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October 20, 2008

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Is this the definition of irrelevancy?

Terry, maybe I'm confused (wouldn't be the first time) but how is Measure 65 different from "making all of Oregon's elective positions, from governor on down, non-partisan contests?"

From my reading of it, this is basically what M65 does. Not nearly as cool as instant runoff, but still pretty cool. Plus, anything that pisses off the GOP, the Democratic Party and the Libertarian Party can't be all bad! :)

Maybe I'm confused. But I think under M65 candidates run with party labels but anyone, regardless of registration, can vote in the primary.

As far as relevancy goes, without third parties, progressive voters often have no good choices. I know of few Dems who are truly progressive on war, health care, taxes.

So they run with party labels, but the labels have no meaning. In other words, M65 would effectively make statewide races non-partisan.

If a third party candidate were truly a "good choice," they should be able to get enough votes to make it to the general election. I don't see how having them on the ballot, with no chance of winning, qualifies as a "good choice." In the current system, if a third party has any effect, it is that of a spoiler.

If it's about sending a message, we can still send the message in the primary, and then in the general, we can actually vote for a candidate with a chance to win.

While Dems may not be as progressive as you and me, they're usually the closest actually electable choice we've got.

Right on, Steve. You've nailed it in terms of why voting for third parties in a general election is, except in rare cases, the definition of irrelevance.

As for Terry's animosity toward political parties, I simply repeat what I've said in this space before.

Single issue interest groups -- NARAL, NEA, NAM, NRA, etc. -- are vehicles for like-minded people to aggregate their interests in particular issues for the purpose of petitioning govewrnment. Similarly, politcal parties are vehicles for people with common interests to aggregate those interests for the purpose of electing people to represent those interests in government.

Without the ability to voice opinions through groups, politics is reduced to cacophony.

I don't have "animosity" toward political parties in theory. Every qualified candidate --and there are qualifications for getting on the ballot in every state-- is affiliated with some group. Once elected, there is nothing to prevent like-minded people from joining forces to pass legislation.

My problem is with the absolute domination of the electoral process by the two "major" parties, both of which trend to the right of the electorate on issues like universal health care. The best, and most egregious, example of that domination is the hijacking of the Presidential debates, which are now wholly owned and operated by the Democratic and Republican Parties.

How does that serve democracy?

By the way, Craig, your hypocrisy is showing. Didn't you vote for third party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000? And didn't you support Ross Perot's candidacy in 1992?

The latter is doubly hypocritical, since now you claim to be an unapologetic free trader. Your world may be flat, but that's not the world Ross Perot lived in.

You can catch Ralph Nader on NBC NIghtly News tonight, 6:30 EDT.

You missed the point about political parties. The only reason for the existence of political parties is to elect candidates to public office. If elected representatives can only "join forces" after they are elected, the purpose of political parties is obviated.

By the way, I have never voted for Nader, but admit to having voted for Perot in 1992. And I'm far from an "unapologetic free trader." Trade agreements, by definition, pose limitations (i.e., they're not free) on the signatories to the agreement. What I'm against is the lack of recognition that globalization, which includes international trade, is an irreversible feature of our modern world.

But that's a topic for a different day.

I didn't miss the point. I only maintain that there should other viable parties. That will only happen when people vote for third party candidates.

And you greatly understate the influence of the "big two" --the Democrats and the Republicans-- after their candidates have been elected. What passes for statesmanship in Congress is far too often simply backing legislation that won't endanger the prospect of re-election. You buck your party, you risk its electoral backing.

As Scott McClellan put it, service in the legislature has become a "permanent campaign".

Go Terry! I'll have to start reading this blog more often in the future. I hope you saw Nader at the Bagdad last night (standing room only, people turned away at the door).

Ralph said:
"Hope, change, hope, change, change, hope. Have I hypnotized you yet?"

"If anyone can detect a difference between the two candidates regarding belligerence toward Iran and Russia, more U.S. soldiers into the quagmire of Afghanistan (next to Pakistan), kneejerk support of the Israeli military oppression, brutalization and colonization of the Palestinians and their shrinking lands, keeping soldiers and bases in Iraq, despite Obama’s use of the word “withdrawal,” and their desire to enlarge an already bloated, wasteful military budget which already consumes half of the federal government’s operating expenses, please illuminate the crevices between them.

