Campus personalities present and past Rebecca C. Brown and Tommaso Sciortino tackle the issues. This week on a very special CalJunket: Rebecca learns not to chew with her mouth open and Tommaso finds out his best friend is addicted to no-doze.
Friday, February 20, 2004
Consumer advocate, little brother of Cal Anthropology professor Laura, author, 2000 presidential candidate, and 2001 Humboldt County Arm Wrestling Champion (I'll check my sources on that one later) Ralph Nader will announce on Sunday's Meet the Press if he will again be running for pres in 2004. If he does, I'll vote for him, even if it means another four years of trying to defend his actions (and mine) to my friends, family, readers, and millions of invisible, angry Democrats.
Matt Gonzales spoke to my Political Science 179 seminar on Wednesday and explained very eloquently his position on the so-called Nader Factor. In his words, loosely: Yes, Nader was the reason that Gore lost the election in 2000, but what have the Democrats done since then to remedy this problem? They've done absolutely nothing.
Instead of trying to reform the voting system (for example, pushing for runoff voting or IRV/rank voting), they simply harp again and again "Don't vote for Nader because Bush is such a terrible man." Instead of returning to traditional Democratic values, they reiterate "Bush: bad to leftists! Us: tolerable to leftists!"
Congressional Democrats in the past four years have done nothing to appeal to voters who, given the option, will vote for Ralph Nader. Further, they've done little to appeal to voters who still vote Democratic out of fear, but who deep down would rather vote for a third party candidate. Instead, they've appealed to The Center. (Bear in mind, too, that The Center twelve years ago was significantly left of The Center today. Thanks, Bill.) They voted in the PATRIOT Act, they gave Bush a blank check for Iraq, they granted the president the right to go to war unilaterally, and they've failed to push formerly "key" democratic issues like the environment, civil rights, health care, strong education spending, reproductive rights, and so on.
If Ralph runs this year, undoubtedly that cute moniker "spoiler" will on everyone's lips before the election even happens, and the equally attractive phrase "Bush voter in-er" will be stuck to my forehead and the forehead of anyone else who votes their conscience instead of their fears. I encourage you would-be name-callers to consider some points:
- The political process suffers when there isn't real debate. When Bush and Kerry spend two-thirds of their televised "debate" time on the gay marriage issue (that is, civil unions v. anti-civil unions) and zero of it on health care or the environment or education, console yourself with the fact that people like Ralph Nader even exist to present an alternative dialog.
- Kerry, not Nader, can decide who votes for Kerry.
- Nader doesn't just "steal" votes from Democrats, kids! Republicans like him, too. Back in the ol' days, conservatives used to stand for balanced budgets and keeping the government out of personal affairs. According to 2000 exit polls, about 25% of Nader voters would have voted for Bush in a two-man race. (Thirty percent would have stayed home altogether.)
- We live in California, and so long as the assonine, antiquated electoral college is in place, I could vote for Rip Taylor and it wouldn't make a damn difference.
I won't try to tell you that on every issue the Democrats are the same as the Republicans. In the past four years, however, the two groups have been disturbingly similar on the issue of war. No issue this year is more important than the war. The war is the reason our nation is near a $7 trillion deficit. Indirectly, it's the reason our fees and tuition rose yet again. Very directly, it's the reason hundreds of American soldiers and Iraqi soldiers and civillians have been needlessly killed. Kerry plans on putting 40,000 more troops in Iraq. I will not trade a Republican war for a Democrat war.
Having Ralph Nader in the election will, in part at least, prevent the Democrats from forgetting their hand in our current international mess, and has to potential to prompt Kerry to remember what being a Democrat used to mean. At the very least, it gives me the option to not vote for two men who do not represent me, and instead vote for one who does.