I just cannot let go of my belief that a strong third candidate in the US, or a strong third party would force a move away from the centre right politics of the Democrats. It seems that most Americans who lean to the left, or most I’ve been in contact with, have no hope that such a strategy would work. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you can undertake the creation of a candidate and a party for purely strategic reasons. However, there is nothing wrong with standing behind a politics you believe in as part of an attempt to move political discourse in a more progressive direction. In my book, everyone wins.
One factoid which is often referred to as the reason that third party politics won’t work in America is the effect that Ralph Nader’s candidacy had on the 2000 election when, apparently, many people think he was responsible for the defeat of Al Gore. I’ve never thought that was the case and finally, I’ve found an American who agrees:
This is one of the most pernicious of the DLC TP’s because if you buy into it, it freezes all political action contrary to DLC policy. It leaves no viable options to DLC control of the Democratic party and conservative Blue Dog control of leadership in Congress. Which is, of course, why they spend so much time propping it up. Here’s Mr [Al] Giordano’s take, only a slight variation on the usual DLC canard:
Too many progressive activists suffer from the illusion that if they leverage a candidate during a campaign that getting him or her to say one thing or another will later translate into policy. Ironically, it was Ralph Nader that pioneered that view of activism and we can all see to where it has naturally led him and some others after the frustration of decades of believing, despite the bad results, in a tactic that did not work.
Honesty is “a tactic that did not work”? A non-running campaign by a candidate who never expected to win and didn’t really want to is your template? Of course the more usual spike against Nader, of which this is a junior cousin, is that Gore lost the election because Nader split the Democratic vote just enough to make it close enouigh for Bush to steal.
Balderdash. Utter nincompoopery.
Let’s stick with the guilty parties, shall we? BUSH OPERATIVES STOLE THE 2000 ELECTION AND A FAR RIGHT SCOTUS AFFIRMED THE THEFT. Nader’s candidacy made NO DIFFERENCE to the outcome. It couldn’t have. The Bush operatives were going to steal enough votes to ensure his win NO MATTER WHAT. Anybody who doesn’t get that doesn’t get what the last 8 years have all been about, or understand the true nature of modern conservatism. Nader is innocent.
But by presenting Nader as an incalculable problem, a menace, and the reason Bush won, the DLC can fend off what they must know is the rebellion that will come from the Left. After all, they hijacked the party and turned it into a haven for moderate and not-so-far Right Republicans who run as Dems, then vote with the Pubs. It’s a way for the conservative DLC/BD Alliance to maintain power in the face of a challenge from the party base, who are mostly FDR Democrats and civil libertarians. If they maintain control of the national party, the New Democrats, the base’s only option is the formation of a Third Party built along Old Democrat populist lines. If the DLC is to prevent that, they need to make – and keep – the base scared about Democratic losses leading to future George W Bushes, a frightening propect indeed.
The problem for the DLC, of course, is the question of just how far they can go to the Right before the base doesn’t care any more and abandons them anyway, understanding at last that the New Dems are just going to continue to vote with the Old Pubs. That realization is going to happen sometime – is probably beginning to happen right now – and the tactics the DLC has picked to keep it at bay are the unsurprising right-wing tacks of minimizing the importance of the Democratic party’s betrayal of its roots and its base, and ridiculing anyone who doesn’t think the way they do as “Chicken Little’s” or worse. We’ve seen all this before, but it’s usually coming from the GOP. They have to keep us scared to keep us from bolting their corporate-friendly Republican-model party, and they know if we thought there was a snowball’s chance of fielding a significant third party challenge, we’d do it. So Giordano, playing the GOP/DLC game, warns us that if we disagree with his and his masters’ assessment, we’re stupid dissenters.
[T]he highest calling of patriotism is not dissent. It is smart dissent, that based not on self-indulgence or the blurting of one’s frustration’s out in ways that seek to share the panic or the misery, but based on – even sometimes against great odds – building the objective conditions by which we will win the important battles worth fighting.
Got that? If you disagree with his definition of “smart dissent”, you are self-indulgent, “blurting” (a word usually applied to very young children) out your “frustrations” because you don’t understand how they endanger the “important battles”, of which, naturally, the FISA isn’t one, you Chicken Little.
Wow. See Witness for the Prosecution for the full brilliance!