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Apr. 5th, 2004 @ 09:00 pm Ralph Nader and the 2004 election
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"I don't want Ralph Nader's legacy that he got George Bush for eight years in this country" Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe

This line illustrates a rather popular sentiment in the US that Ralph Nader was responsible for George Bush winning the election in 2000, and that by running for president in 2004, he could be instrumental in Bush winning a second term in office. Thus by logic, many individuals have expressed to me that the problems in this country today, such as the growing deficit, the war in Iraq, corporate corruption, and the like all stem from Nader's bid for the presidency in 2004. Since Nader is running again, people are quick to throw out the mantra, "A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush." Yet, I have to why Democrats insist on focusing so much attention on Nader rather than on the issues that are facing our nation today.

The presidential election process(as outlined in the Constitution) has no mention that the US must have 2 political parties. And yet, we must all divide nice and cleanly among party lines. Over the history of the US, there have been many successful third party candidates, and their presence has been key in shaping the important issues of an election year, and affecting the outcome of an election. The campaigning of candidates, such as Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 and Ross Perot in 1992, resulted in a president elected without a majority of voters. Democrats have yet to write that the legacies of those two respective candidates were responsible for 8 years of the wildly influential Woodrow Wilson and William Clinton.

Then there's always the what-if game. Had Nader not run, then the argument is made that Gore would've won Florida and thus the presidency. Sure many of the votes that went to Nader probably would've gone to Gore, but there's also a significant chunk that would've gone to Bush, and another chunk that said that they wouldn't have voted at all, but they felt that Nader's platform was significant enough to make them want to go out and vote. Are we to understand that Nader's legacy is ruined because he convinced voters that he would make a better president than the other two? Or perhaps his legacy was ruined because he inspired many people who would've ordinarily stayed at home to do their civic duty and vote for a cause that they believe in? While we're playing the what-if game, can we note paint Patrick Buchanan for being an electino spoiler? If we go by the same assumption that applied to Nader votes, Bush would've won Oregon, Iowa, Wisconsin, and New Mexico totaling 29 electoral votes, more than the 27 that Bush would've lost in Florida. The what-if game can be played all day long, and scenerios can always be found to establish scapegoats for undesireable results, regardless of whether they are deserved or not.

The web site ralphdontrun.net criticizes Nader for deciding to run for president. They argue that there are too many important issues at stake, including the national debt, the war in Iraq and Homeland Security, the stance on abortion, the protection of the enviornment, and the education policy. Are only candidates from the two leading political parties allowed to run for president? Instead of focusing on such issues at hand, they argue for each party that a particular candidate shouldn't have run. The voting record of the Democrats is no better than that of the Republicans. Both parties combined allowed for us to declare war on Iraq and laws such as the Patriot act to infringe on our freedoms. If the Democrats truly had popular opinion on their side, then the Republicans wouldn't have taken both houses of Congress, to essientially give Bush the power to do what he wants.

In fact, why is this organization at the domain ralphdontrun.net? The system of domain names was set up orginally to have the TLD be descriptive of what kind of web site something is. A .net implies that the site has to do with network infrastructure. More appropiately, a .org would imply that a site is an organization rather than a commercial entity like a .com would imply. It is understandable if a site with the proper main TLD registers the secondary TLDs to make sure that people who accidently goto the other ones are redirected to the main site.

My point is that votes must be earned. Gore was not entitled to any of the votes that Nader received. If we're to say that a political party is entitled to votes, then we might as well just start giving our votes to the huge corporations who many people work for and from which much of this country's economy is based. Nader earned them because people believed in the message that he was giving. To say that Nader spoiled the election for Gore, demonstrates how little people care about the issues on the table rather than focusing on explaining to the voters why their prefered candidate deserves to be in office. Having a two party system has resulted in voters being convinced that they are supposed to vote for who they feel will do the least harm rather than who they feel best exemplifies their beliefs. If Nader's legacy is based on how he managed to affect 2 presidential elections, then let his legacy be that he convinced millions of people of the power of his ideas, and managed to get many of them from the apathetic nonvoting ranks whose votes became important in the local and state elections.
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From:_way_
Date:April 5th, 2004 06:33 pm (UTC)
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Bravo. I was going to post something much like this if people continued telling me why I should not vote third-party.
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From:blacktw
Date:April 5th, 2004 11:13 pm (UTC)

Beware of Failure of Naming

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It's hard for people to rationalize that their votes for a third party candidate will be "worth it" because in the grand scheme of thing, behind the old-boys network skulduggery that is the Electoral System, an average person is bound to be easily convinced of such crap.

