“DARTH NADER” IS WHAT FELLOW LEFTISTS now call their onetime comrade and hero. Their love turned to hate in 2000, when their once-upon-a-time Jedi Knight won 97,488 Florida votes as the Green Party’s candidate, costing Democratic Party nominee Al Gore the presidency by 537 votes.
And this week Ralph Nader returned to enter the presidential lists as an Independent candidate in 2004. Will Nader again split the Leftist vote and re-elect President George W. Bush?
A Fox-Opinion Dynamics Poll less than a week ago found that the President and his most likely challenger, Senator John F. Kerry (D.-Mass.), were tied in nationwide support. If the election were held now, the poll found, Nader would carry four percent of voters nationwide and pull Kerry’s vote down below Bush’s by at least one percentage point.
Presidents, however, are not elected by voters nationwide, but by electors chosen in each state. As John Zogby’s recent polling found, prior to Nader’s entry George Bush was solidly ahead in the states he won – and with them, the presidency – in 2000. And Kerry was ahead in the states Mr. Gore won in 2000, which gave Gore too few electoral votes to win.
(Gore’s home state of Tennessee, where people knew him best, voted against him. Gore may be the only presidential candidate in history to lose his home state. But it’s so much easier to blame Nader and Florida than to blame Gore’s lackluster inadequacy.)
Kerry was losing with or without Nader in the race. And Zogby’s snapshot was taken after months of unanswered Democrat attacks on President Bush, with Kerry’s popularity at what will likely be its peak. This picture should change dramatically after Republicans begin to return fire next week with ads exposing Kerry’s unethical, erratic, extremist record as a Senator.
But among Leftists it must never be admitted that Kerry and his ultra-Left politics are being rejected by the people. Subconsciously, socialists must feel an odd relief that Nader is back to play scapegoat if and when Kerry loses. The sour grapes are already being picked to press into bitter wine this November.
If Lefties had any largeness of vision and spirit, they would have welcomed Nader’s entry into this contest. The old warrior could attract new idealists, many of whom would sooner or later become Democrats. Nader could propose more radical policies and make more strident attacks on President Bush than Kerry would dare, thereby giving Kerry more running room on the Left to expand his proposals and attacks. Nader could deter Kerry from any temptation to drift rightward by giving those on his left flank an alternative candidate. But simultaneously Nader, by being more extreme, could make far-Left Kerry appear more moderate, centrist and hence attractive to voters.
But the New Left notions of aging Baby Boomers were never that new – and are now menopausally sclerotic. Most Lefties – increasingly senile in their socialism – possess no larger vision, spirit or suppleness of mind.
As an old joke goes, that guy has “Irish Alzheimer’s” – all he remembers are his grudges. All that increasingly brain-dead Leftists seem able to remember is their hate. They hate the George W. Bush they looked down on…but who proved to be smarter than they were and showed them to be the fools they are.
So the Left is angry, hate-filled and, in the depths of its primitive reptilian brain, afraid. These base emotions have left most Democrats nearly unable to see clearly or to think rationally at all.
“The vital issue in this election is that a Republican sweep may make permanent the damage to the constitutional principle of checks and balances,” screamed Los Angeles Times commentator Robert Scheer in a loathsome load of venom spit Tuesday at Ralph Nader. “We are up against one-party domination.”
Yes, according to Scheer, Nader’s candidacy could cause a Kerry defeat this November that will bring about the demise of the entire Democratic Party. Such delusional thinking is nothing new for Bob Scheer. He and I long ago were weekly panelists on a public television show in Los Angeles, and when the camera was off he would regale the other three of us with how Chairman Mao and Communist China were the glorious red sunrise of humankind’s future. Scheer’s loony Marxist Leftism is unchanged.
But whatever happened to that mainstay Marxist slogan: “No enemies on the Left!” How can other Leftists savagely attack their old comrade Ralph Nader?
