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A Final Plea To Nader [and other third party] Supporters

Posted: 10-29-2004 02:07 AM
by Iris
Published on Thursday, October 28, 2004 by
A Final Plea To Nader Supporters
by Paul Loeb

If Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jim Hightower, and Ralph Nader's former running mate Winona LaDuke haven't convinced you that voting for Nader is too great a risk this election, maybe nothing will. But the stakes are high enough to try.

As Nader supporters continually point out, Kerry is a compromised, centrist Democrat, ambivalent at best on a host of key questions including the Iraqi war. And yes, Nader's positions are better, and it may feel personally gratifying to vote for them.

But this election isn't about abstract stands. It's about Bush's threat to democracy. Not just Bush, but a larger Republican machine that purges African Americans from the Florida voting rolls, throws away voter registrations in Nevada, jams New Hampshire Democratic phone banks with hired telemarketers, shouts down Palm Beach vote counters, and shuts Congressional Democrats out of the legislative drafting process entirely, replacing their voices with those of industry lobbyists. That doesn't count waging preemptive wars and lying about their justification, passing over a hundred billion dollars a year of regressive tax cuts, smashing unions, plundering the environment, and branding everyone who disagrees with you an ally of terrorism.

Either we stop these trends or we don't. And what we do this with is the ballot. If we place all our hopes in awaiting some nebulous citizens' revolt, we throw away a concrete opportunity to stop this assault in its tracks by voting Bush out. And that gives away an aspect of power that citizen movements have fought and died for. That's what we do by replacing a real vote against Bush with a symbolic vote for Ralph Nader.

Think of the court appointments. Four years ago, the issue seemed abstract. After the gang of five justices installed Bush in office, it's urgent. William Rehnquist is 80 years old sick, with thyroid cancer. John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have had cancer as well, and Stevens is 84. Do we really want another Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas to replace them? Or another Rehnquist? These justices didn't just anoint Bush as president. The same 5-4 majority recently validated Tom DeLay's mid-census reapportionment of key congressional districts in Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania, to give the Republicans a near unbreakable short-term lock on the House of Representatives. Maybe O'Connor will have a change of heart, but if they appoint one more ultraright justice, all three branches will be controlled by a party that seeks not just victory, but the total annihilation of all opposition, as if we were the rats and insects that DeLay used to exterminate. Stopping this trend means stopping Bush.

There's a reason Republicans have put so much money, time and organizational effort into getting Nader on the ballot in key states: it's a chance to consolidate power. And there's a reason every major progressive organization in this country begged Ralph not to run. And that three quarters of participants in Nader's "Committee of 100" from four years ago are now mobilizing for Kerry in efforts like the Unity Campaign ( As Chomsky says, "...Anyone who says 'I don't care if Bush gets elected' is basically telling poor and working people in the country, 'I don't care if your lives are destroyed... I don't care about you'... Apart from [this] being wrong, it's a recipe for disaster if you're hoping to ever develop a popular movement and a political alternative."

In fact, there's an odd parallel between Bush's total lack of accountability and belief in his divinely anointed infallibility, and Nader's. Nader insists that no matter how many how many long-time allies ask him to pull back, he has a direct line to the truth, and knows he's right. It's tragic that someone who has spent most of his life fighting to expand democracy is doing his best to make the worst of Florida's plantation politics our national political model.

I've heard Nader supporters say their vote won't matter. Or that Nader will actually take votes away from Bush. As a recent Nation Institute survey showed, Nader actually draws three to one or more from those who'd otherwise support Kerry, but if you'd otherwise support Bush, please do vote for Ralph. If you want to get Bush out, however, and your state is remotely close, then you need to act as if every vote matters, including your own, and those of everyone you turn out. You need to assume that the 366-vote margin in New Mexico (where Nader got 21,000 votes) or the 537 votes that Katherine Harris certified in Florida will be the outcome in your state this round, and that your actions will make the key difference. You don't want to become one more Republican tool.

Think about the 2002 French election. Progressives split their vote in the initial balloting, allowing neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen to edge Socialist Lionel Jospin to make it onto the final ballot. In response, French progressives and moderates rallied around Conservative Jacques Chirac, because Le Pen was too great a threat to ignore. And Chirac surprised us all by refusing to go to war in Iraq. Bush's politics aren't as rightist as Le Pen, but their global impact is infinitely greater. Bush's Euro-bashing aside, this is one time to learn from the French.

I'm all in favor of acts of conscience. But we also have to be strategic. We can find ample ways to express our direct voice after November 2. If Kerry wins, I expect to be marching soon afterward to get America out of Iraq, because it's going to take persistent citizen action no matter which way the elections go. But symbolic statements and symbolic actions will not stop the Republican assaults on democracy. At some point we'll need to vote them out. That point is now.

Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of "The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear", just published by Basic Books.

Re: A Final Plea To Nader [and other third party] Supporters

Posted: 10-29-2004 02:13 AM
by CindyLouWho
Iris wrote: But symbolic statements and symbolic actions will not stop the Republican assaults on democracy. At some point we'll need to vote them out. That point is now.

Thats', what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Great article!! The court appointments ALONE should scare Nader suporters into voting for Kerry ... EEeeeeeeeeeek.

