Sunday, November 21, 2004

Interesting stuff ...

Here are some links in the past few weeks I haven't been able to post because I have been too busy with other stuff.
Yesterday, this was posted by Kevin Zeese, Ralph Nader's press secretary: ["Mishandling Nader"]. Check out this section, about the meeting between Nader and Kerry:
"Instead, at the meeting Kerry warned us of the coming legal threat telling us of the thousands of lawyers they had lined up to ensure a Kerry-Edwards victory. Some of us thought these lawyers were to prepare against Republican harassment, others interpreted it as a threat to the Nader-Camejo campaign’s ballot access. And, when we got back to the office the news was not only covering the Kerry-Nader meeting but the announcement of a new anti-Nader, pro-Kerry 527 organization. Rather than a two fisted battle against Bush the Democrats drew the battle lines between Nader and the Democrats – diverting significant attention from Bush-Cheney."
Wow. So, once again, the Democrats blew an opportunity to win an election because there were obsessed with Nader. Zeese is currently in New Hampshire, heading up the Nader recount effort, which so far, has yielded little change in the results: ["Nader-requested recount in N.H. moving slowly"] and ["Recount New Hampshire"]. It's interesting that AA's big mouth Randi Rhodes would request Nader perform a recount when she attacked him so harshly during his campaign. Here is some of the data from Ida Briggs: ["Invisible Ida"].
Here is another post from Common Dreams, about the recount in Ohio: ["Ohio Presidential Results to be Challenged"]. Isn't it interesting that the Greens and Libertarians would care enough about the actual outcome to raise $150k to force a recount, yet Kerry and Edwards can't seem to be bothered? And why is the media ignoring all of this? Mark Jurkowitz has a good piece here: ["Media accused of ignoring election irregularities"].
Then, there is Clinton and his silly library. Interestingly enough, there isn't any factual information about the numerous scandals he and his wife were involved in: ["Whitewashing Whitewater"].

Friday, November 12, 2004

New Mexico: A history lesson for practical fusion

This was forwarded from reader Bill from the Green Horizon Quarterly. He wrote, "Jack Uhrich goes deep into the actual history and experience of the Green Party in New Mexico and asks fundamental questions about Green Party political strategy. This is well worth a read and much pondering."

