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February 05, 2007

Knock it off, Nader

Ralph Nader is leaving the door open for a presidential run in '08.

I wonder if Nader has already started cultivating Republican donors. Last August, Paul Kiel of TPM Muckraker revealed that GOP donors funded the entire drive to get the Pennsylvania Green Party on the ballot.

In fairness to the Greens, it should be noted that Nader ditched the party in 2004 to seek the presidency as an independent. Then too, Nader garnered significant Republican support in terms of dollars, but not votes.

By July 2004, one in ten of Nader's major donors were Republicans:

[T]he financial records show that $23,000 in checks of $1,000 or more have come from loyal Republicans. Among those who have given recently to Nader are Houston businessman Nijad Fares, who donated $200,000 to President Bush's 2000 inaugural committee; Richard J. Egan, the former ambassador to Ireland, and his wife, Pamela, who have raised more than $300,000 for Bush; Michigan developer Ghassan Saab, who has given $30,000 to the RNC since 2001; and frozen food magnate Jeno Paulucci, and his wife, Lois, who have donated $150, 000 to GOP causes since 2000 alone.

All have donated the maximum $2,000 to Nader's campaign since April, records show. [SFGate]

Nader is practicing the politics of passive aggression. He has done more to discredit the third party alternative than any politician in our lifetime.

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"one in ten of Nader's major donors were Republicans"

One in ten isn't a lot. How does that compare to the percentage of Republicans who donated to John Kerry or Democrats who donated to George W. Bush?

In fairness to Nader, he did save us from a Gore presidency

The boy does have an ego

Phantom
Houston Airport

The Phantom:

If Al Gore were president, we would have a budget deficit, a negative personal savings rate, and be stuck in a quagmire in Iraq.

No, wait, that is what happened because we have a conservative president.

Is there any Constitution Party candidate we can prop up? This will be especially useful if Giuliani wins the nomination; with any luck, the Constitution Party will snatch so many Evangelical votes that the Republican Party will turn hard right and bleed moderates. This is more or less what has happened in Oregon.

Anyone interested in drastically changing the status quo in D.C. from corporate-ATM to agent-of-the-people will find no resonance among the upper brass of either party, yet as a laudable goal, it finds traction among the rank-and-file of both major parties. According to a recent LA Times poll, 60% of Americans think the much-hyped Ethics "Reform" package won't change a thing, as, in my view, without an independent oversight committee, the inmates will still be running the asylum. Rather than railing against pluralism you might want to focus your ire on the lack thereof.

Oops! You tripped over my pet peeve! Passive aggression is aggression accomplished by not doing anything. Running for president is not passive. It may be perverse aggression, but it's not passive.

For all of his talk about opposing big money influence in politics, Nader actually spent more per vote than either the Democrats or Republicans in both 2000 and 2008 according to www.politicalmoneyline.com and other sources. Nader has become a bigger pain for the Democrats than that wacky convicted felon, Lyndon Larouche, who used to represent the U.S. Labor Party but now runs for President as a Democrat with a bizarre platform.

In reality some of the small Socialist parties have far more meaningful platforms for their candidates, yet some these small parties often seem to hope that the Democrats will win as being a far better alternative than the Republicans. But Nader just doesn't seem to care.

Australian elections allow voters to cast two ballots. You can vote for a Socialist party on the first ballot, and the Australian Labor Party on the second ballot as a backup. The party with a majority of ballots on either ballot is declared elected.

One major problem with the electoral college that we have is that far less voters in some small states like Wyoming represent one elector than voters do in large states like NY or California. This seems to violate the one man, one vote rule and gives disportionate power in the electoral college to Republican candidates. All three times that a candidate was elected by the electoral college that lost the poular vote has been Republicans. 1876, the re-election loss of Grover Cleveland to Benjamin Harrison, and the 2000 loss of Al Gore who won the popular vote by over 500,000 votes has been due to this built-in Republican advantage in the electoral college. Reform or abolishing the electoral college seems like a reasonable path to promoting more democratic and free elections. This way small parties may run candidates, but only the candidate with a majority will be eventually elected due to a runoff of the top two unless one has a majority in a prior ballot.

Paul Hasoon:

I am sure that the Founders did not intend there to be a "Republican" advantage when they drafted Articel 2, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution. In fact, when the Constitution was drafted, the current way we view Dems-Reps was not even in existence.

This Electoral College whining started in 2000. And the Dems are the ones whining. We have used the electoral system for 200+ years and the left holds up Al Gore as the poster child for "We got screwed by the EC". Jeez! Pathetic.

The Founders established the EC and I trust their vision much more than I do any political thinker today. Let the status quo be, because anything developed in this day and age will be blatantly partisan and not nearly as effective as the EC.

