Learn from my mistake: Don't throw your vote away by supporting Nader
By Jackson Thoreau
In 1980, I was a naive college student who threw my first presidential vote away, casting it for Libertarian Ed Clark.
As a small college basketball player and sports editor of my college newspaper, sports ruled my life back then. Democrat Jimmy Carter used the 1980 Olympics for political reasons by leading a boycott of the Games, an unforgivable sin in my then narrow-minded viewpoint. The Libertarians' message of individual freedom and small government roped me in; I essentially voted for Republican Ronald Reagan.
And I've regretted that vote ever since.
The point is, if you really want to get rid of W. Bush on Nov. 2, don't vote for Ralph Nader. Don't vote for the Greens, the Libertarians, or any other party's candidate. In our limited "democratic" system that does not provide for instant runoff voting or proportional representation like we should and numerous other more democratic countries do, Democrat John Kerry is the only one who can win the White House besides Bush. A vote for Nader or the Greens or the Libertarians is a vote for Bush, for maintaining the pre-emptive-invasions, tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy status quo.
Don't try to tell me that Kerry is essentially the same as fellow Skull-and-Boner Bush. I might have believed that in 1980, but I've learned from my mistakes since then. Kerry will not give a TRILLION dollars to the richest one percent of Americans in the next decade. Kerry will build real coalitions with our allies and really consider the consequences before waging war on another country. Kerry will provide more environmental protection, more educational funding, a health plan in which all Americans have a better opportunity to be insured. There are big differences between Bush and Kerry.
Nader provides one of the biggest obstacles to keeping Kerry from the White House, sad to say. Polls show the race so close that Nader's two or three percent in a swing state can swing the election to Bush. Republicans realize that fact, of course. That's why Republicans are Nader's biggest supporters, helping him get on the ballot in several states.
Yet, Nader keeps lying that he is not receiving much Republican support, that his campaign will not really hurt Kerry. Meanwhile, at every campaign appearance, including a televised debate with Democrat Howard Dean, Nader criticizes Kerry far more than Bush. And polls highlighted at DontVoteRalph.net show Nader taking far more support from Kerry than Bush. Nader, who has become a pawn of Bush-Cheney, might as well join the Republican Party; in fact, I wish he would. Then we wouldn't have to deal with his "independent" campaigns. It would be interesting to see how much Republican support Nader would receive as an honest Republican candidate.
Nader argues that Democrats should be concentrating on recapturing many of the millions of registered Democrats who crossed over to vote for Bush in 2000. That's true, but we also need to point out how Republicans are bankrolling much of Nader's campaign so that voters really know what his campaign is about, which admittedly is hard to understand beyond an ego trip.
Why is Nader not committed to the Green Party that helped him get so many votes in 2000? The Greens, to their credit, refused to nominate the man who abandoned them as its presidential candidate. Some Greens have even formed a group called Greens for Impact, which urges voters to support Kerry in swing states. More info is at www.greensforimpact.com.
Progressive writers like Gregory Palast, the British journalist who has done some ground-breaking work on the Florida 2000 heist, also do not help when they devote more ink in columns bashing Kerry than Bush. In a recent column, Palast sounds like he is a paid hack for the Republican National Committee in making the same old criticisms of Kerry that I won't bother regurgitating here.
Then towards the end of the column, Palast tries to make amends by writing, "Asking if Kerry is as bad as Bush is like asking if a slap in the face is as painful as a brick to the skull." That doesn't cut it. Palast claims that as a journalist he doesn't have to defend any candidate. I say that's too easy a way out, an attitude that has helped get us in our current predicament. This is the most important election in modern times. If we don't defeat the Bush-Cheney neo-con forces in this one, it might be too late to prevent many more Iraqs from happening. I'm a journalist too, but I see it as my duty as a citizen to support, and even work for, the candidate who I believe will take our country and planet in a better direction. Hiding behind journalistic myths like supposedly having to maintain the appearance of impartiality is cowardly during such a time of crisis. I expect mainstream political news reporters to maintain this air of impartiality, but not opinion columnists.