Posted: 10-29-2004 10:13 PM
by Thomas Veil
Whatever. I say vote for who you believe in, and don't let snivelling Democrats or Republicans tell you if you aren't voting for their guy you are throwing your vote away. If you cast a vote for what you believe in, you are just excersizing your constitutional right. YOU ONLY THROW YOUR VOTE AWAY WHEN YOU CAN VOTE AND CHOOSE NOT TO. Vote for who or what you believe in. Just vote.

Posted: 10-30-2004 08:47 AM
by CaptainBeyond
Exactly right, Thomas!

Big Kansas fan here also!


Posted: 10-30-2004 07:04 PM
by Gotrox
AMEN THOMAS! I Posted the same thing in another thread.
The greatest risk is in convincing you that your vote only counts if it is against someone-----the only way for change is to ignore this BS and vote your heart and mind, and convince others to do the same, whatever their political persuasion.:D

Posted: 10-30-2004 10:11 PM
by Iris
Please don't call it BS -- but you are free to disagree, of course.

As I've stated here many times, I voted third party in the last two elections -- for the exact same reasons that you are now espousing. What did I get for my efforts? Bush. I'm not going to let that happen again.

I believe, as most here do, that there is great room for, and need for improvement in our government. I also believe that third parties deserve a fighting chance.

However, I don't think we're ever going to get that working from the top down. We need to work this from the bottom up, and we need to deal in reality, while holding our dreams and goals.

If you want Bush out, vote Kerry. If you don't care if we get Bush back, then vote any old whichway you please. It's that simple.

Meanwhile, you might want to join the folks working for Instant Runoff and Proportional voting. If the laws were changed to that, instead of using the Electoral College, then things could really be changed signifigantly in this country.

Posted: 10-30-2004 10:49 PM
by dotcosm
Every time I read something like this I get upset with Nader and the people like Kevin Costner who on this weeks show with Bill Maher kept bringing up the same points we all know, again and again, blah blah blah. Costner was seemingly near tears he was so empassioned about poor ol' Ralph's struggle for democracy.

Some people... just can't see the forest for the trees.... I hope that it's a long time before Nader is forgiven for this, if ever, because I see it as inexcusable, this year, this election, this Supreme Court.

Posted: 10-31-2004 05:35 AM
by Gotrox
Personally, I don't like either--bush wins, more war----kerry wins, I'm unemployed---so I choose NOT to choose the " lesser of two evils" and vote for real change--and I attempt to convince others to do the same. As for the BS comment, I stick with it, as I find this "anybody but bush" tactic to make people give up their vote for a 3rd party candidate patently un-american----But I say that for "anybody but Kerry" also-----I want our military out of every country and protecting our borders, and a free market economy----neither rep or dem candidate offers this.

Posted: 10-31-2004 05:55 AM
by Iris
I don't think any of us are all the way thrilled with either, but the REALITY is that it's going to be one of them. Period. You see them as both equally evil, but most of us don't.

As to keeping most jobs (I dunno about yours), Bush rewards companies for going overseas; Kerry has promised to reward them for staying here and punish them for going overseas.

I want our military out of every country and protecting our borders, too, but we're not going to get that any time soon. Most of us believe that Kerry will get us out of Iraq sooner, though, as he's promising to do, and will be extremely reluctant to start new wars, whereas Bush is eager to start new wars (read PNAC).

Free market? Dream on. That *could* only happen when and if we revise the voting process (see my post to you above), so you should be working for that.

However, IF we vote in third parties in the local elections and IF they do well, they will be promoted by the voters on up the line. THEN, and coupled with the changes in the voting/debates, the third parties would really stand a chance.

I'm an old realist. You can be a young dreamer if you want. But don't knock the wisdom that comes from age and experience.

Posted: 10-31-2004 08:36 PM
by Gotrox
hehehe "young dreamer"---why thank you---but I don't believe any campaign promises---I go by history--IMHO Kerry has demonstrated an inability to be commander in chief due to his stance in 1971, even though he is partially responsible for keeping me out of 'nam, and his record in the Senate is abysimal-and what can I say about the Bushes, except they have been very sucessfull crooks for a very long time, amongst quite a few of the statements from Kerry supporters.
Both are very wealthy, and I doubt give much of a damn about the comman man ( or woman) despite what they spew forth.
I will settle for neither.

Posted: 10-31-2004 10:24 PM
by tiffany
Gotrox wrote: I will settle for neither.

And of course that's your choice. You'll be one of the 1% or less this election.

I wish we could just have a few good people to run for President without the electorial college. Who has money would not make a difference.

Just use the popular vote for the top six candidates in a primary. Of course whoever wanted to run would have to adhere to a strict education and experience resume to qualify to run. They would have to show leadership, business, negotiation, people, team and organizational skills.

Have a month of weekly televised debates, then wittle it down to the top three candidates. They will not run around the Country to various places, but instead have Nationally televised debates for all of them. This would be done on a weekly basis for the two months before the election so the Country can see what they are about.

It won't matter how much money you have, it will matter who is the best candidate to do the job.

I know, keep dreaming Tiffany ;)

Posted: 10-31-2004 10:41 PM
by Gotrox
hehe---there's hope for you yet tiff------convert others ;)