Dead Men Left

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Know thine enemy: Kinnock's revenge

I now realise that comparing Democrat candidate John Kerry to former Labour leader Neil Kinnock was unfair. Kinnock only lost by a small margin in 1992; Kerry, on the other hand, is seeing his support free-fall. George Bush, from scraping an ill-gotten victory in 2000, is looking likely to be returned by a significant margin.

And yet... whilst Democrats have been prepared to overlook electoral law to ensure Bush was on the Florida ballot, Nader's successful campaign to offer Floridian voters the choice of an anti-war candidate drew this response from Democrat supporters desperate to keep him off the poll:

The decision came after weeks of legal tussling as Democrats sought to prevent Nader from standing in Florida as the Reform Party candidate. However, the state's Supreme Court voted six to one to allow him to participate. The move angered Democrats who say that Nader is now helping the Republican cause. 'In state after state, Nader has become an extension of the Republican party and their corporate backers,' said Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe.

The spineless liberals at the Guardian go on to claim that there "appeared to be some truth to the charge", on the grounds that "[o]ne survey found one in ten of Nader's biggest campaign contributors were Republicans who had also given money to Bush." Applying the same logic, we must also assume Democrats are an "extension of the Republican party and their corporate backers", since these Republican backers have given more money to the Democrats than to Nader: between them, that's $54,000 to Nader, just 4% of his total donations, and $66,000 to the Democrats. The "charge" of Republican backing Nader's supporters rightly label the "Big Lie", especially when set beside the collosal amounts Kerry's "corporate backers" donate.

Equally, it seems to be hoped that repeating a Bush-is-bad, Bush-is-bad, Bush-is-bad mantra will be enough to summon up a Kerry vote. "Repentant Nader Voter" is pretty typical of rash of websites in its mixture of whinging about Bush's peculiar awfulness, cliched abuse, and clear evidence of political degeneration:

When Ralph Nader speaks in downtown Denver Saturday, Sept. 18, he'll be greeted by beggars—but not the homeless variety.

Protestors will drop to their knees and beg Nader to drop out of the Presidential race.

The “beg-in” protest will take place Sat., Sept. 18, at 4 p.m. in front of Tattered Cover in Lodo, 1628 16th Street (Wynkoop and the 16th Street Mall) where Nader will be doing a book signing.

“If I thought Mr. Nader had a prayer of winning this election, I'd work for him and vote for him,” said Ken Seaman, who ran as a Green for Denver 's First Congressional Seat in 2000. “But since that's not possible, I would ask that he withdraw from this race and improve the chances of Mr. Kerry becoming President. When you consider what this country might be like if Mr. Kerry were to lose this election, I think Nader has no choice but to withdraw and to throw his support to the Democrat.”

Unanswered throughout is the critical question of what the US will look like if Kerry were to win, and what any of us might do about it, though I suppose on current poll showing this is to pose an increasingly hypothetical question. It's not worth speculating, to pick one example, what former Nader voters would make of President Kerry's "New Army of Patriots" programme. Presumably they would be queuing up to enlist.

It is Kerry's desperate slide in the polls, from which little recovery seems possible, that so badly indicates the necessity of Nader standing: when 200,000 registered Democrats voted George Bush in 2000, against a comparatively stronger Democratic candidate, there is a serious problem not with those wishing to expose the lie of "choice" in the corporate duopoly of Republicrat and Democan, but in the Democrats failing to motivate their own supporters. Eighty per cent of Democrats now say the invasion of Iraq was a mistake; yet Kerry claims he would still have voted for the war. Without a credible challenge from the Left, the Democrats will constantly attempt to play a game of beggar-thy-neighbour with the Republican Right, from which they are sure to come off worse.

(In passing, it seems that a small flicker of light has dawned in the Democrat campaign. John Kerry is now "talking tough" on Iraq, expressing a few mild criticisms only six months too late for it to make any difference.)