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Why do "they" blame Nader?

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Ralph Nader, speaking at BYU's Alternate Commencement
(Image by Wikimedia Commons)
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Let me start out by saying, there are two distinct groups of "they", each with their own reasons and agendas for claiming that Ralph Nader lost the election for Al Gore in 2000.

The most visible and virulent, of course, are the sour-puss Democrats. I understand how they feel. Which is why I have no respect for them any more.

Disclosure: I was raised working class in Detroit, when unions were strong. I don't think I even met a Republican for my first eighteen years. Certainly my parents, their friends, and everyone within 50 miles of the trailer park we lived in was Democrat. Until 1996, I voted as a knee-jerk Democrat.

So let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

The presidential election of 2000 was decided in Florida. Almost 6,000,000 people voted. Al Gore lost to George W. by 537 votes. There were massive irregularities in the election, including 54,000 alleged felons who were disenfranchised of the right to vote. Most turned out to not be felons at all, and 54% of them were African-American, a demographic highly likely to have voted for Al Gore. Also, there were all sorts of problems with chads and double-voting, usually attributable to weirdness with vote tallying and the ballots themselves.

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Having said that ...

97,421 people voted for Ralph Nader. It is assumed that had these 97,421 people not voted for Nader, they would have voted for Al Gore and he would have swept the election.


But even before I get into that, why don't they rail against the 538 registered Democrats who were too lazy, too drunk, too preoccupied, too busy shacking up with some honey, too hooked on some soap opera or sitcom, or maybe too stoned, to get off their lard asses and vote for Al? Why pick on people who made a considered, deeply principled decision to take a stand against the rabid conservatism of the right -- aka the Republicans -- AND against the sell-out and betrayal of the progressive left by the Democrats?

It's no secret. Bill Clinton and Al Gore were responsible for tilting so far to the political right they gutted the Democratic Party of its core values. True progressives -- the kind of people who responded to Nader's message -- comprising the 97,421 that voted for him in Florida, were finally fed up with the Democratic Party, its pandering to big business, its pathetic cowering to bubble heads like Newt Gingrich.

If Ralph Nader had not been on the ticket, most of those 97,421 would have stayed home. Because they -- like yours truly -- had had it up to their widow's peak with the Beltway's business-as-usual, resented Clinton's pivot to the right, and were stunned if not horrified by the corporate takeover of the Democratic Party.

I admit I was charmed by Clinton. I loved his humor, his persona, his sax playing. He was -- and still is -- a brilliant speaker, a real charmer. But remember, this is the man who led the charge for deregulating Wall Street and the abolition of Glass-Steagall, initiated the subversion of the social safety net with his aggressive attack on welfare, and foisted on a gullible nation the horrible trade agreement known as NAFTA.

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Yes ... NAFTA!

I remember watching the debate between Al Gore -- who by then I found both articulate and in his robotic way extremely mesmerizing -- and Ross Perot. I recall my reflexive and now embarrassing rooting for Al, wanting him to put that ugly little jerk in his place. But guess what? Al was wrong! I was wrong! Ross Perot was dead on the money. NAFTA has turned out to be, just as Mr. Perot predicted, a very bad deal for America.

That was just the tip of the iceberg. Much of the Clinton-Gore agenda -- Mr. Gore's commitment to the environment being the commendable exception -- turned this country completely around. But in the wrong direction!

When the 2000 campaign got underway, many of us were getting wise to this. Growing numbers of voters were becoming restless, disenchanted. I sat in the huge coliseum in Portland, Oregon, where 10,000 people paid to hear Ralph Nader speak. That's right, we paid for tickets like we were going to a Sting concert. That's how desperate people were becoming for a presidential candidate who talked straight and made sense.

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John Rachel has a B. A. in Philosophy, has traveled extensively, is a songwriter and music producer, a left-of-left liberal, and has spent his life trying to resolve the intrinsic clash between the metaphysical purity of Buddhism and the (more...)

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