Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Ralph Nader Syndrome

It's happening again. The natives are growing restless. Every few years or so progressives get disillusioned about their leaders and they start day dreaming about alternatives. And, almost without exception, every time they do so, the dream turns into a nightmare.  

Barack Obama is George Bush 44, who's spying on all of us and ordered the hit on Michael Hastings, didn't you know that? Hillary Clinton? Well she's just another neo-liberal who voted for the Patriot Act and, before she became First Lady, defended Walmart. Yes, Walmart, the anti-Christ of retail.  Imagine a lawyer defending pond scum like that. Perry Mason would never do such a thing.

It was thirteen years ago that progressives, pissed off at Al Gore - over what, I have no idea - turned to Ralph Nader as their savior and deliverer. And how did their savior and deliverer repay their devotion and loyalty? By gift-wrapping the state of Florida for George W. Bush, that's how. Thanks to their obstinance, progressives saddled the nation with ole shit-for-brains for eight long years.

Okay, I get it. The '60s never died for you. At heart, you're the same hippie your parents were. You've refused to stop playing those Grateful Dead records, you've never gotten over Bobby Kennedy's assassination and somewhere out there is that perfect candidate who won't be corrupted by the system and who will lead us all to the promised land.  A Jimmy Stewart for the 21st century.

I want you to know two things: 1. I want that same candidate; and 2. I also want Santa Claus to bring me a Mets' World Series championship before I die. And, while he's at it, world peace, too. Knowing the Wilpons the way I do, I'm guessing world peace will come first.

Seriously, folks, it's time to put down whatever it is you've been inhaling, because it's killing your brain cells. I have dreams too, but then I wake up and realize I live in the real world. It's not the world I would want, but it's the only one there is.

I hate being the bearer of bad news, but here goes. Not only wasn't the revolution televised, it's over. And guess what? The good guys lost. That's right, boys and girls, the war is over. George Washington is spinning in his grave and Thomas Jefferson just threw up all over John Adams, which, if you know anything at all about Jefferson and Adams, should come as no shock. The two hated each other's guts.

It was Bill Maher who once said, "We have a center-right party, and a crazy party. And over the last thirty odd years, Democrats have moved to the right, and the Right has moved into a mental hospital." Notice how there was no mention of a "C" in Maher's statement? That's because there isn't any. John Anderson and Ross Perot were never going to prevail anymore than Teddy Roosevelt did in 1912.  And that's because of this little thing known as the electoral college. It kinda precludes 3rd party upsets from happening. Think of it as the Republic's way of defending itself from the fringes.

Look, I don't have anything against wish lists, or vetting candidates vying for my vote. And, no, I don't think we should settle for just anyone with a pulse. We should never apologize for having standards, nor should we refrain from calling out our leaders when they have fallen short of expectations. But this idea that the lesser of two evils is no choice at all is the sort of thing that leads to disastrous results at the ballot box.

Don't believe me? Take a gander at the other side of the political aisle. You may think the Tea Party crazy, intolerant, myopic, racist and dangerous. They are certainly that. But there's also one other thing they are: they're idealists. And to a man, woman and child they truly believe in their cause. They are not corrupted by the system; indeed, they despise establishment Republicans as sellouts. And they are willing to pay whatever price they have to, to protect the beliefs they cherish most.

After cresting in the 2010 midterms, their fortunes have since plummeted. They were trounced in 2012 and, unless they come around, will likely cost the GOP congressional seats in next year's midterms, not to mention the White House in 2016.

Think they care? Shit no. They are defiant as ever. Crazy people usually are. It's their one glaring weakness. In their world, it is better to lose on principles than to win by compromising.

Sound familiar? It should. Every single one of you who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 is no better than your Tea Party counterparts. Yes, I realize that hurts. It was meant to. I'd rather you hate my guts now than hate yours down the road.

And speaking of down the road, I'm hearing some rumblings that a certain first-term senator from Massachusetts is seriously being floated as a possible 2016 Democratic candidate. Let me put the kabash on that once and for all.

I love Elizabeth Warren. She's genuine and she's fearless. I wish we had a dozen more like her in the Senate. To be frank, I have a better shot at winning the presidency than she does. My fear isn't that she wouldn't make a good primary candidate, she would; my fear is she would actually win the nomination and lose to Chris Christie or Marco Rubio in the general. That thought keeps me up nights. It should make you shit your pants.

Hillary is flawed, no doubt about it, but then who isn't?  Barring an as of yet unforeseen candidate that can hold his or her own in 2016, she is still the best hope Democrats have of doing something they haven't done since 1948: win more than two consecutive presidential elections. And winning counts. Just ask John Kerry. I'll gladly take Clinton, warts and all, over the alternative.

For, in the final analysis, if it comes down to a choice between the candidate who is either a sellout or has been corrupted by the political process and the one who's crazy, I'll take the former any day. The former can be reasoned with; the latter belongs in a rubber room, not the Oval Office.

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