Give ’em the boot, you know I’m a radical

Back in the day, I had lot of Chomsky-reading friends I used to argue with about politics. I was often rude, in a hippie-punching kind of way, and I regret that very much because they were right right about almost everything. (Back then, I was a bit more DLC and a bit less Jacobin.)

But there was one thing they were wrong about: Ralph Nader. Library Grape:

Ralph Nader became a parody of himself when he endorsed a Mike Bloomberg third-party bid in 2012, but evidently St. Ralph is now working even harder to convince everyone not to take him seriously with a list (and a lengthy one!) of super-rich people he wants to help combat money in politics cynically use to hurt the Democratic Partyindirectly elect the next GOP president run for president! It’s sort of a strange list, really, mixing your expected financiers and Silicon Valley hotshots with a couple of bizarre celebrity entries (Ted Turner, lol). About all they have in common is that, you guessed it, they would spend a lot of money and that they would take votes away from Democrats and thus elect the next Republican president. Notably, things these folks don’t have in common include: ideology (Tom Steyer seems to be genuinely quite liberal, Thomas Siebel seems to be extremely reactionary, most seem to be colorless moderates and I have no idea what Oprah’s politics are).

I thought this was a joke, but the second link above even goes to some asinine “The Fix” list of which billionaires might be the best candidate.

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119 replies
  1. 1
    Paul in KY says:

    Raplh Nader is a disgusting piece of shit.

    That is all.

  2. 2
    Jim C. says:

    Given how supportive Oprah has been of Obama over the years I think we at least have some idea of what her politics are.

    That aside, yes, Nader is a narcissistic ass.

  3. 3
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    My loathing of Nader cannot get much more intense.

    The man has managed to destroy his own legacy while he still lives, calling everything he’s ever done into question.

    I wish he’d hurry up and die.

  4. 4
    Kylroy says:

    My beef with Nader was not that he got Bush elected or hurt Democrats, it’s that he was massively counterproductive by his own standards: he said he ran to get Americans talking about third parties, and the result of his run was to bury any consideration of a third party for another generation.

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    Nader brilliantly sees that big money rules politics then, wait for it, leaps to the conclusion that only a very rich person can be President.

    First seat belts and now this.

    Cancer, your days are numbered!

  6. 6
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Mining Rancid for titles now? Cool.

  7. 7
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OT, but Noisemax broadcasts Rethug projection all over the place:

    GOP: Democrats Play Politics With Veterans’ Benefits

  8. 8
    DougJ says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    My arguments with these friends were in Berkeley, so I thought it was a good choice.

  9. 9
    debbie says:

    This shows what can happen to an outsized ego.

  10. 10
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Shrugs. Is anyone silly enough to take Nader seriously in 2016? There is no way we are going to tolerate another Supreme Court appointment scenario (with possibly another Bush involved!!!!).

  11. 11
    BGinCHI says:

    @DougJ: The old Chomsky crowd could be pretty easily brought to tears if you pretended not to take him seriously.

    Those were some true believers.

  12. 12
    KG says:

    @debbie: in Nader’s defense, as politicians go, his ego isn’t that outsized. Relatively speaking

  13. 13

    @BGinCHI: I knew someone like that, guess what he does now? Works for Northrop Grumman.

  14. 14
    Emma says:

    I’ve hated him before hating him was cool. A friend of mine has narcolepsy. Let TNH explain: http://nielsenhayden.com/makin.....07140.html

  15. 15
    Ruckus says:

    @KG:
    Measure his ego against humans though…..

  16. 16

    Ralph Nader’s Ego has grown so large it has completely devoured the person Ralph Nader. And also, has anyone ever seen Ralph Nader and Donald Trump in the same room together? Just asking.

    Here’s some good news to close out the week, if anyone needs happy thoughts.

  17. 17
    El Caganer says:

    Nader is in danger of becoming the John McCain of the left.

  18. 18
    SatanicPanic says:

    Oh man, wouldn’t it be great if the beltway settles on Nader as a wise choice for an unaligned, centrist alternative to the two bickering political parties?

  19. 19
    beltane says:

    @El Caganer: At least John McCain is a Senator who was elected by actual people, deluded though those people may be. What is Ralph Nader these days but Donald Trump without the cas*#$?

  20. 20
    linda says:

    He has no clout, even as a spoiler, but he hits a sweet spot among pundits. He’s an ex-hippy who hippy-punches. Because of that he turns on professional contrarians. He can attract attention, like the guys with multicolored wigs at ballgames who hold up Bible verses. And he has about as much influence on the outcome. Except, dammit, in 2000.

  21. 21
    KG says:

    @Ruckus: of course, but you don’t compare Tiger Woods’ golf game to the typical weekend hacker, you compare him to other pros both current and former.

