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Thursday, March 06, 2008

118 - Blasting, Ever So Gently, Wayward Progressives: Why Nader Supporters Should Rethink Their Position

Ralph Nader recently announced he's running yet again this year for President. I originally thought a segment on that would be a QuickBlast, maybe 2 or 3 minutes.

But the more I thought about it, the more things I realized I had to say.

And the more important I realized the subject was.

What you're about to hear has a wider applicability than just Ralph Nader, and a more durable shelf-life than just this year's election.

It applies to everyone thinking of third party voting in '08, and beyond; to everyone who denigrates electoral politics, this year and thereafter; to everyone who is contemptuous of strategic voting when worldwide life and death issues are at stake, now and in the future.

Discussing the Nader candidacy also provides you and me the opportunity to review what 8 years of right-wing rule has actually meant, not just in theory, but to flesh and blood humans. And hence to establish the stratosphere-high stakes in the '08 elections.

If a runaway train is heading towards you, all you want first thing, is it to be stopped. You don't care if the person stopping it is a great person, you don't care whether they'll reverse the train, if they understand how to prevent runaway trains, or if they'll improve our national rail system.

First and foremost, right now, you just want the damn train stopped in its tracks.

You and I are facing a runaway train, the right-wing project to transform this country into a system of economic feudalism and soft fascism. Another 8 years of right-wing control of the reins of government, and we may well be past the point of no return.

So the mantra today is, stop the runaway train! Cast a vote that will serve to eject the right-wing from control of our government.

Stopping the runaway train is job #1 now, without which we may well be unable to do any other job.

Voting for Nader doesn't accomplish that, and could produce the exact opposite result.

Persuading Nader voters to vote Democratic may well be one of the most direct, effective ways to Blast The Right in the next 8 months...

In the podcast, I'll give you cold hard polling numbers from 2000 that prove Nader cost Gore the election.

You'll hear why supporting Nader is completely illogical.

I'll sketch for you some of the real policy differences between right-wingers and Democrats, not least of which is what will happen to the Supreme Court.

And, I'll let you know in no uncertain terms what gets me the most furious at Nader supporters who say they don’t care if their actions wind up electing a right-winger:

It's their cavalier attitude towards the suffering of others.

I'll detail for you some of the additional human misery, suffering, pain and death that will be inflicted on the innocent in a continuation of right-wing rule, compared to even an admittedly-flawed Democratic administration.

A bonus: I've included in this feed, the "Ralf Na'dir" strip by my friend, syndicated cartoonist Matt Bors.

(PS: Right-wingers, if you want to write in to me, fine, but at least do me the courtesy of listening to the podcast first. Please don't respond just on the basis of the brief preview above. Thanks!!)

Programming note: Until April, there will most likely not be live shows on alternate weeks.


Jack Clark 2:27 PM [+]
Post #7392399578177058015


Comments:  This section is for listeners. To receive a reply from Jack Clark, you should call the comment line.














































I can understand the pragmatic need to vote for the Democrat over Nadar, but I must object to Jack's vifilication of progressives who want their causes addressed. Are they really that deserving of his ire? What were the progressive causes served by eight years of Clinton? NAFTA? Cutting welfare? Choosing the just barely left-of-center over the right winger is an improvement, but we shouldn't settle for it. We also shouldn't alienate our friends and fellow progressives by equating them to right-wingers, which I where I think Jack crossed the line. If you want to bring these people back into the fold and away from the Nader cult of personality, it's with honey and not with vinegar.
posted by Anonymous Will  4:55 PM   [+]
 
The corporate political duopoly has operatives who steer people away from considering voting for anyone outside of their handpicked servants. One of the tools these operatives use is loaded language to instill fear, uncertainty and doubt in having society go off in any of the infinite ways possible. In this manner "democracy" is managed to keep it on a carefully guided course with carefully selected "leaders" to serve the interests of the powerful. It works beautifully. In the last presidential election fewer than 1% of voters were able to shake off the fear and doubt caused by the efforts of these operatives and make a positive vote for a just, progressive society. Instead, they sent a message to Democrats that the Patriot act and Iraq war are just fine, and to continue with business as usual. These operatives are just as culpable for the state of being we are in as any "right winger" would be.
posted by Anonymous Kurt Prochnow  9:01 AM   [+]
 
I'm not so worried about Jack's 'tone', but I think he misses this imporant point: when is there not a looming conservative train wreck? It is always the case that a weak liberal is better than an hard right conservative, so when CAN we vote our issues instead of pragmatics?

