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Howard Zinn Will Vote For Nader After All

Sunday, November 2, 2008
After having added his name to the list of leftists intending to vote for Barack Obama out of anti-Republican sentiment, Howard Zinn has written a letter to Ralph Nader in which the historian admits that he "was wrong in saying that he would vote for Obama" and promises the consumer advocate that he "will vote for [Nader]." Admittedly, Zinn seems to imply that, were Massachusetts not a "slam-dunk state" for the Democrats, he would have cast his vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday.

At the heart of this story is something I have been discouraged by, namely the tendency of self-described liberals to vote for Barack Obama less out of a genuine enthusiasm for the man (though, undeniably, the Illinois senator does seem to elicit the sort of fervor one might expect of tweens attending an N'Sync concert from decidedly un-tweeny people) than out of a hatred for George W. Bush and the GOP.

The argument, of course, is that Barack Obama is better than the Republican alternative.

Thus, when I tell people that I intend to cast my vote for a third party candidate, I am greeted with the same sanctimonious refrain I hear every four years: "you're throwing your vote away."

And I hate that sort of bullshit. It's presumptuous to assume that I would want to give my vote to either of the major party candidates if I did not have a third party candidate for whom I felt any preference.

When the pro-Obama pragmatists fail to convince me with their case -- you wouldn't want another Republican in office would you? -- for my supporting their candidate, I am often accused of cynicism, which is ironic. It is ironic because it is precisely my lack of cynicism that enables me to vote for the person I feel I should support. If I were cynical, I would agree that my vote is worthless and that, if anything, I should accept the lesser of two evils as the best choice. But I do not believe this to be the case. The minute a vote for someone becomes a vote against someone, it ceases to be a vote for anything. It signifies a giving up, an acceptance of the belief that what one wants, one will never get.

And it is this sort of acquiescence that is exactly what leads to the sort of political stagnation we have in the United States. I mean, the Democratic Party would be considered a center-right party in most of the Western world while the Republicans would be a bit further right. The differences between the two parties, despite the passionate pleas to the contrary, are really quite minor.

And this is my point: I am not voting against Barack Obama nor am I (as some of my more vocal "liberal" friends claim) voting for a conservative America. I am voting for what I want, even if the polls say I won't have my way. If I want a de-corporatized democratic socialism, voting for Barack Obama or John McCain would be throwing my vote away and, if people like me (progressive, liberal, and often educated folks) stop saying "no thanks" to the two big parties, it won't matter that they're wrong because they will have effectively silenced the dissent necessary to bring about real change.

I want change, not the illusion of progress.

And if that hope is too audacious, America's Straight Thought Express derailed at the station.

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We Want a Google-YouTube Debate!

Sunday, September 7, 2008
Thanks to Barack Obama's commitment to avoiding debates that might involve the Democratic candidate answering non-scripted questions, it looks like the proposed Google-YouTube debate in New Orleans will not be happening. Just as Obama has refused to meet with John McCain (and, you know, average Americans) in a series of Town Hall meetings, the Democrat seems poised to ditch what could have been a truly wonderful opportunity for Americans to meet and discuss issues with the presidential candidates. Oh, and a great way to bring money to a hurricane-ravaged region.

But here's an idea: have it anyway. John McCain would attend. So would Ralph Nader and Bob Barr. And I bet Barack Obama would show up, miraculously finding the time he claims does not exist, if that happened.

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Don't Believe the Hype: Nader Did Not Cost Gore the Election

Thursday, June 19, 2008
SNL alum Tim Meadows, from an interview with Kam Williams:
KW: You've done tons of impressions. Are you working on Barack Obama?

TM: Yeah, I've been working on Barack Obama a little bit. I'm waiting for him to win. I'm not going to waste my time if he's going to lose.

KW: Are you supporting him?

TM: I'll support him if he wins. I won't support him if he loses. [Laughs] No, I don't support anybody. It's not my thing. And if I did, I wouldn't say who it was publicly. I'll give you a hint who I'm voting for in November. It rhymes with Seder.