Nader has become a bigger pain for the Democrats than that wacky convicted felon, Lyndon Larouche, who used to represent the U.S. Labor Party but now runs for President as a Democrat with a bizarre platform.

Become a pain? He was totally inconsequential to the 2004 election, and it's hard to imagine how it would be different this time. I mean, I guess he could draw votes if the nominee was Biden, but for some reason that doesn't seem too likely...

LaRouche, meanwhile, is just totally hilarious.

I look forward to a slew of "Are you dumb enough to vote for Ralph" cartoons. If I had artistic talent, I would draw various self-destructive acts in a series leading up to that vote, like sticking a fork in an electric socket, playing stickball on I-95 at noon, "going in there" to the horror house when the audience is screaming "don't go in there", holding up a sign saying "%#)@& the Teamsters!" at a Teamsters' strike, believing George W. Bush's word on any topic and voting for Nader. Or better ones, there are much better possibilities.

Dear B-Money. The concerns about the unfairness of the electoral college system started after the 1876 election in which Democrat Samuel Tilden won the popular vote with nearly 4.3 million votes to Republican challenger Rutherford Hayes much smaller 4.0 million votes. But Hayes was elected president by an electoral college vote of 185 to 184 votes due the built-in bias in the system that favors both small states and Republicans and gives disportionate strength to these small Republican states.

In the 1888 election, the outcome was even more absurd. Democratic President Grover Cleveland won more than 5.5 million votes to 5.4 million votes for Republican Benjamin Harrison who garnered 5.4 million votes, but the electoral college votes didn't even closely resemble this result with Harrison elected president by the e;lectoral college vote of 223 to 168. Again the Republican bias built into the electoral college elected yet another Republican who lost the popular vote.

In the 2000 election, Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote by more than 540,000 votes over challenger George Bush, but lost the electoral college to the Republican challenger. In reality just a small number of voters in Florida were given the opportunity to decide the presidency, not the 540,000 more voters who voted for Al Gore.

This is an absurd system that three times has elected losing Republican candidates president that went against the popular vote of the public. This isn't democracy.

Matt T., Nader's role in 2004 was indeed a concern to the Kerry camp if the vote was close like 2000. But Kerry made other tactical errors including saving $14 million for possible electoral college legal challenges instead of spending this campaign money in close states like New Mexico, Iowa, Nevada and Ohio.

The Kerry campaign strategy was interestingly bungled. It was not a true 50 state strategy, but only spending campaign money in select states to win the magic 270 electoral votes. With this strategy, Kerry fell 2 points short in the popular vote and lost the electoral college as well. With at least a win in the popular vote, the Kerry position for a legal challenge to the election would have been greatly enhanced. But instead it was a clear loss in both the electoral college and popular vote. The 2004 election at least turned out where the winner of the popular vote and the electoral college were the same.

In the close 1976 election, there was some evidence that some Republicans connected to the Ford campaign used Lyndon Larouche to drag down Jimmy Carter and raised some questions of dirty Watergate style tricks in the Ford campaign. Lyndon Larouche closely followed visits to states by Jimmy Carter with literature and speeches claiming that Carter intended to start a "thermonuclear war" when elected, but had nothing negative to say about Ford. One Ford campaign official pretty much admitted using LaRouche to their advantage. Some even once wondered if Larouche was part of a CIA dirty tricks campaign at one time to ruin Democrats and hold on to the White House for conservative Republicans.

Bruce, that's an excellent idea for a series of photographs. Anybody want to be a model?

"Nader is practicing the politics of passive aggression. He has done more to discredit the third party alternative than any politician in our lifetime."

Well said, Lindsay. I couldn't agree more.

Thanks, Kathy.

Michael, Nader's career in electoral politics strikes me as classic passive aggression towards the Democratic Party. You could argue that true passive aggression would simply be to withhold love from the Democrats because they aren't doing what Nader wants.

On the other hand, a lot of passive aggressive behavior is displaced aggression.

Sure, Nader criticizes the Democrats, but instead of being upfront like Rush Limbaugh, Nader adopts the comparatively passive strategy of sabotage while pretending to be a progressive. Instead of tackling his issues with the Democrats head-on, as many pundits and activists do, Nader is pretending to be building a third party while running (mostly) to sabotage the Democrats.

Isn't it interesting how Dems get all indignant about the 2000 fiasco, but somehow their leaders never get around to making fixing the electoral system a priority? Yeah, Nader's turned into a hypocrite, and for that he deserves our derision.

But save a little of the bile for everybody else who likewise fails to do anything helpful, not to mention sells us out at every turn. They actually have real power, and their accomplishments aren't exactly first-rate.

Paul: Three out of 50+ elections and you say that what the Founders established is un-Democratic? Come on man, these men were much smarter than you or I. I think they did a pretty damn good job.

