[Marxism] Why the Democratic Party Attacks Nader & the Green Party

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Thu Mar 18 02:56:58 MST 2004


Among the liberal pundits who cry Anybody But Bush, it's "open 
season" on Ralph Nader and the Green Party.  Some wonder why the 
Democratic leaders and intellectuals attack Nader and the Greens, 
especially given that more Democrats voted for Bush than Nader in 
2000: "Bush received the votes of 12 times more Democrats than Nader 
did, and 5.25 times more self-identified liberals than Nader did in 
Florida" (Tim Wise, "Why Nader is NOT to Blame," November 8, 2000, 
<http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=10065>).

The answer lies in the post-modern political science of electoral 
campaigns and the Democratic Party elite's aversion to working-class 
voters (even though working-class voters vote more Democratic than 
richer voters do).  Attacking Green candidates in particular or the 
Green Party in general as an Evil Spoiler and trying to scare or 
guilt-trip registered Greens (and registered voters who may consider 
voting Green) into backing the Democratic Party make _perfect sense_. 
Both the Republican and Democratic Parties "hunt" the votes by 
"targeting" and "reducing the universe" of voters, i.e. "excluding 
people who are not 'profitable' to work" (Marshall Ganz, "Voters in 
the Crosshairs," _The American Prospect_ 5.16, December 1, 1994, 
<http://www.prospect.org/print-friendly/print/V5/16/ganz-m.html>). 
Excluding the poorer Americans, enabling whose participation is 
costly, in turn allows the power elite to define the political agenda 
contrary to working-class interests and opinions:

*****   _The American Prospect_ 5.16, December 1, 1994.
Voters in the Crosshairs
Marshall Ganz

. . . For the last couple decades, campaign consultants have been 
perfecting ways to restrict the electorate by "reducing the universe" 
of voters, long before Ed Rollins caused a furor by claiming he paid 
New Jersey ministers not to encourage their congregation members to 
vote in the gubernatorial race last September. The computerization of 
voter registration files and emergence of "list vendors" who purchase 
tapes of these files and convert them into customized, 
campaign-specific lists make possible this new approach to targeting. 
Matching voter files with tapes of phone directories, ethnic surname 
dictionaries, county assessor records, and voter turnout reports 
makes it possible to generate lists of voters individually profiled 
by their party affiliation, age, gender, marital status, homeowner 
status, ethnicity, and frequency of voting. Consultant Matt Reese 
explains how this information is used:

Targeting is a process of excluding people who are not "profitable" 
to work, so that resources are adequate to reach prime voters with 
enough intensity to win them. Targeting provides an ultimate "lift" 
to the voter contact process, allowing maximum concentration of 
resources to a minimum universe.

Voter registration, for example, is rarely considered because newly 
registered voters are less likely to turn out than established 
voters. Also, it requires a "ground force" of volunteers or paid 
registrars. In the absence of an ongoing program, there are numerous 
problems of management, recruitment, and quality control in creating 
such a team for a single campaign.

The effects of this new campaign ethos can be seen in a hypothetical 
district, where 55 percent of the registered voters are Democrats, 35 
percent are Republicans, and 10 percent are independent or "decline 
to state." The first step in applying the new strategy is to buy 
computer tapes that describe the district by party and by voter 
turnout. Of all registered voters, 24 percent have no record of 
voting, suggesting that they are gone, and 39 percent vote only 
occasionally, mainly in presidential elections. These voters are 
ignored because they are unlikely to turn out unless stimulated. The 
likely voters, a bedrock 37 percent of registered voters who vote in 
most elections, are the prime targets of the campaign. Among these, 
priority is assigned to the Democratic 10 percent, Republican 5 
percent, and independent 2 percent judged to be "swing" voters based 
on their electoral or individual histories (a Republican living with 
a Democrat, for example). This 17 percent is targeted for persuasion 
and becomes the heart of the campaign, the real determiners of the 
issues the campaign will address. The remaining 20 percent of the 
electorate who are likely voters and are likely to be loyal to their 
parties are contacted mainly to inform them of the candidate's 
identity and affiliation. They are not mobilized because they are 
regular voters.

As of election day, 63 percent of registered voters will not have 
been contacted by anyone. If, as is typical, only 60 percent of the 
eligible electorate were registered, 78 percent of the eligible 
voters in the district would never be contacted. These uncontacted 
voters are far more likely to be of lower socioeconomic status than 
those who are contacted. They never hear from a campaign and thus 
will likely stay at home on election day or vote the way they always 
have. . . .

<http://www.prospect.org/print-friendly/print/V5/16/ganz-m.html>   *****

The registered Greens, who are motivated enough to lend support to 
such a difficult struggle as Third-Party Building, are among the 
likely voters, "a bedrock 37 percent of registered voters who vote in 
most elections" (Marshall Ganz, "Voters in the Crosshairs," _The 
American Prospect_ 5.16, December 1, 1994, 
<http://www.prospect.org/print-friendly/print/V5/16/ganz-m.html>), 
who are the most cost-effective to "hunt," as Ganz explains well (the 
entire article is worth reading).

Best of all, bashing the Green Party doesn't cost the Democratic 
machine _anything_, not even a dime.  Intellectuals of the Anybody 
But Bush crowd _volunteer_ their time, skills, and energy to do so 
entirely on their own.  That's how hegemony works in an advanced 
capitalist nation -- by consent, as Antonio Gramsci presciently 
theorized.
-- 
Yoshie

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