New Mexico: A history lesson for practical fusion
By Jack Uhrich

In 1994, the New Mexico Green Party made national headlines when its candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor, Roberto Mondragon and Steve Schmidt, received over 10% of the vote, and the favored Democrats in the race, Bruce King and Patsy Madrid, lost.
All of a sudden, seemingly coming from nowhere, the Greens were a power to be reckoned with in New Mexico politics. Over the next six years, they would become what David Cobb called a "flagship" state party of the national Green movement, looked to as a model by Green Parties all over the country.
Yet today, the New Mexico Green Party is a shell of its former self. Its website doesn't appear to have been updated in almost two years. They've only elected two candidates in the last three years, and one of their elected officials, Santa Fe City Council member Miguel Chavez, switched from Green to Democrat in 2002. Further, the Greens' candidate for Governor in 2002, who helped the party regain its ballot status, has also switched his registration to Democrat to help the Dennis Kucinich campaign, and many others in the Albuquerque area have done the same.
What happened to the momentum of the New Mexico Greens? Is their fate indicative of larger issues within the Green Party nationally? What lessons can we learn from their successes and shortcomings?
Even though many independent and Democratic progressives (incorrectly) blamed the Greens for the Democrats' loss in 1994, there were also many progressives - both inside and outside of the Democratic Party - who were glad to have an alternative. In late 1995, this writer helped to pull together Green Party leaders and leaders of New Mexico's Pro PAC (a Political Action Committee for progressive Democrats). An informal compromise was worked out, whereby the Greens agreed not to run candidates against incumbent Democrats that we considered progressive and supportive of our platform. Essentially, New Mexico Greens were practicing what Abe Gutmann called "Practical Fusion", whereby, even though they didn't formally endorse some of the non-Green progressive candidates, Greens were tacitly supporting them by not running someone against them and splitting the progressive vote. And that type of principled, positive cooperation was reciprocated by Progressive Democrats. Green Santa Fe City Councilmember Cris Moore was endorsed by a key local union in his successful bid to become the first elected Green in New Mexico, Abe Gutmann was endorsed by Pro-PAC and the Sierra Club, this writer by the National Association of Social Workers, and other Greens were endorsed by key People-of-Color, feminist, gay and lesbian leaders who were active progressive Democrats. So Greens were seen as exercising their "Green Clout" both ways, by helping progressive Democrats, as well as punishing conservative ones.
Unfortunately, a number of events in late 1996 and early 1997 changed the direction of the Green Party and its strategy. First, the New Mexico Democratic leadership undercut the efforts of progressives in their own party, and blocked the Greens' attempts to run Democratic progressives like state legislator Max Coll and Carol Miller (who was still a Democrat at that time), as fusion candidates on the Green Party ballot line. And in June 1997, the New Party lost its case for fusion before the US Supreme Court, by a daunting 6-3 vote.
Just before the Supreme Court decision, in the spring of 1997, the New Mexico Green Party again made national headlines, when Carol Miller (now a Green), got 17% of the vote in a three-way special election for U.S. Congress. This time there was no denying the "spoiler" impact of a Green in the race. Conservative Republican Bill Redmond defeated Democrat Eric Serna by just 3%. Miller's 17% of the vote was a clear factor in Serna's defeat.
Following the exercising of the spoiler part of the party's "Green clout" in the 1997 race, even more progressive and moderate Democrats made overtures to move towards fusion, whether practical or legal. According to John Nichols, in the August, 1997 issue of The Progressive magazine ("Spoiling for success: in New Mexico, the Green Party costs the Democrats a Congressional seat"), Bill Richardson, then the most prominent New Mexico Democrat, and a Latino, called for "early entreaties" to the Greens, and even talked about a Green-Democrat fusion ticket for Governor in 1998. Also, in early '98 Shirley Baca, a popular, progressive Chicana Democratic State Legislator, approached the Greens about running as a fusion candidate for Congress in New Mexico's southern district, which had a reactionary Republican incumbent. She was even willing to use her situation to put forth another test case on fusion to the New Mexico courts, which many Greens and legal experts believed they could have won.
At the same time, Greens continued to win on the local level. Fran Sena Gallegos was elected as a Santa Fe Judge in March of 1996, Gary Claus was elected to the Silver City Council in May of 1997, and Cris Moore was reelected to the Santa Fe City Council in March of 1998.
But the accumulation of high-profile "spoiler" races had begun to dampen the tenuous coalition the Greens had built with Roberto Mondragon and his progressive allies in the Chicano community.
Mondragon, a life-long friend of Eric Serna's, left the Greens and returned to Serna and the Democrats when the Greens endorsed Carol's run in 1997.
At this point the New Mexico Greens were at a crossroads. Legal fusion, at least as a national strategy, was dead. However, it was still legally possible in New Mexico; there was support for it among even some mainstream Democrats like Richardson, and, even without it, there were practical things that Greens and progressive Democrats had cooperated on up until then, and could continue to cooperate on.
However, at the Green Party's State Convention in 1998, Carol Miller refused the urgings of a number of the elders in the party that she run for another, less volatile office, like Secretary of State, where many felt she had a real chance of winning. Instead, she choose to run again for Congress, this time against popular NM Attorney General Tom Udall. As Attorney General, Udall had protected the Greens' ballot status with a ruling, and he was supportive of many parts of the Green Party Platform.
At that same convention, the Greens voted formally not to continue to seek fusion, but to instead push for IRV as its major electoral reform. They did stay out of the Governor's race, but they refused to support Shirley Baca for Congress, or moderate Republican Lorenzo Garcia in his race for Treasurer (even though he had gained the Greens their highest vote total ever in a statewide race, 33%, running as a Green in 1994).
Besides Miller's race, 1998 also brought two more spoiler races where the Democrats lost. Green Bob Anderson gained more than 15% of the vote in a Congressional special election in Albuquerque in the spring of 1998, and then more than 10% in the General Election in the fall.
In both races, Anderson's percentages prevented the Democrat from winning and helped elect conservative Heather Wilson, who is now a national force in Republican politics.
In the meantime, Carol Miller received less than 4% in her race against Tom Udall, avoiding another Democratic loss. However, her decision to run caused a major split amongst Greens over practical fusion vs. the more purist spoiler/IRV strategy. Many Greens in Miller's district and around the state had openly expressed concern about the spoiler effect of her run in the Udall race, and Abe Gutmann, even went so far as to organize a "Greens for Udall"