The purpose of the EC is to protect the integrity of the voting system. If we did away with it, what need would there be for 40 states to hold elections? The urban centers, and the states they are in, would decide who gets to be President. Some how this seems un-Democratic, does it not? But you would probably like that, given your leftist bend and the fact that urban areas tend to vote for DNC candidates.

And I like how you completely ignore the fact that when this EC was established, there was no GOP-DNC like we have today. You seem to make accusations against the Founders that they were somehow pro-GOP. How absurd. The EC was a purposeful design at the behest of the samller states, similar to the two house legislature. Basic con law, know it, learn it, live it.

Bruce, that's an excellent idea for a series of photographs. Anybody want to be a model?

I could do it...

But save a little of the bile for everybody else who likewise fails to do anything helpful, not to mention sells us out at every turn.

I do that, too. I've run out of titles that include the words "Edwards" and "untrustworthy opportunist" (I avoid ever having two posts with the same title on my blog). I've called Obama a Dominionist and Clinton a power-hungry faux liberal. Nonetheless, there are seven candidates in the race right now: Giuliani, Obama, Brownback, Clinton, McCain, Edwards, and Romney. Supporting anyone else, except maybe some marginals like Richardson and Gingrich, is as good as urging people not to vote. Of these I happen to think the (Democratic) Dominionist is the best and Lindsay thinks the untrustworthy opportunist is, but that's a far cry from not criticizing them when they do bad things.

Also, fixing the electoral system is never a priority, unless it's blatantly unfair, as in massive disenfranchisement level. You need political capital to pass those reforms; but if you have that political capital, there's no point in not using it to pass your agenda.

1876, the re-election loss of Grover Cleveland to Benjamin Harrison, and the 2000 loss of Al Gore who won the popular vote by over 500,000 votes has been due to this built-in Republican advantage in the electoral college.

The advantage the Republicans get from the overrepresentation of rural states simply balances out the advantage the Democrats get from winning states by smaller margins in Presidential elections. If the system were exactly one person, 1/(2 + number of Congressional districts) votes, the Republicans would be sweeping every Presidential election with ease.

If we did away with it, what need would there be for 40 states to hold elections? The urban centers, and the states they are in, would decide who gets to be President.

And indeed, people in rural France don't even bother to vote, since the President is elected nationwide.

Come on man, these men were much smarter than you or I. I think they did a pretty damn good job.

Newton had a couple dozen IQ points on me, and I still think that there's more to the world than the inverse square law of gravitation and the three laws of motion, and that light is a quantized phenomenon.

If we did away with it, what need would there be for 40 states to hold elections? The urban centers, and the states they are in, would decide who gets to be President.

And why would anyone in my apartment building vote? All those other buildings will decide who gets to be president! And why would left-handed people vote? The tyranny of the righties would surely win the day.

B-Money and Aeroman, your vote would actually count for more in a direct and democratic election without the electoral college. If you didn't bother to vote and your candidate loses by even one vote, then it's your fault. The electoral college actually removes the ability of many millions of voters to have any impact. One electoral vote in a small state represents maybe only 300,000 voters, but more than 1 million voters in some large states. Why should an electoral vote in Wyoming be worth three times the voter value of one electoral vote from NY or California? Don't the voters in NY and California deserve to have their votes fairly weighted.

True the Founding Fathers established some sort of representative electoral system, but not specifically the electoral college as practiced. This system is only a bad intrepretation of the meaning of the Constitution, and certainly not the best interpretation at that.

Because of the electoral college, most of the electioneeering is only in a small number of states that are considered "in play" anyway by both major nominees for president. Many states are never visited during a campaign by either candidate because they are considered either safely a red or blue state. You can blame the electoral college for this where many voters don't matter and are ignored in the general election.

Under a popular vote system, every vote matters, and candidates would seek votes in every state. Every state has cities that are more Democratic and rural areas that are more Republican, only encouraging voters to turn out in greater numbers than the other side.

Some voters on the West Coast don't bother to vote when it looks like a candidate has won in the electoral college before the 8PM Pacific time polling station closings. With a direct election, every vote matters.

Another possibility to prevent Washington gridlock is a parliamentary system, and eliminating presidential elections entirely, where the majority party in congress picks the leader. This would make Nancy Pelosi both leader of the house and president, much like Britain or Canada.

The parliamentary fix requires a constitutional amendment, while abolishing the EC in practice requires states with 270 electoral votes to agree to pledge their electors to the popular vote winner.

More importantly, Britain and Canada are for most intents and purposes unicameral, while the US is strongly bicameral. It could adopt an Italian-style solution, wherein the Prime Minister must maintain the confidence of both houses. Or it could just abolish the Senate, or otherwise relegate it to relative weakness as in Canada or even Germany.

