Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Three points on a Green Party presidential bid

I wrote a comment over at TPMMuckraker, and I'm reposting it here. It's a response to a call for discussion on four points on Nader: 1. That he didn't throw the 2000 election to Bush, 2. That there was no difference between Bush and Gore, 3. That a Nader election will keep Democrats aware of a progressive agenda, and 4. That a Nader run won't hurt the Democrats.
I will vote for whosoever wins the Green Party nomination process. The only Nader myth that matters to me, really, is the idea that he's the Green Party candidate, as he was in 1996 and 2000. He was not in 2004, and it's rather unlikely he will be this year.

As to the Florida canard, the Socialists got enough votes to tip the initial count to Gore. But, nobody ever dumps on David McReynolds for throwing the election to... whomever's been running the country for the last seven years.

That GOP thugs got to stop the recount with government complicity is appalling. Yes, Gore made huge mistakes both tactical -- Elian Gonzales? -- and strategic -- Lieberman? Distancing from Clinton? -- and made a campaign that should have been a walk into a close contest, but the central atrocity is that strongmen stopped the recount. Kenya and Ukraine have both since shamed us with their reaction to similar events; maybe they had the advantage of having seen what happened here.

Al Gore is one of my favorite politicians ever. I think he would have made a wonderful president. But, the administration he was part of gave us NAFTA, failed to deliver universal health care, and essentially ignored climate change after dropping the BTU tax. As long as Al Gore ran with the Democrats, he wouldn't challenge the personhood of the corporation or dismantle the architecture of the oil dominion or weapons trade. He might even have kept Alan Greenspan around. There were real differences between Al Gore and George Bush. But, pretending the Democrats were palatable wasn't for me.

I want to spend a little time on Reality Three, which many other commentors have noted is likewise no myth. To an outside observer, it looks like the only reason progressive politics gets mentioned in this election at all is because John Edwards forced it into the campaign. Hillary Clinton certainly wouldn't have mentioned health care again. With one Democratic candidate focused on electability and the other focused on bipartisanship, what chance does progressive politics really have without a strong third party voice?

A third party progressive platform will take votes from the Democrats -- that's certainly true. But, it's only true because of Realities Two and Three. And, actually, the whole impetus of Reality Three is to make it less true.

If Democratis candidates focus less on pandering, and more on creating solutions to the very real and immediate dangers that face our party, fewer Democratic voters will cross the line that without the Green Party, wouldn't even be there. We're only a danger to the Democrats to the extent that they let you down.

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