Notes on Nader

As you may know from my About page, I was a Nader supporter in 2000. I don’t really want to get into the whole thing now–maybe I’ll explain how Nader helped Gore win in a later post–but with the anti-Nader and anti-Green rhetoric flying so thick these days, it seemed time to address at least one of the stupider comments I’ve seen. Especially as it comes from a site I generally have a lot of respect for.

During and after the 2000 election, Nader defenders pointed out again and again that the Greens tend to draw equally from both the Left and the Right. For instance, with neither Gore nor Bush willing to take a stand against NAFTA, Nader was left to pick up both the conservative working-class isolationists and the liberal anti-globalizationists. While a great body of Nader’s supporters came from the unaffiliated body of first-time voters and disillusioned non-voters, inasmuch as he drew support away from the established parties, he attracted both left-liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, both tired of watching their parties sell out democracy to corporate rule.

I think the Republicans recognized this early on and figured, “no threat there”. The Democrats, though, were slightly more threatened. Nader made Gore look bad, throwing into high relief Gore’s fundamental hypocricies on almost every issue. For a long time, though, the Gore campaign more or less ignored Nader’s–it wasn’t until 10 days before the election that somebody decided to go on the offensive against Nader and Nader’s voters (an offensive that, I should add, worked). After the election, Nader’s 2.8 million votes were seen strictly as votes “stolen” from Gore.

Which brings us to this from Counterspin Central, by way of Free Republic(!):

“Bush struck a chord with Brian Silvernail, 46, of Livonia, a machinist who said he voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, but will consider Bush in 2004. Silvernail said Bush inherited many of the problems he faces. He said the president has brought honor to the country and saved lives in Iraq by toppling Saddam Hussein from power.

“He’s right on the ball about the economy,” said Silvernail, who wore a baseball cap with a U.S. flag on it. “He said that it’s a proven fact that to fix the economy, you have to help the smaller companies. If they hire more people, the economy will pick up and the deficit will go down.”

Silvernail is clearly just some poor schmuck who either didn’t understand Nader’s campaign, doesn’t understand Bush’s administration, or doesn’t understand economics–take your choice. The important thing is Counterspin’s reading of Silvernail’s statement:

Yet more evidence that many 2000 Nader Voters [especially in a State like Michigan] were more ANTI-GORE than Pro-Nader.

How on earth does this follow? A goodly number of Nader supporters probably will support Bush in 2004–such as the disillusioned McCain Republicans who voted for Nader in protest against their own party’s betrayal of its principles in nominating Bush. Others were in that great mass of undeclared voters, voters Nader particularly targeted and mobilized, but who never held any lasting attraction to Green principles. To assume that Silvernail is somehow involved in the great Green conspiracy to undermine the Democratic Party, and Gore in particular, is a pretty big stretch, isn’t it, especially when Nader held such a great appeal to workers in northern and northeastern states, workers that traditionally vote–that’s right–Republican?

I am the first to agree that Bush is one of the worst things to happen to this country since syphillis, but beating Green voters over the head with such bitter and wrong-headed musings is no way to make sure Bush is shown the door next November, nor is it any way to make sure that the next President isn’t just as bad, or worse. A large group of Greens are urging the national party not to run a candidate (and another group is promising that they will run one–but that’s the Green way) and Nader has already endorsed a Democratic candidate, an endorsement that at least Kucinich is man enough to accept with grace.

The election is 15 months away–that’s a long time for a lot to happen. At this point, nobody has my vote, not Nader, not Kucinich, not Dean. They’re all, in my opinion, making the right noises, but it’s early yet, and I plan to be absolutely certain that the person I vote for has made it clear to me that he (or she–it could happen!) is going to represent me, not some bullshit imagination of what the “average American” will vote for.

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