I don't care if 95 percent of Palast's previous columns mostly criticize Bush. By writing this one, he gives Bush-Cheney's campaign another dart to use against Kerry to try to persuade independents and even Democrats to vote for Bush. Believe me, Bush's people are using Palast's column, sending it out to people and saying, "See, even progressives don't like Kerry."
Some progressives decry the lack of a major candidate who really represents all of their views. If you hang around politics long enough, you will find out that there are few candidates who really do what they say they will. Those who do, such as the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, normally don't stay in office long. The choice in this presidential race, like it or not, is between Kerry and Bush. I think Kerry, as a political moderate, is clearly better than Bush, a far-right extremist liar-hypocrite who suffers from delusions like believing he has a direct line to God. If things don't get better after four years of Kerry, we can elect someone else.
There are some issues in which I don't agree with Kerry, but I'm not going to get into that right now. Our focus needs to be on winning on Nov. 2, and to do that, we have to be more focused than the other side. You know they are going to cheat again to try to steal another election. One way is by rigging the electronic voting machines, many of which are run by companies owned by partisan Republicans. Dr. Peter Mott of Rochester, N.Y., is coordinating an effort to nonviolently occupy Washington if the election is stolen again. If you want to help with that, his email is email@example.com .
It's clear we have to win by a much bigger margin so that even cheating won't make a difference. Remember that Bush is someone who, even as a kid on the playground, would cheat and change the rules of games just to win. He has yet to mature since then.
We also have to do what they do, and use any comments made by Republicans that are critical of Bush against the Bush campaign. Nancy Reagan has told close followers she believes the Bush administration has become too extreme and declined the campaign's requests to speak at the Republican National Convention. When even Nancy Reagan thinks a campaign is too extreme, that gets people to sit up and take notice. We need to make as many Americans as possible aware of Nancy Reagan's comments.
During the week of Reagan's funeral, the former First Lady even "went ballistic" when she learned the Bush campaign was test marketing new ads that used her late husband's photos and speeches to try to show he would support Bush, according to Capitol Hill Blue. She personally called RNC bigwig Ed Gillespie to demand the ads be pulled. They were pulled after focus groups mostly found them in "poor taste."
That story at www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_4935.shtml needs to be widely circulated.
Mainstream newswire service Reuters released another article recently that needs to be widely circulated. It covers how many Republicans are turning against Bush. Ohio Republican Bob Stewart told Reuters that Bush has been a "world-class polarizer." He particularly criticized Bush for trying to get the pope involved in the race.
Then there is this quote from Brian Boland, a music company manager in Nashville, Tenn.: "I've always voted Republican, and my folks will just kill me if they find out I'm switching to Kerry this year ... But I am just frustrated with the way Bush has mishandled everything. All the untruths."
And this from Lloyd Huff, retired director of the Dayton Research Institute in Ohio, who said he will support Kerry after voting for a Republicans in every previous presidential election: "The Bush administration has been the most deceitful, duplicitous, secretive administration this country has ever had. Going to war in Iraq was a horrible, horrible mistake. [Bush has] "an arrogant, swaggering cowboy mentality. He has done more than anyone to inflame the Muslim world by his words and actions."
That story at www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0730-08.htm needs to be widely circulated.
When I see an article like the above I don't just send it out on my email list or write about it in a column. I make copies of it and place them in libraries, bookstores, public buildings, and other places. I even carry some tape and thumb tacks to put them up on community bulletin boards. A flier I use for the Big Bush Lies book is great to post in public places because it contains in large letters the central message of Bush as liar.
I haven't gone as far as freeway bloggers, who put up larger cardboard, homemade signs with messages like "Nobody Died When Clinton Lied" and "Worst President Ever" along freeways. More of those are at www.freewayblogger.com . But that's a good idea; by the time someone takes them down, they are seen by thousands of people.
As the freeway blogger Webmaster says, "Apart from actual prisoners, you won't find a more captive audience than people in their cars.Over the last two years, I've painted and posted over 1,500 signs protesting this bullshit war, and I did it all by myself for a total material cost of less than what some people pay for dinner [excluding gas]. This would not have been possible without a free and ample supply of cardboard from behind my local mall."
