Robert W. McChesney
past Friday a dozen former "Nader’s Raiders" held a press conference
and told Ralph Nader to drop out of the presidential race and throw his support
to Vice-President Al Gore. Concerned about Gore’s faltering numbers in the
polls, they argued that votes for Nader might well lead to the victory of George
is not an original argument. But the problem with it is that they are asking the
wrong candidate to quite the race. Had they thought it through, they would have
demanded that Al Gore quit the race and throw his support behind Nader.
President Al Gore has now had three 90 minute mano a mano debates with George W.
Bush. His campaign and related soft money groups have spent hundreds of millions
of dollars on political ads to convince Americans to support him. He has
received an overwhelming amount of press coverage, much of it sympathetic. He is
a household name across the nation.
here we are less than two weeks from election day and Al Gore still is not ahead
of George W. Bush, arguably the least impressive and most unqualified candidate
for president in U.S. history. Many polls find him trailing Governor Bush. And
there is little hope for a turnaround, as Bush has twice the money Gore does to
bombard the nation with TV ads. Were a politician the caliber of Bill Clinton
running against W., he would mop the floor with Bush’s carcass, and lead him by
15 points in the polls.
Gore has failed. For whatever reason, people just don’t like the guy, and the
more they see him, the less they like him. The voters have made it clear they
might not elect him even over such a numbskull as George W. Bush.
seems pretty clear why Gore cannot expose Bush for the fraud he is. Bush is
owned lock, stock and barrel by the huge corporations and the wealthy. As
president, Bush will reduce the tax burden on the wealthy and eliminate those
remaining regulations that protect the environment, consumers and workers. He
will also give the green light to anti-competitive corporate mergers and
consolidation. A Bush Administration will make the Republican administrations of
the Gilded Age and the Roaring 20s look like socialist states.
Gore cannot attack Bush on these obvious points. Why? Because Gore is pretty
much in hock to the same crowd, and the Clinton-Gore administration has been
pursuing similar policies, albeit with a different grade of rhetoric to dress it
up. So the debate is a lot of insincere focus group tested sound bites or
a lot of mumbo jumbo on a bunch of incomprehensible policy programs. No one is
advocating positions that tackle the extreme inequality of wealth and power in
the United States directly, and the total corruption of our governing system by
there is little of substance to debate between them, those voters who haven’t
fallen asleep are making their choice between Gore and Bush on the basis of
which they think has a better personality. On that score, whether it is fair or
not, Gore is a sure loser.
Nader is not the reason Gore’s campaign is struggling. Gore has has ample
opportunity to make his case before the American voters. Gore had a ten point
lead in some polls in September. As that lead disappeared, most of the votes
shifted to Bush, not Nader. In fact, surveys show that a significant percentage
of Nader’s supporters — perhaps a majority — either would not vote or would
vote for someone other than Gore were Nader not in the race. Most of those
sympathetic to Nader but scared about a Bush presidency have already decided to
vote for Gore.
Gore, and Al Gore alone, has blown his golden opportunity.
fact, that Gore has laid such an egg is damaging Nader’s effort to reach the
five percent threshold and earn matching funds for the Green party in 2004. If
Gore were doing as well as he should be doing, he would win the election handily
and Nader could get 7-10 percent of the vote with little effect on the outcome.
But Gore has indeed laid an egg, and party hacks are desperate to find a
Democrats are truly concerned about the fate of progressive politics, the
rational solution would be for Gore to quit and throw his support to Nader. Gore
can’t win. Nader can.
hardly any money and worse media coverage than Andrei Sakharov got from Pravda
in the 1970s, Nader has drawn the six largest crowds in the campaign — ranging
from 10,000 to 15,000 people — and these were paying audiences no less. When
people actually hear Nader’s message they respond, and they respond favorably.
Nader can galvanize the citizenry in a way Gore cannot. He is the smartest, most
competent, and most honest figure in public life today. He is a national
leaving the race, Gore should demand that George W. Bush have three 90 minute
debates mano a mano with Nader in the final 10 days of the campaign. Without
Gore’s dreadful semi-Republican record, Nader will easily expose Bush for the
ignoramus that he is. Let’s see Bush serve up his banalities about favoring
"small government" and "returning power to the people" in
the face of Nader’s command of the real record of massive corporate welfare that
genuinely concerned about the fate of progressive ideals should urge Vice
President Gore to withdraw from the race immediately. Only Nader can defeat
Bush. All that progressives stand for — the Supreme Court, a woman’s right to
choose, the environment — is on the line. The sad truth is that on November 7 a
vote for Gore is a vote for Bush.