Monday, February 25, 2008


The Ralph Nader Effect

Ralph Nader announced last weekend that he is running for president again this year and all across the country adherents of the 'moderate' wing of the single business-war party--the Democratic Party--whined, "No, not again." This blog post is dedicated to them.

Below is Steve Rosenthal's article from 2000 on the Nader-Gore-Bush contest of that year. I would provide a link but I can't find it on the web anywhere except archived here. At bottom, Ralph Nader deftly answers a critic on the 2000 election controversy in a Youtube video. To Rosenthal's list, I would add:

And, if only one Democratic Senator--Kerry, Kennedy, Wellstone, Harkin, Boxer, Clinton or one of the Florida senators, Graham or Nelson--had supported the efforts of Congressional Black Caucus members to challenge Florida's electoral votes during the Electoral College count, Gore might very well have won. At the least, Americans might have gained a better understanding of the colossal fraud perpetrated in Florida where thousands of mostly Black voters were systematically disenfranchised by being illegally removed from the voting rolls, having their ballots disqualified, or simply not being allowed to vote (and this had nothing to do with butterfly ballots).

I don't want to overstate the importance of electoral politics, though. On the contrary, because we have the best democracy money can buy (and I don't mean voting machines), I have little faith in elections to provide solutions to the problems we face (see also Rosenthals' concluding remarks). Instead, we must realize our own power and struggle primarily outside the electoral arena.

Politics and Supreme Court
by Steve Rosenthal
20 December 2000 16:04 UTC

So we're still debating whether Nader cost Gore the election.

Well, if Nader hadn't been in the race, Gore probably would have picked up enough of Nader's 2.7 million votes to beat Bush.

And, if some six million registered Democrats hadn't voted for Bush, Gore would have won.

And, if Gore had inspired a few of the 50 million eligible voters who did not vote, Gore would have won.

And, if Gore and his "new" Democrat friends hadn't supported the war on drugs, the prison construction boom, and the disenfranchisement of over four million citizens, disproportionately black and poor, at least enough of them would have voted Democratic to put Gore in the White House.

And, if Democrats hadn't joined Republicans in refusing to spend money to update election machines in poorer counties, fewer ballots would have been thrown out, and Gore would have won.

And, if Democrats hadn't traditionally agreed with Republicans that immigrants, documented and undocumented, are not eligible to vote, Gore would surely have gained enough Latino and Asian votes to win the election.

And, if Democrats hadn't joined with Republicans in preventing U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico from being eligible to vote for president, Gore no doubt would have picked up enough votes to win.

And, if Democrats had refused to confirm Clarence Thomas or one of the other racist pro-Bush majority on the Supremely Racist Court, maybe the court would not have helped Bush steal the election.

And, and, and so on. You can undoubtedly add much more to this list.

So to select one factor (Nader) as THE factor that determined the winner of the election strikes me as mainly of an indication of who you want to scapegoat.

More importantly, the Gore vs Nader discussion rests on the premise that at least one of those two candidates was worth supporting. Frankly, I think that what Nader said about Gore was mostly true, and much of what the Gore supporters said about Nader was also true.

Both Gore and Nader played the ideological role of telling masses of oppressed and/or disaffected people that the capitalist economic and political system can be reformed, and both Gore and Nader diverted people away from seeing the crucial necessity to make anti-racism central in building an anti-systemic movement.

Alan Harrison asked why the U.S. doesn't have at least a right wing social democratic party. My answer is that the Democratic Party basically plays that role in U.S. politics. Like the Labor Party in Britain, the Democrats have close ties to the unions, and both parties have moved to the right and adopted what some call "neo-liberalism" during the past decade or so.

Whether the U.S. has a "soft landing" or a recession next year will be determined a little bit by the the Fed, but it will be determined mainly by the laws of capitalism. So will the continued pervasiveness of racism and future imperialist adventures and wars.

It won't matter who stole the election. The ruling class did us a favor by staging an election so corrupt and fraudulent that it must have deepened the contempt that more and more people have for the system.

By all means, let's analyze this election. It will help many to shed illusions they have had about the political institutions of U.S. capitalism.

Ralph Nader on the 2000 Election

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Ingenius post, quite true on all accounts. Thanks for assembling this.
You're too generous but thanks all the same.
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