This past spring, the foreign affairs reporters, not columnists, for the New York Times and the Washington Post concluded that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are advancing foreign and military policies similar to those adopted by George W. Bush in his second term. Where then is the “hope” and “change” from the junior Senator from Illinois?

Moreover, both Obama and McCain want more nuclear power plants, more coal production, and more offshore oil drilling. Our national priority should be energy efficient consumer technologies (motor vehicles, heating, air conditioning and electric systems) and renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal.

Both support the gigantic taxpayer funded Wall Street bailout, without expressed amendments. Both support the notorious Patriot Act, the revised FISA act which opened the door to spy on Americans without judicial approval, and Obama agrees with McCain in vigorously opposing the impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

What about avoidance? Have you seen them speak about a comprehensive enforcement program to prosecute corporate crooks in the midst of the greatest corporate crime wave in our history? Have you seen them allude to doing anything about consumer protection (credit card gouging, price of medicines, the awful exploitation and deprivation of the people in the inner city) and the ripoffs of buyers in ever more obscure and inescapable ways? Isn't it remarkable how they've never mentioned the poor, and only use the middle class when they refer to “regular people?” There are one hundred million poor people and children in this nation and no one in Washington, D.C. associates Senator Obama, much less John McCain, with any worthy program to treat the abundant poverty-related injustices.

What about labor issues? Worker health and safety, pensions looted and drained, growing permanent unemployment and underemployment, and outsourcing more and more jobs to fascists and communist dictatorships are not even on the peripheries of the topics covered in the debates.

When I was asked my opinion about who won the debates, I say they were not debates. But I know what won and what lost. The winners were big business, bailouts for Wall Street, an expansionary NATO, a boondoggle missile defense program, nuclear power, the military-industrial complex and its insatiable thirst for trillions of taxpayer dollars, for starters. What lost was peace advocacy, international law, the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement, taxpayers, consumers, Africa and We the People."

No thanks, I'd rather not WASTE my vote. Go Obama!!

And, Harry, a vote for Nader will change all this by _______________?

Please fill in the blank.

Craig: A vote for Nader is a vote against the single corporate/militarist party that never will represent the interests of people like me (and you?) unless its interests are threatened. If we do not challenge the duopoly during the election season, when politicians are most vulnerable, then we will never have leverage over their decisions.

trueblue: A vote for McBama is a wasted vote. If the wasted 2000 votes for Gore, who failed to fight for his own victory because he didn't want to disappoint his corporate handlers, had instead been given to Nader, we would today have a far more civilized nation.

When, Harry, you use phrases like:

-- "single corporate/militarist party"

and Gore

-- "did not want to disappoint his corporate handlers."

you betray such a stupendously ignorant and conspiratorial mindset that it destroys whatever kernels of truth may have been hidden in your previous comment.

Oh wait!! Maybe you're right and maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Gore has always been a closet fascist.

Not a good idea to insult my commenters, Craig.

There's more than a "kernel of truth" in calling the duopoly a "single corporate/militarist party". Both presidential candidates, for example, advocate more war and an expansion of the military. And both take big money from big corporations:

"A New York Times analysis of donors who wrote checks of $25,000 or more to the candidates’ main joint fund-raising committees found, for example, the biggest portion of money for both candidates came from the securities and investments industry, including executives at various firms embroiled in the recent financial crisis like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG."

Harry backs Ralph Nader. It should come as no surprise, then, that he describes the duopoly as Ralph Nader does.
Perhaps you'll next accuse Nader of "stupendous ignorance" and given to a "conspiratorial mindset."

However, I fully expect the next time around you'll dispute the corporate/militarist label on its merits.

As for Gore, who knows what he was thinking in surrendering the Presidency to Bush?

If my choice of language was, regretfully, intemperate, it was because Harry, and now, apparently, you, have insulted my intelligence as well, I would submit, the intelligence of most of your readers.

I actually agree with some, although not all, of what Harry said in his original comment. But I asked Harry how a vote for Nader would, in any way, address any of the issues he raised. Instead of replying, Harry insulted our intelligence by using the nonsensical phrases I singled out.

I'm sure that most of your readers don't need me to spell out why those phrases are nonsensical, but just in case:

1. You may not like the policies of the two major parties, but they have not formed some kind of "single" cabal, conspiring together somehow to hoodwink the electorate.