  22. 22
    HelloRochester says:

    Until we have a 28th Amendment, I actually agree with this.

  23. 23
    SarahT says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: What you said

  24. 24
    Jose Arcadio Buendía says:

    Dear Greens:

    Either
    (a) be an actual third party and don’t get mad when Democrats, a different party than you, attack you, hard, just as hard as Republicans or
    (b) stfu and vote for more liberal candidates in the Dem primaries.

  25. 25
    Ruckus says:

    @Emma:
    A gram of good for a ton of stupidity. That’s nader. Always has been. There’s always a just a very tiny bit of right in what he does. But the results are also always stupid and bad. Because he never sees nor cares more than about a millionth of the problem he is talking about. He has no comprehension of the idea of risk, that sometimes risk has real and positive value. He is a true conservative for that reason.

  26. 26
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kylroy: You CANNOT have a 3rd party at the National level, due to the electoral college.

    I mean theoretically you can, of course. You can have 80 parties, but the electoral college forces you to only have 2 as a practicality.

    The only way a 3rd party would ever be viable at National level would be for it to also have at least 1/3 members in House, so that if election went there (due to no one geting 270 or whatever votes), you would have your members there to vote on the 3rd party nominee. Because i can assure you that if a 3rd party nominee got the election sent there & had no one to vote for them in House, the Dem/Repub nominees would get all the votes.

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @DougJ: BTW the Desmond Dekker reference sort of brings Roots Radicals into the area of your songs with song references post from a week ago.

    A high school ex-girlfriend of mine went to work for Nader following law school. She has done quite well with it; I occasionally see her on the News Hour. Nevertheless, the insufferableness of the true believer is what tends to rub me the wrong way about the Naderites.

  28. 28
    Paul in KY says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: That’s a band I would really like to see. If you’ve never heard ‘Arrested in Shanghai’, you need to google it. Very moving song.

  29. 29
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    The “Nader got Bush elected” meme is a comforting piece of revisionist horseshit. Gore got Bush elected by turning his back on the best retail politician in my lifetime and then running such a catastrophically shifty campaign that he didn’t even carry his own home state.

    Yes, Nader is an egregiously self-seeking asshole. No, he did not get Bush elected.

  30. 30
    Ruckus says:

    @KG:
    I compare myself to Tiger. I look a lot, lot worse when I do of course. But at least I’m comparing myself to the way the game is meant to be played, not some Walter Mitty vision in my head.

  31. 31
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    I disagree, and Nader will roast in Greth’or for it. Nader confused things just enough in Florida to allow Jeb to steal it for his loathsome deserting coward brother.

  32. 32
    Goblue72 says:

    He’s a man in love with smell of his own farts.

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Paul in KY: I walked out of an evening Corporate Finance course in law school to get tone of their shows during the And come the wolves… tour. Great show. Also fun telling the professor I had to leave to go see Rancid.

  34. 34
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I’m blog-reading political junkie with a pretty good memory, and I swear this is the first I’d heard of Nader endorsing Bloomberg, though it doesn’t surprise me.

    There were a lot of factors that got Bush close enough to steal it. Gore’s mistakes played a part, so did Nader’s running less for President than against Gore,, so did all the other people (Nader, Michael Moore, Freshly de-Newtized Arianna Huffington, Bill Maher, Tim and Susan) braying to anyone who would listen that there was no difference between Bush and Gore.

  35. 35
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: It’s not horseshit but it’s kind of like blaming the kicker who blows the field goal that could have won the game.

  36. 36
    Jim C. says:

    @El Caganer:

    That would be a huge improvement if it happened. McCain’s reputation as a “Maverick” is about a decade and a half outdated.

    Hell, the man came out in favor of torture when he needed to win the Republican primary back in the day. He may, once in a very long while, annoy the right (not hard to do) but he’s a rock solid reliable conservative vote on pretty much everything these days and in virtually every day prior going back years.

    If we could somehow turn Nader into the liberal equivalent of McCain I’d streak naked through my neighborhood dancing with joy.

  37. 37
    Cervantes says:

    @DougJ:

    they were right right about almost everything.

    Whence the qualification?

  38. 38
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: That’s like saying I didn’t score the winning run in ’51 because Lockman had already driven Mueller in.

  39. 39
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    …and Obama aside, I think Oprah has a pretty Randian personality, if not politics. I think her ratings took a big hit when she came out strong for Obama. A lot of country club, Ann Romney-in-miniature types were put off

  40. 40
    NonyNony says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    It’s not horseshit but it’s kind of like blaming the kicker who blows the field goal that could have won the game.

    Yes. This is exactly it.

