Sunday, July 18, 2004

Writing on the 2000 election, Barbara Ehrenreich had this to say about voting for Gore:

We are being summoned to save this inveterate bribe-taker because "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush." That in itself is a disturbingly Orwellian proposition...

In her latest New York Times op-ed, Ehrenreich has a change of heart:

Ralph, sit down. Pour yourself a Diet Pepsi and rejoice in the fact that - post-Enron and post-Iraq war - millions have absorbed your message. You're entitled to a little time out now, a few weeks on the beach catching up on back issues of The Congressional Record.

This has led some to ask why exactly voting for the Democrat in spite of your principles has suddenly ceased to be Orwellian.

Ehrenreich's op-ed provides come clues to her train of thought on this. She writes,

...a lot of sewage has passed under the bridge since 2000. Back then, Al Gore was campaigning with the furious energy of an old-growth oak. George W. Bush looked like a dumbed-down version of Gerald Ford — a man who could be trusted to while away his presidency on the elliptical trainer.

and follows it up with

You've been kissing up to the Reform Party, which ran paleo-right-winger Pat Buchanan the last time around. You've been caught dallying with the former New Alliance Party, described by Christopher Hitchens, with his customary restraint, as a "zombie cult."

It's not difficult to see the political ignorance embodied in these statements. Who could have guessed that George W. Bush would not whittle away his presidency? Anyone who bothered to listen to one of his speeches. With his plans for a massive tax cut that disproportionately benefited the rich - with his explicit rejection of the multilateralism of the Clinton administration - with his propensity for putting out misleading numbers regarding budget plans and policies - and finally with his conspicuous incompetence - Bush had clearly exhibited all the traits that led to our current problems.

As for Nader cozying up to right wing groups - lets not forget that in 2000 Nader employed similarly insidious tactics. To maximize the vote total for the Green party - which might have qualified it for federal financing - Nader would have had to campaign in solidly liberal states in New England and California; but Nader explicitly rejected this strategy and instead put all his energy into swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania.

People like Ehrenreich - who voted for Nader in Florida - brought Bush to power through their sheer stupidity and naivete. I'm glad they are beginning to realize their mistake; but rather than pretend Ralph Nader has morphed beyond recognition in the last four years, its time for them to wholeheartedly embrace political realism.


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