Oh, I forgot. That slogan applied only to stopping other Leftists from criticizing the Communist Party. But nowadays the Communist Party USA routinely directs its members to vote for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates. In effect, because the CPUSA no longer runs presidential candidates of its own, the Communist Party candidate is the Democratic Party candidate. And, please note, the Democratic Party has never repudiated, disavowed or criticized this Communist support. What does this tell you about Senator Kerry’s and the Democratic Party’s real political agenda?
The fear Leftists feel is not Nader’s fault. It comes from Senator John F. Kerry and their dim recognition that once again the Democratic Party is about to nominate a very unappetizing, unappealing candidate. Various polls make this clear. If we counted only the voters who felt enthusiastic about him, then Kerry lost in New Hampshire and probably nearly every other primary.
Democrats have been gritting their teeth and swallowing Kerry in the same way little kids eat their broccoli and other vegetables at dinner. It’s because Mom says they get no dessert until they finish those yucky green vegetables.
For Democrats, the sweet dessert they crave and can almost taste is the ouster of President George W. Bush, the man who made fools of them in 2000. They are willing to swallow almost anything to get sweet revenge and to acquire again the power to tax from the productive so that these stolen earnings can be redistributed to themselves.
Democrats are willing to vote for Kerry only because he seems the candidate most likely to beat Bush. But what in theory makes this dull, gray, haughty, French-looking man electable nationwide are things that make Leftists gag – that he won military medals, voted for NAFTA and other free trade measures, and has been in high office for so long that he is thoroughly compromising and compromised.
Democrats in their hearts know that Kerry is not really what they want. Voting for him is like eating stale dog food. And Democrats know that at any moment the American people could open their eyes and recognize that the younger, war-proven incumbent President Bush is far more attractive. Kerry is a fragile concocted illusion, a weak candidate who could go “POP” and lose his appeal at any moment.
Ralph Nader turns 70 this Friday. (Ronald Reagan was elected President at age 69.) But put Nader on a stage next to Kerry, and it is Nader who will come across as younger, more vital, and far more honest and straightforward. Nader may be a wildly misguided idealist, but he is an idealist with appeal to other Leftist idealists. (Rational people, by contrast, recognize Nader as a friend and ally of trial lawyers, the “selfish special interests” who doubtless supply much of his carefully-undisclosed, sizeable income.) Kerry cannot win a comparison with Nader, and this, of course, is precisely why Democrats are frantic to smear Nader and shove him off the stage.
And that is what Leftists have been trying to do. Nearly every comment and question from the establishment media, notes the Media Research Center, has been an attack on Nader. The obvious aim of these Democrat-aligned media attacks has been to derail or destroy Nader’s candidacy in order to help elect Kerry.
One of the most toxic assaults came from Democrat Chris Matthews on MSNBC. In a surreal Monday interview, Matthews suggested that Nader was unfit to be President because he had never married or had children, never owned a car, lived in an apartment, refused to release his tax records, and is old. Worst of all, a factoid crawl revealed, Nader is a vegetarian “like [Democratic presidential candidate and Cleveland Congressman] Dennis Kucinich.” The only odd fact Matthews missed is that Nader is an Arab-American of Lebanese ancestry.
One common theme of all these attacks is that Nader is running just because of an oversized ego. This is the silliest and most insulting assault of all, writes Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen. “If ego were removed from politics Congress would never get a quorum and every city hall in the land would look as if nuclear winter had struck overnight.”
If ego was Ralph Nader’s motive, why did he wait for Howard Dean’s maverick candidacy to end and Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s candidacy to go off the rails before entering the contest himself? Entering sooner would have improved Nader’s chances, but he waited, he says, in hopes that these issue-driven candidates would reinvigorate American politics.
“I urge the liberal establishment to relax and rejoice,” said Nader this week at the National Press Club. “….We mean to initiate a liberation movement for the Democratic Party, whose liberals have allowed it to slip away, year after year since about 1980, into the hands of corporate interests, too often bought and sold dialing for dollars.”
But those like Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who was the brown bag man collecting millions of dirty dollars at Clinton White House coffees for Communist Chinese Generals and others, do not want the Democratic Party “liberated” from its corrupt ties to special interests. Money-grubbers like Kerry and McAuliffe want to regain power so that they can extort and pocket more of such money than ever before.