campaign. He was ultimately censured by the party for taking financial support from Udall for this effort, but his censure led to an ongoing internal struggle that ultimately split the party in two, and that continues to this day.
Along with that, Miller's insistence on running against Udall, coupled with the outcome of the 1998 Congressional races in Albuquerque, angered many in organized labor, the People-of-Color communities, and other former allies of the Greens in the gay and lesbian, environmentalist, and women's movements. Most people agreed that the Democratic candidate in Albuquerque was particularly weak, but they also felt that the Republican, Heather Wilson, was infinitely worse.
Consequently, in 1999, a coalition of progressive People-of-Color groups attacked the New Mexico Greens with a public campaign that reached the national media, accusing them of being racist and not caring about working-class people.
The Greens eventually met with and worked-out an uneasy truce with these groups, but the die was cast. From then on, for all intents and purposes, active alliances between the Greens and People-of-Color organizations - as well as most of organized labor and other progressive groups - were essentially over.
In 2000, there was yet another high-level spoiler race in the Albuquerque Congressional race, coupled with the impact of Ralph Nader's national race. So, in a period of six years, the Green Party of New Mexico found themselves involved in 6 high-profile "spoiler"
races, in addition to the Nader 2000 race. In each race, there were good reasons not to like the choices the Democrats offered. But in each case, the Republican who was elected was measurably worse than the Democrat. And in the case of Udall's election, the state Green Party officially opposed him, and then punished the most prominent Green who supported him, alienating many of Udall's supporters, most of whom would have supported Greens in other races.
All of this set the stage for what has taken place since. Despite the Greens continued arguments that IRV is ultimately in the Democrats'
interest to support, the Democratic establishment appears to have chosen instead to wait out the Greens. They apparently believe that the Greens will eventually wear out their welcome with the people, who they think will ultimately decide that it's better to elect a bad Democrat than vote for a Green and see an even worse Republican elected.
The Democrats' strategy seems to be working. At present there are only two elected Greens in office, down from a high of five in 2000.
New Mexico's experience with their own six Spoiler races, combined with the impact of the 2000 Presidential race, has left every state Green Party with a spoiler "albatross" that it must begin to address realistically. In order to implement practical reforms like Instant Runoff Voting, Greens need to have at least a working relationship with Democrats, especially those closest to the beliefs and values of the Green Party Platform. But the effects of continuous spoiler races, without counter-balancing cooperative efforts with the broader progressive community, have been to drive a wedge between the two camps.
A different strategy is needed. I advocate that we return to the original New Mexico strategy of fusion, both legal fusion, where possible, and practical fusion where it isn't. That does not mean we should abandon the quest for IRV, or that we would never use the threat of "spoiling" a race. The "spoiler" races in 1994 and 1997 obviously had some major positive outcomes towards building the party (though there were also a major downside to the 1997 race – the loss of Mondragon and our coalition with many in the people-of-color communities).
Our initial judicious use of a combination of practical fusion and spoiling in the mid-90s enabled us to come very close (one vote, in the last legislative committee) to getting IRV on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.
However, after 1997 the party became too rigid in its approach, too unwilling to accept certain political realities that they were not in a position to change at that time, and too lacking in collective knowledge about how to negotiate with the Green Clout they had built.
Instead, the political purism of the New Mexico Greens of the late 90s (and this author embarrassingly includes himself as all-too-often a part of that purist camp), led to too few wins on the local level to counter-balance the effect of the high-profile spoiler races, and a growing unwillingness on the part of new candidates to step forward and run on the Green Party line. This left the public with the perception that the Greens may have admirable values and good ideas, but don't have the knowledge to make them reality.
Looking back, one cannot help but wonder, what if, after the 1997 race, Carol Miller had instead run for Secretary of State and the Greens had instead supported Udall openly, as well as Shirley Baca in her southern New Mexico Congressional race (a race she could also have run with our support)? Both Democrats were basically supportive of most of the Green Party Platform. What if both of them had won, with open Green support? What if, instead of running in the second election in '98, Bob Anderson had declared the first race as essentially the first outcome of an IRV-style selection process, with him being the candidate disqualified in the first round of voting, and thrown his support to the Democratic candidate in the second race.
It's possible that New Mexico would now have possibly three Democrats in Congress instead of just one, and two of them more progressive than most Democrats in Congress.
Would not the Green Party in New Mexico also have looked different today? When progressives saw that the Green Party used their Green Clout in more than just negative ways, the Green Party wouldn't have been yoked with the "spoiler" albatross. Green Clout would be seen as a force that could help Democrats as well as hurt them. In turn, the New Mexico Green Party today would be enjoying increased support from labor, progressive organizations, People of Color organizations and progressive Democrats, all grateful for the critical support of the Greens - support that had been the key to victory in these elections.
Perhaps then, Abe Gutmann's 45% vote for City Council in 1997, and Melissa McDonald's 46% in her 2000 race for County Commissioner, would have instead been stretched to a winning 51%, and Greens would have representation in the governments of two of the most influential counties in the state. Perhaps Tom Udall and other progressive Democrats would have been so grateful for our support that they would have continued their qualified support for the party, and we would be growing in numbers, candidates, and newly elected Greens, instead of scratching our heads as to what went wrong.
Unfortunately, the history of New Mexico's Green Party cannot be rewritten. Greens can only learn from it, apply it to their own times, develop new strategies, and try to do better in their future work. But the history lesson of New Mexico is that it's time for a change in strategy, if the Green Party is to grow and thrive.
As we go to press, there is some indication that the climate in New Mexico is starting to change. Popular Green leader Rick Lass has decided to drop out of his race for the New Mexico State Legislature, so as not to split the vote with a progressive Democrat, who has a better chance of winning, and who supports much of the Green Party Platform. Perhaps once again, the New Mexico Green Party will provide a model for Green Parties all over the country to look up to.