Everyone should vote how they feel, no matter how little they know their individual vote may matter statistically, but they need to realize that isn't the point.

If the vote is to not get someone into office, then it might be a coalition effort between different party candidates, such as one bows out and gives their token of support to another; as is common in intra-party Primaries. But if someone actually wants to vote for that candidated (say, Nader), and Nader is running balls-out, then they should vote for Nader.

Terrible realists and venomous pessimists will constantly try to say that such votes are wasted, but that is only so if you think that individuals expressing their thoughts exactly how they feel, rather than against who they might hate the most, is bollycock.

In short, my run-on sentences and fractured thoughts agree. I personally do not vote, because I do not feel that any of the candidates are worthy choices, and voting for the lesser of evil is not my kind of way of still trying to make a difference. One out of 225 million ain't (or whatever the current voting block is) really much, one out several million in Virginia is still bad odds; but voting isn't about odds, save those for the Lottery. You're equally as likely to hit a jackpot.
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From:bogosort
Date:April 6th, 2004 10:32 am (UTC)

Re: Beware of Failure of Naming

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The other impact that I can see to independant candidates for president is that their presence inspires more independant candidates at the local and state levels. I think there were 2 newly elected In the 2000 election, there were a couple of newly elected independant candidates for the House and Senate. Part of that is due to voters who supported Nader taking a closer look at who is available at such closer levels of government.
From:uberfluffy
Date:April 6th, 2004 11:25 am (UTC)

Re: Beware of Failure of Naming

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Yep, just like how people will never vote for a non white or non male president, they don't have the same issues with minorities and women being senators or governors. I don't know that these people need to have a woman or a minority running for president in order to be successful, but maybe having someone different run for president does some good and lets people think that having someone different for senator is a good idea if that person is going to be a really good senator.
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From:dwchang
Date:April 6th, 2004 07:49 am (UTC)
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"If the Democrats truly had popular opinion on their side, then the Republicans wouldn't have taken both houses of Congress, to essientially give Bush the power to do what he wants."

I keep thinking the same thing. We live in a democracy and the majority (yes I realize a very small % vote) have spoken. That's how this system works and all the polls I see say the opposite of what some (very left) liberals I know say. If the people were really saying such things, they wouldn't need these people yelling it down my throat.

Either way, I agree that the people have a right to vote for whoever they feel is worthy, even if it's a *gasp* 4th canidate.

I guess I'm more annoyed by the fact everyone bitches and whines and yet ~15% (?) of the population actually votes? Bah!
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From:bogosort
Date:April 6th, 2004 10:34 am (UTC)
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About 50% of the population that is allowed to vote winds up voting. It's at about as low as it's gotten, and has been in a steady decline for a long time now.
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From:dwchang
Date:April 6th, 2004 10:48 am (UTC)

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50%?!?! No way!

Maybe I've lived in the wrong states, but I've never known more than like 3 people who vote at any given time and everytime I observe, it's always just old folks (i'm not trying to be mean here, it's the truth).

Perhaps you meant something with the "allowed to vote" that I'm not catching?
From:uberfluffy
Date:April 6th, 2004 09:06 am (UTC)
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Three comments and they all agree with you? I'm going to have to think of some good reasons that you're wrong, even though I happen to agree with you too, just to have the conversation you deserve.

On a side note, the whole .net thing is irrelevant to your point. You're right about the intention of the TLDs, but today on the internet, the majority of users don't understand why they are what they are, and just assume everything is a .com. The current use of the TLDs is so consistently off from what they were actually intended for that to say that the domain shouldn't be a .net is meaningless to a casual web user.

I think that their intention was to say that there is a "network" of people who are against Ralph Nader running, and that's why they took the domain.
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From:bogosort
Date:April 6th, 2004 10:41 am (UTC)
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And to think I was trying to be inflamatory to spur some good conversation.... Maybe when Duncan reads this he'll provide some commentary.

