Polis-Chicago found this AP story in the New York Times on Nader's call to impeach President Bush in Chicago yesterday (why didn't the Chicago dailies cover this story?), and kindly quotes my post below.
I think a lot of progressives who have come to understand their role in the Democratic Party coalition take a similar attitude towards Nader voters (for lack of a better term) than Polis-Chicago or thatcoloredfella (who is in the comments section): exasperation. Why don't these people get in line? And vote for Kerry? Or whatever centrist Democrat can beat the reactionary Republican?
First, let's put the blame on our outdated plurality voting system where a candidate need not earn a majority of the vote to win, so similar candidates can (and do) split the vote. Instant runoff voting solves this real problem. And just last month, Berkeley voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to authorize its use in local elections (here is the campaign website). And to help make this happen, join this instantrunoff yahoogroup.
Polis-Chicago wants Nader to sternly scold his young followers to vote for Kerry in the fall (as if they all will follow his command). I think it makes far more sense to ask them to cast their second-choice for Kerry, since, after all, Kerry is their second-choice. Not their first-choice.
Enough about that. If Nader is right that he can help to frame the Bush Adminstration as a reckless, irresponsible mess with quagmire abroad and rich-get-richer-while-the-rest-of-us-stagnate at home, by saying things that don't seem 'presidential' but make people nod their heads (such as "Bush should be impeached for lying about the reasons to invade Iraq"), then that's a good thing for helping to defeat Bush. Swing voters often like to hear strong, bold language. Kerry is unlikely to deliver that language, because of this odd Beltway tendency to seek establishment approval and seem imperiously responsible.
I really think we should see this as a structural difference in our governing coalition, since cultural conservatives and first-time voters seek establishment acceptance and approval in a hierarchy, so they have no problem joining up with the Republicans and getting in line, so it requires a structural solution. Getting mad at Nader is like getting mad at the symptoms of a disease. Progressives are by nature less disciplined than conservatives, so we need to find a way to embrace that as a competitive advantage instead of always getting hurt by it.
P.S. I was on ABC 7 yesterday at 6 pm (thank you Andy Shaw), and wouldn't you know it, forgot to tape the show. If anyone can get me a tape of the Tuesday newscast, I'll buy you lunch. Or send you $40. Whichever you want.