By Jack's calculus progressive issues will be deferred forever and so the political compass ratchets inexorably rightward. All we get is a gradual asymptotic approach to fascist hell instead of a rapid descent. No matter how many concessions we make there's always a wilder righter stance to nominally oppose by swallowing our gorge and voting for yet another lesser evil quisling.
posted by Blogger MaskedMarauder  1:51 PM   [+]
 
Rational? Nay. Radical? Hardly. This blog is by a thinly veiled corporate apologist.
posted by Anonymous e-jones  2:29 PM   [+]
 
Good-Bye Jack. You are not a progressive left-leaning person. You are a Democratic party fanatic.

What the US needs is a progressive thinking democracy not the Comic-Book system that exists today where there are two sides (From Jack's point one super evil one super good). Having legitimate 3rd parties (and more) would give people a choice. Right now citizens can vote right-wing or slightly right of center. That is not much choice and not very democratic.

I prefer to stay away from podcast that simply hipocritical in support of their love for a specific political party that can do no wrong.

Sorry Jack I will unsubscribe because I know your arguments for the next 40 years - nothing to learn from this podcast.
posted by Blogger duanet  5:51 AM   [+]
 
I listened to the latest Podcast with great interest and dismay. I was hoping for a great argument from Jack to help balance my true progressive views and why I might want to rethink casting a vote for Nader. However, I was only met with disappointment when the "rational radical" sounded like the rest of the mainstream in their denunciation of Nader. Your recent Podcast has lost you another listener. You should have been more honest with your centrist views and used the "lesser of two evils" metaphor instead of a "runaway train."
posted by Anonymous Kaj  3:56 AM   [+]
 
I listened to the latest Podcast with great interest and dismay. I was hoping for a great argument from Jack to help balance my true progressive views and why I might want to rethink casting a vote for Nader. However, I was only met with disappointment when the "rational radical" sounded like the rest of the mainstream in their denunciation of Nader. Your recent Podcast has lost you another listener. You should have been more honest with your centrist views and used the "lesser of two evils" metaphor instead of a "runaway train."
posted by Anonymous Anonymous  3:58 AM   [+]
 
Getting a sensible government is the priority, in my view a democratic administration is sensible where the republicans are not even if mccain seems more reasonable than bush.

In order to make this change possible nader should not make it more difficult for the democratic to win. If I were him I would "threaten" to run and try and get some concessions from the democrats before the election and then tell my voters to vote democratic.

Just a view from over the pond.

/anders
posted by Anonymous anders strandberg  3:12 AM   [+]
 
People commenting here are really showing their ignorance by lashing out. Have they listened to the podcast beyond this episode?

One wonders. Because Jack, someone who organized civil disobedience against this country's support of death squads in the 80s, is not placated by the Democrats nor an apologist for them.

Rather, he recognizes the way to STOP moving toward fascism is to prevent another Republican from getting in office. Keeping the Supreme Court moderate is far more important than making a statement with a Nader vote.

From there we can keep on the Dems asses and, hopefully, eventually get REAL progressives elected.

The people who will suffer most from the 50 year darkness of a right wing supreme court won't be the educated white liberals that support Nader. It'll be the poor, the homeless, the disabled, the elderly, immigrants, single mothers.

