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August 17, 2004

The Beginning Place. Spotted by Avedon, this letter from one Brian Thomas on Altercation:
Today I met up with Portland’s most famous author and anarchist, Ursula K. Le Guin (The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, the Earthsea trilogy, etc.) while she was buying movie tickets at our Fox Towers theatre complex. I asked her the same question I’ve asked thousands of our citizens:

“Do you want George Bush out of the White House?”

Ms. Le Guin flipped her purse around to reveal a Kerry/Edwards button.

“Wow, I’m thrilled to see an anarchist wearing a Kerry button. All my best anarchist friends are voting for Kerry, but they’re not ready to wear buttons.” And then Ursula smiled broadly as she became the first person I have ever heard utter these words:

“Anybody but Nader.”

[09:25 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on The Beginning Place.:

alantex ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2004, 11:00 PM:

As a fellow Portlander and long-time admirer of Ursula LeGuin (she's a member of my food coop), I want to second that -- "ANYBODY BUT NADER!!!"

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 12:50 AM:

Yes. Nader is the enemy of democracy. Death to Nader. Die, Nader, die!

You ruined everything America stands for, you Nader-loving Nader! Foreigners say, "Silly America! Your elections stink! They are full of Nader!" I spit on you, Nader. Soon foreigners will say, "Lucky America. You have no Nader. We love you again!"

Soon I will go vote for anyone but Nader. I will dance the democracy dance. America will not be tricked again into trying to go to more than two parties on the same night! America does not want to spend more time in a taxi than in a party! America is getting out of the taxi, you Nader! Give us the Pepsi of the Democrats and the cheese doodles of the Republicans! We do not want your cold bean salad or your tepid green tea!

Go to Canada or some similar hellhole of communism, you Naderish embarrassment to America, you! Do not trouble the land of the free with your Naderish Naderings. We heard your dulcet tones and longed for your lithe form, but we know you now, demon Nader!

It is good to heap scorn upon the head of the Nader who brought these woes upon us. Scorn, Nader! Heap, heap! Scorn, scorn!

FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 01:04 AM:

Awwww....did the poor widdle Naderite get his feewings hurt? Would he like a wowwypop?

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 01:13 AM:

With all due respect, I'm perfectly happy to heap scorn on Nader. Now, where did I leave my strategic scorn reserve? And my special Scorn Cruise Ultrasonic Delivery missle, aka SCUD? Coz it's got Ralphie's name all over it.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 01:16 AM:

Who you calling a Naderite? Them's fighting words!

Naderites are smarmy pseudo-intellectuals who obscure simple American two-party truths by talking about the Electoral College and the Supreme Court and the Florida voting system and Gore's decision to contest the election in four counties instead of the whole state. Naderites like the scene in Fahrenheit 9/11 where Gore tells the members of the black caucus to sit down and not rock the boat. You know Naderites are bad because of that "-ite" at the end of their name. Go to Canada, Naderites!

Me, I'm voting for Kerry. I'm in Arizona, where it looks like the Democrats are managing to save us from the Nader threat by ensuring a Nader-free ballot. I pity those of you in less-enlightened states. Two choices, no waiting--that's the American way.

Go, Kerry, go! Stand up for your not-Naderishness! They say you are wishy-washy, but I know in my heart that you are not Nader!

Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 01:30 AM:

You know, the trouble with making an argument by sarcasm and snark is that it obscures whatever point you're trying to make. Sarcasm is occasionally useful, but it's a blunt instrument.

I can tell that Will thinks it's unfair to blame Nader for anything, or at least something of that sort. I simply don't know what his point of view is beyond that one-sentence summary, or why he holds that point of view, or why he thinks anyone else might want to hold it. Everything but the crudest and highest-level point he might be making is obscured by the thick sarcasm. If one's goal is to further a discussion among people of good will, that's not the best way to do it.

FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 01:37 AM:

Sounds like somebody needs a hug!

Will - you could always write Nader's name in. Or, maybe you could organize the fraction of the percentage of the state's population to collect the signatures that would put Nader on the ballot. If Nader represents anything more than a tiny, crankish sliver of the population, it should be easy to do so.

Or, I suppose, you could sulk about the unfairness of it all on a public message board. Didn't all the great progressive triumphs of the modern age - ending slavery, defeating naziism, establishing labor unions, overturning apartheid, winning the fight for civil rights - come about through posting snotty little messages? Of course they did.

Hail, the brave progressive warrior!

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 01:58 AM:

Mark, point taken, and right after I hit the "post" button, I thought, "Oh, man, you should've put that on your own blog or not bothered to post it at all." I came back looking for a "delete" option, but new comments had been added before I could try to find one.