Another lost moment

Tuesday's election results shocked the nation. This surprise was not about a war-time president winning reelection as much as the Democrats losing to one of the most despised political figures of modern times. While it wasn't a landslide, it came pretty close.
Quietly, with veiled - and not so veiled - help from conservative churches across the country, Democrats were defeated. The majority of voters ignored the important issues of the day - ballooning deficits, the gutting of domestic spending, billions wasted on a needless invasion, the erosion of our civil rights and Osama bin Ladin on the lam - and instead determined that what Adam and Steve do together is a bigger danger to the nation.
There is some legitimacy to the fear of social issues. Things like stem-cell research and gay marriage might wig out any good Christian - but so should biometric microchips being installed in humans and required retina scans just to fly on an airplane.
While it is clear that the Democratic Party is out of touch with some voters, the voters are also out of touch with what is best, just, and right. I don't agree with the premise, but I now understand the frustration of conservatives who suggest that ill-informed people shouldn't be allowed to vote.
Tuesday's election was a hard-hit slap against the media and cultural elite delivered by ordinary people. They are clearly sick and tired of being denigrated for attending church, wanting values in society and schools, and doing what they think is best for their families. Unfortunately, these folks missed the larger picture: The corporate and war culture worshipped by this administration - and some Democrats - is more of a threat to civil society and the United States than anything pumped out by Hollywood.
A lot has been said about the Electoral College in this election cycle. But, once again, the American voter can learn from history and understand why the process is the way it is.
The founders established the Electoral College to keep the mob from ruling. Some changes should be discussed - like some sort of instant runoff voting, ending the rigged two-party system, or awarding Electoral College votes in a more proportional manner. Opponents of the Electoral College can look at it this way: Despite John Kerry's faults and losing the popular vote by over three million, he was within 70,000 votes of winning the presidency.
[Note: Kerry may have conceded too early. The Cleveland Plains Dealer reported last week that over 92,000 punch-card ballots in Ohio were rejected by the tabulation machines. Another 156,000 provisional votes have yet to be counted. Bush won the state by fewer than 135,000 votes. If Kerry earned more than 75 percent of the ballots not counted, he would win the state and be elected president. So, are they going to count the votes this time?]
Kerry's lack of a clear vision and refusal to answer devastating accusations about his war record killed his campaign. Some of us warned voters early in the primary cycle that Kerry would not be able to cut it in the red states. Having watched him for close to two decades, I was not surprised that the Republicans were able to tag him as the out-of-touch Massachusetts elitist he has always been. As Ralph Nader has said, "The Democrats have become very good at electing very bad Republicans."
Over the last few days, I've wondered what might have happened if we could turn back the clock. I thought of Rep. Dick Gephardt stumping throughout the heartland at closed factory after closed factory, calling the president "a miserable failure." I envisioned Howard Dean exhorting the men and women of the Deep South - Confederate flags and all - with the virtues of fiscal responsibility and his endorsements from the NRA when he was a governor.
Such a lost moment.
Isn't it also interesting that the Democratic establishment and Washington cocktail crowd who wanted Kerry so badly were worried that the civil union issue in Vermont would sink Dean in a national election, yet it was an actual court decision about gay marriage in Massachusetts that helped sink Kerry?
It's time the Democrats stopped listening to the insiders.
In Massachusetts, Republican Gov. Mitt Romney's effort to bring some balance to the Legislature was a $3 million flop. The intention was good, but the implementation was careless. Instead of campaigning on much-needed reforms, the state GOP in last-minute mailers lashed out against some incumbents for being soft on crime. Examinations by the local press revealed the mailers to be not entirely accurate and the negativity backfired: The GOP lost three House and one Senate seat.
Despite the whining and crying about the press by entrenched politicians, setting up debates, investigating voting records, analyzing campaign finance reports, and writing about an incumbent's history are not "hooligan tactics" or unfounded attacks.
Most civil individuals know that it is immature to gloat in the face of victory. Thin-skinned elected officials who believe that the slightest criticism is a personal assault should be mindful that they get the coverage they earn and deserve.
Moving forward, the Democrats have to stop obsessing about social issues and instead, worry about the economic conditions of working families, which will win them back the red states. For almost three decades, both parties have been chipping away at the earning power of the working class. Most workers earn less today in real dollars than they did in 1972. It's no longer "Vote or Die," it is lead or move out of the way.
If the party refuses to reform its ways and work towards the interests of the majority of us out here in the real world, it will never be able to gain power again.

Friday, November 5, 2004

Red vs. blue; definitely white

Impromptu musings; Election Day aftermath by Kristina Arvanitis of Wicked Words.

I realize now, once and for all, that I no longer know America.

The voters have decided that they care more about two consenting adults’ sex lives and their personal choice to make a commitment to one another than the fact that their children face a crushing burden of college debt and a gloomy job market upon graduation.

The voters have decided that the lives of more and more American soldiers, most with few opportunities in life, are expendable in our pursuit of invisible weapons and our quest to punish – not Osama bin Laden – but dictators that did not have a connection to September 11th.

In the eyes of the electorate, restricting a woman’s right to make choices about her body and her pregnancy trumps the need for a clean environment, a viable Social Security system, and scientific research that could mean the cures for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and spinal cord injuries.

An undefined sense of “security” promised by a warmongering president trumps the American citizenry’s right to privacy. Americans will apparently readily relinquish rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution and by the soldiers who fought and died valiantly in justified wars to preserve the American way of life. A majority of the electorate will gladly submit to sneak and peek searches of their homes, despite the fact that the incumbent president ignores credible security threats from nations like North Korea, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, ignores the urgent need of nations like Sudan and Haiti, and ignores the pleas of former allies to stop policing the world.

Can it simply be attributed to voter ignorance, or is the fear and bigotry of others still to blame for the disappointing result of this election? Or is it the utter cluelessness of the Democrats who fail to grasp that there are millions of liberal young people just waiting to be heard? The failure of John Kerry to connect with others is definitely a huge reason why so many that doubted Bush's leadership refused to lend him their support.

As an inhabitant of the blue states, I don’t know this American where a vague notion what is “moral” trumps all other things. Perhaps, as the Republipundits say, I have lost touch with the rest of America, the bright reds of the South, the Midwest and the mountain states; the second of the “two Americas” that John Edwards used to highlight on the trail. While Edwards attempted to delineate the differences between the poor and middle class and the rich; the difference really appears to be a lack of education, a dearth of informed decision-making and an almost-eager readiness to be manipulated by the media, political advertisements, and a blind loyalty of a wartime president.

