Sunday, October 17, 2004

Ralph Nader: Dubmass

As dissatisfied as I am with the Democratic Party, I've never found Ralph Nader to be an even remotely attractive alternative. He strikes me as a right-of-center, mildly insane megalomaniac. This morning, I saw him interviewed on ABC. During the interview, he talked about a new t-shirt being sold on his campaign website. The front of the t-shirt shows a picture of the liberty bell, along with the word "spoiler." The back reads, "Revolutionaries always spoil corrupt systems." Nader followed this by detailing how the Democrats have failed by allowing the Republicans to win at all levels of government for over a decade. If you're like me, all of this makes your head spin.

The first question I have is, what system does Nader think he is spoiling? No one with 2% of the vote is spoiling anything, and the fact that he may harm John Kerry's election chances in some key states doesn't make him a spoiler of the system, but a participant in it! This is particularly true if you take seriously Nader's point about the failure of the Democrats over the last ten years. The system has, according to Nader, consistently produced wins for Republicans at all levels of government. If Nader, by taking votes from Kerry, perpetuates this, is he spoiling the system, or making it more efficient? I can't see how anyone can believe its the former.

The secon question I have is, does Nader really believe himself to be a revolutionary? Though his anti-coporate ideas are not shared by most candidates from the two major parties, and his stance on Israel is controversial, most of his ideas are hardly new, much less revolutionary. In what world is a man who gets on state ballots through the concerted efforts of the ruling party considered a revolutionary? Is this man living on this planet? Has anyone considered prescribing him antipsychotics?

Why is it that third party candidates are so often strikingly delusional, not about their chances of winning elections, but about the way the world actually works?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Nader, although I frankly found the Democratic party attempts to keep him off ballots extremely distasteful. Still, I would favor more third parties if all states had instant runoff voting systems and if the media reported this. I think then third parties could have more of an effect on what issues are discussed. Perot was even more of a nut than Nader at his worse, but at least Nader brought some issues to the forefront. But, like Nader, he ended up being a bit of a spoiler.

If third party candidates counted, we'd get more thoughtful, sane people running. We'd also have the level of discourse improved dramatically in the country. 

Posted by Clark Goble

Anonymous said...

Just noticed a typo which probably had everyone raising their eyebrows. That first sentence should have read, "I tend to agree with your comments on Nader..."
Kind of changed the tone of the paragraph. (grin

Posted by Clark Goble

Anonymous said...

I must confess I don't really see the issue here. I would have thought 'spoiler' referred to the many criticisms that are thrown at him by Democrats; I can't think of anyone who actually has called him a 'spoiler', but I wouldn't be surprised at finding it among the various sorts of abuse that occasionally get sent his way by Kerry supporters. As to the Republican wins, I suspect he sees himself as trying to force Democrats to change for the better, and so is thinking about the long term, even if in the short term it means Republican wins.

As to thinking himself revolutionary, I agree that it's silly, but it strikes me as no different from the sorts of silly things the candidates of the major parties say about themselves. The only real difference I see between Bush and Kerry and third party candidates in this regard is that B & K stand a chance of winning the election, so for some reason we let them get away with saying all sorts of ridiculous things that would be considered delusional in a third party candidate. 

Posted by Brandon

Anonymous said...

I think we allow the two main candidates more "flexibility" because typically we vote based upon the lesser of two evils. With a third candidate we don't see them having a chance of being elected, so that "lesser of two evils" justification goes out the door, unless one seriously thinks that the candidate can significantly affect the way issues are dealt with. (And I tend to be doubtful about that in terms of final vote - perhaps in polls before the election but that's it) As I said though, I think the situation would significantly improve if the media would be a little more rigorous and if there were some sort of instant runoff voting that the media covered.
 

Posted by Clark Goble

Anonymous said...

Brandon, I'd agree with you if Nader were saying he was spoiling the Democrat's chance. There's a good chance that he will do that. However, he seems to think he's changing the system, and that's what makes him look stupid to me. 

Posted by Chris

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Chris. He might have the claim to be changing the system if he'd stayed with the Green party and tried to establish an actual alternative to the two main parties. Heavens, that's actually happened in US history. But the way he's going makes no sense to me at all. I think him amazingly naive at best.

It's weird. I've heard interviews with him where he seems like a madman and others where he is amazingly articulate, well spoken, and makes tremendously good points. I'd almost wonder if he is bipolar at times. 

Posted by Clark Goble

Anonymous said...

Nader right-of-center? Wrong. Regradles of his "character", his platform is closer to what democrats were before they were corporatized, neo-liberalized, lesbianized, unionized, and Clintonized. He isn't a Kerry-like orator or a GOP strongman, but his platform IS far closer to true political reform: environmentalist, reducing corporate America's power, supporting public education, etc.

I can understand the Dems' anger at Nader, and I will probably vote for Kerry and the dem machine--but nonetheless, Nader does appeal to many who might be left of center but who are shut out of the Dem. "par-tay" as well....
 

Posted by nemesis

Anonymous said...

The Democratic Party has descended into being a group of spineless, whiny, useless whores. Just take a step back and listen to what John Kerry is saying. Listen to the stupidity that comes out of his mouth. Listen to the lies and fear-mongering he throws at you.

Nader may be naive and he may have delusions, but at least his motives are good ones. And if it takes two Democratic defeats in a row facilitated by Nader's election influence for the Democrats to return to a party that I can again align myself with, then my vote goes to Nader.

Moreoever, knowing how corrupt the election system is, would you really want as president someone who was able to win, knowing what it takes to win in such an absurd political system?

Maybe the reason I vote for Nader is because he has no chance of winning in this fucked up system.

Good post, though. 

Posted by R