2. Neither party, and especially not the Democratic party or its presidential candidate, is "controlled" by corporate interests. As pointed out in my original comment, the parties formulate their policies through the pull and tug of a multiplicity of interest groups -- NEA, AARP, NRA, NAM, NARAL, etc. -- not just, and, indeed, very little by, "corporate handlers."

3. And what is a "militarist" party? Is it a party that does not unilaterally renounce the use of military force in all circumstances? Is a party led by a candidate who had the guts to say -- before the WMD were not found -- that the invasion of Iraq was wrong a "militarist" party? Is it "militarist" to want to capture or kill those who planned 9-11?

If Nader believes these things, all the more reason to ignore him.

I'm not offended by Craig's language, and I myself reserve the right to offend (which I probably already have done previously).

I recommend, Craig, that you read some Chomsky, Zinn, Naomi Klein, or anybody else to the left of you (apparently almost everyone). We are the greatest hegemonist power in the history of the world, and it is a bipartisan affair. The role of corporations in this matter is fairly obvious.

As for Gore, you really are ignorant if you think his foreign policy would have been significantly different from Bush's. Here are some samples of Gore's remarks before the 2000 election:

Saddam must go

US Vice-President Al Gore has told Iraqi opposition politicians that the United States remains committed to the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein.

From Christian Century Christian Century, Oct 25, 2000 by James M. Wall:
Deadly silence

Al Gore and George W. Bush concentrate on winning support from senior citizens who, they presume, are more concerned with the price of their own prescription drugs than with Iraq, where over 1 million people have died as a result of the sanctions (according to the World Food Organization and UNICEF). Children under five account for 600,000 of these deaths.

The sanctions have blocked needed medical supplies from the people of Iraq, while damage to almost all of Iraq's infrastructure, a deliberate military policy during the gulf war, has not been repaired. According to Pax Christi, raw sewage flows in the streets. Broken water purification systems increasingly contaminate the water.

Economic sanctions were imposed on Iraq in 1990 during the administration of candidate George W. Bush's father, and continue under the administration of candidate Al Gore's boss, Bill Clinton. In a CBS interview with Leslie Stahl, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked: "We have heard that a half million children have died [as a result of economic sanctions against Iraq]--more children than died in Hiroshima ... Is the price worth it?" Albright's response: "I think this is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it."

Bush/Gore debate on Iraq: Debate 2000

(Gore): I was one of the few members of my political party to support former President Bush in the Persian Gulf War resolution, and at the end of that war, for whatever reason, it was not finished in a way that removed Saddam Hussein from power. I know there are all kinds of circumstances and explanations.
But the fact is that that's the situation that was left when I got there. And we have maintained the sanctions. Now I want to go further.

Gore was a foreign policy hawk and a corporatist hack who chose Joe Lieberman as his VP candidate.

There were a lot of people pulling for a war with Iraq prior to the W administration. Congress in 1998 overwhelmingly (even the sainted Kucinich) voted for a bill calling for the ouster of Saddam and providing funding to the Iraqi National Congress. Lieberman had been berating his colleagues about attacking Iraq. There would have been plenty of Republicans pressing the issue, and what we might have seen was something similar to the caving-in of the 40% of the Democrats who did vote for the AUMF (without any evidence). "It might have come down to Gore being able to withstand the political pressure put on him to take out Saddam from Republicans in Congress, his handpicked VP, and supposed Democratic foreign policy experts like Joe Biden who wanted to jut their jaws out and look strong for their next presidential run. Oh, and don't forget the DLC consultants who told John Edwards and others they should support it or the Republicans would get all the glory of the big Iraq win." (Darrel Plant on Blue Oregon, May 19, 2008)

Hey Harry, nice speech.

Now, do you remember my question? If so, perhaps you would care to reenter the real world and take a crack at answering it.

Here's the question, in case you've forgotten. "A vote for Nader would change all this by ____?

Craig: At least one of us is having trouble reading and interpreting. Nader would "change all this" by, as I wrote above, challenging the corporatist/militarist mindset represented by the duopoly. He would change all this by significantly reducing military spending, by enacting single-payer/universal healthcare, by getting out of Iraq and closing down the 761 foreign military bases that are moving us toward bankruptcy, by cracking down on corporate crime, by reversing the unqualified support for Israeli crimes, by choosing solar (not nuclear or "clean" coal), by defending our civil liberties (not FISA), by opposing offshore drilling, by repealing NAFTA and Taft-Hartley, etc. (That you are unable to understand that this is his program, and that his program is his way of "changing all this" is quite bizarre - you seem like an otherwise intelligent person.)

