I’ve never been much of a fan of August Pollak. I would occasionally follow links to his site from Tom Tomorrow, but didn’t find anything compelling enough to make me a regular reader. But I was pointed to this cartoon the other day, which has gotten a rise out of me.
Not being a regular reader, at first I thought this was actually a funny jab at the herds of obsessive N8r H8rz who will never let go of their favorite counterfactual history story. I guess it counts as a little extra humorous irony to realize that no, Pollak himself is one of those assholes who was so eager to make Joe Lieberman the vice president, and he’s being completely serious here. His first cartoon of the Obama presidency is one more sneer at Nader voters from eight years ago. His first cartoon of this oh-so-historical epoch of hope ‘n’ change is one more cheap shot aimed at settling the score with heretics who dared deviate from the Democratic party line eight years ago.
I know this issue has long since entered the mythic stage – mythic, in the sense that it’s not about facts, it’s a story that gives meaning to people and explains their position in the big scheme of things. As always, people like to put themselves at the reasonable center of things, with the “extremists” on either side of them – or, as America’s greatest philosopher George Carlin pithily summed up in a vehicular analogy, everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot, and everyone who drives faster than you is a maniac. But still, it doesn’t seem like it should be that hard to grasp a few things:
Of all the actors that influenced the outcome of the 2000 election, Nader played one of the smallest roles. You could just as easily single out a dozen other things that, taken individually, could reasonably be credited/blamed for that result. First and foremost, you could actually blame the people who stole the fucking election – you know, the Republicans who staged fake voter riots made up of campaign staffers to attempt to give an impression of a public opposed to the recount, the people who illegally purged thousands of black voters from the rolls in Florida, Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush, and the Bush family buddies on the Supreme Court.
You could, à la Bob Somerby, attack the media for their catty high school-like treatment of Gore, and for their portrayal of him as the sore loser, the spoilsport who needed to step aside for the good of the nation. Or you could even criticize Gore’s own weak campaign, his halfhearted feints towards populism, and his inability to win his own state of Tennessee.
You could blame the 200,000 registered Democrats in Florida who voted for George W. Bush rather than the 97,000 Greens who voted for Nader. How is it that a party so feeble and inept as to not even be able to count on the support of its own fucking registered members has the chutzpah to act entitled to the votes of people who don’t even identify as Democrats? On that note, instead of taking as an article of faith that those Greens would have voted for Gore otherwise, you could try thinking for a few moments before realizing that most likely, they just wouldn’t have voted at all. They were probably only voting in the first place because of Nader being on the ballot, given that they saw the system as a hollow fraud representing the two wings of the Big Business party (and man, haven’t Congressional Dems like Nancy “Impeachment is off the table” Pelosi and Harry “Give ’em head” Reid done so much to prove that theory false these past few years. I suppose the party’s systemic windsock behavior is Ralph’s fault, too.)
Speaking of non-voters, you could blame the 60% of the electorate who didn’t bother to vote at all, especially since it’s more than fair to assume that out of such a huge number, there had to be enough people in there who were perfectly fine with the idea of four-to-eight more years of the same policies, but just didn’t bother to get off the sofa. But no, that might smack of “elitism”, and nothing scares the party built on vapid DLC marketing slogans, p.r. and compulsive focus group polling more than the thought of being judged condescending towards the consumers. Forget I said anything so crazy.
What cracks me up the most is how this endless obsession with berating Greens suggests a fundamental insecurity among these kind of heresiologists. They’re apparently aware that their party has an image as a 98 lb. weakling that would rather attack its own base than fight back hard against Republicans, but rather than address that and actually give people a reason to be proud of belonging to it, they rely on the “lesser of two evils” mentality to carry the day while simply enforcing orthodoxy and trying to hector and guilt-trip the actual left wing of the party into supporting it.