I think I forgot to put in some of the random bits that I wanted to throw out during that part. I can understand how the common person just assumes that everything is a .com, but they didn't get that one either. I suppose to their credit, the .com and .org were registered about a month before the .net by a domain squatter who figured that if they would be logical and take the appropiate extentions. But really, couldn't they come up with a different name that wasn't taken? It really shows the amount of thought that they put into this.

Then again, my suspicion is that they were putting the .net tag because they are a bunch of Gore supporters, and after all, he did create the Internet. Thus anything that involves him deserves the .net TLD.
From:uberfluffy
Date:April 6th, 2004 11:30 am (UTC)
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So... establishing a web site was a knee-jerk reaction to the news that Nader is running? Yeah, that sounds about right.

I should point out this thread to Mills' friends, some of whom have already talked about how bad it is that Nader is running.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 9th, 2004 08:40 am (UTC)
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Nader solely responsible for GW's election, but his presence did play a large role in Bush's election;
The primary reason Gore lost was that the democrats underestimated the drive of the republican party to get bush elected. As well, they neglected using the most powerful campaign machine since reagan's cinematic draw: Clinton. Had he utilized Clinton, he would have carried florida.
Now, as for how Nader helped us lose, well he did cost FLorida, and no, lee, Bush would not have won those other states, and even if he had, GOre would have won others he lost... so i guess to boil it down its impossible to say definitively that Gore would have won, but one thing is for sure, the supreme court in a divided decision handed Bush the presidency. So in essence everyone is to blame.
As for the two party system, it is MUCH better than the multy party system that results in coalition governments that have to band together to create a government that 99% of the time that does nothing. However the existence of a two party system is the natural evolution of our government as constituted by the constitutional framework. You cannot have a multi party system, because we dont exist in a parlimentary system. There can be no coalition governments, so we need to have clear majorities. That is why the three party system never lasts. If you want something more in depth, read John Aldridge's Why Parties. Or take this discussion to xanga, where we can get the rest of the peanut gallery to join in.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 9th, 2004 08:48 am (UTC)
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btw im Nimmi, im also on xanga, that is where i prefer to post... this type discussion id rather have in person... first off, im a moderate, dont really align with either party, i have a poli sci degree, concentration in int politics, but i took so many classes on political parties and the political process ill get sick if i take one more... my point is its everyone's fault we have bush in office...nader running again wont mean anything cause most of the clowns that voted for nader said they will vote kerry because keeping bush out of office is the greater need... btw as a political scientist, that view is absolutely sickening...
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 9th, 2004 08:58 am (UTC)
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I agree, says the liberal parrot.
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From:bogosort
Date:April 9th, 2004 10:06 am (UTC)
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Maybe I'm weird in that I actually prefer to have these discussions online, since the lag time tends to give me an opportunity to research my points. I will also note that I have a nasty habit of taking sides in a discussion just to be contrary regardless of if I believe them, simply because I believe that exploring the alternative viewpoints gives everyone a better understanding of why they believe the way that they do.

And yes, my point is the same as yours, that it's not soley Nader's fault that we have Bush in office, we're all responsible and that we should do something about it. That something, I feel should be persuasive arguments as to why Kerry would do a better job than Nader and Bush, rather than why we're blaming Nader for how Bush won last election.
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From:bogosort
Date:April 9th, 2004 09:59 am (UTC)
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I agree with what you have to say about Nader's role, but the point that I was trying to convey was more that it is not his sole reponsibility. Telling someone not to run, in my opinion would be similar as telling someone not to vote in my mind. Telling someone not to vote for a candidate is a completely different matter however. I'm a firm believer in learning from your mistakes rather than finding scapegoats and avoiding responsibility(which is what politicians excel at doing). I just see too many democrats making the same mistakes as the last election.

Regarding the two party system, from my knowledge of history, the two party system has worked rather well in the US in its ability to get stuff done. However, throughout the course of history, it's the presence of third parties periodically that cause radical upheaval in the two parties that ultimately keeps both of them from becoming complacent.
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