Democratic Underground

Ralph, Ralph, Ralph

July 20, 2004
By punpirate

Ralph, we gotta talk. About 2004 and the election. And about common sense.

I know you're a man of principle. You've fought for the consumer for the last nearly fifty years. Cars have mandatory seatbelts because of your concern. That's probably saved a lot of lives. Your idea, PIRG, is still doing good things in the states (but, you gotta do something about paying your canvassers a living wage).

I know you really get upset at the degree of influence big corporations have on the political process, and that you're equally upset with Democrats craving that big money just like the Republicans (hey, I'm pretty annoyed at it, too). Truly effective and complete campaign reform would be the cat's ass. The ever-loving cat's ass.

I know you think there's little to no difference between the Dems and the Repubs. And, you're right. The Republicans are taking long strides to the right, and too many of the Democrats are trying to keep up with them. Doesn't bring us back to the days when the Democrats truly represented the interests of the working people of the country. That's got to be something we have to work on in the years to come.

I thought it was a great idea that you had a smart, well-spoken woman on your ticket in 2000 as VP. I voted for you and Winona LaDuke in 2000, but only because I wanted to see the Green Party get a sufficient percentage of the vote to remain on future ballots and because I thought my state was safe from a win for Bush (little did I know that the vote would be so close).

But, Ralph, my vote didn't mean I thought you could win. Truth is, in one guise or another, you've run for President three times now (2004 would make your fourth try), and your best showing was 2.77% of the popular vote in 2000. After three tries at bat, it's not likely that a majority of the electorate is going to make a U-turn in your direction in 2004.

Despite the fact that Republicans are trying to get you on the ballot, and contributing to your campaign, it doesn't mean they want you to win - it means they want you to run, to take votes from the Democrats and ensure that Bush gets elected to the Presidency, for the first time. They're rooting for you to get in there, but they aren't going to be voting for you. The Green Party liked you in 2000, but they're leery in 2004.

Rightly or wrongly, you got pegged as the spoiler in 2000. Add up all the nutcases running in the Constitution Party and its ilk, and their votes probably exceeded the ones for you, but there's a difference - they took votes from the Republican right wing. Your candidacy took the votes of the most progressive thinkers on the left. And, like it or not, if you weren't running, those votes probably would have gone to a Democrat. And, like it or not, those votes meant the difference in a very crucial state, when all was said and done. Yup, Gore blew it big-time with his initial DLC patter and his choice of a sanctimonious corporate friend for VP, and he should have done much better and saved you from the being labeled the spoiler. We wouldn't be having this discussion if Gore had won his home damned state.

But, Gore didn't, and the Supremes pretended that Bush was a black sharecropper and gave him the benefit of the 14th Amendment, and look at what's happened. Look what's happened. Just look.

The neo-cons are running the show now, and are running the country into the ground. Four more years of them, and there won't be ground left. With all the shenanigans the rigid, rabid right have been pulling with judgeships and then using those judges to uphold partisan redistricting plans, we'll effectively be a one-party country in 2008. You won't have to just read about Tom DeLay in the Washington Post, you'll have to deal with him in your face, telling you what to do. Don't think you'd care for that - I certainly wouldn't.

I know you have a right to run. I know that you want the best for the country, to undo all the damage corporate money has done to the people's government. I believe you truly want to correct that. I believe that with the right message and an honest news media, that message would influence a lot of people. But let's get real. The news media isn't honest. You got almost as much media exposure as did Gore in 2000, and not a whit of the love and affection shown to Bush. Now that Bush is the incumbent, he's going to flat ignore you, and if he ignores you, the media will, too.

It's not right, and it's not fair. But, truthfully, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" was fiction. Uplifting fiction, but fiction, nevertheless.

But, here's the absolute bottom line lowdown: You can't win. You can only influence this election in a way which could end democracy in this country. I don't know if you've noticed or not, but the only ethic the Bushies have is to win - nothing else matters. And, they have some distinctly fascist tendencies (hope you've been reading the papers lately). And they want to turn this country back to a time when people like Ralph Nader were strung up from trees without trial and free beer was available for the onlookers.

Ralph, Ralph, Ralph. Here's my advice. Ask for five minutes at the Democratic Convention in Boston next week. Stand up before the assembled delegates and say, "I know I can be a good President. I know I can return this country to its best and brightest ideals. But, I can't win in the current political environment. However, I don't wish to be the person who catapulted this country back into the Middle Ages by helping George W. Bush and his axis of evil retain the White House. I'll make a deal with all of you. I'll ask my followers to vote for John Kerry and John Edwards in exchange for the right to pester the shit out of them whenever they fail to act in the people's best interest. Is that a deal?"

Then wait for the applause, Ralph. And, you're a lawyer. Don't forget to get their agreement in writing.

punpirate is a New Mexico writer who doesn't want Ralph Nader to fade away, along with the country's future.

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