Democrats also want to fudge issues as they do ethics, and Nader poses a problem here, too. To cite one current issue, Nader openly advocates homosexual marriage. Kerry, by contrast, says he opposes gay marriage but favors “same sex unions” and opposes a Constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage. Reptilian in many ways, Kerry similarly slithers to appear on several sides of many issues. By comparison, both Nader and President Bush have taken clear, honest stands on this and other issues. Nader could carry many gay voters who recognize Kerry as too wishy-washy to be trusted.
[It remains to be seen how this issue will cut in November. Nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose gay marriage, but according to one poll only 53 percent favor a Constitutional amendment to prohibit it. The larger political strategy of Democrats in raising this divisive issue has been cynical. They know that in 2000 Mr. Bush got about 30 percent of the gay vote – a larger share of this minority than he won of African-Americans. Gays, like most other Americans, dislike high taxes and intrusive government, and their votes were a key factor in electing President Bush. Democrats are doubtless gambling that by having a few local Democratic officials force this issue while Kerry pretends to oppose it, they can use this divide-and-conquer wedge issue to split more gay votes away from President Bush than they lose themselves.]
“This is not a democracy that can be controlled by two parties in the grip of corporate interests,” Nader told NBC interviewer Tim Russert on Sunday’s Meet the Press. “I don’t think America belongs just to the Democrat and Republican parties.”
But what the “liberal intelligensia” trying to stifle his independent candidacy are doing, said Nader, “is basically saying that third parties are a second-class citizenship.”
“For 25 years they’ve let their [Democratic] party become a captive of corporate interests,” said Nader. “And now they want to block the American people from having more choices and voices, especially young people who are looking for idealism, who are looking for a clean campaign, who are looking for the real issues in this country instead of the sham and the rhetoric that masquerades for political campaigning.”
As an independent, Nader must overcome what he describes to Russert as “a tremendous bias in state laws against third parties and independent candidates bred by the two major parties, who passed these laws. They don’t like competition.”
The Democrats, whose Florida chairman Scott Maddox called Nader “the Benedict Arnold of modern democracy,” have made it clear that they will do all they can to keep Nader off state ballots. In 2000 as the Green Party candidate, Nader was on the ballot in 43 states.
It will be difficult for Nader to come close to that as an independent in 2004, although several small parties might lend him their ballot lines in dozens of states. And, of course, the Democrats anti-democratically will use their 50 percent control of the Commission on Presidential Debates to keep Nader, the Libertarian, and all other alternative candidates out of these crucial debates, just as they did in 2000.
Given its cynical, selfish and high-handed lust for power above everything else, nobody should be surprised at the continuing decline of the Democratic Party. Robert Scheer may be correct – this party may be on the verge of disintegration. It sold its soul for power, then lost that power. It now gets nothing right and has nothing left except the residue of power from its past corrupt gerrymanders. As we used to say in the 1960s and now say of the Democratic Party, when little men cast large shadows, you know the sun is setting.
Oh, and the Democrats still have a few aging demagogues. One is former 60s radical and President of the Students for a Democratic Society Todd Gitlin, who once again is damning “Quixotic Nader, whose first run was tragedy, now tries farce. It’s not funny.”
Gitlin, lately Professor of Culture, Journalism and Sociology at New York University and author of the apt book The Twilight of Common Dreams, authored a similar Salon.com hit piece on Nader in 2000 in which he proclaimed: “In America, we’re not going to get a president better than [Al] Gore.”
The point of Cervantes’ masterwork Don Quixote, Mr. Gitlin, was that an aging knight who retained the old ideals of morality, honor and goodness – even though he be insane – is a better, more noble person than a modern cynic like yourself who has no morals at all, just a hate-filled lust for power over the rest of us. In the Democrats’ hate for Nader, what you really reveal is your hate for morality, for humankind – and for what you, with subconscious shame, know you have become.
Thanks to Ralph Nader, we today have a President vastly better than Al Gore. Because of that, Ralph Nader saved America. Who knows what further inadvertent service to humankind this aging Leftward knight will yet render?