It's also good to talk up the positives about Kerry. Jerry "Politex" Barrett, webmaster of the BushWatch site and the main author of Big Bush Lies, did so in saying that Kerry succeeded in his convention speech in portraying himself as "being as tough as Bush, but smarter. In other words, what the nation looks for in a commander-in-chief--.Kerry's direct, to-the-point but human, passionate delivery cut through all the rhetorical show-biz of our political conventions. As Kerry said, this election is the most important of our lifetimes, and the firm, measured tone of the speech with Kerry in control reinforced that reality."
Baltimore songwriter Julia Rose also helps talk up Kerry's positives in another medium: a catchy song called "Kerry Us Through." Julia's song received national exposure on July 30 on the All-American Talk Radio show on Sirius satellite radio. She has also performed the song live on Doug Basham's Las Vegas radio show and at Visions Cinema in Washington, D.C., during well-attended events showcasing the Democratic National Convention, among other places.
Julia wrote the song in March after watching Kerry's New Hampshire speech because she was tired of people saying Kerry can't get young people enthusiastic and that no one was excited about him. All of the points of his speech are in her song, including his phrase, "fairness for all."
In 2003, Julia made national news when she joked that Bush had "chicken legs" during an appearance at a Borders bookstore in Fredericksburg, Va. Though people in the audience laughed and no one left, the store banned her from future appearances. Just for telling a JOKE.
More on Julia and her Kerry song can be viewed at www.juliarose.com.
The rightwing attack dogs who have caused this climate in which singers get banned for telling harmless jokes about Bush are getting dirtier. A recent Ann Coulter b*tch-rant slandered Jimmy Carter for supposedly starting all the problems in the Middle East. Earth to Coulter: They've been fighting in that area for centuries. She further shows how shallow she is by calling Democratic women ugly; I don't know about you, but I think Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry, for starters, are pretty easy on the eyes. And I know a lot of other Democratic women who are really pretty. She calls Democrats the "French Party" in a slanderous attempt to say Democrats will surprisingly try to actually build real coalitions with our allies before invading another country, rather than going it alone and lying about it being a coalition.
Bush himself has the utmost gall to claim John Edwards is not experienced enough to be vice president when the only political experience he had before occupying the White House was as a weak governor during boom times. He spent most of his time as Texas governor working out, playing video games, signing death warrants and appointing wealthy campaign contributors to boards. Bush also has the extreme gall to claim that Kerry doesn't have a record of accomplishment in the Senate -- which he does-- when Bush has no record as Texas governor or president beyond giving wealthy people more money and signing orders to kill people.
The Bush campaign has the gall to question Kerry's military record when their candidate used his family to get into the National Guard during the Vietnam War and then went AWOL. The campaign also has the gall to complain about Kerry's vacations, when Bush goes on vacation about the half the time, including the entire month right before Sept. 11, 2001.
They have the extreme gall to claim Kerry flip-flops and makes himself over, when Bush not only flip-flops and makes himself over, but he LIES.
This is the kind of crap Republicans spew, and they do it consistently on message. Those who really want to get rid of Bush need to learn from that. If you don't have something positive to say about Kerry, hold your fire until after Nov. 2. It's hard enough to battle the increasingly dirtier tactics of the Republicans AND Nader AND other progressives. Don't give them anything they might be able to use against the only candidate who has a chance of getting Bush out of the White House.
Some might see my calling Nader and others "pawns of Republicans" as trying to curb their free speech. That's not my goal. After Nov. 2, Nader and others can say whatever they want about Kerry without me telling them to shut the hell up.
My goal is to help get Bush out of the White House.
My goal is to help convince those who really don't want Bush to remain in that office not to vote for Nader or a third-party candidate.
My goal is to help others not make the same mistake I made in 1980.
Jackson Thoreau, a Washington, D.C.-area journalist, contributed to Big Bush Lies. The book, which author and marketing expert Shel Horowitz called "my favorite of the progressive titles I saw this year," was recently released by RiverWood Books and is available in bookstores across the country. Thoreau's new electronic book, The Strange Death of the Woman Who Filed a Rape Lawsuit Against Bush & Other Things the Bush Administration Doesn't Want You to Know, can be read at http://www.geocities.com/jacksonthor/know.html. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.