Saturday, September 20, 2003
3rd Party Candidates
I always feel suprised when I read naive commentary about the political system. There are lots of ways the 2004 election results could have had a different outcome. But the bottom line, in hard numbers, is that Nader took away enough votes from Gore that Bush was in a position to ascend to the presidency, if that phrase offends you less than saying he won.
I'm not talking about votes in California or NY or other blue states where 100,000 one way or another didn't matter. Nader voters created a tiny opening in Florida for James Baker & Co. to accomplish what they wanted. Without that, W is not Prez.
Nader voters can mea culpa all they want (i.e., RepentantNaderVoter.com).
We can discuss the what ifs forever:
-What if Gore ran a better campaign (his was awful);
- What if he didn't run away from Bubba;
- What if it rained more in Ohio, etc.;
All the issues raised about purged voter rolls, etc. are valid; They certainly had a decisive impact on the final outcome. But if you are looking for a proximate cause, the primary event that allowed those issues to be relevant, was that 5%+ of votes were siphoned off by a legitimate candidate with legitimate issues -- who had no chance of winning.
In a Parlimentary system, a 5% candidate can negotiate their votes to form an alliance government, so that their key issue gets supported/legislated/funded whatever
In a two party representaive electoral college system, a 3rd party candidate hurts the candidate they are closest to politically. Its simple math. Greg Palast ("Best Democracy Money Can Buy") raises many issues that helped W win. But here's a newsflash: Politics is a dirty, nasty, sharp elbowed affair that has a rich tradition of lying-cheating-stealing to win.
Don't make it right . . . but its reality none the less.
So the point that Nader shouldn't have mattered if only everyone played fair and by the rules is charming but naive.
1) Its ugly out there;
2) Actions have Consequences;
3) In the US, 3rd party candidates help their politcal opponents the most.
If you like W, thank Nader; if you don't like W, blame Nader.
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