Wednesday, February 17, 2016

what 2000 taught me

The 2000 Presidential election:  Al Gore vs. George W. Bush, with Green Party candidate Ralph Nader off to the side nipping at the ankles of Al Gore for not being left enough on certain issues, implying that there was no real difference between Gore and Bush.  Ridiculous, of course, but it was his way, I guess, of getting his issues into the national discourse.

There was a time, back in the '60s and '70s when I was a huge admirer of Nader, back when he had his book Unsafe At Any Speed, exposing the deceptions of the automobile industry and then later with his work on environmental issues.  But I'll never forgive him for being a spoiler in 2000.

The election turned out to be close.  Gore won the popular vote by half a million votes but lost in the electoral college, thanks to the conservative Supreme Court deciding that Bush had won Florida.  Bush went on to be a terrible President -- starting the Iraq War, wrecking the economy, etc.  Gore might not have been perfect -- and he certainly made some mistakes in his campaign -- but Nader without a doubt took away enough votes to give the election to Bush.  In my opinion, Nader has blood on his hands, and what good did he accomplish?

I guess my point is that pragmatism usually trumps pure idealism (Sorry to use the word "trump"!).  Our country needs a President elected to be President of the whole country and not just there to cater to his or her supporters.  A unifier, not a divider.  Both parties have immovable factions that are making divisions permanent and worsening.  There are problems to be solved, and cooperation is needed and seems out of reach, and I despair for what might be coming.

Examples of what I consider to be my pragmatic bottom line at the moment:  1)  Ted Cruz, even if in some horrific scenario he became President, there is no way he would be able to implement the oppressive theocracy that he wants.  Not in this diverse country.  2)  Bernie Sanders, even if he could find a way to win a general election, would never be able to replicate here the Scandinavian socialism that he preaches.  Not in this plutocracy.

Deal with the realities of what can be done and what can't be done in the here and now.  Don't waste your energy and your votes.

No politics tomorrow.  I promise.

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