    Gore got close enough to lose all on his own. Nader pushed it over the edge. Without Nader, Gore might have won it, but Gore should have been a smarter candidate so Nader wouldn’t have been able to be a spoiler in the first place.

  41. 41
    Paul in KY says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Agree that VP Gore ran a crappy campaign, made some tactical errors, etc.

    However over 90,000 people in FL voted for Nader. If he had not been on ballot, or had indicated that maybe in a battleground state it would be OK for his nutjob-voters to vote for the Dem, then i think you would agree that surely at least a couple thosand more of that 90,000 would have voted for Gore over the AWOL Coward.

  42. 42
    KG says:

    @SatanicPanic: nah, it is horseshit. Gore punted on his home state of Tennessee, Clinton’s home state of Arkansas, and a few other states. There were plenty of states that Clinton won that Gore could have won. He ran a shitty campaign, that’s why he lost. Hell, they probably could have challenged the butterfly ballot if they thought it was going to be a problem.

    And no, he didn’t “win”, he lost. He lost the electoral college, which is the only count that matters. Those who point out that he won the popular vote are akin to those who say that the losing team gained more yards than the winning team.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cervantes: I am thinking that, given the rest of the post, Nader might be one subject about which he thinks they were wrong.

  44. 44
    beltane says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Let’s not omit Maureen Dowd and her earth-tones garbage.

  45. 45
    Paul in KY says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Really cool, Omnes. They are one of bands I really, really want to see sometime.

    Other acts very high on list: The Offspring, Franz Ferdinand, Janelle Monae, Artic Monkeys, OCMS, Cage the Elephant, bunch more, but I won’t list them all.

  46. 46
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yes, I wondered what the other subjects might have been.

  47. 47
    Cervantes says:

    @KG:

    And no, he didn’t “win”, he lost. He lost the electoral college, which is the only count that matters. Those who point out that he won the popular vote are akin to those who say that the losing team gained more yards than the winning team.

    The only count that mattered, actually, was 5-4 on the US Supreme Court.

  48. 48
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    So the fact that Gore chose not to run as the successor of the man who had the highest end-of-office approval rating of any president since WWII had nothing to do with Gore’s defeat?

  49. 49
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @beltane: the MSM hostility to Gore, and benign treatment of W, is a whole ‘nother category, IMHO. The “no difference” concept used to present Dubya as a “moderate”. I forget which two women joined Ceci Connelly in gleefully describing themselves as “the Bitches on the Bus”, frankly admitting their petty and totally unprofessional hostility to Gore– representing the Wapo, NYT and the Fournier led AP, IIRC. I believe Ceci later became an Iraq War advocate on Fox, and now heads up PR for Big Pharma.

  50. 50
    Cervantes says:

    @Ruckus: (1) Do you recall the “debate” debate in 2000? (2) Did you, at the time, have an opinion as to whether Gore should have done more or less to have Nader included in debates?

    (I don’t mean these questions for you specifically.)

  51. 51
    SatanicPanic says:

    @KG: Gore did run a crappy campaign, but that doesn’t excuse Nader’s behavior either.

  52. 52
    Paul in KY says:

    @Cervantes: At time (and today) i didn’t think Mr. Nader should have been included.

    Another 3rd party candidate, I might have a different opinion.

  53. 53
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    It’s true that Gore should have used Clinton, but the fact is, Nader made it possible for Florida to be stolen, and that was the decisive factor.

    Nader’s death needs to be long, painful, and prolonged…like that of children bombed in Iraq. That asshole is indeed responsible for all those deaths in that country…he made that war possible.

  54. 54
    C.V. Danes says:

    Love him or hate him, Nader has as much a right to run for president as anyone else, and if he can get the funding to do so, more power to him.

  55. 55
    Cervantes says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I forget which two women joined Ceci Connelly in gleefully describing themselves as “the Bitches on the Bus”, frankly admitting their petty and totally unprofessional hostility to Gore

    The three women were Ceci Connolly, Kit Seelye, and Sandra Sobieraj.

    They did not “gleefully” describe themselves as “The Bitches on the Bus.” Other reporters called them that. There was (in my view, correctly) some complaining about the use of the moniker.

    (Incidentally, I think their work collectively in 1999-2000 is on par with the worst journalism I’ve ever seen — and I’ve seen a lot of journalism. In other words, I agree with you about the quality of their work.)

  56. 56
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    It’s true that Gore should have used Clinton, but the fact is, Nader made it possible for Florida to be stolen, and that was the decisive factor.

    Unless you want to live in a democracy where we only get to choose from a list of sanitized, pre-approved candidates, then you have to allow for people like Nader to run, and that they will have an impact on the process. Democracy might be messy, but its generally better than the alternatives.

    Not saying that I support the guy. Just saying that he had a right to run, and he had a due diligence to himself and his supporters to run as best a campaign as he could.