Exit polls (although their accuracy has been called into question today, obviously) suggest that most voters in the states with ballot questions about gay marriage cited "morality" and "values" as their number one determinant of their vote for president. The issue of gay marriage – as minor as that may be – may have just decided the most important election in decades. I suppose I don’t know this America that hates gays and lesbians so much that they are willing to jeopardize their children’s futures in order to dictate what love can be legally recognized. These so-called religious voters preach the values of Jesus and the Bible while casting their ballots; never mind that Jesus never took a position on homosexuality, His whole philosophy, in fact, was about helping those in need without regard to race, religion or national origin. His exhortation to render those things unto Caesar’s which are Caesar’s and those to God which are God’s may just have been an early call to separate church and state. I wonder how many of those who voted solely on the issues of gays, God and guns have actually read the Bible.

On a more personal note, here I am, poised to graduate (again) during a Bush presidency. What will that mean for my and my generation's job prospects and future prosperity? When looking at colleges in 1998, I came upon job fairs and employment recruitments for the eager university seniors who had the fortune to graduate in the time of Bill Clinton. At least 250 employers lined up at my then future alma mater of Brown University. In 2002, that number had dwindled to less than 25, with the likes of car rental companies and the U.S. Army looking to recruit the once optimistic young Ivy League graduates. After six months of searching, I was able to land a job that I liked, but one that was not my initial target, and certainly not enough to pay both rent and college loans. Some college friends are still out of work. Others are unhappy and underpaid at companies that they never anticipated working for. The voices of America's youth are muffled. When will we make ourselves heard?

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Aftermath 2004, Part 1

There will be a lot said about the 2004 election. Scholars, activists, organizers and historians will be saying a lot in the future. However, here is my reaction, brief and bulleted.

Were the Democrats really that organized?
In this campaign, much has been written and said about how active and organized the Democrats and Democratic-leaning groups like were in their efforts to defeat President George W. Bush. However, it is very clear that they weren't organized in anything more than their anger towards the president.
As Charlie Cook said earlier tonight on MSNBC, Democrats would have voted for a "potted plant" against Bush. For the most part, this was true. Most of those votes were secure. Sure, they might gain 1 percent by motivating more Democrats to get to the polls. But those folks who were against Bush were never going to miss the 2004 election. The key to winning this election was both holding your base and going after the middle swing voters, something Bush did very successfully, or so it seems.
The good news for Democrats was also the fact that most of the Ralph Nader [and to a lesser extent, Green David Cobb] votes were going to the Democratic nominee despite John Kerry's lack of solid stances on important issues. Those voters were clearly scared into not supposedly making the same mistake twice, although many didn't consider it a mistake at the time. It should be noted that Nader, as the 'zine predicted, was not a factor. Imagine how much money - probably millions - was wasted attacking Nader. In the end, there was no Nader factor.
The bad news is that no matter how the nattering nabobs of liberalism go on and on about having a progressive nation, as we see time and time again, the nation isn't progressive. It is liberal on the coasts but populist, moderate and conservative in the middle. The key to Democrats winning nationally isn't to alienate their own base by trying to out-conservative conservatives, like they did during the DLC days, but to be more populist on trade and working issues like Dick Gephardt and Pat Buchanan.
Unfortunately Kerry, the aloof, flip-flopping, do-nothing Mass. Senator, with five mansions, a jet, who snowboards, who wind-surfs with the "plumbers and electricians on Nantucket," was never going to be accepted by the Skoal-chewing, trailer park-living because they can't afford anything else, bar stool warming, and gospel singing and praying folks of middle America. John Mellancamp, Bruce Springsteen, and the Dixie Chicks tried to pull those folks over, but it just didn't work. Kerry was the wrong nominee for this time in the nation's history. In this cycle, the Democrats really needed someone who had actually fought for Middle America like Gephardt or someone who was a fiscal conservative with a good NRA voting record like Howard Dean [or both, together]. Imagine Gephardt campaigning at every closed factory across the Midwest. How could Kerry do that? You can almost hear the quote: "Yeah, I first voted for outsourcing via NAFTA, but now I'd vote against it." Hogwash. Mickey Kantor, the negotiator for Clinton's NAFTA, was his "manufacturing czar." Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, the architect of Clinton's $50 billion peso bailout, was working on Kerry's economic policy. With friends like that ...
With all the 527 ads and paid organizers, George Soros' millions, the celebrities, and the relentless attacks on Nader, the Democrats still couldn't win. All the money in the world may have made a small difference in places like New Hampshire but it didn't help anywhere else. This is shocking.
It is so clear now: The Democrats completely blew the best opportunity they had because they had a lousy nominee who didn't know who he was or why he was running and now we are stuck with Bush. God help us all.

Huge Bush turnout
While turnout was higher, it wasn't astronomically higher [20 or 30 million], as predicted by most Democrats. The droves of new voters predicted to be coming out against Bush never came out. Reportedly, the youth vote, who were supposed to be motivated by fear of a draft or P. Diddy wearing "Vote or Die" T-shirts, also didn't come out, although we will take a look at that once more data is finalized [Note to P. Diddy: It is clear that young folks know that politicians are a sham. Stick to fashion and producing, and hope young people don't smarten up to the fact that they are more than consumer slaves].
In fact, it was Bush who gained a lot from the new voters and was probably helped by the veiled - and not so veiled - organizing by Methodist and Baptist churches across the country. These churches took a page out of the Democratic black church playbook. Look at the results from the last two elections for an eye-opener about what really happened with the "new voters" in this election cycle:

