Sascha D. Freudenheim on 30 Oct 2000 10:38:18 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] One More on Nader & Gore

I think some of the commentary has missed the point: Nader is a force to
deal with, but no adequate attempt has been made to do that.  As long as
his supporters are aware of the possible impact of their choice, then I
support their making that choice.


"Nader Fader," by A.D. Freudenheim
Published on - republished here with the
permission of the author.

With 8 days left until the election, the polls show candidates George W.
Bush with a slight lead over Al Gore: an ABC News poll gives Bush 49% to
Gore’s 45%; a CNN-Time poll show’s Bush with a 49% lead over Gore’s
43%.[1]  Over the last two weeks, as the race has tightened and as
Gore’s earlier lead slips once again, the Vice President has made a
concerted effort to “woo” those more left-wing voters committed to Ralph
Nader, whose Green Party candidacy may be able to capture between 5 and
10% of the popular vote.

Gore’s primary argument, reinforced by the television and radio pundits,
is simple: Mr. Nader could be the spoiler in this race, handing victory
to Bush by depriving Gore of this small, but valuable, portion of
left-wing votes.  The Vice President has appealed to Nader supporters,
and even to Nader himself, to drop this damaging pursuit and unite
behind Gore’s candidacy as offering the best hopes for a left-wing
presidency.  So far, Gore’s pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

As well they should.  Mr. Nader has articulated a fairly specific
platform for his candidacy, and the Vice President has had ample
opportunity to address the differences between them.  Gore could have
attacked Nader’s positions on intellectual or policy grounds, arguing
against them and articulating why he is the better choice.  Or he could
have shown himself willing to adopt some of Nader’s platform planks as
his own, in order to appease Nader supporters.  This has not happened.

Furthermore, Gore had an early opportunity to treat the Nader candidacy
seriously by including him in the presidential debates; instead, he
endorsed the Commission on Presidential Debate’s “policy” requiring that
all participating candidates must be capable of securing at least 15% of
the electorate – as determined by aggregating the most recent popular
polls – in order to participate.  There is no small irony here: the
Republican and Democratic parties, which run the Commission, have deemed
any candidate with less than 15% to be irrelevant from a national
perspective.  Yet Mr. Nader’s 5-10% level of support hardly seems
irrelevant now.

Nader supporters have nothing to be sorry for; standing up to political
expediency should not embarrass them.  In fact, it reflects only as a
naïveté on the part of the Gore campaign that the Vice President thinks
his own personal and political qualities are enough to outweigh
deeply-held political views.  That this type of political expediency
tends to be the name of the presidential game is irrelevant.  If
“Christian right” voters suppress their more conservative instincts when
voting for Bush – whom they believe will deliver for them, even as he
refuses to openly commit himself to them – then they deserve whatever
they get.  In the case of Nader, his supporters do not believe – and
there’s been little evidence to show – that a Gore administration would
substantively address any of the key issues and problems Nader himself
has raised.

Naderites should have no illusions: because of the strong support Nader
has received in states like Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and Michigan,
he may cost Gore the election.  The impact of a Bush presidency on every
aspect of American life will be tremendous, and Nader supporters should
not kid themselves about the damage Bush will do to the things they hold
dear.  But the cycle of political expediency is difficult to break, and
it is difficult to criticize Nader supporters for standing up for their
beliefs.  If Gore wants the Nader vote, his choices are clear; he has
only to choose.  That this will likely serve to reinforce Naderite views
of Gore as wishy-washy and ultimately without a core set of values is a
consequence the Vice President must contend with.

[1]Source: The New York Times, “Bush Has Edge in Presidential Polls,” as
reported by the Associated Press, 8:12am, 28 October, 2000.

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