  57. 57
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Cervantes:

    The only count that mattered, actually, was 5-4 on the US Supreme Court.

    Exactly. Whatever the actual popular and electoral votes came out to be, Bush was selected by five Republican Supreme Court justices before the voting process could run its course.

  58. 58
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Sure, he has a right to run, but recall that he said he wouldn’t campaign in battleground states. He lied about that, making a very large effort in Florida.

    Enough of an effort to make it possible for others to manipulate events in Florida to install a deserting coward in the White House who would then proceed to thoroughly fuck this county up over the next eight years.

    There is no redemption possible for Nader for that crime.

  59. 59
    Cermet says:

    @Paul in KY: So fucking true and a few hundred thousand people would be alive today in the world who are dead (thousands of children, as well.) That fucking matters big time.

  60. 60
    Cermet says:

    @C.V. Danes: Never would have reach that body of ass wipes if just a small group of Nader’s voters in either New Mexico or Florida had voted for Gore.

  61. 61
    Kylroy says:

    @C.V. Danes: He had absolutely had a right to run, and that run was a colossal failure according to his own stated goal (see my initial comment). If he had shown the slightest inclination to learn or adapt from that failure, I might not assume everything he does is a self – aggrandizing shit show where collateral damage to the weakest members of American society is just assumed. But he didn’t, so I do.

  62. 62
    Avery Greynold says:

    I re-read Unsafe At Any Speed recently, and had he died a few years after he would be one of our saints. Instead, he has lived a very full life. Full of himself, and full of shit.

  63. 63
    eemom says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Thank you — I was beginning to wonder if I’d landed in some alternate universe where a Ralph Nader thread could exist without folks fighting to the death over whether 2000 was his fault or not.

  64. 64

    @Paul in KY: You CANNOT have a 3rd party at the National level, due to the electoral college.

    I think you really mean you can’t have a 3rd party president. We already have “independents” in Congress, but they’re so few and far between that they’re not even a minority.

    What really prevents a third party is the winner-take-all system. Multiple parties are only reasonable in proportional-representation systems like most European Parliaments (which have their own drawbacks of course). In our system, the best thing for a third party to do is act as a coherent faction of one of the two ruling parties.

  65. 65
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cris (without an H):

    Multiple parties are only reasonable in proportional-representation systems like most European Parliaments (which have their own drawbacks of course).

    Here’s my question whenever third parties and multiple parties come up, though — even in Europe, how often does the minority party get to have the leadership or Prime Minister-type position? I think it’s pretty rare, if it even happens at all. So it ends up being more a case of who gets certain cabinets or plum positions than actually getting to direct policy like you do if you’re the larger party that makes a coalition with smaller parties.

  66. 66
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @eemom:

    I’m pleased to have aided in fulfilling your expectations!

  67. 67
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    In Germany in the late 20th Century, the FDP often formed a coalition with one side (SPD) or the other (CSU/CDU), and they never got the top spot. Usually something major in the cabinet, often the foreign minister spot, and defacto deputy leader of the government.

    A lot of other countries wind up being defacto two party systems most of the time, such as Britain. Then there are incredible messes like Israel, where microscopic small parties wind up dictating all sorts of policy to the major players as the price of support for a coalition.

  68. 68
    Paul in KY says:

    @C.V. Danes: He knew he HAD NO CHANCE OF WINNING. 2 other people had the chance. He helped one of those other 2 tremendously.

    That’s why he is scum.

    He did have ‘right’ to run, just like any other citizen who meets the basic requirements.

  69. 69
    Heliopause says:

    Don’t know about your Chomsky-reading friends, but Chomsky himself has long advocated (1) in a close election hold your nose and vote for the Democrat, (2) in a safe blue election vote for whomever you please, even a “protest” candidate, (3) or not voting at all is often also a defensible position.

  70. 70
    Paul in KY says:

    @Cris (without an H): There is no electoral college at any level other than President. In all those other races, it can breakdown like this: Winner got 39%, 2nd place got 34% and 3rd got 27%.and winner goes to Senate or whatever, even though 61% voted against them.

    That cannot happen at Presidential level, without it going to House (where Dems/Repubs will pick the winner, even if 3rd party person is the one with the 39%).

  71. 71
    Cervantes says:

    One amusing aspect: you have (1) a post by DougJ, that leads to (2) a post by Library Grape, that leads to an article by Wesley Lowery, that leads to (4) a post by Aaron Blake — and only if you scroll to the end of item (4) do you actually get a chance to see (5) Ralph Nader’s own words in context.

    Microcosm?

  72. 72
    Paul in KY says:

    @Heliopause: People who don’t vote are called idiots whose political opinions don’t matter.

