“The historian Plutarch warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power of great wealth to subvert the electorate. …We don’t have emperors yet, but one of our two major parties is now dominated by radicals engaged in a crusade of voter suppression aimed at the elderly, the young, minorities and the poor; while the other party, once the champion of everyday working people, has been so enfeebled by its own collaboration with the donor class that it offers only token resistance to the forces that have demoralized everyday Americans.”
~ Bill Moyers
Many Democrats unsurprisingly associate reactionary politics with Republicans. But in doing so Democrats don’t notice the reactionary tendencies of their own party.
It wasn’t just the GOP that had a reactionary backlash to the 1960s. It was Democrats voting against the liberal progressive candidate, George McGovern, who instead chose to vote for Richard Nixon and got him elected. And, in 2000, more Democrats voted for George W. Bush than voted for Ralph Nader. Think about that.
Why do partisan Democrats have such short memories and lack of self-awareness? Without learning from history, the same mistakes are repeated. Once again, here we are with the reactionary partisans supporting the corporatist neoliberal and war hawk neocon instead of supporting the progressive liberal.
Will Democrats ever learn? Or are Democrats simply being true to themselves by embracing reactionary politics? If so, then maybe we should build a strong third party to challenge the bipartisan duopoly of reactionary politics.
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About McGovern, the point isn’t whether or not he could have won. Rather, if Democrats were the party of progressive liberals, then Democrats would have voted for McGovern and not Nixon. It’s easy to forget that Democrats had a lot of conservatives in the past (and still do).
Even during Reagan’s administration, Blue Dog Democrats gave the Republicans a conservative majority in Congress. Then the Clinton New Democrats used a Southern Strategy that brought more conservatives back into the party and in doing so shifted the entire political spectrum in Washington to the right.
Democrats have always been a big tent party, not a liberal progressive party as they claim in their rhetoric. In this campaign season, once again the rhetoric is being shown as false.
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About Nader, there are a few points. Most Nader voters weren’t Democrats. They were largely Independents and many of them wouldn’t have voted if not for Nader running. For the others who would have still voted, about an equal number would have voted for Bush.
Nader was never that popular with Democrats, as you know, and so it’s unsurprising that he didn’t draw that many Democratic voters. Even in terms of supposed liberals, 13% voted for Bush compared to 6% for Nader. The fact of the matter is Nader didn’t get that many votes in general. Not much of a spoiler.
Then again, the Democratic candidate, Al Gore, was so unpopular among Democrats that a massive number didn’t vote at all. Democrats were plenty divided and demoralized without any need for outside influence.
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It’s not that I’m against Democrats being a big tent party. I just wish they were more honest about this in their rhetoric. That way, voters could make honest decisions based on the facts.
Politicians like the Clintons appeal as much to conservatives as to liberals. They talk out of both sides of their mouths, using codewords (from progressive rhetoric to dog-whistle politics) that appeal to different groups and so they change their talking points depending on which group they speak to. The Clintons are not progressive liberals. They are simply opportunists who shift with the tide.
However, it’s not just sleazy politicians that are the problem. There is something else going on.
In the 2000 presidential election, 13% of supposed ‘liberals’ voted for George W. Bush compared to only 6% who voted for Ralph Nader. In Florida, it was 17% of all liberals who voted for Bush, a total of 191,000 votes. It wasn’t just that more registered Democrats voted for Bush than Nader.
These betrayers of the political left were worthless liberals. Don’t trust a liberal. I say that as someone who has identified as a liberal for my entire adult life. I’m simply an independent from now on.
A similar thing is shown in Pew data, that liberals are confused in the head. About 1 in 10 of those who are liberal across the board identify as conservative. Does liberalism have any meaning? Or has it simply become some form of nebulous identity politics?
I’ll try not to laugh when clueless pseudo-liberals tell me that Clinton is a progressive liberal. Liberals need to get their act together and figure out what they stand for. And Democrats need to figure out what kind of party they are. As for me, the Democratic party is dead to me. They’ve lost me for life.
Any candidate of any party that wants my vote, will have to fight for my support by showing that, first and foremost, they care about democracy. Beyond that, we can negotiate. This is the only way change will happen, when enough Americans demand reform and refuse to accept anything less.
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How Groups Voted in 2000
Roper Center, Cornell University
No More Mister Fall Guy:
Why Ralph Nader is Not to Blame for “President” Bush
by Tim Wise, TimeWise.org
The Ralph Nader Myth
by gjohnsit, Daily Kos
Dispelling the Myth of Election 2000:
Did Nader Cost Gore the Election?
by Irene Dieter, CAGP
Still Blaming Nader?
Green Party of Sonoma County
Debunked: The Myth That Ralph Nader Cost Al Gore the 2000 Election
by Good German, Disinfo