Thanks for the compliment re my "nice speech". And thanks for trying to orient me to "the real world", which I had thought was a tv program.

Harry, I think Craig's question had more to do with Nader's electability than his platform. In other words, if Nader has zero chance of election (which even the most zealous of his supporters will acknowledge), what good does a vote for him do?

My answer is this: If Nader garners, say, 5% of the vote, that in itself may be enough to encourage progressives to keep up the fight rather than becoming completely disillusioned with the system. Besides, in a non-swing state like Oregon, a vote for Nader is a principled vote, something you can proudly tell your grandkids when progressive policies are eventually embraced in this country, as they surely will be sometime in the (near) future.

You may be interested to know that Greg Kafoury, Nader's main man in Oregon, was a high school classmate of mine. He was also a fraternity brother of Craig's at Whitman College.

Craig, by the way, is my older brother. We grew up insulting each other, even though we generally agree on most public policy issues.

First of all, there's no way Nader is going to win anywhere near 5% of the vote. But even if he did, even if he got 10%, he's still irrelevant.

Why? Harry still doesn't seem to get it, so let me try to spell it out.

To change anything officially in the public sector, you must be an elected official. Nader never has been and never will be an elected official.

Of course, Nader and you -- yes, even you, Harry -- can try to influence elected officials. Some Americans get together to do just that in those quaint things known as interest groups.

Nader used to do this through his lobby "Public Citizen," through which he recruited thousands of young activists known as Nader's Raiders. But now the vast majority of Americans have no idea who Nader is and have never heard of Public Citizen. Most of the very small percentage who do know who Nader is just kind of snicker and wish he would go away, as if he were your doddy great uncle whose visit you tolerate, barely, on some holidays.

I have little problem with most parts of the progressive platform. But to operate in the real world, progressives need to reorganize around a younger and more effective leader.

Terry: I've been to Greg Kafoury's home, and I respect his activism very much. Apparently Craig didn't learn much from Greg.

Craig: Your snarky attitude toward the progressive politics of Nader is a self-fulfilling prophesy. You may not have noticed, but our economic and environmental systems are collapsing while you snark, and the threats toward those who most likely will attack us in the future by the bipartisan hacktocrasy known as the DP and the RP threaten to cause inestimable harm to future generations, including the probability of movement even further to the right than we already have seen.

Even though I did not attend Whitman College, I am familiar with concepts such as "elected official" and "interest groups". I have not worked on the Nader campaign because of his personality, nor because I see him as a religious icon (unlike Democrats), but rather because he challenges the centers of concentrated private power and because I agree with his positions on the issues. Nader believes, as do I, that the corporate dominance over this nation cannot be overcome without a progressive electoral political branch. If you don't like Nader, find another progressive to support. Obama is not one.

Those of you who, instead, have supported the champions of corporate greed and hegemony will have to, like your German precursors, explain to your children and grandchildren why you failed to work for something better. It's not always about winning.

Gotta jump in here. Craig wrote: "To change anything officially in the public sector, you must be an elected official." I completely disagree with this. In fact, I think that most significant change comes from mass movements. LBJ signing the civil rights act had far more to do with the people, famous and unknown, who fought for equal rights in the civil rights movement. Right now most politicians are following powerful corporate interests. But sooner or later that will change.
My question to all third party supporters: how do we build that movement? What do we do today, other than voting for third party candidates to build a third party that pushes for the things we value?

Anne and others too busy (apparently) to actually investigate what Nader has been saying for a long time:

"It's very hard in this modern day of ours to build mass movements. Look how hard it is just to get people to turn out for rallies and marches. We did better dozens and dozens of years ago on this score as a nation. But we're calling our campaign an '08/'09 campaign and by that we mean that we'd like to bring together in each Congressional district about 1,000 publicly conscious citizens who will form a watchdog lobby on Congress and put before Congress about ten major redirections of the country, like single-payer health insurance etc. It's on our website votenader.org." (a href=http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080324/flanders>Talking to Nader)


