February 28, 2008
Here he comes to save the day! The savior of election 2008 has announced that he is running for president again; for the 17th time it would seem. Yes, I am speaking about none other than Ralph Nader. Already the Internet is abuzz with the announcement that there is now someone else in this race; anyone else. Those disaffected and disillusioned voices now have an answer when they are asked who they will vote for since they believe everyone in the race is the walking epitome of evil. They will brush off the stale old excuses for why the protest vote makes sense and turn a blind eye to the consequences of their actions. They will even attempt to wrap the flag around themselves and find some sort of patriotic loophole that makes them feel better about their protest vote.
Because you should have no doubt America, all it will be is a protest vote. Ralph Nader will not have the money or access that Obama and McCain will have. He cannot compete and if your synapses are firing, you know this too. I remember the last time people were so apathetic with the state of political affairs that they thought they could afford to mail in their vote in protest. The year was 2000 and the country was enjoying the end of a very prosperous time. We were all a little sickened of the impeachment process and Al Gore left a bad taste in some mouths. He seemed too connected to the scandals they said. Ralph Nader was there then too, running for President as only he can. He sucked off just enough democratic voters to allow George Bush to steal the election. He managed to convince enough disaffected and disillusioned voters that they could afford to cast their vote into protest abyss. He convinced enough spoiled voters that their vote could be casually thrown away without consequence. Well, I am pretty sure we all know how that one turned out.
Only this time, I just do not understand how anyone who has lived through the past eight years can look in the mirror knowing they could allow John McCain to walk into the White House and continue the Bush policies for another four years. I have written about this for the past month now and am still astonished that the apathy for some is outweighing reason and logic. There is absolutely no question that Barack Obama would be infinitely better than John McCain on nearly every subject and policy. Is he the magic bullet? Of course not; no candidate would be. It took along time to ruin this country. It was a methodical destruction of the constitution and our civil liberties. It was a slow descent into the chasm of torture as state policy and wars of choice. It was a deliberative process to wreck the middle class and squeeze them into the working poor through reckless fiscal policies. It was systematic destruction of our environment and erosion of our educational system. These things took a lot of time to ruin and it will take a lot of time to correct. But do not let your apathy confuse you America. It certainly does matter who is in charge of this country come January 2009 and I guarantee you it will NOT be Ralph Nader.
Thus knowing it will be one of two machine bought candidates is not settling well with the progressive movement and I completely share their disappointment. This was not the script we would have written. This is not the hand we were hoping to be dealt. The problem is that some are advocating folding the hand in protest. They had been advocating voting for nobody but now they have their poster-boy for protest in Nader. Substantively, there is no difference between a Nader vote and a no vote. It will amount to nothing and only help John McCain. You see, you can hate the GOP all you want to but you at least have to admire their cohesiveness. Don’t fall for the sucker play being acted around you now with the conservative wing rebelling against McCain. That is nothing more than a ruse to make McCain appear more moderate. No folks, come November I guarantee you that Bill Cunningham and his ilk will NOT be voting for anyone with a (D) next to their name. No; they will vote for McCain in unison. There will be no protest vote from the conservatives or the GOP. They will unite around the hand they have been dealt.
While that is the bad news, the good news is that the interest on the democrat side is far outweighing the republican side. November is setting up nicely for another huge turnout with the majority flocking to Obama. Of course there is still the general election to play out and we are already seeing the attacks on Barack by the GOP. Ultimately, you have to decide what this election represents. You need to seriously consider a McCain presidency. This is a man who joked about and sang about bombing Iran. He is on record as saying we could be in Iraq for another 100 years. He has already embraced the Bush tax cuts and wants to make them permanent. His maverick façade has long since faded into history as nothing but a clever marketing strategy that failed in face of the machine in 2000. He has an 83% conservative rating. Do not be confused America. John McCain is not the most conservative member in the Senate but he is on that side of the aisle. As far as aggressive foreign policy and war, he will be George Bush on steroids. I do not know how much more I can spell it out folks but if he makes into office there will be hundreds of thousands more dead in the desert. The economic death march will also continue and nothing will be changed from the past eight years.
I understand the emotion behind the desire to protest vote. The system is broken; I do not disagree. We need to figure out how to get real campaign finance reform so that third party candidates such as Nader have a level playing field. The two-party system is a cancer eating away at our republic. We need to get corporations out of the political process. These are all macro level issues that need to be addressed after we get to the business of who is running the country for the next four years. You see, the micro level stuff is still pretty important. No matter how frustrated you are, the war is still pretty important. Don’t fall for the ridiculous notion that Obama won’t end the war; he absolutely will. No matter how aggravated you are at the current state of affairs, reversing the consolidation of executive power is still pretty important. So is reversing wiretapping and torture. So are the environment and education in this country. You cannot protest the macro issues without sacrificing the micro issues. You cannot cast your vote for nothing and potentially aid John McCain in finishing the job George Bush started.
I do not dislike Ralph Nader and I wish the state of the country allowed for viable third party candidates. Unfortunately, it does not. Mike Gravel has as much chance as Ralph Nader. There is too much on the line to make the same mistake as 2000 when some thought so little of their vote that they laid the path for the rise of George W. Bush. Sure the Supreme Court anointed him illegally but without Ralph Nader, it never goes to the Supremes. On every serious micro topic facing this nation it is clear that the top priority has to be ensuring we do not wake up in January 2009 with President McCain continuing the fascist and destructive policies of George W. Bush. On every micro issue we need Barack Obama and the margin is not even debatable. It is not even close. Do I think Obama will seriously address the macro problems? Not without some serious community involvement and pressure from progressives across this land. First things first though. Break the apathy America. Ralph Nader has ridden in on his white horse before and swept up your protest votes to the tune of 5%, which normally would have gone to the democrat. We were spoiled in 2000 and thought we could throw our vote away in protest and look what we wrought. Do not make the same mistake again. Play the Obama hand; don’t fold.