Casting stones

Billmon on Ralph Nader:

I see Ralph Nader wants Congress to impeach George Bush -- his nominal opponent and sometime political benefactor...

This sneering little broadside encapsulates neatly what is wrong with the Democratic party and its supporters. Namely, this: Democratic partisans still must find demons and windmills to attack instead of looking real close at their own failings to explain their disastrous electoral performances over the last decade.

The idea that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the election in 2000 has become so enshrined in Democratic mythology that people today still feel obligated to snidely attack Ralph Nader - no matter the merits of his positions or suggestions. An irrational hatred, which one would expect from a petulant six-year-old but not an otherwise serious adult, characterizes such an attitude. Impeach Bush? Well, why not - except, when Nader suggests it, we should act all indignant and sarcastic.

I shouldn't have to say this, at this late date in 2005, but comments like this force me to: Al Gore defeated Al Gore in 2000. Gore did not even carry Tennessee, his home state, in 2000. Gore did not differentiate himself from Bush, he distanced himself from Clinton during the campaign, he chose a terrible running mate (which again, in true Democratic fashion, is only becoming apparent to people now, 4 or 5 years after the fact), he did not fight back against all the Republican crap that was thrown his way during the campaign and, finally, the "Ahh ahgree" line in the head-to-head debates against Bush will remain in history, condemning Gore at every turn of the page and every replay of the footage as the immense loser that he was.

It also funny (in the "I think I'm going to puke", not "haha", sense) that someone who carried a large "Popular Front" badge on his page during the 2004 campaign, encouraging liberals and "leftists" to rally around someone who was an even bigger loser than Gore (and, for dim-witted Democrats, let me spell it out for you - K-E-R-R-Y), can talk with a straight face about Bush being one of Nader's political benefactors. Politically and morally, Nader accepting money and/or support from the Republicans was wrong.

What was more wrong, however, was the absolutely undemocratic and digusting campaign the "Democrats" conducted against Nader to keep him off the ballot in so many states. One could be forgiven, considering the time and money that went into the anti-Nader campaigns, for thinking that the Democrats thought that Nader was the main enemy rather than Bush. But we have not seen very many of the same people looking back and saying, hey - we really fucked up on that one - that was wrong and undemocratic. Or, hey, maybe we should have pressed Kerry to accept Nader's offer of an alliance - something approaching a "popular front" more than in just a recycled 1930s Spanish poster (when the concept made real sense). No, of course not - not when we have a convenient scapegoat. It doesn't matter that the so-called "Popular Front" strategy will go down in history as one of the most pathetic failures in American political history, as Joshua Frank argues. No, better to keep ahold of our nice little myths.

But some people just don't learn. New DNC chairman Howard Dean makes a pertinent observation on how the Demoratic party is unrepresentative, and what happens? A "hair-on-fire" comment and follow-up about how these statements are not going to be helpful for winning (see above, re: miserable failures of the "big tent" strategy as has been carried out so far and lack of analysis on this point). Here in America, an election is a success in terms of turnout if more than 50% of the people go to the polls. What about the other 50%? Do we write them off as politcally apathetic? Sure, it's another easy little myth - and another that will continue to condemn the Democrats to further irrelevance. Time wasted on the swing voter and the "big tent" would be much better spent getting people who are interested in politics and actually give a shit about how the country is run to the polls (and a consideration of this fact makes Nader's statements on the lack of difference between Bore/Kerry and Bush a little more comprehensible).

Milquetoast fretting about these kinds of viewpoints is not going to do this, however. Nor is an increasingly silly demonization of certain political figures. When Democrats learn this fact, they may start doing a little better at the polls. But, then again, the Democratic party structure they demand is not going to make this possible.

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