"Whenever there’s an issue people feel strongly about—health care, the war in Iraq, election laws—people can force a national vote on a proposal for change. Sponsors – who could be any number of citizens—simply gather, under enabling procedures, enough signatures to show that the idea has some reasonable level of support, and the matter is placed on the national agenda." (National Initiative)


Shift the Power:

1. Facilitate voter initiatives.

2. Reform our corrupt campaign finance system.

3. Set term limits for Members of Congress.

4. Expand citizen standing rights.

5. Regain control over "taxpayer assets."

6. Reclaim the public airwaves.

7. Create shareholder democracy.

8. Establish a new model of consumer representation (Citizens’ Utility Board).

9. Protect victims’ rights.

10. Ensure an hospitable environment for whistle blowing.

Sorry. The link to the Laura Flanders article should have been: Talking to Nader

Anne,

Please read carefully the sentence I wrote that you quoted: "To change anything officially in the public sector, you must be an elected official." Note the word "officially." I completely agree with you that "mass movements," are very important. I said as much in my last comment, when I mentioned the importance of interest groups. All I was saying by the sentence you quoted is that only elected officials have the authority to translate the ideas of mass movements and interest groups into law.

Nader has done good work in the past through his mass movements and his interest group, but he's never been and never will be an elected official.

As for you, Harry, you are obviously incapable of even attempting to answer my simple question, so I give up.

Craig-
An Elected official signing reform measure into law is just one part of a change. Much precedes that, and is often ignored by history.

Harry-
Thanks for the concrete information from the Nader campaign. That helps me understand your positions better. A few questions: I have always been puzzled by Nader's focus on the power of citizens as consumers instead of the power of citizens as workers. Can you explain that focus?
I like the pragmatism of forming watchdog groups. A group I was in chose that role, and it helped us get some good work done.
Anne

Anne: Better late than never, I guess. But I wish that those of you who have shilled for Obama without having investigated what Nader had to say would have first tried to understand what the alternatives really were.

Your assumption that Ralph "only" talks about consumers and never talks about workers is as disturbingly off base as your assumptions about Rovian-like talking points like, "He doesn't care about mass movements". Why can't we walk and chew gum at the same time, i.e., work on local issues as well as national issues, focus on consumers as well as workers, take an honorable position on Israel/Palestine as well as on Iraq?

I am dumbfounded at the unreasonable positions taken by those who consider themselves to be "revolutionaries" when their actions are not even "reformist". If you had made a good-faith effort to read even Nader's website, you would already know the answer to your question:

Worker's Rights

Jobs

Fair Trade that Protects the Environment, Labor Rights and Consumer Needs

Affirmative action

When did Obama ever say that he would repeal Taft-Hartley? America’s working men and women have been abandoned by the corporate-dominated two-party system. The evidence is everywhere, and you focus on the dime's worth of difference.

I voted Nader in 2000 and 2008. I voted Obama this year.

This year, Nader will not even be a bug splat on the windshield (not that he was much more than that in the last two elections). So voting for him in the hopes of him getting 5% of the vote (when he topped out at what, 3% at best before) is quixotic. And it isn't going to make one iota of difference to the two-party duopoly, even if he did somehow make it above 1% this year (not likely). Not the tiniest difference at all. You could argue that a vote for Obama in Oregon is also a wasted vote, since he's virtually guaranteed to win this state. That seems to be Terry's argument, and I can see some validity there.

But Nader, for all his great past work, no longer commands any kind of mass movement. He says the right things, but so do any number of lefty intellectuals like Chomsky, Vidal, Zinn, etc. Would a write-in vote for Gore Vidal make any difference to the two-party duopoly?

As a public intellectual, Nader still has great credibility to me. As a candidate? Meh. I'm glad he keeps running, and keeps trying to shine a light on the issues. I think he might have even had some impact on the Democratic Party with his '00 and '08 runs (they sure seem to have found a better candidate and are running a better campaign, anyway).

But I think his candidacy this year will no effect at all. None.

Oops, twice in the above comment, I typed "2008" when I meant to type "2004".

Steve R: The arguments against support for Nader were the same in 2000/2004. How did you answer them then?
(Nothing has changed, with the exception being that the DP has moved further and further to the right. Your claim that, "they sure seem to have found a better candidate and are running a better campaign, anyway" is hogwash - Obama is a militarist and a corporatist who makes me nostalgic for Nixon, the last liberal president, and he was losing until the "October Surprise" of the collapse of our economic system.)