Bush: 59,095,822
Kerry: 55,532,080
Nader: 395,523
Badnarik: 374,586
Peroutka: 128,965
Cobb: 104,517

Gore: 50,996,116
Bush: 50,456,169
Nader: 2,703,869
Buchanan: 438,487
Browne: 375,024

Roughly 10 million more voters went to the polls in 2004 - and Bush received over 8 million of them. This is a shocking statistic. How can it be? How can all these people go to the polls and vote for this guy? It's just unbelievable. But after looking at more data and the machines used to count the votes, it might sink in a bit more. [Note: Also, according to early data, 2.7 million more blacks came out to vote, according to David Bositis in a Unity '04 news conference on C-Span Thursday afternoon. Bositis credited these new voters, saying they are more progressive, but acknowledged that Bush's black numbers in Ohio increased from 9 to 16 percent, buoyed by an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative which went down in flames, despite the Republican governor and AG asking voters not to support it]. However, with Bush taking 80 percent of the new voters, it looks like many blacks came out to the polls to support Bush.
While Bush did surpass the results of previous "landslides," he gained little in the way of actual blue Democratic states. He held his own states and then won New Mexico and Iowa while Kerry took back New Hampshire. Despite higher turnout, John Kerry faired worse than Al Gore did in 2000. Granted, there was a bit of redistricting that shifted seven Electoral College votes from blue Gore states to red Bush states. This clearly made Kerry's effort a bit uphill but the nation is still divided and Bush doesn’t really have a mandate.

Democrats abandoned Kerry
The problem for Kerry was that in state after state, as predicted in this 'zine, Democrats went for Bush in droves and it made all the difference between Kerry winning and losing. According to exit polls, Democrats voted for Bush in these states, by these numbers:

West Virginia: 30 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by about 9,650 votes out of 745,000 cast.
Louisiana: 21 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by more than 282,000 votes out of almost 1.5 million cast.
New Mexico: 15 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by less than 12,000 votes out of 725,000 cast.
Arkansas: 18 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by slightly more than 100,000 votes out of more than 1 million cast.
New Mexico: 15 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by less than 12,000 votes out of 725,000 cast.
Florida: 14 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by 376,500 votes out of 7.3 million cast.
Nevada: 10 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by 21,600 votes out of 820,000 cast.
Ohio: 9 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by 146,483 votes out of almost 6 million cast.
Iowa: 8 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by 7,251 votes out of almost 1.5 million cast.

No one can survive this kind of pummeling from their own party's registered voters. This is important because a shift of these Democrats to Kerry in Nevada and New Mexico would have tied the election. Add Iowa, a traditionally Democratic state, and Kerry wins - even without Ohio and Florida. Now, many people in the blogosphere when they saw polls showing Democrats supporting Bush sloughed it off, saying these folks aren't really Democrats. They are conservative and they just never changed their affiliations, many said. Well, that might be true. However, when these folks bother to change their affiliations - look out. The Republican voter registration numbers will swell. And if that isn't the case, what's a Democrat? If there is a "D" next to their names, aren't they still "Democrats"? Yes, they are. You don't have to be a volunteer for the party or a super-liberal to be a Democrat. There are conservative Democrats. But millions of them voted for Bush, as you can see. The Democrats should have been more worried about these Democrats than the handful that might - and did -vote for Nader.
These Democrats also seemed to have voted against their nominees in other races too. The Democratic Party lost three congressional seats and four senate seats. This is not good for a party that claimed before the election that they would have the U.S. Senate and maybe, although slimly, the House.
The party is in a worse position than they were in 2000. Clearly, Terry McAuliffe must go. Period. Bush and the Republicans have more power. And for all this talk of "unity" and "healing," their agenda - not unlike most of Clinton's agenda - is not the agenda of the regular folks out here in the real world.

