Posted 12 months ago on Dec. 20, 2013, 4:08 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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Ralph Nader on Florida in 2000 and What to Do Next
Friday, 20 December 2013 12:04 By Paul Jay, The Real News Network | Video Interview
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome back to our series of interviews with Ralph Nader on Reality Asserts Itself. Ralph's biography is down below. And everybody know who Ralph is. And watch the first two segments, where I gave a longer biography.
RALPH NADER, POLITICAL ACTIVIST, AUTHOR, AND ATTORNEY: Or go to Nader.org. You'll get my free weekly column, and you'll know what we're about.
JAY: Alright. Cool.
So there is a question I've always wanted to ask you. And this goes back to 2000 and the elections and the whole debate about whether or not you should have done something about Florida. As far as I know--and I'm persuaded from what I've seen that if you had made a big announcement that people shouldn't vote for you in Florida, it probably wouldn't have made any difference. I am persuaded that Gore lost the election, and not only lost it because he ran the stupidest, you know, lousiest campaign, not least of which was his ego trip of not allowing Bill Clinton to campaign for him, which he would have won if Clinton helped him--.
NADER: Certainly in Tennessee and Arkansas, which he both lost.
JAY: And then some. I mean, Clinton's just--whatever you think of Clinton, he's one of the great campaigners there is.
JAY: And he capitulates on the vote count. So on any number of things, without question the absolute blame is on Gore and American politics and whatever.
Did you--just in terms of your own movement building, do you have any second thoughts, regrets, that not doing it just created divisions that maybe we're better not to have?
NADER: Well, it created divisions because of the pompous sickness of the political system, where liberals settled into least worst--and they'll always go for the Democrats to the Republicans, even though both are falling all over themselves before corporate power. And every four years it gets worse, because once they go least worst, they're not pulling in progressive directions, and the corporations are pulling the other side, so it's no contest. Right? Money prevails.
My concern in running was our country was becoming a war empire. Our country was spending far too much on the military budget at the expense of ordinary people's necessities in our country. The two parties didn't care about occupational disease and trauma. They didn't really care much about environment. They didn't care--apart from the rhetoric, they didn't care about reining in Wall Street. They didn't care about the perforated, grotesque tax system. They didn't even care about an adequate minimum wage or a jobs program, regardless of their rhetoric. They were all pushing this corporate model of globalization and NAFTA and WTO and all that.
So why am I concerned about Gore? Why am I concerned about Bush? I gave them the platform of justice for this country. They could have picked it up, one of the parties, and my vote would have shrunk to nothing.
JAY: I don't think there's any argument, certainly not from me. You had a right to run. You had a right not to pull out of Florida. You know, you had a right to make your case. You had a right to try to get the 5 percent of the vote that was the objective.
But I would push back, personally, that there aren't some differences between the two parties that matter. Like you take this last election, if Romney had--if we had President Romney right now, I think it's highly unlikely there'd be negotiations with Iran. I think the possibility of a Saudi-Israel push, and the American military-industrial complex that I think wants this war with Iran, we'd be a hell of a lot more likely to have this war.
NADER: But, you see, if you do that, if you have that kind of attitude, the differences between the two parties in succeeding years will be less and less and less. So when are you going to draw the line? What is the breaking point?
Let's make it really clear, because it's the liberal intelligentsia that really has got to be given a call-out on this. They're the ones who went after me. They're the ones who blocked all kinds of access to Congress after 2000. My lectures dried up, with which we funded a lot of our groups. You know. Alright, they really fixed on a big ostracism, right?
Alright. So I turn around and I say to them, do the two parties own all the voters? Oh, no, this is a free democracy. Okay. Well, don't you think it should be a competitive election, you know, with third and fourth parties? In theory, they say, yes. Okay. Then I say, alright, let's go to 2000. Critical, right? Okay. It's April 2000, and the Democrats were against women's rights and the Democrats were critical of Israel. Would any of you have formed a third-party? In a minute! Right?
Now, we work on a lot of issues that the Democrats were bad on. A lot of issues. And so we had a different breaking point than they have. So, you see, Gloria Steinem just got the Medal of Freedom at the White House, and she said the day before that she is honored more than any other president to be given a medal of freedom, 'cause he was good, Obama's good on reproductive rights. Right?
Well, what if he's bad on war? What if he's bad on Wall Street? What if he's bad on minimum wage, he doesn't lift a finger?
You see, here's the point, Paul. We've got to get over this. We've got to basically say everyone's got a right to run. Everybody's going to try to get votes from one another. Therefore, everyone's either a spoiler of one another or none of them are spoilers of one another. They called me a spoiler in 2000 after Bush stole the election all the way to the Supreme Court. I mean, I would think he's a mega spoiler of the Democratic Party. But no, they basically have a political bigotry that don't you dare challenge the Democratic Party, no matter how corporatized and indentured it is, from the left in the electoral arena. Well, you can write editorials for The Nation, you know, you can pick at the White House, but don't get real serious.
JAY: Don't affect the outcome of an election.
NADER: Yeah, don't affect the outcome.
JAY: So what I'm--.
NADER: And, by the way, Gore doesn't think the Green Party did it.
JAY: I'm not--.
NADER: And I said--. No, it's interesting. But even Gore--.
JAY: What did he say?
NADER: Gore basically said it was stolen from him in Florida, and it was his fault he didn't win Tennessee, his home state that he represented for years in Congress. If everything was the same except he won Tennessee, he would have been president.
JAY: I'm arguing, as far as I know of the situation, that it wouldn't have mattered what you did. I don't think it would have.
NADER: No, actually, there was an AP poll right after the election without me in it, and Bush won.
JAY: Well, I also saw an NBC report just--I think it's actually in the film Unreasonable Man. NBC's having a discussion afterwards with exit polls, and most of the people that voted for you said they would have just stayed home if you weren't--it's not that your votes would have gone to Gore, even if you told people to.
NADER: And a Democratic exit poll showed 25 percent of my vote would have gone to Bush, 39 percent to Gore, and the rest would have stayed home.
JAY: What I'm raising is a couple of questions, is, one, was it worth getting into that big a fight with everyone on it? And then, two, there are some differences that matter between the parties. And don't we need to find a way to be able to tell people that listen to us that, one, both these parties represent sections of the elite? They mostly have stuff in common. There may be a few things that matter that are different, that maybe it's worth voting for a Democrat, but understand you're voting for a section of the elite and we need to build an independent politics.
NADER: That's true.