On the other hand, if you want to go that far, you might as well just reqrite the constitution. I was once into that, along with redrawing state boundaries to make more sense (e.g. putting Newark in the same state as New York). The shtick I used was to not just abolish the Senate, but also create subordinate legislatures that were very much like Congressional committees or subcommittees, except that they were elected. There were 30 of these, and each person could vote for five, in addition to a vote for the House and a vote for the President. For example, if I could vote in US elections, I'd probably vote for the sub-legislatures for defense, foreign policy, civil rights, health care, and science. Someone with a more populist focus, such as Edwards, might vote for the sub-legislatures for health care, welfare, taxation, education, and housing. I even had a long blog post about the whole program back when I used an alias.

Well Paul and Alon, you can forget about the system changing. If you want all the things you reference, move to where they have those political systems. I do not say that in a demeaning way. Merely stating that there are places that have those types of governmental systems.

This is the system that is in place. To remove it, would require a constitutional amendment. Not going to happen. But keep whining, maybe that will work!


"And why would anyone in my apartment building vote? All those other buildings will decide who gets to be president! And why would left-handed people vote? The tyranny of the righties would surely win the day."

aeroman being an ass again. Must you always flame? So childish.

"Newton had a couple dozen IQ points on me, and I still think that there's more to the world than the inverse square law of gravitation and the three laws of motion, and that light is a quantized phenomenon."

Well, whatever you said. Good luck with that. I was merely pointing out that they developed a system that has been very effective. The ideas being set forth today are just silly. Nationally, we are a representative republic, not a democracy. One vote, one person is not the system. Nor will it be in out lifetime. On the local level, yes, one person one vote is alive an well. And in your day-to-day life, those elections aremuch more relevant.

Lindsay,

Is Nader on record somewhere revealing his secret plan to "(mostly) sabotage the Democrats"? We can (and should) argue the effectiveness of third parties on Progressive politics, and we can speculate that RN is an egomaniac (though it seems like a double standard to me. Who else gets castigated for less than pristine motives?) But to present as settled that Nader's motivation is primarily fueled by antipathy borders on paranoia. (That's not to say antipathy isn't plausible.)

To me, opposition to a Nader candidacy has a whiff of elitism about it, as though Progressives (or the general public) can't be trusted to vote the right way, and must have thier choices limited by people that know better. Most people can do the math, as they showed in 2004 when Nader got barely more than 1/3 of one percent.

He has done more to discredit the third party alternative than any politician in our lifetime.

I think an equally valid case could be made that the vilifying of Nader has significantly contributed to the discrediting of the third party concept. Is it really just to put all the responsibility for progressive fraction on Nader? We've all planted our stakes in the ground (sometimes more than once). Don't all our commitments have repercussions?

Daily Kos has a summary of timetables for withdrawal from Democratic candidates. By using data from various sources, these times can be translated into estimated additional dead U.S. soldiers, reported Iraqi civilian deaths, and cost of the occupation:

Clinton: 23 months, 1500 U.S. military deaths, 57,000 reported Iraqi deaths, and $183B.

Edwards: 18 months, 1200 U.S. military deaths, 43,000 reported Iraqi deaths, and $143B.

Obama: 14 months, 900 U.S. military deaths, 32,000 reported Iraqi deaths, and $111B.

If we're not going to allow third party candidates, it would be nice to have an "electable" candidate who not only finds this situation intolerable but also has the courage to do something to stop it sooner rather than later.

"Nader is practicing the politics of passive aggression. He has done more to discredit the third party alternative than any politician in our lifetime."

are you serious? you're saying nader is worse than fucking ross perot? i know a large number of people who would not have even voted in 2000 if he wasnt on the ballot. we can talk all we want to now, after the fact, that those votes could have gone one way or another. but people voted for him for a reason - they wanted an alternative to the bullshit we have now.

i agree with the cat who said dissing nader strikes as somewhat elitist. i think it's some really elitist, liberal "we know better than those crazy lefties" crap. plus it's just so old and tired. nader might have made some mistakes but he's spent most of his life fighting for good, progressive causes, unlike most politicans. that's why he energized a lot of voters that year.

Did you read the article I linked to in this post about how Nader is slinging mud at Hillary Clinton with more vehemence than a right wing talk show host? He's calling her a "panderer and a flatterer" and saying she "doesn't have the resolve," etc. That's not a constructive alternative to politics as usual, that's just Ralph's unbridled hostility and egotism (and dare I say, envy?). At this point, he's in it to lash out at Democrats.

Even back in 2000 Nader used to say that it would be better if Bush won.

Ralph Nader did invaluable work back in the day. Now, he's destroying his own heroic legacy.

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