  73. 73
    Gene108 says:

    @KG:

    There was a lot more going on with regards to politics in the 1990’s that came home to roost in the 2000 Presidential election.

    1. The right-wing scandal mongering of President Clinton, along with aggressively pushing culture war issues by the Right, helped push the South into the Republican hands.
    2. The economy was on solid footing (the dot.com bubble aside, which did not impact the broader economy when it burst), with wages rising and people feeling comfortable for the first time in a generation, I think no one felt threatened if Gore lost. I mean what is the worst Bush, Jr would do? Cut taxes?
    3. The facade of the right-wing media being purely partisan trash had not been exposed. It still had the Buckley veneer of “seriousness”, so the themes they introduced skated into the national debate without examination, ie Gore invented the internet. I do not think the right-wing media got exposed for what is until 10-12 years ago, so it is easier for President Obama to brush aside a report from The Washington Times.

    Also, what undermined Gore that does not get discussed is the fact Bush, Jr had raised a then record $300 million, to Gore’s significant, but enough, total of $170 million. Kerry had the same problem in 2004, with not having money to contest everywhere Bush did.

    McCain had a similar problem in 2008 against the unprecedented fundraising juggernaut that is Barack Hussein Obama.

    So why didn’t Gore contest TN? One reason is he did not have the money on hand versus Bush, Jr to do it and still compete in places like FL.

  74. 74
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Paul in KY:

    He knew he HAD NO CHANCE OF WINNING. 2 other people had the chance. He helped one of those other 2 tremendously.

    That’s why he is scum.

    No one who is not running as a Republican or Democrat has a chance of winning. So, by that logic, no one other than a Democrat or a Republican should run?

  75. 75
    Kylroy says:

    @Gene108: I agree wholeheartedly. Though I still vehemently disagreed with Nader backers at the time, I was somewhat sympathetic to the idea that there wasn’t much space between the two candidates; I just didn’t think throwing the race to the worse one would accomplish anything good. And I think few people (including anti-Nader folks like me) had any idea just *how* disastrous the Bush presidency would be.

  76. 76
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Kylroy:

    If he had shown the slightest inclination to learn or adapt from that failure, I might not assume everything he does is a self – aggrandizing shit show where collateral damage to the weakest members of American society is just assumed. But he didn’t, so I do.

    Oh, I agree that he should have kept the good fight at the consumer level. But, unfortunately, being a maniacal bastard does not preclude someone from running for office.

  77. 77
    Paul in KY says:

    @Gene108: All good points, Gene.

  78. 78
    Kylroy says:

    @C.V. Danes: Not if they intend to win. So if they’re running and not delusional, we should assume they are hoping to accomplish something with their campaign.

    Nader stated his goal was to get people to look beyond Republicans and Democrats when it came to electoral politics. And he failed at that. So I judge his 2000 run as a failure, and his inability to see that as a sign that he is someone to not take seriously.

  79. 79
    Kylroy says:

    @C.V. Danes: So you’re down with calling Nader a “maniacal bastard”, but suggesting his 2000 run was a bad idea is a bridge too far?

  80. 80
    Paul in KY says:

    @C.V. Danes: That’s not the logic, although if you really do want to have a legitimate shot at winning, you need to run as a Democrat or as a Republican (IMO).

    Since any sane 3rd party candidate knows they will not win, they must think of which of the 2 major party candidates they would prefer to win. I think it is undeniable that Nader prefered Bush to Gore, and did concrete actions to help Bush. I cannot forgive that.

  81. 81
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Enough of an effort to make it possible for others to manipulate events in Florida to install a deserting coward in the White House who would then proceed to thoroughly fuck this county up over the next eight years.

    Only Nader can know what was going on in his mind. But it seems to me that a common misconception of third parties is that they will naturally defer and caucus with the major parties they are most closely ideologically aligned to. But that is not necessarily the case. There’s a reason they are separate parties, and sometimes those separations have consequences. Who you vote for has consequences.

    The question for me is: what has the country learned after the 2000 election and 8 years of the Bush/Cheney fiasco? Not a whole damn lot. And not a whole lot is going to change until we get rid of the electoral college and go with a straight majority vote.

  82. 82
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Kylroy:

    So I judge his 2000 run as a failure, and his inability to see that as a sign that he is someone to not take seriously.

    So don’t :-)

  83. 83
    liberal says:

    @Paul in KY:
    Really, the most fundamental reason why third parties don’t work well in our system is much more basic: the first-past-the-post voting system.

  84. 84
    liberal says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Unless you want to live in a democracy where we only get to choose from a list of sanitized, pre-approved candidates, then you have to allow for people like Nader to run, and that they will have an impact on the process. Democracy might be messy, but its generally better than the alternatives.

    At a very abstract level, yes, but given a first-past-the-post system, no.

