Birth date: February 27, 1934
CP: BY ALL MEANS, LET'S GIVE NADER CREDIT FOR THIS ONE 11/10
SCHOR: WILL ALL THE "SAVE NOT-BUSH" GROUPS BE OUT AGITATING FOR ELECTION REFORM? 11/10
SALTER: WHO ARE THESE VOTERS? 11/10
GITLIN: IT'S THE HUBRIS, STUPID 11/10
KAUFMAN: IT'S NOT-BUSH, STUPID 11/10
FRIEDMAN: WE NEED NATIONAL UNITY EXCEPT WHEN IT'S TIME TO ROAST NADER 11/10
BG: SPOILERS? "WE SAVED HIS BACON" 11/10
USA TODAY: DEMS BLAME NADER 11/10
IT: NADER'S IMPACT 'HUGE' 11/10
WEISBROT: WHEN GRIDLOCK IS THE GOOD NEWS 11/9
MOORE: NADER VOTERS DID SWITCH TO NOT-BUSH--AND HE LOST ANYWAY 11/9
RIDGEWAY: FEAR WRECKED THE GREEN PARTY 11/9
SHAPIRO: THE DRUG WAR, NOT NADER, COST NOT-BUSH FLORIDA 11/9
BRODER: NADER 'DELEGITIMIZED' THE ELECTION 11/9
WP: NADER CRITICS ON THE 'I TOLD YOU SO' FRONT 11/9
AP: NADER 'TOOK SOMETHING VERY BEAUTIFUL AND TURNED IT UGLY' 11/9
WP ED: NOT-BUSH COULD HAVE WON WITHOUT NADER 11/9
HOAGLAND: AMERICANS DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY WANT, LET'S BLAME NADER 11/9
COHEN: NOT-BUSH WASN'T CENTRIST ENOUGH 11/9
BG ED: NOT-BUSH 'DESERVED THE PRIZE' NADER SNATCHED FROM HIM 11/9
Dear Nader Watchers:
I'm back in my northern Virginia hotel, having just returned from DC and Nader's last super rally. I've got pages and pages of notes, from the group of marchers I ran into at the Metro Center station and followed up F Street to the MCI Center, to the bracing conversation with the DC Green party co-founder on the sidewalks outside, amidst such delights as the Drag Queen for Nader (marvelous shoes the man had) and a defiant-looking young man with a "Fear Bush" sign no one quite understood, all through the more than three hours of speakers. There was Tom Tomorrow, giving a succinct speech and showing a hilarious "This Modern World" video, called "Flippers of Fury," featuring Jesse Ventura as a Jedi Master type and Nader as the unflappable foe of the Evil Debate Commission (as the Penguin says of the latter, "they're all wankers"). There was Danny Glover, bringing down the house with an impassioned reading of Langston Hughes--"let America be America again." There was Phil Donahue, inspiring in spite of a cold, fearless and frank as we do not remember him from the Chicago talk show days: "You don't go to jail in this country for drinking a beer; you shouldn't go to jail because the cops found a roach in your car," he thundered, and the crowd was on its feet again. Jim Hightower had everyone shrieking with laugher and outrage; Michael Moore followed up with outrage and laughter. When Nader hit the stage, the walls moved.
I'll keep my notes; perhaps they'll be useful someday. But I cannot, after this day, after the last few weeks, with only two days left, offer nothing but a summary of the day's talk. If you've been to a Nader rally, you understand what is meant by the phrase, "the politics of justice and joy." If you've been there, you understand what Nader means when he talks about the path of justice being the road to happiness. If you've been there, you no longer--if you ever did--experience the joyous cheering and shrieks of laughter as somehow inappropriate to Nader's long, complete, sophisticated sentences, or vice versa. If you open your heart and mind to it at all, you experience a kind of rapt, genial acceptance of whatever it is you might in another context find annoying (for me, that would be Patti Smith).