Gays, guns, and God?
It is very interesting that the exit polls were so off, showing Kerry winning by landslides at 5 p.m. These polls were used to exhort conservative voters to the polling booths. Drudge posted the "good news" for Kerry early. Later, rightwing talker Sean Hannity begged his audience to go out and vote, stating that exit polls were showing that Kerry was going to win. Hannity also specifically asked voters in Florida and Ohio to drop everything and go and vote for Bush.
Hannity, Drudge, and others, clearly used the early information to exhort their voters to vote. The reverse effect, for any liberal readers or listeners, was that Kerry would be winning and maybe they didn't need to vote after all. I wonder how many people didn't rush home from work or didn't take an extra 15 at lunch to go out and vote based on these results. Drudge claimed that over 25 million people went to his site on Election Day. Hannity reportedly has 10 million listeners. Their announcements that Kerry was going to win clearly had influence.
Yet in 2000, when CBS' Dan Rather called Florida early for Gore at 7 p.m., based on exit polls, Republicans screamed bloody murder for years because a few towns on the panhandle hadn't voted yet. Some of those people may have been discouraged from voting. And Republicans used this to attack the mainstream media for years. But isn't it interesting that no one has said one word about the use of these exit polls to scare Bush supporters into voting or Kerry supporters into not voting?
Despite the flawed exit polls, the media still points to these polls for what they believe is relevant data on the pulse of the nation. Maybe in the future, exit polls should only be used for this purpose and not to predict the winners. Or, maybe they should be ignored entirely. But for now, this is what we have to look at.
According to exit polls, the most important issue of people polled as they exited the polls was not the economy, health care, education, or terrorism, but "moral issues," by 22 percent.
This is pretty shocking. Osama goes on TV a few days before the election threatening the United States. Millions have lost their jobs and if they have found new jobs, they earn less than the old jobs. Health care costs are skyrocketing and most workers can't move to another job because of health care issues such as preexisting conditions or transition problems. Thousands of our soldiers have been maimed or killed in an invasion that didn't need to occur. College tuition is higher than ever and you can't get a job at McDonald's now without a college degree in Cash Register 101.
No, of all the things in the world we should be worried about, it's moral issues. Well, there is some legitimacy to that. Things like stem-cell research and gay marriage might wig out any good Christian - but so should biometric microchips being installed in humans and required retina scans just to fly on an airplane. How moral is that? Haven't these people read Revelations?
Of those moral issues, same-sex marriage was probably the biggest lightning rod for social conservatives, acceptance of which was rejected on 10 state ballots. Not only that, but the fact that Kerry's home state Supreme Court orders the acceptance of gay marriage - something reviled by middle America - didn't help his cause. Isn't it interesting that the Democratic establishment and Washington cocktail crowd who wanted Kerry so badly were worried that the civil union issue in Vermont would sink former-Gov. Howard Dean in a national election, yet it was an actual court decision about gay marriage that helped sink Kerry? Clearly, for millions the fear of the acceptance of Adam and Steve was more powerful than unending war and the inability to put food on the table.
But there is hypocrisy about this issue.
Yesterday, there was Mary Cheney, Dick and Lynne's lesbian daughter, and her "friend," on the stage at the Ronald Reagan Center during Bush's speech to the nation. That seems like a pretty bold reversal of the "love the sinner, hate the sin" rule we constantly hear preached from the pulpit of the red states, doesn't it? Or is it just one rule for them and another rule for the rest of us?
Many complain about the gay agenda being foisted on the American people - in our schools, churches, society, and courts - yet there was the Cheney family on the stage with Bush, clearly accepting their lesbian daughter's "wife." Where is Dr. James Dobson now? Why isn't he screaming about the fact that Cheney's lesbian daughter had her "wife" on stage with him after scaring the American voters with "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve"? I wonder what would be said if Kerry had won and allowed a gay stepson to have his lover on the stage. Do you think the Limbaughs of the world would have attacked him for foisting his beliefs on gays onto the American people?
The NRA also got their base out to vote for Bush which is a bit tricky since it is clear that the Bush administration is also heading down the path of friendly fascism in this department too. The NRA was able to target Kerry as a gun-grabbing liberal - which he is - and all the camo and geese hunting were never going to save Kerry with these voters. This is another problem Democrats have that they need to deal with long-term. Gun control, in the classic, leftist sense, is dead, and it should be. These rights - to keep and bear arms and to form a militia to defend the nation against enemies foreign and domestic - are sacred to many Americans. And yes, it is about being able to use a weapon to be safe in your home and on your persons and it is about hunting. But the Founders were also more specific about the right: The citizenry should be able to take up arms against their government. In 2004, as liberals began to worry about another stolen election, many of them joked online that maybe they should start looking into this Second Amendment thing. Plus, gun control has gotten so stupid in some places, like the Massachusetts Legislature, which passed a sweeping gun bill a couple of years ago that required a safety lock to be put on a historic musket on display in the State House. How foolish was that? While we don't want to bring the nation back to the Wild, Wild West, these rights are just as important as free speech and search and seizure rights. Democrats need to learn and accept this.
Lastly, the moral folks who came out to vote did so because they believe Bush was a "Christian" man. While I would never question his faith, I do question his actions. If he calls himself a Christian, he probably is. But you have to wonder if he is following Christ or pretending to be God. Far too often, those graced by faith believe that they are a vehicle for God and then therefore can offer God’s retribution like God. As we know, the scriptures are clear that those who act like God will be punished for doing so. Far too often, Christians forget to practice what they preach and are clearly too influenced by preachers from the pulpit who condemn sinners and forget the words of Christ. No true Christian who has read the words of Christ would have invaded Iraq. It really is that simple. You can’t free a people by massacring tens of thousands of them. You can't free people by allowing sanctions that kill millions of women and children. You can't free people by targeting their water supply so that they die agonizingly of cholera. You can't free people by using depleted uranium munitions which cause the most horrid of birth defects. You just can't free a people this way.
Outside MSNBC's "Democracy Center" on Tuesday afternoon there was a scribbled single word sign: "SHAME." It didn't take the network long to remove the guy, but he was dead right. Christians should be ashamed of themselves for being used like they have been in this election.
Or maybe that is the point. They don't mind being used. As we all know, you can't stop Armageddon. It is coming whether it is Bush or Kerry in the eyes of those who believe. All the ads showing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shaking the hands of the Butcher of Baghdad weren't going to change these minds even though it should. Millions spent on video of our children facing deficits, death and war were not going to sway these voters. All the "Fahrenheit 9/11" films weren't going to change these votes. All the investigations - from Vanity Fair, to the newspapers, to the blogs - none of it mattered. While it is clear that the Democratic Party is out of touch with the voters of America, the voters of America are also out of touch with what is best, just, and right.

In future posts, we'll be looking at where the Democratic Party should go from here, whether or not the voting machines can be trusted, electoral reform and whether or not young people actually did go out and vote.