KW: Oh, Ralph Nader. You don't worry about possibly wasting your vote?

TM: No, I sort of disagree with people who blame him for taking votes away from Gore in 2000. Gore still won the popular vote. Nader wasn't the reason why he lost the election. The Supreme Court cost him the election. Plus, you don't know that all those people who voted for Nader would've gone for Gore. I've met Ralph Nader and I like him. And I've met John McCain, and he's a great guy, too. I haven't met Barack, but I have met Oprah Winfrey. I would love to see some change, and whatever the country decides, I'm behind it.
Tim is correct: Nader did not cost Gore the election in 2000. Yes, Nader did get 97, 488 votes in Florida in the election and yes, George W. Bush beat Al Gore by an anemic 537 vote margin, but seven other presidential candidates received more than 537 votes in Florida, too:
Pat Buchanan (Reform) -- 17, 484 votes.
Harry Browne (Libertarian) -- 16, 415 votes.
John S. Hagelin (Natural Law) -- 2281 votes.
Monica Moorehead (Workers World) -- 1804 votes.
Howard Phillips (Constitution) -- 1371 votes.
David McReynolds (Socialist) -- 622 votes.
James E. Harris (Socialist Workers) -- 562 votes.
I doubt any of the 1000+ socialist votes would have gone for Bush. Had even half of those gone to Gore, he would have won. But no one makes that argument. Of course, Nader's detractors have always been eager to point out (without any real evidence), that many of the Green Party's votes would have gone to the Democrats had Nader not run in the millennial election. And, of course, some of Nader's many votes would have probably gone to Al Gore. What the anti-Nader crusaders (Michael Moore, Eric Alterman, Fat Mike, etc.) don't mention, however, is that many of Nader's votes would have gone to George Bush or another (or no) candidate. Interestingly, a recent AP poll provides the following food for thought:

In a three-way race, Barack Obama would pick up 47 percent of the vote, John McCain would get 43 percent and Ralph Nader would get 6 percent. But the real kicker is that "[i]f Nader, the independent, is not included, Obama's lead is 49 percent to 46 percent." So, if Nader were not in the race, the six percent of the vote the consumer advocate might expect to pick up would disperse as follows:
1% would not vote for either the Democrats or Republicans
3% would vote for the Republicans
2% would vote for the Democrats
In other words, the GOP would benefit from Nader's exclusion while the Democrats would suffer.

Interesting, huh? I suspect some of Nader's critics would suggest that many of the people who voted for Nader in 2000 did not vote for him in 2004 because they were voting anti-Bush, and that the same demographic would be hesitant to "give" the White House to a Republican again by voting for Nader in 2008. Still, is it possible that maybe the Democrats have been spreading propaganda because Al Gore lost the election and they needed a scapegoat? In a word, yes.

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John McCain: America's Songbird?

Sunday, June 8, 2008
From Prison Planet:

"A former Vietnam veteran with top secret clearance says he has personally spoken to numerous POW's who dispute John McCain's claim that he refused to provide information after he was captured and tortured in Hanoi, saying that in fact McCain's code-name was 'Songbird' because of his willingness to tell all to avoid torture."

"'He never was tortured - they were there in the camp with him and then when he came in. . .he immediately started spilling his guts about everything because he didn't want to get tortured,' said [Jack] McLamb, contradicting the official story that McCain only offered his name, rank, serial number, and date of birth."

"The POW's said that McCain made 32 propaganda videos for the communist North Vietnamese in which he denounced America for what they were doing in Vietnam.

'They have these sealed now, our government has these sealed, we can't get to it, they have it classified,' said McLamb, adding that in truth 'the POW's hate John McCain.'"

This sounds eerily reminiscent of the anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. If it's true, it could easily destroy any and all of McCain's credibility. On the other hand, it could be as far-fetched as Larry Sinclair's claim to have had homosexual intercourse with Barack Obama.

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