    Such candidates who actually want to help the country should run in the Democratic primaries.

  85. 85
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Since any sane 3rd party candidate knows they will not win, they must think of which of the 2 major party candidates they would prefer to win. I think it is undeniable that Nader prefered Bush to Gore, and did concrete actions to help Bush. I cannot forgive that.

    I don’t think I have ever heard Nader say that, but I could be wrong. He’s not someone I follow on a regular basis.

    There are many reasons that people run as third party candidates. Some run to try and move a party one way or another. Some run just to make a statement. Some run the best campaign they can and let the chips fall wherever they may. Certainly, Ross Perot has not received the same level of scorn as Nader, and he probably had a much closer chance of winning if he had stayed in, and not left and come back. What would things have been like, then?

    The fact is, in my opinion, Nader ran his campaign, and the voters in Florida voted for whoever they wanted to vote for. Blame them, and Gore for not sticking to his guns and seeing the recount all the way through to the bitter end.

  86. 86
    liberal says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    I thought the point is that they actually get a vote in Parliament, regardless of leadership positions.

    In the US, the net effect of first-past-the-post and local winner-take-all is that the left and somewhat-left-of-center have very little representation in Congress.

  87. 87
    C.V. Danes says:

    @liberal:

    Such candidates who actually want to help the country should run in the Democratic primaries.

    If they wanted to run in the Democratic primaries, they would be Democrats :-)

    I am not a Democrat, but I generally “caucus” with them on election day, and perhaps that is why they don’t even bother to stop by my house and ask my opinion. They just take it for granted that I’ll agree that they’re the only game in town, until I don’t, and then I’ll be the a-hole who threw the election.

  88. 88
    Gene108 says:

    @Gene108:

    I just want to add, if you look at the EV on 1992, Clinton/Gore not only handily carried their Southern home states, but also LA and GA. There was a real chance the charismatic young President could roll back Republican gains in the South, if he succeeded in proving government “is the solution” for many people’s problems.

    I think that fear is one reason they had to tear Bill down and that legacy of personal vindictive hatred, to keep the South Red, spilled over to Gore in 2000 and Gore is not as good a politician as Clinton.

  89. 89
    C.V. Danes says:

    @liberal:

    In the US, the net effect of first-past-the-post and local winner-take-all is that the left and somewhat-left-of-center have very little representation in Congress.

    I agree with that. In fact, I think you could make the case that the reason this is, is that the Democrats routinely fear no credible threat from the left, and thus do whatever they want if they’re in a safe district. The only fear that Democratic candidates have in close races is from the right. Something we could learn from Tea Party, in a “learn from your enemy” kind of way.

  90. 90
    Paul in KY says:

    @liberal: They can win here in one of those races where they win with 37% of vote, just not a presidential race.

    1st past post is a huge hinderence as well to any lasting 3rd party.

  91. 91
    Paul in KY says:

    @C.V. Danes: I think you may be in wrong blog to get ‘scorn for Mr. Perot’. I always thought he would take votes away from Republican candidate, so I was OK with him running.

    Mr. Perot was alo nutty enough to think he had a shot, until he came to realization that he didn’t.

  92. 92
    Mnemosyne says:

    @liberal:

    I thought the point is that they actually get a vote in Parliament, regardless of leadership positions.

    If you get elected to Congress as a third party, you get a vote, too — Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat, and I think there are a couple more third-party folks in the House.

    In the US, the net effect of first-past-the-post and local winner-take-all is that the left and somewhat-left-of-center have very little representation in Congress.

    Representation isn’t much without a coalition behind it — again, that’s why Sanders caucuses with the Democrats rather than standing alone. That’s why small parties in other systems form coalitions — so they have a block of votes they can use.

    As others have said before, the only real difference in the US system is that the negotiations/coalitions mostly happen within the two major parties rather than having a bunch of small parties that coalesce together.

    And though I hate to use the “center-right nation” phrase, there are a LOT of places in the US where it’s difficult to get someone from the left or left-of-center elected. Sure, you’ll send some from places like California or Vermont, but you’re not going to have much success running left-of-center in Mississippi.

  93. 93
    Paul in KY says:

    @C.V. Danes: But don’t blame the crackpot who ran a delusional campaign & suckered gullible fools into throwing their vote away.

    Gotcha!

  94. 94
    Paul in KY says:

    @C.V. Danes: No, you’ll be the dip that votes for Repubs/3rd party dinguses ;-)

  95. 95
    am says:

    Rancid! Nice.

  96. 96
    Gene108 says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    But the reality is, at many levels, the Right had been better organized and especially better funded than the Left, which is why right-wing challengers sprout up. I think the better organized part has shifted, with regards to issues like the minimum wage, but the Right has more money to bring to bear on issues.

