Ralph Nader supporters don't speak collectively, nor do we the people. I waited until the last possible minute to submit this article, in the hope that we'd know the election outcome. No such luck. One thing is certain: Al Gore would have had a clear victory if Nader fans had voted along traditional party lines.
Except for the socialist candidate for president, Gore is the closest in viewpoint to Nader. Therefore, Nader supporters have possibly kept the candidate who had a chance, and who is closest in thinking to their hero, out of office.
This is just the practical, tangible reality. Certainly, as naive as a vote for Nader might have been in terms of outcome, there were a variety of reasons to vote for the Green Party candidate.
First, one might be really committed to Nader. After all, he's a hero to many of us.
His supporters justifiably might have hoped to achieve enough votes for matching funds, allowing a stronger candidacy in the future. Assuming a voter is committed to sticking with Nader, the vote was sincere and logical. Alas, the goal wasn't attained.
Certain voters supported Nader out of an individual sense of idealism, regardless of the consequences. This group might do the same for any third-party candidate at any time again, regardless of the consequences for the future.
From here on in this analysis, voter types become more convoluted and Machiavellian. One might have voted for Nader in order to help put George W. Bush in office, but without having to admit voting for Bush. This type of voter is about as superficial as the idealist: Because votes are secret, the vote could have gone to Bush; the voter could simply lie to the college co-ed he's trying to bed, and claim to be in the Nader camp.
Some do just lie, for various purposes, realizing, for example, Bush's face really does belong on the cover of Mad magazine, but they want to vote along party lines anyway.
Then there's the most interesting Nader fan of all. Knowing a vote for Nader was a vote for Bush and hating not only Bush and his party but the system itself, this voter hoped to stimulate revolution. This person views us at a point in history similar to the years of Claudius during the Roman Empire.
Claudius, a historian, realized his unusual, adept management of the empire had simply delayed the inevitable fall of Rome. It was only through rebuilding a corrupt but fallen structure that Rome could consolidate and recover. Indeed, to some voters, Nader represents hope in a corrupt and doomed system.
Oddly enough, except for his association with Bill Clinton, Gore doesn't inspire much in the way of a perceived personal contribution to our future. Being Mr. Drab prevents this. Perhaps one might say, at worse, he'll get the job done with the least display of intellectual incompetence.
Why this doesn't seem a suitable goal to almost half of all voters is a puzzle, given that the Republican Party in the 20th century is the party of corruption and that Bush might not be drab but instead be stupid.
European countries, on the other hand, whether liberal or conservative, want a Gore presidency. The reason is they want a continuation of Clinton policies — those promoting globalization, fair trade and peace. And peace is now high on the agenda. For the true world crisis builds in the Middle East, while mainstream media (most of which is superficial) and fools (anyone who promotes a personal opinion before legal decisions are reached) continue to make a circus of due process, object to getting the count done correctly and putting in a president.
The effort should be — or, by the time you read this, should have been — to correct mistakes, get as accurate a count as possible and then revise law to make voting technologically modern and consistent throughout the states. Furthermore, states should be required to continue accuracy and consistency. Inept management and 30-year-old ballot systems shouldn't decide a close outcome, unless we just want to be inaccurate and dumb.
Dumb is not exactly stupid, but our collective speech as a nation has been even worse than stupid. As we run around screaming and pointing a finger at the enemy within, it is possible a missile is being aimed at one or another of several small nations at the tip of the iceberg.
What's floating underwater is us all.
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