To Nader, you realize, we are all citizens of this democracy. Nothing more, nothing less. He does not speak first to the young people, then to the senior citizens, then to the minorities, then to the women. He does not anatomize us, or ask us to listen only to those parts where we find out "what's in it for us." Nader believes that what we have in common is more important than what divides us, that our real differences should be sources of wonder and joy, not fear and loathing. He believes that we're smart enough to tackle the issues, work out the solution, find our way home at the end. He thinks we all can learn to live with each other in peace and hard work.
The man who is so often accused of being on an ego trip can't quite wait for the applause to die down as he walks on stage, so that he can begin by throwing us back upon ourselves. Nader can't stand it when Gore says "I will fight for you." Nader says, "we will fight for ourselves." The man can literally speak for an hour without using the word "I" more than once or twice. His words are simultaneously impersonal and intimate: the public speech of a public man who knows that political change lives in the heart. It isn't a mushy, saccharine, out-on-the-sleeve heart, either. You know Nader doesn't like Patti Smith's music any more than I do. You know that Nader doesn't know what that has to do with anything. Nader reminds you that there is a way of respect and support which demands more than an uncomplicated "liking." You know that Nader speaks in expository prose, not poetry. Yet you find yourself drawn to his eloquent, unspoken, deeply poetic expectation of what you are: I don't think any of the 12,000 people in that building were asking themselves whether Nader was "good enough" to vote for. Everyone was too busy being, at least for the afternoon, what Nader believes us all to be: resilient, doughty citizens who can make history if we decide to do so.
If you can't get yourself out of the fear-and-cynicism mode that most of the rest of the world seems to be in right at the moment, you won't, of course, have the first flipping clue what I'm talking about here, or what Nader was talking about there. Today I can find it in myself to pity you, if that's where you are. Nader is neither a magician nor a cult leader: he cannot convince anyone who doesn't wish to be convinced. If, however, this valiant little campaign has touched you at all in the last year, and you know what I'm talking about, and you have found yourself dragged rudely away from it by the fear-mongers and cynics, then let me invite you back. It's a place worth being in.
Whatever these super rallies are, they are not circuses. I am reminded of a favorite literary critic's little parable about circuses: we know that the lion is stronger than the lion tamer. The lion tamer knows it, too. The circus stays a circus because the lion doesn't know it. Nader is slipping a certain state secret to the lion these days, and the ringmasters are furious.
I've got no sympathy with the ringmasters; I hate circuses. But I will take joy wherever I can find it. And justice. And the poetry of a very prosaic politics. We are large. We contain multitudes. That's what Nader is trying to say. Doris, 11/5
BUELL: THERE ARE RISKS, AND THEN THERE ARE RISKS 11/7
Editor's Note: We posted an article by John MacArthur a few days ago that is still a must-read. John has asked us to note a correction: David Souter was appointed by George Bush, not Ronald Reagan. It's hard to keep up with editorial corrections on the net, and we're happy to help. Doris, 11/2
YEPSEN: IOWANS, YOU ARE NOT WASTING YOUR VOTE ON NADER 11/2
NFC: THE MEDIA IS THE SPOILER IN THIS RACE 11/2
NICHOLS: DEM ATTACKS ON NADER DESIGNED TO SUPPRESS TURNOUT, JUST LIKE LAST TIME 11/2
COCKBURN: DEM NADER-BASHING IS LOWERING MAIL VOTER TURNOUT ALREADY 11/2
NYT: HALF OF NADER SUPPORTERS COULD CHICKEN OUT 11/2
AP: NADER: 'IF GORE LOSES, HE BEAT HIMSELF' 11/2