    Also, I think the Left has a ” Green Eggs and Ham” mentality about liberal policies, in that if we only tried single-payer, for example, Americans would like it despite the hissy fit thrown before approval. In part this leads to a tone deaf view of voters and their concerns, which I think will hurt a “flaming” liberal challenger.

    The far right nut-jobs that beat out the Repiblican Party front-runner have cost Republicans several races, because when they stop preaching to the choir they struggle to connect with voters.

  97. 97
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Paul in KY:

    But don’t blame the crackpot who ran a delusional campaign & suckered gullible fools into throwing their vote away.

    Your assuming that the “gullible fools” who voted for Nader would have voted for Gore, or even voted. Only they know why they voted for who they did, and its not for me or anyone else to change that unless we want to live in an authoritarian government.

    Look, I think it sucks that Gore lost. I can’t even imagine how different things might be today if he had won. But I can say with some certainty that Obama probably wouldn’t be president right now, or that Bush might have won in 2008 after a conservative backlash to 16 years of Clinton/Gore politics. Who knows? So maybe things worked out (marginally) better after all, and Nader not so much of a villain?

  98. 98
    Cervantes says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Only Nader can know what was going on in his mind.

    Technically true.

    But if one wants his explanation, it can be found here:

    Crashing the Party: How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for President — Taking on Corporate Governance in an Age of Surrender. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2002.

  99. 99
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Gene108: Money does speak, and when it speaks, it tends to speak very loud. That much is true.

    The whole issue is very complicated, for sure, and it defies an easy answer. The conservative universe feeds off of hate, fear, and paranoia, while the liberal cause merely asks that we strive to be better human beings, to ourselves and to each other. Seems like an easy sell to me, but perhaps not :-)

  100. 100
    Kylroy says:

    @Paul in KY: Perot also pulled about 19% of the vote . Far from winning, but way more than any third party candidate since the Civil War not part of an intraparty civil war (I.e. Bull Moose). He may have been crazy to think he could win, but not crazy to think he could accomplish something.

    Granted, he *didn’t*, but I feel that somebody who gets nearly a fifth of the votes in an election is in a different category than a 1.5% spoiler candidate.

  101. 101
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Another thing; 9/11 was going to happen no matter who was president. The Republicans would have hung that around our necks for next 50 years. Hellooo President Palin.

  102. 102
    Kylroy says:

    @C.V. Danes: See, no. No no no no no. You don’t get to credit Nader with Obama’s election. I admitted up thread that damn near nobody on either side of the left’s Nader-based divide had a clue just how awful the Bush presidency would be. Yes, it was so awful that the backlash gave us our first black president, but you can’t credit Nader with that unless you blame him for 9/11, the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina response, and a bunch of other awful crap that the neoconservative cabal did while their power was largely unchecked.

    I prefer to judge folks by what they say, and what they did. Nader said he wanted to get people to look at third parties, and he failed miserably at that while aiding Bush’s election. He’s a failure at best, and a useful idiot to the neocons at worst.

  103. 103
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    Don’t know about you, but I think another president might not have ignored the whole ‘Bin Laden determined to attack U.S.’ memo thingie.

  104. 104
    Kylroy says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Actually…The intelligence community consensus on Clinton’s approach as he left office was “overall good, but a little too hung up on Osama Bin Laden”. I will readily concede that *some* major terrorist attack might have been inevitable, maybe we’d be talking about 11/5 or something instead of 9/11, but a continuation of the Clinton administration’s policies would have drastically lessened the chance of it coming from OBL.

  105. 105
    dr. luba says:

    Was the Corvair really unsafe at any speed?

    The 1960-1963 Corvair models targeted by Nader were at least as safe as comparable car models sold in those years. This conclusion, ironically, came from a 1972 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    My neighbor owns a classic Corvair with a vanity plate: F NADER.

  106. 106
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Nailed it in one.

  107. 107
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @El Caganer:

    Nader s in danger of has becomeing the John McCain of the left.
    Fixt

  108. 108
    Colby says:

    The thing about the “Gore gave up on TN!” thing is that TN went hard to the right in the mid-90s, and he hadn’t been directly elected from TN since 1990. You might as well argue that he didn’t contest Louisiana or something.

  109. 109
    EconWatcher says:

    I saw Nader speak when I was in law school, before he got into electoral politics. He was genuinely inspiring in explaining to a group of law students why they might want to do something with their lives other than just shilling for the highest paying corporate law firm. He was funny and even a bit self-deprecating.

    I find it hard to reconcile that guy with the egomaniac he turned into later. But I wholeheartedly join in Paul in Ky’s current assessment.

