Will Gore Throw the Election to Bush?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Thu Oct 26 18:41:26 MDT 2000

(This is scheduled to appear in a Madison, Wisconsin newspaper. Robert
McChesney is a scholar specializing in communications issues and co-editor
of Monthly Review)

Will Gore Throw the Election to Bush?

Robert W. McChesney

This past Friday a dozen former "Nader's Raiders" held a press conference
and told Ralph Nader to drop out of the presidential race and throw his
support to Vice-President Al Gore. Concerned about Gore's faltering
numbers in the polls, they argued that votes for Nader might well lead to
the victory of George W. Bush. It is not an original argument. But the
problem with it is that they are asking the wrong candidate to quit the
race. Had they thought it through, they would have demanded that Al Gore
quit the race and throw his support behind Nader.

Think about it. Vice President Al Gore has now had three 90 minute mano a
mano debates with George W. Bush. His campaign and related soft money
groups have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on political ads to
convince Americans to support him. He has received an overwhelming amount
of press coverage, much of it sympathetic. He is a household name across
the nation. Yet here we are less than two weeks from election day and Al
Gore still is not ahead of George W. Bush, arguably the least impressive
and most unqualified candidate for president in U.S. history. Many polls
find him trailing Governor Bush. And there is little hope for a
turnaround, as Bush has twice the money Gore does to bombard the nation
with TV ads. Were a politician the caliber of Bill Clinton running against
W., he would mop the floor with Bush's carcass, and lead him by 15 points
in the polls.

Al Gore has failed. For whatever reason, people just don't like the guy,
and the more they see him, the less they like him. The voters have made it
clear they might not elect him even over such a numbskull as George W.
Bush. It seems pretty clear why Gore cannot expose Bush for the fraud he
is. Bush is owned lock, stock and barrel by the huge corporations and the
wealthy. As president, Bush will reduce the tax burden on the wealthy and
eliminate those remaining regulations that protect the environment,
consumers and workers.

He will also give the green light to anti-competitive corporate mergers
and consolidation. A Bush Administration will make the Republican
administrations of the Gilded Age and the Roaring 20s look like socialist
states.  insincere focus group tested sound bites or a lot of mumbo jumbo
on a bunch of incomprehensible policy programs. No one is advocating
positions that tackle the extreme inequality of wealth and power in the
United States directly, and the total corruption of our governing system
by big money. Since there is little of substance to debate between them,
those voters who haven't fallen asleep are making their choice between
Gore and Bush on the basis of which they think has a better personality.

On that score, whether it is fair or not, Gore is a sure loser.

Ralph Nader is not the reason Gore's campaign is struggling. Gore has has
ample opportunity to make his case before the American voters. Gore had a
ten point lead in some polls in September. As that lead disappeared, most
of the votes shifted to Bush, not Nader. In fact, surveys show that a
significant percentage of Nader's supporters -- perhaps a majority --
either would not vote or would vote for someone other than Gore were Nader
not in the race. Most of those sympathetic to Nader but scared about a
Bush presidency have already decided to vote for Gore.

Al Gore, and Al Gore alone, has blown his golden opportunity. In fact,
that Gore has laid such an egg is damaging Nader's effort to reach the
five percent threshold and earn matching funds for the Green party in
2004. If Gore were doing as well as he should be doing, he would win the
election handily and Nader could get 7-10 percent of the vote with little
effect on the outcome. But Gore has indeed laid an egg, and party hacks
are desperate to find a scapegoat. If Democrats are truly concerned about
the fate of progressive politics, the rational solution would be for Gore
to quit and throw his support to Nader.

Gore can't win. Nader can. Without hardly any money and worse media
coverage than Andrei Sakharov got from Pravda in the 1970s, Nader has
drawn the six largest crowds in the campaign -- ranging from 10,000 to
15,000 people -- and these were paying audiences no less. When people
actually hear Nader's message they respond, and they respond favorably.
Nader can galvanize the citizenry in a way Gore cannot. He is the
smartest, most competent, and most honest figure in public life today. He
is a national treasure. In leaving the race, Gore should demand that
George W. Bush have three 90 minute debates mano a mano with Nader in the
final 10 days of the campaign. Without Gore's dreadful semi-Republican
record, Nader will easily expose Bush for the ignoramus that he is. Let's
see Bush serve up his banalities about favoring "small government" and
"returning power to the people" in the face of Nader's command of the real
record of massive corporate welfare that Bush supports.  Vice President
Gore should withdraw from the race immediately.

Only Nader can defeat Bush. All that progressives stand for -- the Supreme
Court, a woman's right to choose, the environment -- is on the line. The
sad truth is that on November 7 a vote for Gore is a vote for Bush.

Louis Proyect
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