Sunday, November 05, 2006

Democratic bash at the Blue Loon

Hans and I went to a party last night held at the Blue Loon for local Democratic candidates. David Guttenberg, Scott Kawasaki, John Pile, Joe Thomas, and I think Tim Beck (although I didn't see him) were all there, along with Democratic Party activists like John Davies, Don Gray, Elyse Guttenberg, Luke Hopkins, Dave Valentine, and Mahla Strohmeier. We were having a fairly good time until somebody said to Hans that Nader cost Gore the 2000 election.


WHY will this stupid canard not die? It's amazing to me that anybody would believe this. It's a falsehood that serves only the Republican Party, because it thoroughly distracted (and apparently continues to distract) Democrats from what really happened in that election. So let's look at it.

Statement: "Ralph Nader's campaign cost Al Gore the 2000 presidential election."

Question: Why was it Nader's campaign that did this, and not the estimated 230,000 Florida Democrats who evidently voted Republican? Or the infamous "Jews for Buchanan" (that was a few thousand votes right there)? Or the several thousand votes that went to the Socialist candidate? Or the approximately 173,000 mostly Democratic voters improperly purged from the rolls (91,000 of whom were still unable to vote in the 2004 election, and who are STILL unable to vote)? Why was it not the fact that the Gore campaign chose only to do a recount in selected districts, and not do a statewide recount? What about the fact that the Supreme Court overruled the state court, cut off the recount, and effectively appointed George W. Bush?

Why do these factors somehow not count in the Democratic mind? And why, for Pete's sake, do Democrats uttering this statement fail to miss the basic flaw upon which the statement is predicated, and which renders the whole question moot?


Nader didn't cost him the election, nor did the Democrats voting Republican, nor the faulty purges, nor the Socialist Party candidate, nor the weirdness with the Buchanan votes. The Gore campaign admitted that Nader did not cost them the election.


He won the popular and electoral vote in the rest of the country, and he won, as was later found out, the popular election in Florida, and therefore should have won the electoral college vote in Florida. But because the Supreme Court appointed George Bush, and because Al Gore and the Democratic National Committee decided it was more important to concede and not make a fuss, THE DEMOCRATS GAVE THE ELECTION TO THE REPUBLICANS.

This is the truth that the Democratic Party cannot face. It was a crooked, nasty election in many respects, but Al Gore actually did win it. And it is much easier to take out one's emotional reaction to this strategic error on a small party than to try to face the fact of what happened and the monumental mistake and betrayal that the DNC made. Repeating "Nader cost Gore the election" is much more comforting, and intellectually much more lazy, than facing the facts.

Now, having said all that, it is true that at the time the Supreme Court's decision came down, the DNC didn't know that Gore had won. It looked like he had lost by a measly few hundred votes. But the facts have since come out (in 2001), and they know now—but it remains easier to blame Ralph Nader and the Greens for this loss than to accept what really happened. Because of this dishonesty, the Democrats are hampered in their ability to examine what went wrong, and to correct it. Clear evidence of this exists in the 2004 election, where, despite obvious electoral fraud in Ohio, the Kerry campaign refused to fight back. This, despite the fact that they had specifically amassed a $50 million dollar legal reserve supposedly just for the purpose of dealing with fraud. Again, the DEMOCRATS GAVE THE ELECTION AWAY. Kerry won in 2004. It was the Greens and the Libertarians who led the charge on combatting election fraud in Ohio, and later voter rights groups, the local Democratic Party, and John Conyers. The Greens are STILL working on this.

If you let bullies push you around, they will become emboldened, and push you around even more.

Jim Holm's statement that if you're not in the majority, you're nothing, while outrageous, is nothing more than the truth of how Republicans and Democrats play politics when they're in power. And the Democrats, who play exactly the same damn game against Greens as the Republicans are playing against the Democrats, don't look any more savory from my perspective (with certain local exceptions).

Live with it, guys, or clean up your own act. Then maybe you'll get some sympathy on this issue from this Green.


Rob said...

An interesting analysis. I suggest you cross post it on My Left Wing.

Simiolus Rex said...

It's like arguing about evolution against a Catholic priest...he won't listen to you, nor you to him (believe me, I tried it). Best to just smile or better yet, smirk, and say, "you silly little fool."

David in AK said...

The trouble with this analysis is that it presumes an "either-or" causal agent; i.e., If all the listed factors contributed to the 2000 fiasco, then Nader's run could not have. If you poll Nader voters with this question: "If you knew in 2000 what you know now, would you have voted for Gore?", I'd wager that many, perhaps most, would say "yes". And the larger Gore's margin of Victory, the harder it would have been for Bush to steal it. Nader cost Gore the election just like all of the other factors you listed--no more, no less.

Deirdre Helfferich said...

True to an extent, but the problem is that it is always presented as though Nader cost Gore the election. I NEVER hear "the Supreme Court cost Gore the election" or "the DNC cost Gore the election" or "the faulty voter purge cost Gore the election." No, what I hear is that it was Nader's fault, or that it was the Green Party's fault. I do sometimes hear that it was a combination of things, but I run into this Nader-is-the-Devil attitude far more often.

During the election, the Florida Greens were under intense pressure from Democratic Party GOTV efforts. Many, many Greens decided to vote Democratic. Most of those left were die-hard Greens, who would not have changed their mind. A few have said since then on the Green national lists and in some published opinion pieces that yes, knowing what they know now, they would have voted for Gore. In 2004, this affected the presidential election in Florida. But none of us knew then what we know now, nor could any of us have foreseen the massive disaster of the Bush Administration, which is beyond anyone's wildest nightmares. Hindsight is great--but we don't have it until a bit of time has gone by.

My analysis doesn't assume an either-or causal agent, by the way; the problem I find is that the statement "Nader cost Gore the election" DOES assume that. It narrows it down to just one factor, and somehow that factor supercedes all the rest. That's why it's so infuriating, and that's why I listed other factors that played into that election. (There were others, of course, like the media's switcheroo on calling the election.) The factors that I never see considered are that A) Gore did in fact win the election in Florida, and B) the Democratic Party's make nice-nice tactic blew up in all of our faces. The DNC and the Gore campaign may have fought like hellcats and still lost to the Supreme Court's decision--but they didn't, not then, and not later when the Black Congressional Caucus pleaded with the Senate to protest the results--and that, along with everything else, meant that George got put in an office way beyond his competency level. And I would submit that not all these factors are equal in weight. I think that the Democratic Party's culpability in many ways was of much more weight than the Green Party's--because they are a major party and have far more swing politically than the Greens. They are actually IN the Senate and the House.

David in AK said...

I think the problem may lie partly in who we are, and how that influences what people say to us. As a local representative of the Green Party, I can well imagine that you hear the "Nader" version a bit more often than others do. OTOH, I do hear--and talk about--those other causative agents all the time.

Deirdre Helfferich said...

I bet you're right there; I am a Green, and so therefore people are going to think of the Green aspect first when talking to me. Of course, this was my husband, a German national and not even a voter, to whom this was said. I wasn't even around (I was over in the other room talking about old-style Alaska Republicans to a former Republican who is working on the Kawasaki campaign).

And with regard to your (very rational) approach to the issue--believe me, I appreciate it. Politics is not a simple thing--there's always a ton of issues and factors and motivations that affect any given aspect, so it's nice to discuss things with a person who's not going to boil it down to spin-like bullets.