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My talking points on "But Ralph Nader!"

We seem to be reliving the 2008 campaign, so I thought I'd put up the talking points I use when Democratic loyalists play their trump card: "But Ralph Nader!"

Gore lost the Presidency because:

1. He followed Beltway conventional wisdom and ran away from Clinton's record even though Clinton's polling was very high;

2. Florida gamed the voter rolls (and the Democrats didn't stop them, naturallement). More here.

3. 308,000 FL Democrats voted for Bush.

4. Gore's campaign was infested with cheesy Quislings like Ed Rendell, who called on Gore to concede, and Joe Lieberman, who sold Gore out on counting illegal votes from the military. On national television.

5. Democrats allowed the "bourgeois riot" (staged by Republican Hill staffers) to shut down the Miami recount.

6. The Gore Campaign only challenged the FL vote in counties they thought they could win, instead of a general recount for all FL, ceding any moral advantage and looking like cheesy pragmatists, besides (as it turned out) outsmarting themselves, because the math worked against them.

7. The Democrats treated Bush v. Gore as legitimate.

8. Al Gore, as Senate President, gaveled the Black Caucus into silence when they sought to provide evidence of election fraud in FL before forming the 2001 Congress.

In fact, the Gore campaign was a massive #FAIL and they lost an election they should easily have won. Blaming Nader for their loss is like blaming the last pebble down the mountainside for the avalache.

Here's what "ZOMG!!!! Nader!!!!" really is: A big steaming cup of STFU for anybody who dares to think outside the bankrupt paradigm of the legacy two-party system. The STFU also plays into the main institutional psychosis of the Democrats: Everything is about blame-shifting to the other guy, and failing to be self-critical about anything, in the slightest degree whatever. Because Obama or, really, whoever.

Of all these points, it's #3 -- "308,000 FL Democrats voted for Bush" -- that causes the typical Obot's head to explode.

Readers? How do these points work for you? Do you have better points or better links? Since anybody who advocates voting for an emergent party candidate is going to have to deal with the "ZOMG!!! Nader!" talking point, we might as well work to polish this up.

NOTE There's also the realpolitik way to turn it around: "Yeah, Nader cost Gore the election. So meet our demands -- the 12-Point Platform, say -- or we'll do it again."

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Submitted by jawbone on

I clearly recall some FL local elections expert on, iirc, CNN, saying that the Dems had to prove to the election recount controllers (not sure what such a group or bureau was called) that there was evidence of an undercount.

I may have heard incorrectly, but I remember something on that order. However, I do not know if asking for the whole state to be recounted would have been OK.

But, in sounded as if the Dems HAD to cherry pick or their requests for recounts would have been refused. Again, i have no idea how recounting the whole state would have worked out.

But, that damnable butterfly ballot sure did create the crisis, along with other issues.

Submitted by lambert on

But I'm not sure whether proving an undercount and then challenging for a partial recount is the same. Readers?

* * *

It's been a long time. 14 years! And to think I actually bought books on all this stuff; it seems very serious at the time, instead of only one of "a long train of abuses and usurpations."

The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit's picture
Submitted by The Infamous Or... on

Posting as someone also in the "neither of them is *my* dog in that fight" category, I'd say your talking points make sense; especially the "we'll do it again!" one.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

there (as a second residence) for almost two decades--Tennessee Democrats [mostly] did not like Al Gore.

Not a native Tennessean myself, all that I could glean is that the resentment stemmed from him "growing up" in a hotel in D.C. (as opposed to their so-called farm)

IOW, he was considered a "carpetbagger," who essentially was elected to his Senate seat riding his Father's coattails (both "Senior" Gore and Pauline Gore were pretty popular).

Now, during this era, we spent six or so weeks there [annually], but were in frequent phone contact with many relatives. And regardless of what some polls said, it was probably the most prudent thing for FP Clinton not to get very involved in Gore's campaign.

Remember, though not part of the most extreme "Deep South," it is very much a part of the so-called "Bible Belt." And Gore, an already unpopular politician in TN, would only have had a more difficult time if there had been reminders of MonicaGate (in his campaign).

Unfair, but that is the way it was. (Not to us--but we aren't religious "fundamentalists," either!)


So that's my "two cents." Don't have time to "get in the weeds" on this one--good luck if you can figure it out!

jest's picture
Submitted by jest on

jest's picture
Submitted by jest on

Former Vice President Al Gore
September 23, 2002

Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction...