I recommend that you at least read Obama's own words re leaving the contractors in Iraq along with 50,000-80,000 regular combat troops, more troops to Afghanistan, increase in military spending, unqualified support for Israeli crimes, ad infinitum. Then tell me how Obama is better than Kerry or Gore.

Furthermore, you say you see some validity in Terry's argument that, "a vote for Obama in Oregon is also a wasted vote, since he's virtually guaranteed to win this state", yet you wasted your own vote anyway. Can anything be more revealing? It's folks like you, Anne and Craig whose self-fulfilling prophesies have impeded the movement that you say you yearn for.

The difference between Obama and the previous two failed Democratic nominees may be hard for bitter lefties to grasp, but I'll try to spell it out. Even if he does not embody any significant policy changes from any of the other center-right Democrats who have contended for the presidency in the last decade, there's more to it than that.

Significantly, Obama represents:

1. A generational shift. He'll be the first post-Vietnam, post-civil rights era president. I'm not foolish enough to believe we're anywhere close to being "post-racial", but we're sure ready to move past the Vietnam split that's defined electoral politics for a generation.

2. A demographic shift. He represents the changing face of America. The effect of an Obama presidency on black Americans is something white people can't really fathom. It's huge, and it's not far-fetched to imagine his presidency reawakening and empowering social movements long beaten into submission by nearly four decades of bipartisan ambivalence and outright hostility.

Obama's campaign clearly does not presage significant progressive policy change on its own.

But pushed by reawakened social justice movements and current events that dictate a more populist (Keynesian) economic path, we could be looking at a kind of capital C "Change" wildly beyond anything the candidate himself is promising. (He might even have to ditch his Chicago School economic team.)

Nader's campaign this time around is completely out of gas and largely irrelevant. When he ran in 2000 and 2004, he had momentum, and he exerted actual pull on the races.

This year, he's been sidelined by his own lack of support, not the main-stream media as he claims. His own loss of support can be largely explained by the factors discussed above.

Steve R:

(1.) The "Vietnam split" is the same split that exists between militarists like Obama and justice/peace advocates like Kucinich and Nader. We cannot "move beyond" this if we hope to create a just and democratic society; we have to meet it head-on and acknowledge that we slaughtered millions of innocent people in Indochina (not just Vietnam) and that our unwillingness to repair the damage from our crimes is driving us further into neo-crypto-fascism.

(2.) As someone who marched on Washington with King and Abernathy, and who worked for Jesse Jackson in the '80's, I don't need a lecture from you about racial policy. I do think it's edifying to read what Adolph Reed, Jr. of Black Agenda Report has to say about Obamaism (Where Obamaism Seems to be Going):

"Obama goes a step further in deviating from Alinskyism to the right, by rejecting its 'confrontationalism,' which severs its rhetoric of 'empowerment' from political action and contestation entirely and merges the notion into the pop-psychological, big box Protestant, Oprah Winfrey, Reaganite discourse of self-improvement/personal responsibility...An Obama presidency (maybe even just his candidacy) will likely sever the last threads of any connection between notions of racial disparity and structurally reproduced inequality rooted in political economy...the recent outpouring of enthusiastic support from all quarters - including on black academic and professional list serves and blogs and on op-ed pages - for his attacks on black poor people underscores the likelihood that Obama will be even more successful than Clinton at selling punitive, regressive and frankly racist social policies as humane anti-poverty initiatives."

(3.) Obama's ties to the Chicago School and behaviorism (essentially a program for dominance and control - read Skinner) suggest that he is not the hope and change advocate that his worshipers wish for. Look at who his biggest contributors are and tell me why they would invest their money in an agent of change.

(4.) Nader's campaign has been destroyed by the MSM blackout and by "liberals" like you, regardless of how you choose to rationalize it.

You're right, Harry, at least partially. Nader's campaign was destroyed by "liberals" like me (I love the use of "liberal" as an epithet) losing interest and putting their energy elsewhere. If he can't maintain the slimmest outlines of a mass movement, why should the "MSM" pay any attention?

Also, you seem to have confused me for an Obama "worshiper" in point #3 above. I don't see him as a "hope and change advocate." I thought I made myself clear on that; you seem too angry to read my nuance, though.

