Nader voters naive, selfish
While Ralph Nader basks in the glow of media attention
for his spoiler role in this year's presidential election, the apocalypse
looms near. Bush has been briefly declared president-elect once, and it
seems likely--popular vote be damned--that he is soon to bring his impish
demeanor and arrogant jackal smile to Pennsylvania Avenue.
The enthusiasm Nader has been able to generate among
younger voters, and the liberal discourse which he has helped to foster,
is certainly not unfortunate. When a Democratic ticket opposes homosexual
marriages, approves of the death penalty, and takes other very conservative
stances, the party does alienate some of its faithful. Nader appealed
to the disenchanted left of the Democratic party, offering them an impassioned
voice, resonant with their own.
Nader voters certainly can't be blamed for being attracted
to Nader's liberal idealism. Many would argue that idealism is the most
laudable of motivations to vote.
However, the merit of idealism is circumstantial. In
some situations it might warrant praise, but in the context of this year's
Presidential election we must recognize elements of selfishness and naivete
in the votes cast for Nader.
A vote for Nader was a vote that did not take into account
the welfare of others; implicit was the belief that a personal statement
of political dissent was more important than the opportunity to effect
tangible social and environmental good by voting for Gore. A vote for
Nader was, all rhetoric aside, a vote for Bush. Whether Green Party voters
choose to acknowledge it or not, they were willing to exchange the social
and environmental welfare of America for the opportunity to make a self-righteous
declaration of idealism.
The most common Green rebuttal to this accusation
is the naive assertion that "only by electing Bush, by reaching rock-bottom,
will we realize the error of our ways and turn towards a more humane and
environmentally conscious society."
As avowed environmental proponents, Nader supporters
should not underestimate the amount of environmental damage that can be
done in the next four years by electing the Governor of Texas. This is
to say nothing of the social damage a Dubya presidency could wreak, including
the possibility that Bush appointments to the Supreme Court could tip
the balance of the Court for the next thirty years, significantly
jeopardizing a woman's right to choose.
Not only would environmental damage from Bush policies
be permanently damaging, and the Supreme Court appointments irreversible
for decades, there is no reason to suspect that a Bush presidency would
initiate the liberal epiphany predicted by the Greens. Americans might,
after four years of Bush, opt for a continuation of Republican leadership
in the executive and legislative branches.
Nader garnered close to 100,000 votes in Florida,
where even a small percentage of those votes--votes which would largely
have gone to Gore--would have sealed Gore's electoral college victory.
While Nader voters have potentially given the election to Bush, they have
at least delivered drama.