If you expect a perfect candidate to vote for than you're either delusional or selfish. If you want better from your country and election system, join the club. But a vote for Nader won't get us there.
posted by Blogger Matt Bors  10:06 AM   [+]
 
matt bors: From there we can keep on the Dems asses and, hopefully, eventually get REAL progressives elected.

I've been voting for the lesser of two evils for over 20 years, when should I expect the payoff? The Dems keep going right, right, right, right, ... etc.

We can't "keep on the Dems asses" when they can count on us to vote for them no matter what they do or don't do as long as the Republican is worse.
posted by Blogger MaskedMarauder  12:33 PM   [+]
 
"I've been voting for the lesser of two evils for over 20 years, when should I expect the payoff?"

Not in your lifetime. We will probably see improved healthcare, social programs, and have far better chance of avoiding war with Iran if a Democrat is elected. The broad changes many progressives want will take a long time to get done. Things can start to get better by electing working a democratic majority--not voting for Nader.
posted by Blogger Matt Bors  5:01 PM   [+]
 
matt: ... We will probably see improved healthcare, social programs, and have far better chance of avoiding war with Iran if a Democrat is elected. ...

Did that in '92 & '96 and we got NAFTA, welfare clawbacks, union busting, no healthcare, no peace in Palestine, war in Yugoslavia and more. Did that in 2000 and 2004 and we got Bush both times.

Why would any sane person suppose its going to change now while the two leading Democrat candidates are talking like old-style Republicans?
posted by Blogger MaskedMarauder  4:42 AM   [+]
 
I would just have to say: do you think the 90s would have been better with a Republican president? Would it be better if Ginsberg was not on the Supreme Court and instead another Scalia?

For all Democrats faults, I can't understand when people say there is NO difference.

The Supreme Court hangs in the balance. Which presidential candidate has promised to appoint right-wing nuts and which haven't?
posted by Blogger Matt Bors  3:59 PM   [+]
 
As promised Jack, now posting.

The comments on this show are awful hard on Jack. I heartily agree that Nader's entering the race is a bad move for all. He has no chance of winning, so what difference is he really going to make? Do you think you'll see him in the debates? You'll see him as much as you saw Gravel, Kucinich, and Paul. Since he has no chance of winning, his actions seem to be a weird mix of vanity and idealism. As for making no progress by voting for democrats, that argument is just silly. If that was the case, blacks would still be enslaved, social security never would have happened, trusts would have survived, and women would not be voting. Progress is something that happens over centuries, not one presidency. Vote for your president for the groundwork he/she will lay. So, if Obama or Clinton are bumped in favor of McCain, what type of ground work will go down. I for one think it most important to avoid 100 years of senseless death and violence in the middle east.
posted by Anonymous evanonut  4:55 PM   [+]
 
Jack, this Clinton fixation is so disappointing. It reminds me of so many other failures over the last thirty years for the Left. Jack, did you forget the 500,000 children in Iraq tha died under the Clinton sanctions of medical and humanitarin aid? Jack, don't you see the quintessinal "republican" character of the Clintons? Don't you remember Madaline Albright's fanaticism over Bosnia? Most of all, don't you remember the utter distraction over his side dish that took our country off the real issues of healthcare and education? Bill comes with Hillary. If elected, he will become a distraction again. If Obama is not the candidate, I/m working for Nadar, the only non-republican in the field.
posted by Anonymous Anonymous  9:52 AM   [+]
 
evanonut: ...As for making no progress by voting for democrats, that argument is just silly. If that was the case, blacks would still be enslaved, social security never would have happened, trusts would have survived, and women would not be voting. Progress is something that happens over centuries, not one presidency. Vote for your president for the groundwork he/she will lay....

I agree Nader hasn't a chance, but since when was that a good reason for doing a bad thing?

As for the historic significance of the Democratic party, your take is a red herring; the resemblance of today's DP to the DP of yore is illusionary. Today's DP leadership would hide under the bed from a New Deal Program. It was Bill Clinton, the last Democratic president, that, in his first major policy push, drove home George HW Bush's NAFTA package over the broken backs of America's labor unions.

