Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Presidential Politics at Its Nader

I truly look forward to next week. No, not Tuesday’s election and the selection of our new president; I desperately look forward to the day after and each subsequent day until spring 2004. The pragmatic cynicism of the 2000 election, the forgone conclusion and “lesser of two evils” advocacy, of which both Republican and Democrats are guilty, has truly made a bitter man of me. I am going into hiding for the next four days because if I have to justify or feign apology one more time for supporting the Nader/LaDuke campaign, I fear it may get ugly.

April was my cruelest month – with the elimination of the two major party candidates, John McCain and Bill Bradley, whom I could have, in good conscience, thrown my support behind. The reality was clear to me then: six months of endless attack ads, smugness, arrogance and gaffes that would made me look back almost fondly on the ’96 election campaign. At least in that case, I was too young to be forced to make a choice between two men whom I did not respect, Bill Clinton and Bob Dole and a third (Perot) whose sanity I outright questioned.

But with Perot gone from the scene and his party in the throes of cannibalism, would this election even be entertaining on its way to saddling us with one of two men lacking in inspiration? I didn’t see this election igniting any passion within my soul.

Then a ray of hope shown bright on this gray election cycle, in the person of Ralph Nader. Ralph, it seemed, was actually going to do more than get his name on the ballot; he proclaimed boldly in a news conference I caught on CSPAN2 (along with its other five viewers) that he was going to take his campaign to all 50 states and try to capture the fire of the youth and disenfranchised. Ralph has made good on his promises. He has indeed gone to every single state, as well as the District of Columbia on his campaign.

Though he has not attracted the massive numbers of disenchanted voters he predicted those many months ago, Ralph has brought attention to liberal issues that Al Gore and his wing of the Democratic party lack the courage to bring up. He has spoken honestly about the insidious level of corporate influence in our electoral process, the abject poverty that many of our people continue to live in, despite the longest period of prosperity in our nation’s history, and the precarious state of our environment. This has enriched the debate, and it was truly a shame that the Electoral Commission (a corporation run by Democratic and Republican party leadership) chose to bar him from the national podium the televised debates offered. He represents the choice that so many in this country grouse our political parties lack.

The popular perception, especially among the Democratic and Republican National Committees, is that Nader is drawing his voters almost exclusively from the core of traditional Democratic voters. Democrats seem desperate to shore up the sinking ship that is the Gore/Liebermann ticket and have become increasingly shrill in their demands that liberals abandon the “egotistical” Nader campaign and return to the Democratic fold. They summon up the dark specter of a Bush presidency and all the doom it will entail – the NRA, big oil and other assorted bogeymen gaining the presidential podium and operating Dubya like Edgar Bergen. As a result, I’ve found myself dressed down regularly by my Democratic friends, who in some way feel it their duty to shame me into voting for their man. Over and over again, I’ve found myself giving them assurances that not only am I not a traditional Democratic voter, I have absolutely no intention and see no possibility of giving my vote to Al Gore. I point out to them that a recent US News and World Report study on Nader’s likely voters indicates that only 25 percent of them identify themselves as registered Democrats or regular Democratic voters in Presidential elections. The other 75 percent, including myself, are registered as Independents, Republicans or members of other third parties. Then I drop the bomb on them that I’m actually a registered Republican; I find that usually results in the subject being changed. I do not consider a vote for Nader to be a vote for the Green party, I consider it to be a vote for Ralph Nader, the man. In voting for Nader, I cast my vote for a man whom I can speak of personally without equivocation or apology, who has worked all of his life to make the world a better and safer place for us all. And as an added bonus I get to register my disgust with the two party monopoly on our national government.

So why vote for Nader? Our country has one party with no solutions and another with bad solutions, and neither is willing to tackle or even discuss the problems in a serious way because of the interests to which they are financially beholden. Ralph Nader is not going to be president of the United States, but if he manages to attract more than five percent of the vote, the Green party will be eligible for federal matching funds and thus able to get its views a wider audience in 2004. More importantly, it may signal to the powers that be in this country that there is a substantive amount of the electorate frustrated and angry with politics as usual. How this translates into substantive change from politics as usual, I cannot foresee, but I will look back on Nov. 4 with a clear conscience, though I will probably have to go back into hiding after I’m blamed for getting Bush elected. Well, there’s always Canada.

Jeff Hill is a senior in the College and a member of The Hoya’s editorial board.

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