by Chris Bowers, Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:38:24 AM EDT
In the wake of these results, The Guardian today published an article by Gary Young that is a must read for all Democrats.Hell hath no fury like an American Democrat scorned.... Just the mention of defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, attorney general John Ashcroft or vice-president Dick Cheney will set diatribes in motion. But if you really want to see them in a rage wait until the Bushwhacking stops and someone admits that they voted for Ralph Nader, the anti-corporate crusader, in the 2000 presidential elections.
The N-word should not be spoken in polite liberal company. Once his name has been uttered all camaraderie and bonhomie evaporate as readily as if the miscreant had confessed to relieving himself in the host's sink....
Nader plans to stand again this year as an anti-war candidate. Given his absence from the anti-war campaigns, this is a mistake. But it is also a fact. And there is every chance that he could, once again, make a crucial difference...
The Democratic party's strategy to deal with this thus far has been simple. Along with "independent" organisations like StopNader.com, it is doing everything legally possible to keep him off the ballot in different states. "Nader must be nowhere near the ballot," wrote a Texas Democratic official in an email seen by the Guardian.
The trouble with this plan is not just that it employs purely bureaucratic means to prevent a legitimate, if misguided, political expression. It is also that it reveals the extent to which Democrats believe they are entitled to Nader's votes even if they make no appeal to the concerns of those who cast them. The source of their anger is that they believe his votes are rightfully theirs. The logic of their campaign is that if Nader is removed from the equation the votes will automatically return to their rightful owner - John Kerry.
If they want to see where this sense of entitlement could lead they need only look over the Atlantic, where the Labour party leadership has stretched the loyalty of its core supporters until, last week, it finally snapped. The only thing that was surprising about Labour's drubbing last week was that it was such a long time coming.
Iraq was not the only source of the collapse (if it had been, the Tories would also have done far worse). But it was the most blatant symbol of the distance Tony Blair has put between his government and the aspirations of those who put it in office. The war gave this dislocation a moral dimension and a clear focus. But the original exclusion of Ken Livingstone, private-public partnerships, tuition fees and meagre pension increases all chipped away at the faithful and primed them for their flight.
The problem was not that Blair misjudged his base. It is that he judged it and then ignored it in the belief that it had nowhere else to go. Last week showed us that, if pushed far enough, it could go anywhere - including the Lib Dems, Greens and Respect - or nowhere at all and simply sit on its hands.
Having lectured the party on the need for pragmatism, he now blames the public for not falling in behind his principles. "These people who think they get a free hit will find themselves with a rude shock and a Tory MP," said Peter Hain, the leader of the House of Commons, following the local election results. "They could deprive us of our majority." In other words, it's not Labour that has to change, but the electorate.Neo-liberal economic policy and interventionist foreign policy are not flying with the left in Britain anymore, and it is showing at the polls. Now, consider this Gallup poll trend:
"Which comes closest to your view about what the U.S. should now do about the number of U.S. troops in Iraq? The U.S. should send more troops to Iraq. The U.S. should keep the number of troops as it is now. The U.S. should withdraw some troops from Iraq. OR, The U.S. should withdraw all of its troops from Iraq." Options rotated.
Send More Keep Same Withdraw Some Withdraw All 6/3-6/6 18 30 23 27 5/7-5/9 25 24 18 29 4/16-4/18 33 25 16 21The drift away from sending more troops and toward withdrawal is clear. Two months ago "send more" had 33%, and withdrawal had 37%. Now, Send more has 18%, and withdrawal has 50%. I am going to take a wild guess and suggest that the 84% of Kerry supporters who feel he war was not justified overwhelmingly fall into the withdrawal columns, even though Kerry himself does not. The platform committee at the convention will have an interesting time with this one.