I have absolutely no doubt that today's Democratic Party, endowed as it is with the integrity of a used car salesman and the courage of a mouse, would do anything differently today.

I have no, absolutely no, respect or confidence in today's DP to do the "right thing." None.

So don't invoke the spirit of the old DP. That's only relevant for history classes or seances anymore.

As for time frames for progress taking centuries... we don't have centuries any more. I think we have one, maybe two elections cycles to get it right, after that what will pass for "progress" then will be our vision of Hell today.

And history in general shows more of a saltatory progression, not gradual. The progressive steps we would like think are gradual are usually punctuated by calamities, revolutions and furious upheavals. Remember, the New Deal only happened because of the Depression, WWI, lethal labor riots and Eugene Debbs getting a million votes in his futile 1912 run for POTUS.

Perhaps our looming economic crises will jolt the DP out of its neoliberal zombie trance, but I seriously doubt it. Only a clear, firm and unambiguous repudiation of our current trajectory will suffice at this point. That's my opinion anyway.
posted by Blogger MaskedMarauder  10:42 AM   [+]
 
Maurader, if you want a perfect candidate who will not err, you're in the wrong country and wrong world. If you want to cast a vote to make a statement, go ahead. No one is going to hear it. They're all too enamored of the history being made this year. If you want to make a difference, then you have to swallow you're pride and take the lesser of two evils. And yes, there is a huge difference between Clinton and McCain. You want to change the party? Run for office.
posted by Anonymous evanonut  2:00 PM   [+]
 
evanonut: if you want a perfect candidate who will not err, you're in the wrong country and wrong world.

Oh, now you're just being puerile. Just because I yearn for a genuinely good candidate doesn't mean I'm naive enough to ever expect a tolerable candidate in my lifetime..

If you want to cast a vote to make a statement, go ahead. No one is going to hear it. They're all too enamored of the history being made this year.

Be careful of the word 'enamored'. It carries the connotation of foolish or unreasoning fondness. Its not a good thing and, worst of all, it means you agree with me. My whole thesis is that the reason (well, one of the principle reasons) we're facing Big Trouble right now is that our politics are driven by fatuous ritual, hollow posturing and an ascendant preoccupation with appearance over substance. There will be no progressive government as long as people are enamored of a semblance of progress instead of working toward actual progress.


If you want to make a difference, then you have to swallow you're pride and take the lesser of two evils.

Yeah, make a difference by being the same as everybody else... that ought to work! Change things by doing the exact same things the exact same way they were done to deliver us into this predicament in the first place.

But lIke the bard said, "there's no success like failure, and that failure's no success at all." Our politics in a nutshell.

The past 35 years of concatenating failures have been a real blast, but when do we stop playing this stupid, losing game? Because it will never get better, you know. Your crazy strategy of following perpetually falling expectations leads inexorably downhill forever. As long as the only choice is between bad and worse it can never be good. The only real choices you'd leave us with now are how deep a crater should we leave to our posterity when we crash? Should the next Dark Age be five hundred or a thousand years long? Do I want to live out my years under a kinder and gentler fascism, or the go for the glitzy fascism with a happy face and a thousand points of light?

Its a mistake to think that the main problem with a bad government is that some desirable thing is left undone, its that the proper purpose and very appearance of a healthy government fades as aspirations and criticisms go unarticulated. Eventually its dim to the point where bad is indistinguishable from worse.
posted by Blogger MaskedMarauder  7:34 PM   [+]
 
Hello again Maurader. I like how you think we need to disagree on everything since we disagree on anything. But I notice you haven't announced any plans to run for office.

As to the dark ages, study history. Notice the fall of societies over and over again. That makes our time limited. So I chose compromise. I'd rather make small progress with limited time than no progress to the end of time.
posted by Anonymous evanonut  1:01 PM   [+]
 
evanonut: I don't need to run, Nader is. I wouldn't want to steal votes from him.