Monday, November 1, 2004

Vote tomorrow!
Yes, Election Day is finally here. Thank God, it will all soon be over. And this, coming from an admitted political junkie who has finally become sick and tired of this campaign.
Although, it was nice to get praised at work for a lot of the stories and effort we put into covering this campaign season. Our company sponsored a couple of debates and also published questionaire answers from the candidates. No one can complain that we didn't go out of our way to share information with the public.
Once again, the two major parties have outdone each other in the nastiness department, with the help of the media. Here in New Hampshire, the Democrats have really been pummeling away at Bush - and our sleazy Gov. Craig Benson - with pretty good glossy mailers. The TV ads have been pretty over-the-top too, especially the anti-Kerry 527 ads. Some of them are pretty funny.
In the office pool, I picked Kerry to win, 283 to 255 [Interestingly, The Hedgehog Report, a Republican site, has it Kerry 287, Bush 251]. I awarded Kerry all of Gore's states plus New Hampshire and Ohio. I also awarded Bush with one Electoral College vote from Maine. The tie breaker will come down to popular vote, which I gave to Kerry, 50 to 49, with Nader getting 1 and Badnarik less than 1. Actually, all of my co-workers did a pretty good job of guessing who would win. Only one guy picked Bush to win with most picking slim Kerry wins.

If Kerry loses, don't blame Nader

If by some strange chance John Kerry loses the presidential election, don't blame Ralph Nader. The Democratic Party has done everything in its power to keep Nader off of state ballots - abandoning its supposed "democratic" principals. It has been interesting listening to all the liberals say that the nation "can't afford" democracy in this election because of George W. Bush. Can't afford democracy? Since when?
While the nation is a constitutional republic, it is founded on the notion that anyone can do just about anything they want to do, especially in the political arena. I have supported Nader's right to run in this election but I am furious by how he was treated. However, I am also encouraged by some of his recent statements, including those Nader made in Manchester on Saturday ["Nader to Democrats: 'It’s not over'"]:
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader Saturday warned Democrats to expect legal action over tactics he called "disgraceful" and "fascistic."
"Stay tuned. It's not over," he said.
Democrats have tried to keep Nader off the ballot in several states, including New Hampshire. Nader called their efforts "the most disgraceful, fascistic practices in the modern history of the Democratic Party."
Good for you, Ralph. Sue away! Make them pay for what they have done to you. They deserve it, the way they have behaved. Can you imagine the yelling and screaming from the Democrats and liberals if the Bushies went after the Libertarians the way they have gone after Nader?

But frankly, here is the reason if Kerry loses Nader can't be blamed: Democrats voting for Bush! Almost no one but Ralph Nader and I have said word one about all the registered Democrats who are planning on voting for Bush tomorrow. In 2000, had even less than 1 percent of the 13 percent of Democrats who voted for Bush in Florida or 2 percent of the Democrats who voted for Bush in New Hampshire voted for Al Gore, Gore would be cruising to reelection now. But no, few people in the political world ever talked about before or after 2000. It was all Nader the spoiler this, Nader the traitor that.

However, in 2004, a similar result could occur. In poll after poll after poll during this campaign, I have posted the huge numbers of Democrats who are plnning on voting for Bush with few Democrats voting for Nader. Well, one more time, here are some of the numbers from the last round of polls posted.

* Arkansas: Survey USA - Bush 51, Kerry 46. 9 percent of Democrats, 11 percent of self-proclaimed "liberals," and 25 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* Colorado: Survey USA - Bush 52, Kerry 46. 9 percent of Democrats, 8 percent of liberals, and 32 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* Florida: Survey USA - Bush 49, Kerry 48. 11 percent of Democrats, 14 percent of liberals, and 34 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* Iowa: Survey USA - Bush 49, Kerry 49. 5 percent of Democrats, 15 percent of liberals, and 28 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* Nevada: Survey USA - Bush 49, Kerry 49. 9 percent of Democrats, 8 percent of liberals, and 35 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* New Hampshire: ARG - Bush 47, Kerry 47, Nader 2. 8 percent of Democrats voting for Bush. 1 percent of Republicans and 0 percent of Democrats voting for Nader.

* New Mexico: ARG - Kerry 48, Bush 47, Nader 2. 20 percent of Democrats voting for Bush. 1 percent of Democrats voting for Nader.

* Ohio: Survey USA - Bush 49, Kerry 47. 9 percent of Democrats, 7 percent of liberals, and 27 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* Wisconsin: ARG - Kerry 48, Bush 47, Nader 1. 10 percent of Democrats are voting for Bush. 1 percent of Republicans and 0 percent of Democrats are voting for Nader.

In state after state, Democrats voting for Bush are costing Kerry Electoral College votes or making states closer than they should be. In state after state, Nader is either not a factor or helping Kerry by taking votes away from Bush, something I have predicted here for months.

In the case of New Hampshire, it will be in more difficult for Nader since he is the only independent on the ballot here. So, no matter what happens, if Kerry loses, Nader will be blamed, even though he will most surely earn the votes of conservatives and Republicans as a protest vote just as he has done in the past.

It is unfortunate that this election cycle has turned out the way it did. I hope for the best and just decision. But our nation truly needs - and deserves - more political choices. The days of the rigged two party system, rigged by the same two parties, must come to an end.