WP: NADER: ATTACKS AGAINST ME ARE 'SLEAZY POLITICS' 11/2
TOMORROW: PENGUINS AGAINST NADER-BLAMING 11/2
BRACERAS: EXPLAINING THE PRO-CHOICE NADER VOTE 11/2
PR: DEMS TWIST THEIR OWN HISTORY TO BASH NADER ON ABORTION 11/2
SPPP: NADER-BASHING DOESN'T APPEAR TO BE WORKING IN MN 11/2
KLEIN: THE DEMS REALLY DO THINK WE'RE SPINELESS 11/2
BEAUDOIN: MCCAINIACS OUGHT TO BE NADERITES 11/2
PR: DEMS USE FALSE LETTER TO BOLSTER NOT-BUSH'S RECORD ON U'WA 11/2
SALON: THE ALL-IMPORTANT ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE VOTE ON NADER AD 11/2
NADER: FEAR OF BUSH DENIES THE POTENTIAL OF DEMOCRACY 11/1
NADER: IT'S ABOUT HUMAN NEED VERSUS CORPORATE GREED 11/1
VV: VOICE ENDORSES NADER 11/1
RIDGEWAY: THE DEMOCRATS AND THEIR SPOILER CAMPAIGN 11/1
RIDGEWAY: DEMS SPREAD MORE NASTY RUMORS ABOUT NADER 11/1
RIDGEWAY: IS NOT-BUSH GIVING OHIO TO NADER? 11/1
GOLDSTEIN: NADERITES SHOULD BE JUST AS MISGUIDED AS FUNDAMENTALISTS 11/1
NYT: THE NERVE OF NADER AND THE TENDENCIES OF THE TIMES 11/1
AP: CA CALLS VOTE-TRADING ILLEGAL 11/1
AP: VENTURA CAN RECOGNIZE THE RIGHT TO RUN OF SOMEONE HE DISAGREES WITH 11/1
ZORN: PARODY, POLITICS, AND THE MORALLY SMUG 11/1
SCHEER: NOT-BUSH WON'T DO THE RIGHT THING ON CORPORATIONS, HEALTH CARE, OR WELFARE, BUT LET'S NOT PROTEST 11/1
BUSH WATCH ENDORSES BUSH!!!!
Regular readers of Nader Watch and Bush Watch have probably noticed by now that Politex has decided to devote the latter site to all-Nader bashing, all the time. I expect this will last until the election. As I understand it, the thought here is that it's now too late to continue Bush Watch's long and noble history of exposing Bush as the evil he is. Since that project doesn't appear to have worked very well, it's now time to pull Gore's chestnuts out of the fire for him by blaming it all on Nader. Let's forget about Gore's pathetic campaign, now the populist, now the panderer, now the mature New Democrat, now the money-machine. Let's forget about the incredible sums of cash both Gore and Bush continue to raise and spend, alienating more and more voters. Let's forget about all those "undecideds," who continue to be larger blocs in the polls than Nader supporters. The consensus on the Democratic front has congealed: it's all Nader's fault that Gore is going to lose. If one underfunded, unglamorous, underpublicized campaign that all along has focussed its appeal on folks who don't like Gore anyway hadn't happened, we are invited to believe, Gore would be a safe bet. Or, well, no. He'd be tied in the polls, instead of slightly behind. But it isn't Gore's fault that he can't do better than a dead heat against a vacuous lightweight with right-wing baggage like Bush. It's Nader's fault.
It doesn't really matter to Bush Watch or anyone else on the "Your Moral Duty Is To Save Gore" team that Nader owns Fidelity shares, or doesn't want to release his personal financial documents, or any other of the scandalettes of the day. I know this because I know that people who are comfortable with the lesser of two evils cannot possibly take the position that a candidate must be absolutely perfect, a cult hero, the next incarnation of Jesus Christ, in order to be acceptable. It's just some mud to sling in the last two weeks of the campaign, intended to give Gore supporters a rationalization for their increasingly shrill attacks on Nader, and to pump up Bush Watch's daily hits. It really doesn't matter whether it's true or not, just like it really doesn't matter whether Gore's mother-in-law's dog's medicine costs three dollars or thirty dollars. We know from watching Bush that a brazen liar can manipulate the media into making a trivial liar look worse. Now we know from watching Bush Watch that a brazen hypocrite can manipulate the media into making a trivial hypocrite look worse. So Nader just got Bushed, by those who have been complaining for years about what Bushism does to politics. Any port in a storm, I guess.