Yeah, all societies and cultures fall. So what? I'm going to die too sooner or later. But, all things considered, I prefer later to sooner and I don't construe the inevitability of my demise as sufficient motivation to abet my murderer.

As my final word on the subject I'll remark that we've been compromising and making small progress over the past 30-40 years. The little good done thereby over that period of time has been reliably dwarfed by the greater evil. The net effect of your champion strategy has been an accelerating downward spiral.
posted by Blogger MaskedMarauder  2:57 PM   [+]
 
Matt Bors, YES, the 90s would have been better with a Republican President and more importantly we would have been better postured in 2001 had we had a Republican in the White House in the 90s. Bush took over with the Clinton-Gore recession in place and a security posture that left us vulnerable. YES, a Scalia would be better for this country then another Ginsberg. That is a no brainer. This country cannot afford another Carter or Clinton screwing up foreign affairs! Is costs too much to fix it. Bush has had to spend way too much trying to repair the mess and little is left.
posted by Anonymous Anonymous  7:00 AM   [+]
 
As I recall, Bush thought Clinton spent too much time on terrorism and redirected priorities to states like Iraq and record-long vacations as soon as he gained office.
posted by Anonymous Anonymous  8:35 AM   [+]
 
I thought your podcast about Ralph Nader's announced candidacy in 2008 was particularly well done and expresses a lot of the same feelings and ideas that I have about the 2000 selection and the concerns that I have about him and the 2008 election. In principle, I believe that anybody who is eligible to run and wants to run for any public office should be allowed to do so. However, I sincerely hope that Nader won't end up being a "spoiler" in the 2008 election and inadvertently threaten us with the election of "McSame". Based on the 2004 results as they relate to Nader, it doesn't seem likely that he will threaten the eventual Democratic nominee but at any rate, there are still plenty of people out there who advance some of the arguments that you discussed that are commonly put forward by Nader supporters about what happened in the 2000 election and I believe that anybody even thinking about voting for him instead of
whoever ends up being the Democratic nominee should listen to that podcast and think hard and long before doing so. To me, demanding ideological purity at the expense of being able to obtain and maintain the political power to actually enact change is self-defeating and potentially dangerous IMHO to the continued existence of our system of government and even the safety of our country and its citizens. Both of the Democratic nominees certainly have their flaws in terms of some of their positions on issues (particularly Hilary IMHO) but, like you argued (correctly), either one of them, particularly if they have a Democratic Congress to work with, is going to be far more persuadable in terms of advancing the liberal/progressive agenda than "McSame" is EVER going to be.
posted by Anonymous Proud Liberal  9:52 AM   [+]
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Great podcast - a must listen to
Jack Clark documents the right's wars on the poor, civil liberties, the right of workers to organize at work and obtain a decent working wage and work conditions, and against other countries who refuse to accept American domination. Jack provides all the sources so that you can see for yourself how the right is out to enrich itself at the expense of everyone else. Great job, Jack!
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awesome show
Clark always backs up his statements against the right wing with fact and data, which gives him all the more credibility. As conglomerate media controlled by politics clouds the mainstream news media, Jack Clark, along with NPR and Democracy Now! have become my primary news source. Awesome podcast!
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This podcast is not just entertainment, humor, chimp-bashing, or gee-whiz recap of the weeks events. Instead, it hits hard and in-depth on the world economic situation and how right-wing policies impact the poor and less advantaged all over the world. He examines Americas support of the World Bank, IMF,multinational corporations, etc., and connects the dots. This is a podcast for grown-ups. He gives good reasons why the right wing is NOT living up to its precious Bible, without putting down the Bible. As a Jesus-loving Christian and moderate Democrat, I respect this podcast for its subject matter. The grown-up manner of the speaker is just icing on the cake. He IS funny, but hes not trying to be, he just has a deadpan delivery but doesnt have to make jokes to make it interesting. The facts make it interesting and devastating.
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