I was one of the few Democrats in the U.S. Senate who supported the war resolution in 1991. And I felt betrayed by the first Bush administration’s hasty departure from the battlefield...

We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country...

Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.


He's not as big a fear monger as Liberman or Bush, but he wasn't a peacenik either like the dkos types make him out to be. Pelosi, Harman, and the rest all believed the same schtick.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

I've made my reservations on Greens pretty clear, but that's mostly vis-a-vis guilt tripping from the party and moral posturing from its more, um, passionate rank and file.

As far as Democratic messaging goes, my basic response is fuck off. If you can't make a positive case to persuade liberals to vote for your candidate, you haven't earned their vote. Don't tell me how bad the Republicans or Greens are, tell me how good you are.

Shorter: "But Ralph Nader!" "Guess your boy shouldn't have sucked so much."

I've kept a link to Gore's convention speech handy because it was the single most irritating speech I've seen in my lifetime, and I've got the worst clips excerpted to boot. Maybe I'll turn that into a quick post here; don't think it would work as the kind of thing I do at PS, but would fit in with the recent conversations here. Maybe over the weekend.

Submitted by hipparchia on

NOTE There's also the realpolitik way to turn it around: "Yeah, Nader cost Gore the election. So meet our demands -- the 12-Point Platform, say -- or we'll do it again."


this should be your a-number-one talking point.

alas, it may not actually be true...

florida or no florida, gore won the popular vote, but lost the electoral college vote. so really, the a-number-one talking point should be abolish the electoral college already.

gore only won the popular vote because all the minor candidates collectively drained off more republican votes than democrat votes. in a 2-person race between bush and gore, bush would have won the popular vote.

from that same link:

3% of those who think that Bush is too liberal on the issues voted for Nader?!?


42% of those who think that Gore is too conservative on the issues voted for Bush.

gotta love it. voters are sooooo rational, bless their democracy-lovin' little hearts!

more on nader not being the spoiler: what jest said. and just generally speaking, people who vote for fringe or minor candidates would otherwise just stay home and not vote at all.


on a more personal note, speaking as a florida voter who voted in that election...

ran away from Clinton's record

that worked for me. by 2000 I hated bill Clinton's guts, primarily for his "welfare reform," as by that time I'd spent a couple of years doing volunteer work with the single mothers and their children who were being thrown off the welfare rolls, and my part of the country was not doing well economically.

I was originally rabidly for al gore, he invented the internet y'know and he was as close to being a science nerd as any candidate I was ever going to get to vote for. then he picked joe lieberman for his running mate. barf. I seriously considered voting for nader. in the end, I held my nose and voted for gore, because republicans! and then he went and conceded the election after only a selective, partial recount. fucker.

for ages after that election I bought lottery tickets every week, and I was going to use the winnings to pay for a full hand recount of all the florida votes.

308,000 FL Democrats voted for Bush.

yeah, wtf??? how come nobody ever talks about THEM as being the spoilers?

Submitted by lambert on

Up here in the great state of Maine we have them, and the only people in the State capitol with any institutiona memory are the lobbyists (and, granted, a few heavily outgunned and outfunded citizens groups).

Submitted by lambert on

Not sure.

However, I do feel there are very few keepers of this history, even though these events happened less than two decades ago. So posts for the record are important.

Submitted by Dromaius on

Nothing intended except the actual point I was making. I am literally, not figuratively, sick of 2008. 2000 seems relatively mild now to me.

jinb's picture
Submitted by jinb on

Would add that bizarre kiss that was supposed to prove Al was still in love with Tipper to the mix.

Submitted by lambert on

Gore really did have a tin ear, didn't he?

* * *

And for policy, didn't that whole "shrinking government" thing, I forget the buzzword, lead to privatization and neo-liberal rent seeking infestation everywhere?

malagodi's picture
Submitted by malagodi on

Yes, above all #3.

300,000 DINOs vote for Bush yet Nader - or anyone else - is to blame.

Now we're going to get this again, and maybe in the primary even, that any challenge to Hillary will weaken the party and elect Satanic Republicans.

How many times will this play get produced before the theater is actually empty?

mellon's picture
Submitted by mellon on

I would be willing to vote for Hillary if

1.) She supports single payer (which would require us first withdrawing from the WTO GATS agreement, and the services portion of other agreements like NAFTA, TPP, etc.)

2.) She agrees to push for a term limit of twelve years for Senators

3.) She backs a Constitutional amendment to remove money from politics and end corporate personhood.