Of course, "any port in a storm" could be the motto of the Bush campaign. When it looked like McCain might actually give him a run for his money, Bush made bee-line for his party-machine regulars, who delivered with scurrilious attacks on McCain, funded by outside front groups who needed McCain and his campaign finance reform platform to go away. How could Republicans continue to win elections if "surrogate" groups couldn't spend huge sums of money whipping up the faithful with their fear campaigns: if the liberals win, they'll take away your guns. They'll make your kids turn queer. They'll put pornography on the public school curriculum. They'll give your job to some darky. Bush has been trying manfully for months to put that episode of ruthlessly suppressing McCain behind him, and no one has been more revolted by McCain's own Stockholm-syndrome-style stumping for Bush (we've all seen more convincing performances on hostage videotapes) than Bush Watch.
Now, of course, Gore's in the same boat, and the Democratic response is, once again, to take a page from the Bush campaign. It isn't enough to point out that the Nader campaign is being manipulated by the RNC, which we all knew already has the integrity of a street gang. No, Bush Watch has to accuse Nader--deniably, of course--of actually being in league with the RNC. What difference does it make that Nader is obviously not working with or for the RNC, that he obviously has no control over their decisions to play dirty tricks, or that he cannot be goaded into claiming that they have no right--legal or moral--to run such ads when the Supreme Court has said that they do? None. This is just a piece in the fear campaign: if Gore isn't elected, they'll take away your abortions. They'll put Jerry Falwell on the Supreme Court. They will reduce you to helpless voiceless tools of corporate capitalism, stripping away every civil right you have. The idea here is that Nader can be frightened into doing a McCain--as one of my more juvenile email correspondents put it recently, Nader is supposed to stage an "October Suprise" by "delivering" the election to Bush.
What is happening here is that a vote for Gore has become a vote for Bush. For the belief that no real progress can be made, so we might as well go with an "electable" winner. For the politics of fear and luxury: we vote for Gore because we're afraid of Bush, we vote for Gore because we're afraid of risk. Supporting a way out of the two-party deadlock might have risks, and we can't take those. We want political progress, but not in our backyards. Not if it costs something. Not if it risks having to face a Bush presidency.
No one is less interested in a Bush presidency than I am. No one is more disgusted by the urge to make him an invincible, magical-powered larger-than-life demon, either, capable of getting reactionary politics through a congress that not even his father or his father-figure Reagan, both much better politicians than Bush Jr., could manage, either. No one is less interested in becoming a mirror-image of the Bush campaign than I am. To do that is to hand the victory to Bush and all his willing servants, who need the population to believe that nothing can be done, that Nader's views are "left-wing," not mainstream, that if you step out of line you'll get in trouble, that you should be grateful for the crumbs thrown your way, because if you aren't we'll take the crumbs away, too. In such a climate of apathy, cynicism, and cowering fear, there will never be a better candidate than Gore, there will never be a presidential election that isn't a replay of the last one, there will be no end to the triangulations and sleights-of-hand. Such an environment is, of course, exactly what Bush needs--without this apathy and cynicism, without this sense of powerlessness, without this sense that risks cannot be taken, Bush would have disappeared from the political landscape a long time ago.
So here we are, down to the wire, having an argument about whether it would be worse to put up with Bush for four years, and hope the voters will have learned something, or to put up with Gore for four years, and hope the voters will have learned nothing. This must mean there's a difference between Bush and Gore after all. The difference is not, though, apparent in how they conduct political campaigns. If you believe that things can't change, that we're all just dupes, then you play on cynicism and the fear of things getting worse. If Nader has accomplished nothing else this year, he has finally put paid to the idea that if you don't like what your president does, you can threaten him with your vote. According to the Gore supporters, you can't even do that. If you do, there's a huge political machine waiting for you. After you've endured the spectacle of Bush Watch morphing into Bush For President, nothing will make you want to get involved in politics again, and that will leave the field open for the back-room players who can very easily do without you. Vote Cynical--Vote Gore. You have nothing to lose any longer.--Doris 10/28
Nader Watch is a non-advocacy site paid for and published by Politex, a non-affiliated U.S. citizen.