame ass.

And Bush won again.

When Nader took money from Republicans, and when he gleefully accepted help from Republicans who agitated to get him on state ballots in 2004, I was deeply disturbed. His motto in 2000 was "Not for Sale." In 2004 it was "Any money I can get, no matter how disgusting the source." Ralph was right about our democracy being a shambles, and about the nefarious corporate interests running the show, and about the moral failings of Democrats. But he continued to claim that there was no difference between Donkeys and Elephants in 2004 when it was obvious that there was enough of a difference to cause grave concern about the future of the Republic if W. won again.

So I voted for that piece of shit Kerry. Democrats in Congress still prove Nader was right to this day, caving again and again on a progressive agenda, even from a position of strength.

I don't buy any of the revisionist "Nader cost Gore the election" nonsense. Gore lost by running a crappy campaign and running away from Clinton's popularity. He was a conservative southern Dem who chose an even more conservative Dem as running mate (does any self-respecting Dem still think Joe Lieberman was a good choice for VP?). Yes, the media drubbed Gore unfairly, but Gore made it easy for them to do so, and practically sucked W's cock during the second debate. ANYONE who could lose a debate to that moronic inarticulate goofball doesn't deserve the White House.

And people forget that 9/11 made the Bush presidency much worse than it likely would have been otherwise. The neocons got a big opening that day, and Rove exploited it for all it was worth. Cheney, Wolfie, Perle and Rummy were able to dust off their old PNAC agenda and Bush wasn't sophisticated enough to see through their machinations. He isn't sophisticated enough to run a cash register at the local BK, for Christ's sake.

So here we have a documentary about Ralph Nader which recalls his glory days as a crusader for the little guy against corporate power, and his dedication as a lawyer who used his gifts and belief in the American legal system to save countless lives. But while An Unreasonable Man gives fierce critics of Nader like Eric Alterman good screen time, it is more hagiography than objective portrait. Ralph has a diminished legacy now. He deserved hagiographies in the past. I think more unpleasant details about 2004 should have been discussed here. There's nothing wrong with remembering the good that Ralph wrought back in the day, but why did he run last time?

Some of the people interviewed in the movie have been at my house. Seeing footage of that Madison Square Garden event was painful, because Nader gave a great speech that night, and there was magic in the air, and I felt truly engaged in something meaningful back then.

But Bush won. And much that Ralph worked for over 40 years has been eroded since.


Swanksalot said...

I hate that canard that Gore lost because of Nader. The math of electoral college just doesn't support that assertion, no matter how many Gore-ites claim it does. In Texas -where I was registered to vote in 2000, my votes for Nader didn't help Bush win, nor would my vote for Nader in Illinois have helped Gore win the state by more votes. Gore lost that election, mostly by himself, and partially by losing his nerve during the FL debacle.

For that matter, my write-in vote for Nader in 96 didn't help/hurt Clinton either.

That said, Nader disappointed me in 2004. I still have my Nader LaDuke t-shirt, but don't wear it anymore.

Anonymous said...

Another reason Nader didn't force Gore's loss is that Gore didn't "lose", but rather the Supreme Court stopped the recount.

Granted, Florida held that Bush won, but for the Court to halt the process of challenging that without letting a recount process go forward is as "activist" as anything the Douglas court pulled off.

It's also said that what lost Gore the election was the differing standards used by Florida districts for counting the hanging chad votes. These authorities say that whether the most or least stringent standards were applied, if every district had used identical standards, Gore would have won. What happened instead is that where Gore was winning big more stringent standards were employed by those in charge of the count, and where Bush was strong they were lenient.

geoff said...

Not to mention the thuggish protesters--ie bought a paid for political hacks--who brought recounts to a close with their threatening behavior, etc.

geoff said...

Wearing a Nader/LaDuke T-shirt can get you killed in some states. We still have them around here too, and lots of buttons, bumper stickers, tote bags, etc. Maybe someday they'll be worth something on Ebay.