MSNBC & Newsweek Declare Nader Possibly Sane; Demand for Recount Continues; Democrats Whimper and Regroup

Even some in the mainstream press are admitting that "Nader Was Right." In an online-exclusive article for MSNBC/Newsweek, Eleanor Clift writes:

Amidst the rubble of what was the Democratic Party, Nader doesn't sound like a voice in the wilderness. He's saying what a lot of Democrats are coming to grips with, that they will be a permanent minority party for the next 20 years if they don't come up with some compelling ideas....

"Leave Kerry alone--make no demands on him," that was the mantra, says Nader. The party's various factions--labor, liberals, women, environmentalists--took a holiday. "They allowed Kerry to adopt ambiguous wishy-washy positions and they deprived him of the key to victory, which is bright lines," says Nader....

The court's May ruling in favor of gay marriage put the issue in play, and Bush's support for a constitutional ban allowed him to draw a bright line between himself and Kerry. It was the clearest difference voters could see.

Nader's ill-advised presidential bid in 2004 had everyone declaring the man insane earlier in the year, but now his criticisms of the Democratic Party seem almost prophetic, even if his campaign verged on the wee bit megalomaniacal (on the other hand, the Democrats and Republicans have both taken so many turns smearing Nader, it's no wonder he can be a little paranoid and standoffish).

And he's the only big-name guy willing to fight for a recount for himself and the Dems, even though a recount would do little for Nader himself but could throw the entire election to Kerry.

Then again, I wonder if he wasn't slapped back into reality by the paltry number of votes he received -- and the fact that John F. Kerry lost so soundly to Bush, even with many of Nader's followers selling Nader out in favor of JFK II.

Following Nader's example, various independent parties and candidates are also agitating for recounts in multiple states, with the Green Party's David Cobb and Libertarian Michael Badnarikand trying to raise the necessary funds for an Ohio recount. And tens of thousands of voters have signed a petition at Downtown Magazine "requesting an investigation into the Presidential Election of 2004."

However, Kerry, Edwards, and the Democrats -- not to mention the Republicans -- could initiate a recount with much greater speed, if they so choose. Even if it's impossible for Kerry to win the race, the two major parties owe it to the general public to prove that voter fraud will not be tolerated in this day and age, that every vote truly is counted correctly, and that problems with the new hard drive-based voting machines will be corrected.

Glitches abound: Some voting software in Florida began "counting backwards" at one point (i.e., subtracting instead of adding votes), which might indicate undetected problems elsewhere with counting systems. And let's not discount the ongoing punch-card/chad problems and now the odd optical scan voting trends.

But so far the Dems and Repubs have skirted the issue, and the no-longer-presidential Kerry is more concerned with keeping the likes of Nader and Howard Dean from pushing the Democratic Party in a progressive direction (by, for instance, quietly blocking a Dean bid for DNC Chair).

Hell, love 'im or hate 'im, you've gotta admit that Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky have not only managed to keep up their status as intellectual boat-rocking liberal rabble-rousers for decades, but they've also ascended to that fabled land of celebrity where they can be referred to by a single name -- Nader and Chomsky. Even Michael Moore, Dennis Kucinich, and Al Franken can't touch that.

However, for Nader to shed the air of egotist and self-aggrandizing political spoiler, he'll need to spend the next few years wisely. Not only continuing the corporate-watchdog pursuits he's famous for, but also finding protégé's to replace him and young politicians he can mentor (for the sake of the future, and also to show whether or not Nader truly believes in the causes he represents, or if he mostly just believes in himself as a champion of said causes).

He needs to rejoin the Green Party and help them fine-tune their organization, or else try to push the Reform Party in a more liberal/labor direction (the U.S. needs a serious labor-oriented third-party one way or the other); and he must try and mend fences with the Democrats, helping to shape the Democratic Party while it's still in a state of weakness and transition.

(Perhaps with the help of his old nemesis, the newly liberalized Al Gore? One shudders to think of Nader working with the bland Gore of 2000; but after getting unfairly battered by Bush, Gore did look bad-ass during his brief flirtation with wearing a beard, and he certainly has a Republican ax to grind. We'll see...)

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