Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Kucinich v. Nader, and other curious cultural artifacts

"A seller-sovereign economy includes sellers who are monopolistic or oligopolistic without being confronted by the ultimate consumers who are organized in monopsonistic (a single buyer) or ologopsonistic (a few buyers) modes. It is an economy where enormous skill, artifice, and resources are used in getting consumers to buy what the sellers want to sell, notwithstanding the availability of more efficient, safe, economical, durable and effective alternatives, including that of buying nothing at all. ...Ours is a system of corporate socialism." --Ralph Nader

The American Mind
--Is there an American mind? Like Neil Young, I'm still looking for it. I'm not understanding this incredible hatred from those of us on
the so-called left (everyone's pissed, it's not a "left" or a "right" thing to think this country is in-trouble), but then I keep forgetting that I couldn't disagree more with their viewpoint that Ralph Nader almost solely facilitated the Bush campaign's road to the White House. Considering how few people voted in 2000, and even today, it's not a stretch to say that many Americans failed themselves and Nader in 2000.

No, it wasn't all of the Black Americans and the poor--including veterans--who were denied the right to vote, and it wasn't the tens-of-millions of pampered slackers who are too dumb and lazy to get-up and actually do what many in other nations fight for the privilege to do (vote), and it wasn't all of the irregularities at the polls in Florida, or the entire truckload of votes that disappeared then magically reappeared there. It surely wasn't the fact that the Bush campaign filed a counter-suit against the Gore campaign, knowing full-well that they had Supreme Court Justice Scalia in their pocket. Clearly, this was all the fault of Ralph Nader, who never did anything good for his country (and other mythologies borne of cognitive-dissonance and the introduction of logic to reactionary minds). Welcome to collective-guilt folks, we'll be seeing more fallout from it soon.

And it wasn't the fact that many electronic voting machines were manufactured, programmed, and probably hacked by Republican operatives--it was all Ralph Nader, and he's never done anything for Americans. That's the common take, and it couldn't be more wrong-headed. Rather than showing some kind of belated thanks for the fact that all of us are protected by safety standards he not only pushed-for but also authored, we go through our days not realizing the little things that he's accomplished that prevent us from...dying.

There was a time--before Ralph Nader--when there was no OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), no EPA,
not even a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). But forget about that for a moment and realize that without him, you would be more likely to die in a car accident or be poisoned by the food you eat every day, since there would be few very few safety standards without him and "Nader's raiders." Being 6' 4", his stature is very much like that of Abraham Lincoln, and he can take the licks he's getting.

Yet, somehow, Ralph Nader is screwing things up for the country, and it's solely his fault that George W. Bush is president. Therefore, allege those who perversely hate Nader, Iraq, warrantless surveillance--everything under Bush that's bad--is Ralph Nader's fault. Did Dennis Kucinich ever have any more of a chance of winning? Ah, but he "stayed within the system," he ran as a Democrat.

There you have it: Ralph Nader's primary sin is that he ran as a third-party candidate in a hotly-contested election in 2000 and 2004. I know, especially considering that it's not supported by the facts, and the fact that 25% of those who voted for Nader in 2000 would have voted for George W. Bush. But that doesn't matter--it's Nader's fault, not ours. How many Germans felt "it's not our fault" before Soviet troops came crashing into Berlin? After? It's never our fault, only the faults of others. Kucinich is a great guy, and Ralph Nader is a "dinosaur," and an "egotist" for running.

Postscript: A good friend told me last night (I'm paraphrasing), "Maybe it was Gore and Bush that lost the election for Ralph Nader." Not everyone who voted for Nader was going to vote for Al Gore, and at least a quarter of the people who voted for him were
votes lost for George W. Bush. That's right, Ralph Nader took away votes from Bush, something you'll rarely ever hear. Add-to-that the irregularities at the polls, and it becomes a lot less about Ralph Nader, and lot more about how fundamentally bankrupt our political system and culture are. Food for thought, but America's on a "truth diet" about itself, as always.