  110. 110
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dr. luba: Porsches of the era had swing axles and rear engines as well. Both had a tendency toward oversteer. You will find automotive journalism of the period noting that most Porsches that went off the road went ass first. A good driver can use oversteer to his/her advantage. An inexperienced driver can easily get into trouble. The Corvair (my dad had ’65 Monza) was not really compact car for Everyman; it was a small performance car – note that its replacement was the Camaro.

  111. 111
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: For what it’s worth, John DeLorean, who was an executive at GM during the period in question, later described the decision to produce the Corvair as “immoral.”

    I’ll post a proper quotation if I manage to find my copy of On A Clear Day before I manage to forget about the whole thing.

  112. 112
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cervantes: I am aware of DeLorean’s comments. I think trying to sell the Corvair as an ordinary compact was a mistake. Selling it as a slightly larger, less expensive domestic alternative to the Porsche 356 series would have been reasonable. FWIW that was what my dad saw and why he bought it. Whether marketing it that way would have generated sufficient sales is another matter.

  113. 113
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Do you happen to have handy DeLorean’s comment re the immorality of the product? As opposed to how it was positioned in the market, I mean.

    If memory serves, DeLorean was not quoting Nader.

    (Thanks.)

  114. 114
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cervantes: No, but I’ve read his book. My personal view on the morality of selling it is intertwined with how it is marketed.

  115. 115
    Gordon, the Big Express Engine says:

    @dr. luba: a few years back I went to the Goodwood Revival, a vintage auto racing weekend south of London, where autos from the 30’s thru the 60’s are showcased. Our suite was right above the pit and during one of 60’s races, a Corvair with California tags (“Nader” ) burst into flames right below us. No one was hurt and it was hilarious!

  116. 116
    Ruckus says:

    Most assuredly not a GM nor Corvair fan but the car was not that bad when compared to other cars of the time. It wasn’t a good car but neither were it’s direct competitors. Had friends(including me) who had all of the cars it was sold against, they were all crap. They were all unsafe at speed. Could the Corvair be better. Absolutely. Could every other car of that time? Absolutely. But he didn’t argue about all cars he argued about one.
    As I said up thread Nader always has a tiny bit of truth/correctness about everything he says or does. But he misses the bigger picture every time and charges ahead like a stubborn 7 yr old with that one point, painting a picture of doom and horror unless he gets his way. He wants to be the smartest kid in the room but he just isn’t.

  117. 117
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    No, but I’ve read his book. My personal view on the morality of selling it is intertwined with how it is marketed.

    Sorry, I missed the point you were making. Got it now, thanks!

  118. 118
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: About John DeLorean’s comment re the immorality of the decision to sell the Corvair, here’s a passage from Alex Taylor’s Sixty to Zero:

    In his most serious charge, DeLorean contended that GM knew about the safety problems of the Chevrolet Corvair before production began and failed to remedy them. Claimed DeLorean: “Charlie Chayne, vice president of engineering, along with his staff, took a very strong stand against the Corvair as an unsafe car long before it went on sale in 1959. He was not listened to but instead told in effect: ‘You’re not a member of the team. Shut up or go looking for another job.'” DeLorean wrote that he feels that the decision makers were “not immoral men.” But, he added, “These same men in a business atmosphere, where everything is reduced to costs, profit goals and production deadlines, were able as a group to approve a product that most of them would not have considered approving as individuals.”

    I had in mind a passage from another book but this one will do.

    Also, people (not you, perhaps, but others) criticize Nader for criticizing the Corvair exclusively, but that’s not what he did in his book. And if in one chapter of his book he focused on the Corvair and not on its also-unsafe competitors, perhaps he had a reason.

  119. 119
    Cervantes says:

    @dr. luba:

    The 1960-1963 Corvair models targeted by Nader were at least as safe as comparable car models sold in those years. This conclusion, ironically, came from a 1972 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    Nader’s book had 8 chapters; only one was about the Corvair.

    @Ruckus:

    Most assuredly not a GM nor Corvair fan but the car was not that bad when compared to other cars of the time. It wasn’t a good car but neither were it’s direct competitors. Had friends(including me) who had all of the cars it was sold against, they were all crap. They were all unsafe at speed. Could the Corvair be better. Absolutely. Could every other car of that time? Absolutely. But he didn’t argue about all cars he argued about one. As I said up thread Nader always has a tiny bit of truth/correctness about everything he says or does. But he misses the bigger picture every time and charges ahead like a stubborn 7 yr old with that one point, painting a picture of doom and horror unless he gets his way. He wants to be the smartest kid in the room but he just isn’t.

    Nader’s book had 8 chapters; only one was about the Corvair.

    If he did focus on the Corvair in one chapter, perhaps he had a reason. People who aren’t distracted by Florida 2000 should read his book; maybe even those who already have read it!

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