You waste your vote on Nader, I'll waste mine on Obama.

Case closed.

Steve, Harry, et al.
The case is not closed. Really the question is not who you voted for on Nov 4, but rather what did you do before that day, and what are WE going to do on November 5?
I love a good political debate, but sometimes I wonder if my time would have been better spent showing up at the Planning Commission Meeting last night, where citizen activists were speaking out to expose corporate control of our public schools, public parks and other public lands. They continue to speak out when Portland Public Schools and the city try to cater to real estate developers in the name of progress. This is just one example of a small group of people tenaciously working to ensure that local government follows a truly democratic process.
Steve and Terry you speak out on corporate control of schools and racist inequity. That is just as important, if not more important than an Obama vs Nader vote.
My neighbor is another example for me. He is a union man and his cause is cross-trade solidarity. He organizes relentlessly and has two small daughters to care for too. You will be happy to know, Harry that he is a Nader supporter.
Another example of people practically fighting for democracy: Center for Intercultural Organizing members are having a voting party at their office right next to Jefferson High this Saturday, complete with Russian, Somali, and Spanish translators to help immigrant people figure out their ballots.
In the coming years as capitalism crumbles and elected leaders flail about trying to rescue it, we will need the leadership and commitment of these people who fight for workers rights, immigrant rights, democratic government and other social justice issues with pragmatism and open eyes and hope.

Anne, you're absolutely correct. National races are a side show compared with the local ones. Our down-ticket votes in Oregon are vastly more important than the top of the ticket, which is rendered moot by our arcane and outdated electoral college.

This is why my the bulk of my real political work this election cycle (aside from attempting to keep the pressure on PPS) has been dedicated to a local city council candidate.

This is also why I question the validity of somebody getting so exercised about Ralph Nader's quixotic campaign and his lack of support from "liberals" like me.

Whatever!

Steve R: I put "liberal" in quotes not because I meant it as an epithet, but because I don't believe you and others who support regressives like Obama are liberals. It's meant as irony.

You claim that I am a "bitter lefty", and you are correct about my feeling bitter, but I am not a "lefty". I am a centrist progressive, i.e., I hold positions on most political issues that are majoritarian. Look at the issues that Nader has championed and you will see that the DP and the RP are far to his, my, and most peoples' right (Nader says, "It’s not our agenda, it’s your agenda".)

I don't know why you folks are having so much trouble understanding that you can walk and chew gum at the same time. NO ONE is saying, "Don't work on local issues", and I have said this repeatedly in conversations with you here and elsewhere. (I also work on local issues.)

Nader says in answer to the question of whether "Nader’s Raiders" would be possible today:

"It would possible to form it, but the doors (in Washington) have slammed shut. That’s why I’m running for office. I’m trying to mobilize civic energy. Most of those citizen groups, and many of them I’ve started, just don’t like to admit that they are working harder and harder for virtually nothing. It’s corporate occupied territory. There isn’t one department agency, including department of labor that isn’t controlled by corporate influence inside and out. Look at the Treasury, Goldman Sachs veterans going to Washington to bail out their buddies, department of defense, deptartment of agriculture, interior, and so on. Either we organize new institutions, political institutions, or shut down and go watch the whales in Monterey. The liberals and progressives just don’t want to face reality."

How will you possibly successfully organize on local issues if our ecosystem is destroyed by national policies agreed to by McBama? How will you organize if our economic system succeeds in moving all the power and wealth to the elites? How will you organize if we are attacked repeatedly by those who McBama are terrorizing?

Harry-
Actually I think you are the one who is saying you can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Doing local work is part of building a movement to change things on a global level. When I do schools work, I bring up national, and international issues like No Child Left Behind, the corporate takeover of public institutions, segregationist policies in other cities, and the impact of the Iraq war on school budgets.
Yet, that perspective is no more important than fighting to get a decent curriculum at Jefferson or a safe crosswalk at King or a myriad of small challenges that face citizens here today. By meeting and working with other people on very local issues the seeds of a larger movement are being planted. Doing this work requires understanding people like Klein and Zinn and Chomsky and Nader who expose the weaknesses of the Democratic Party. It requires patience (which I don't always have), and a willingness to learn from each other.
Change is coming, in a big way and I am not talking about having a Democratic president instead of a Republican one. The system is collapsing. I think people's consciousness can change very rapidly in times like these.

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