Apparently a significant number of people are under the impression that events have now occurred that will show Ralph Nader the error of his ways. Without speaking for Nader, I’d like to point out why, as an unrepentant Nader voter, I have not yet been shown the error of mine.
I never had any delusions about George Bush Junior being a satisfactory president. I believed and continue to believe he’ll be the worst we’ve ever had. However, I believe that Albert Gore Junior would have come pretty close to that mark himself. To the shouts of “What do the Greens say now?” that accompany every destructive, bigoted, and oligarchic move Bush makes, I reply, “What would Gore have done differently?”
This is unfair, of course, since my claims that Gore would have been nearly as bad cannot be tested. But his party is still around, although you may have to squint and strain to see it. Those senators busy rolling over and approving Bush’s cabinet nominees? They belong to the party of Al Gore.
We also have Gore’s past performance and campaign promises to go by. Now that he’s lost, are we expected to pretend that he would not have turned his cabinet over to the servants of weapons manufacturers, that he would not have picked the “toughest-on-crime” attorney general within his half of the republicrat party’s ranks, that he would not have given short shrift to environmental and labor concerns?
Gore was able to make one appointment, that of his vice-presidential nominee. He picked someone who, like Ashcroft, had difficulty placing public service above service to his religion, someone indentured to destructive corporate interests, someone intent on promoting everything Nader voters opposed. What do Nader voters say now? “We’re so terribly sorry. Please forgive us for not allowing more Liebermans to gain power.”
Of course, Lieberman is still in power, having shown about as little loyalty and faith in the Democratic ticket as many traditionally Democratic voters did. More Democratic voters in Florida took the small step over to supporting Bush than the leap to backing Nader. The Democratic party picked Gore as its candidate over Bradley. Truly admirable Democrats like Wellstone didn’t even attempt to gain their party’s corporate-controlled backing. Despite such a lousy ticket, it took a Supreme Court coup to steal the election away from the Democrats. But let’s not discuss such matters. It might distract us from our anger at Ralph Nader.
Nader expressed hope that Bush might be so bad he would wake up concerned citizens, possibly including Democratic members of Congress, so that they would take action on behalf of democracy and justice. If the Democrats do find it easier to be leftists now that Clinton and Gore are not pushing all the right-wing policies, we may be much better off. If they do not, it may help to build the Green Party. If, however, they half-awake and make some token efforts, or we all sit back and fantasize about how good Gore would have been, Bush may turn out to be a bigger disaster than even Nader expected.