sky_mykyta on 31 Oct 2000 04:14:07 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Article: The Protest Vote

This article from 
has been sent to you by Sky Mykyta


No matter which way people are voting, the mere fact that they will take the time to vote is a good thing. In a country like the US, where the voter turnout is dismal, it's great to see someone inspiring normally disenfranchised people to feel that their votes can actually count.

My two cents :), 

Sky Mykyta

/-------------------- advertisement -----------------------\

Sign up for's Campaign Countdown E-mail

With the presidential election around the corner,
we are offering a daily campaign e-mail to bring 
you the latest developments in the race for the White 
House.  Our Campaign Countdown e-mail will include 
information on the candidates' daily activities, the 
latest campaign news, the most important poll results 
and more.


The Protest Vote

October 30, 2000


 The Desperation Index, a reliable election indicator, shows the
Gore campaign rocketing up the desperation charts.

 Only yesterday, Joe Lieberman   after renewing his offer of
respects to America's most virulent anti-Semite   found nothing
wrong with a TV spot paid for by the N.A.A.C.P. that associates
George W. Bush with dragging a black man to death. While
Republicans condemn such below-the-belt ads by extremist
supporters, desperate Democrats accept all the racist or
senior-scaring help they can get.

 Nowhere is Democratic desperation more evident than in the
liberals' savaging of Ralph Nader. The same crowd that stood on
principle for Pat Buchanan's right to draw votes from Bush now
frantically accuses Nader of hypocrisy, egomania and unforgivable
spoilerism for daring to offer voters a chance to voice their

 Certainly the enthusiasm for Nader in "safe" Democratic states has
given disaffected liberals a place to go other than to Bush. But
let's take a closer look at the conventional wisdom as expressed by
Minnesota's Democratic chairman, Mike Erlandson: "I don't think
there are a lot of Bush votes hiding in the Nader vote."

 That's based on what happened in 1968, when George Wallace's
support "came home" to Hubert Humphrey in the final weeks. But
though the message of "not a dime's worth of difference" in major
parties is central to Nader's campaign, the nature of the protest
vote has changed. 

 I think the legion of liberal Nader- bashers is mistaken. I
suspect that at least one in three of those in the electorate now
leaning toward Nader would otherwise be voting for Bush. 

 Who are these right-wing protest voters? Among them are hard-hat
union types, frustrated at the support of Nafta by both Bush and
Gore and the fecklessness of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. With the Reform
Party split and the collapse of Buchanan's campaign, they have
gravitated to Nader; the more the liberals attack him, the more
that iso-conservatives are willing to overlook his far-out

 Another segment of Nader's Republican support comes from
small-business owners and employees. They see both Republican and
Democratic leaders acquiescing in the most competition-crushing
mergers of corporate giants. Years ago, the G.O.P. was the champion
of trust-busting and the protector of diversity in the marketplace,
but now smaller entrepreneurs, mom- and-pop businesses and farmers
have no political home. Nader is their way of sending fat cats a

 Others on the right feel that their personal privacy is under
attack and neither major party gives a hoot. 

 They   on this particular subject, make that "we"   don't like
being crowded by ever-increasing government surveillance or stalked
by a growing army of Internet commercial snoops. Libertarian
conservatives worry about financial and academic records, as well
as medical records and pharmacy bills, being passed around by
conglomerated banks, insurance companies and H.M.O.'s. Personal
freedom is diminished when the most intimate secrets can be
monitored by employers and merchants. 

 Nader declares "the use and sale of Social Security numbers by
private firms and most government agencies should be banned." Gore
says so, too, but Clinton has waffled. Bush's Senate ally, New
Hampshire's Judd Gregg, is pushing a bill to exempt commercial
snooping firms from state laws that would protect citizens from the
sale of S.S.N.'s. Privacy advocates, long disillusioned by the
Democratic White House, were stunned at how easily Republican
leaders were manipulated by credit-agency lobbyists. 

 Protest movements grow when people doing a slow burn on specific
issues have no place else to go. Nader offers a healthy outlet for

 Contrary to Nader's claim that he's running against Tweedledum and
Tweedledee, Bush and Gore differ on plenty   taxation, education
reform, missile defense   but where they fail to compete, the
consumer advocate offers millions a way out of apathy. 

 Today the 66-year-old Nader drives desperate liberals up the wall
by draining more of "their" votes; tomorrow he may wipe the smirk
off conservative faces as he siphons off more votes loyal
Republicans presume to be "ours." 

 But the votes he gets are not any party's votes. Each one is a
voter's protest vote that says to major-party pols: don't take me
for granted.   

The New York Times on the Web


Visit for complete access to the
most authoritative news coverage on the Web,
updated throughout the day.

Become a member today! It's free!


For information on advertising in e-mail newsletters 
or other creative advertising opportunities with The 
New York Times on the Web, please contact Alyson 
Racer at or visit our online media 
kit at

For general information about, write to  

Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company

Nettime-bold mailing list