Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ownership

I read with interest a debate between GeistX of CubeZoo and DAV of Evil Bobby. It seems DAV had some venting to do about the election of seven years ago, and decided to trot out the well-worn idea that Ralph Nader ruined the election for Al Gore in 2000, and therefore, those that voted for Nader in 2000 should shoulder some of the blame for George W. Bush's catastrophic administration.

I have mixed feelings about Ralph Nader. He is certainly not the selfless idealist his supporters portray him to be. And I was disappointed in him for running in 2004. I thought he and his message had pretty much fizzled. So I have a lot of sympathy for DAV's point of view. But in this discussion, I have to come down squarely on the side of GeistX.

Buried in DAV's argument about blame for Bush's "victory" in 2000 is an assumption that Gore somehow deserved the votes that went to Nader, and that Nader's strategy of attacking Gore from the left was unfair and inappropriate.

Note to democrats: you do not own the vote of the left! You, like all politicians, must earn each and every vote. If the speeches you make and the policies you propose and the issues you stump fail to inspire the majority of electorate, you lose! It's that simple. You have no one to blame but yourselves, for failing to build a coalition large enough for victory.

Now, I happen to agree with the folks who advocate a proportional representation system. I think it would make for a much broader, more robust democracy. But it's not the form of government we have. Our Constitution and many of our laws reinforce a two-party division of power. So any "coalition government" we can build has to take place within a single party.

One way to broaden the political discourse is to join the party that best represents your views and try to shape that party's platform from within. Doing this provides a strong chance that your party can win control of some branch of government. This is what DAV advocates. But it does not guarantee an uncompromised agenda. Quite the opposite: it all but insures that you will be coping with a watered-down implementation of your legislative plan.

Another way to broaden political discourse, equally valid and useful, is to join a third party. This severely limits your chances at electoral victory, but doing so gives a strong, clear voice to the issues that matter most to party members. If your party's message resonates with enough people, the dominant parties have to respond to those issues.

I want to point out that this describes a lot of the history of our two major parties: they have evolved in no small part because of third party organizing and agitation. Heck, right here in Minnesota, you need only recall the name of one party to know that this is true: Democratic-Farmer-Labor. The Farmer-Labor Party joined the Democratic Party to create the DFL. This is what GeistX implicitly understands: that a vote for a third-party is not a wasted vote, nor is it a vote for the candidate furthest from your own views. It is a principled act with a long-term goal.

Another note to democrats: crying foul over your opponents' tactics is a laughably feckless strategy! Republicans have had their gloves off for a long, long time. Gore's delayed, weak response to the turmoil following the 2000 election, and Kerry's effete campaign and tepid defense in the wake of Bush's attacks in 2004 bear witness to this sad reality. Democrats seem unwilling or unable to fight back, and waste precious energy on the two-headed dunces of in-fighting and hand-wringing. Guys, put up your dukes! It's time for some ass-kicking. There are real battles to be fought.

The Dems better start owning their victories, and owning their defeats, and forget the feeble idea that they somehow deserve anyone's vote. Ralph Nader did not put George W. Bush in office. Don't forget that over 50 million people voted for Bush in 2000. Democrats must fight harder to win votes, and show that they are the party of the left, the party of the people. They do not own us! The elections of 2006 left me with some hope. Let us see how things develop...

7 comments:

DAV said...

Knight: I'll give ya a retort later. I've been doing a lot of gardening today. In the meantime are you an technorati and truth laid bear?

DAV said...

Are you from Rochester by the way?

GeistX said...

Knight, well put. I'm linking this post on my main page.

DAV, Knight is an old friend of mine in the Twin Cities.

DAV said...

A D&D player, eh?

Knight of Nothing said...

Indeed! A gamer. I know GeistX through a former co-worker of his. Just finished an evening of Call of Cthulhu, as a matter of fact.

I look forward to hearing back from you, DAV.

Knight of Nothing said...

DAV, in answer to your question, I am not in fact on either of those blog index sites. I'll start with technorati... Do you find that they are helpful-useful-interesting..?

DAV said...

I liek both trackers. Mostly they encourage people to network with you.