Andrew O'Hehir may be speaking for himself, but the exit polls he alludes to suggest that that's all he's speaking for. At least half of Nader voters would have voted had Nader not been on the ballot, and at least two-thirds of those would have gone for Gore. Thus, absent Nader, give Gore Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico (still too close to call, not that anyone's paying attention) and a comfortable victory.
O'Hehir may hate the Democrats, but what he and Ralph Nader do not (perhaps do not wish to) understand, is that progressive causes must find a home in the Democratic Party, as they have historically, or they will have no home at all in the American polity. So it was with the New Deal, collective bargaining, civil rights, women's and gay rights, and virtually every other noble cause of the last century. Third-party candidacies have, without fail, siphoned off support for progressive and conservative causes alike into a black hole. See George Wallace, John Anderson, Ross Perot, each of whom gathered between two and nine times the percentage of popular vote that Ralph Nader got -- a percentage that Nader claims will change the face of American politics.
The only change Nader has wrought is to infuriate roughly 50 million Gore voters, myself included, with his smug and puritanical exhortations to be free of the vanity and vexation of the major parties. I put the blame for the presumptive Bush victory, and the attendant horrors that will no doubt be visited on America in its name, squarely at the doorstep of Nader and the nearly 3 million of his voters who would rather be smug than do the right thing.
-- Donald R. Gordon
Regarding the liberals' fears that Andrew O'Hehir so scorns: The real fear is indeed that Ralph Nader and his supporters would help "[deliver] the country into the hands of Trent Lott and Tom DeLay" and "[ensure] that right-wing wacko judges get appointed to the Supreme Court." One might also mention, among others, the fear that more of the environment would be irreparably damaged and more poor women might be unable to obtain safe abortions. Finally, one might also mention the fear that more people -- especially African-Americans -- will be put to death under a Bush administration because their fate could be in the hands of Republican-appointed federal judges, who demonstrate a propensity to uphold the death penalty.
As to the accusation that Nader and his supporters are "a bunch of effete white intellectuals who won't suffer the likely consequences of our actions," O'Hehir says nothing in his column to demonstrate otherwise.
-- Betsy Rubin
Why is it that the only remaining noise about Ralph Nader costing Al Gore the election is coming from Nader's supporters, leaping to defend him against some imagined barrage of criticism? The campaign is over, folks, and the spotlight is gone. Nader fell far short of his 5 percent goal, and along the way, he proposed and promised a lot of things that he'll never be able to deliver. Congratulations, Ralph. You're officially a politician.
-- Ben Zelevansky
All my own views on the terrible record of the Democrats (and their abominable smear campaign against Ralph Nader) have been summed up nicely.
If anyone needs to know more, I suggest rereading the recent episodes of "This Modern World." Yes, I know it's tragic that you have to learn from a talking penguin, but whatever it takes.
I am proud to be a clear-thinking voter who was not bullied into choosing a truly awful candidate like Al Gore, and each day I grow more amazed that this whiny reprobate got nominated at all. Hopefully losing a close one will finally inspire the DNC to take a good, hard look at the damage they've done to their cause and be a little more careful in '04. Hey, there's one advantage of a second Bush administration right there.
-- Darrell Wong
What a pleasure! O'Hehir's article throws down the Greens' gauntlet in the face of the Democratic Party. As a Green voter since age 18, I am enraged by the proprietary and patronizing attitude taken towards Greens by the Democrats. Greens are not defined by opposition to any single party; they are not a splinter group, but an independent party that has attracted many bored and disgusted former Democrats as well as many others across the political spectrum.
Green votes do not rightfully belong anywhere but where Green voters choose to punch them. O'Hehir deserves praise for his wit and nerve in defense of renegade idealists everywhere.
-- Heidi Lypps