Dude, Where’s my Candidate?”

The 2000 Election was, painfully, not much different from elections of the past. The Florida debauchle was the only memorable event from the entire campaign and election, Ralph Nader “controversy” aside. Any issues were plainly not discussed at length, nor did they have much importance. Hence the slide into an even more wearisome and mind-dumbing round of mudslinging, where the great George W. Bush is trashed upon when his children get caught drinking, among other revelations about cocaine. This, my friend, is boring. With no issues except for a minor third-party threat, and the very ancient, deep-rooted tradition of fixing elections, we can only hope that this is not a sign of a beginning trend in elections to come.

Seemingly, the most talked about issue of the entire campaign was the threat of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. The main accusation by many Al Gore supporters (or Bush-haters) was that Ralph Nader would suck election votes from Al Gore to a practical non-vote in the third party candidate. This does have some relevance, I do admit. The democrats are known for being more liberal than republicans, and it is plausible that they would have voted for Gore and won him the election had Ralph Nader not run or had he endorsed Gore. But this is an entirely hypothetical situation. In fact, polls showed (note that polls are statistics, and therefore not very reliable) Nader voters which may not have even voted for Gore. In fact, some (about 16%) of the Nader voters would have voted for Bush, not helping Gore in the least. Others (about 19%) would not have voted at all, so why not vote for Nader. His quest for 5% of the voting public and federal funds is a valiant one, giving future candidates a bit to think about on both sides of the political spectrum. But the exit polls showed that, had the election been a two-way race (if you couldn’t call it that already), Bush would have also won the popular vote. So, in the hypothetical scenario that Nader voters did not have the Nader option, they may not have helped elect Gore. But, as all “What if’s…” go, there is no way to really tell.

Unless you were living in a vacuum, it was obvious that the most prevalent issue in the 2000 election was not even known before election night: the Florida Controversy. What many people may not realize, is that elections have been fixed, or at least tweaked since the very beginning of our great country. How easy would it be for “vote-counters” all over the country to happily slip a few “invalid” ballots onto the floor. Not to mention the black voters which were barred from voting in Florida, the miscounting of ballots actually cast, and the counting of votes for Bush hich were actually invalid. Out of the entire population of the U.S., and such a close race for the presidency, this could make a huge difference. More unlikely, but plausible, would be the use of the major media outlets to mask the manipulation of numbers, when the winner is actually decided before ballots are counted. But, conspiracy theories aside, our election process is flawed, and will continue to be so no matter how much we try to reform it, until actual reform is instated. Already, the fuss has quieted and everyone has forgotten that the president they elected is not in office.

Of course, it remains to be seen if Al Gore would have made a better president. He may have more smarts, but he is still conservative as all get out, and actually has been heard to agree with George W. Bush on most issues at one time or another. They have both stated that they support the death penalty, increased Pentagon spending, NAFTA, the WTO, the Cuban embargo, poorly run HMOs, the cold-blooded bombing of Iraq, deadly firearms, all with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer in a good round of trickle-down economics. These striking similarities illustrate how little voters had to choose from in the 2000 election. These figureheads for corporate interests were patently uninteresting. Hence, the huge Florida Controversy. We needed something to remember it by, even if it was a type of election fixing that has been going on since the beginning of our grand country. This was not anything new, it just so happened to be the most newsworthy event of the entire election. In follow-up investigations, election frauds such as these were found to have been going on in many past elections. But hey, who’s counting?

On Ralph Nader

I must say, I agree with Ralph Nader with many, if not all of his issues. Nader’s stances on all the issues are much more appealing than either Bush’s or Gore’s. But, the plaguing dilemma was always throwing the election to Bush. As stated above, I view this as a non-factor, where both Bush and Gore are essentially the same candidate. Post-election, though, it may be apparent that Nader might fare better by trying to reform the Democrats from the inside. I wonder if this is plausible. They may be too far gone, and the only hope is a third party. The Democrats sure seem to have sold out entirely. In the 2000 Election, a very good idea was hatched for Nader supporters: The Nader Trader. This gave Nader supporters a chance to vote for their candidate in hopes of gaining him the five percent of votes needed for federal funding, in exchange for Gore getting another vote in the all-important swing states. For example, a Nader voter in Washington could agree to vote for Gore, hoping to win him Washington, in exchange for his friend in Texas (a definite Bush win) voting for Nader. It helps both people's voting interests involved. Now, this may have been instituted too late into the election for it to work effectively, and it remains to be seen if it is actually legal (there was some talk of legal proceedings, but not much progress was made). Nader Trader was not a bad idea in theory, and if instituted early enough, could have made some waves.

For the future, Ralph Nader has a lot of thinking to do, especially after alienating some of his supporters and possibly giving Bush the most powerful seat in the world. He hasn’t decided whether or not to run next election. Frankly, I don’t think it will make much difference. Of the 347 or so people that ran for president, only the 2 or 3 will get any coverage. Why so few? Because those two will own all the airwaves, and therefore most Americans' minds as well. You call this a democracy?