June 26, 2004
Mark Crispin Miller Has a Suggestion About the Nader Factor: Ignore the House Wrecker
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
Ralph Nader certainly could throw the next "election" to the Busheviks. He certainly did seem to do that in 2000. So what to do?
I would suggest, first, that we look back on that stolen race, and face the fact that Bush & Co. were intent on stealing it -- and that they would have stolen it if Nader never had been born. Let's get real. If you think that that they were going to let a few hundred extra Gore votes block their move into the White House, you don't know what we're dealing with. Team Bush was trashing Democratic votes -- and all but manufacturing fresh ballots for themselves -- throughout the Florida debacle. They'd already scrubbed some 90,000 Democratic voters from the rolls in Florida; had allowed the voting infrastructure to malfunction in some Democratic precincts (while those in Repub precincts worked just fine); used local cops and Florida state troopers to scare still more Democrats away; "lost" a considerable number of Gore votes; set up a system for approving hundreds of illegal military ballots; used mob tactics to disrupt the vote count in Miami; fixed things with the Florida legislature; and fixed things with the Supreme Court. And that's not all they did.
Considering that history, it's absurd to argue or suggest that, say, James Baker would have sat there and watched Al Gore win by 537 votes -- and then thrown up his hands and said, " Well, that's the way the cookie crumbles! Better luck next time!"
That notion points up what's still wrong with many Democrats. They just don't get it. Nader's run is inexcusable (unless he ends up pulling out at the right moment), and it is theoretically possible that he could throw the race to Bush. To dwell on him as the main worry, however, is a big-time mistake. In fact, to keep on blasting him will probably do more harm than good.
I believe that Nader does pose a tremendous problem, but not the simple one that Democrats have been foretelling. My biggest worry about Nader's candidacy isn't that he'll bleed enough votes from the Dems to throw the race to Bush. Rather, it's that Nader's mere presence on the ballot will allow the Busheviks to steal the race that much more easily. They'll use the touch-screen machines to siphon votes from Kerry and stash them in Nader's column, just as they did last time, with those crucial 22,000+ votes in Florida. Remember that, for about an hour, that bloc of votes was tidily redistributed among the other third-party candidates on the ballot. It was during that hour that Fox called the race for Bush, and it was all downhill from there.
So I'd expect Nader to do extraordinarily well in those states where he ends up running -- far better than anyone had thought! Only they won't be the votes of people who would otherwise have voted Democratic. They'll be the votes of Democrats who voted for John Kerry.
And on top of that, the Nader factor will keep Democrats stone-blind to the real cause of their "defeat." They will (continue to) waste precious energy on fratricidal venting. This GOP is, has been, and will be the major danger not only to liberals and their causes, but to the nation overall, and to the world.
I would suggest that Democrats try not to focus on Ralph Nader. The more angry noise he hears, the more resolved he will become; and the ire of Democrats is likely to attract a lot of younger voters to him.
So I urge anti-Nader Democrats to keep a lid on their vast sense of outrage. If we're going to flush the current regime out of Washington, the Democrats will have to keep the Nader-condemnation private -- and never take their eyes off Bush & Co.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
Crispin Miller, a professor at NYU, is author of "The Bush
Dyslexicon" and the forthcoming "Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's
New World Order." He is currently author and star of a one-man
Bush Review playing in New York, "Patriot
Act: A Public Meditation," at the New York Theater
Workshop through 7/22, six nights a week.
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