So, seriously:

1. If there's any chance that my vote in Arizona will have any effect under the electoral college, I'm voting for Kerry.

2. I've never understood the Democrat's love of Nader-bashing. It seems to me to be remarkably like those patriotic Americans during WWI who kicked Dachshunds. Given Gore's missteps and Republican manipulation of the system, they would've pulled off the same coup without Nader in Florida--you can add the votes of other third-party candidates to cover the gap that Nader's credited with.

3. I think there's something suspect about the argument that when one candidate gives you nothing and one gives you crumbs, you should vote for the crumby candidate rather than protest the system or vote for someone who represents what you believe. I sometimes think the DLC is glad that Bush turned out to be as bad as he did because now they can boldly continue to ignore leftist and leftish issues.

4. Since Kerry's the crumby candidate of the year and Bush is so incredibly awful, I want the Democrats to win. But I would like them to do it by fighting Bush rather than Nader. Yes, the Democrats have no interest in progressive politics or getting rid of the electoral college, but they're not Bush. I want out of Iraq, but I would rather stay there under Kerry than Bush. I want universal health care, but I would rather have crumby health care under Kerry than Bush. I want better schools, but I would rather have crumby schools under Kerry than Bush, since Kerry only wants to weaken the teacher's union and Bush would happily destroy it. I do get one sop with Kerry, for all that it's no more meaningful than his position on abortion: he's against the death penalty.

5. Since I'm now effectively a conservative Democrat, I'm new to this whole Democrat in-group style of humor. So please forgive me for having gone overboard in my Nader-bashing. I'll pay closer attention to the way my fellow conservative Democrats do it. How about: Anyone but Nader. How droll!

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 02:09 AM:

FMguru, what frustrates me most about the Democrat's efforts to keep Nader off the Arizona ballot is that I had resigned myself to voting for Kerry with Nader on the ballot.

If the Democrats keep fighting to keep him off the ballot, the perverse imp of democracy in my soul may force me to write in his name. Assuming, of course, that the polls suggest there's little doubt about which way Arizona will go. (And, yes, right now it appears that there is some question. So, if you want me to vote for Kerry, please don't mock my principles. I'm compromising as fast as I can.)

Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 02:19 AM:

But I would like them to do it by fighting Bush rather than Nader.

Results 1 - 10 of about 943 from www.johnkerry.com for bush. (0.15 seconds)

Results 1 - 10 of about 14 from www.johnkerry.com for nader. (0.09 seconds)

Perhaps next you can wish for some sort of global computer network where people can discuss the 2004 presidential election.

FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 02:39 AM:

Nader could have built an organization, lobbied for ballot access, raised funds, gathered signatures, formed a party, and done all the other things that lets the American Independents and Greens and Libertarians and Natural Lawites and Constitutionalists and Peace and Freedom parties get on the ballot, but he decided to throw his hat into the ring at the last minute and expected that the doors would miraculously fly open in all 50 states to him. Everyone else has to follow ballot access laws; why should St. Ralph be cut a break? If having to organize 50 different ballot access campaigns on short notice is so onerous, he should have started his campaign months (years?) earlier. Well, he would have if he wanted to be a serious candidate for office, and not some self-absorbed grudgeholding spoiler gadfly.

It is rather rich the way Naderites stand around with shocked expressions on their faces when Democrats don't run to their aid. The fact that they're RUNNING THEIR OWN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE and COMPETING FOR THE SAME VOTERS as the Democratic party never seems to dawn on them. Why are those corrupt corporate sellout phony Democrats being such meanies? It is to wonder.

Why should the Democrats go out of their way to help Nader gain ballot access? They're trying to win an election. Nader certainly isn't in this to do the Democrats any favors - he's made his opinion of the Democratic party and its nominee very clear. Why should the Democrats lift one finger to empower someone who is their sworn enemy?

I must say that I am impressed by your principles. Your vote is going to be determined by the state of the polls on the day of the election, the mutterings of the "perverse imp" in your soul, and whether or not some anonymous dude on a message board hurts your feelings. Those are some principles! You're a regular rock of Gibraltar, aren't you?

(And you "had resigned yourself" to voting for Kerry. Poor Will! Forced to choose between unpalatable alternative. You're just too good for this flawed, petty, small-minded world of ours, aren't you?)

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 02:53 AM:

Anticorium, Silly me. I had thought we Kerry Democrats were concerned that Nader had affected the election in 2000 and wanted to make sure he did not affect it in 2004. I'm very relieved to know that's not the case.

Please, should any of you wish to keep blaming Nader for daring to run, address your comments to Anticorium. I'm leaving the thread now, still planning to vote for Kerry.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:10 AM:

Hmm. I guess now that I'm a Democrat, I don't have to apologize for one last comment to FMguru: You're right. Screw principles. Stupid Greens and third-party candidates who think that because Democrats name themselves after democrats, they might actually think democracy matters.

I'm sorry if you think there's something wrong with me for understanding how the system works. But the polls are remarkably accurate: they were right about Florida until the Republicans pulled their tricks and the Democrats decided that they didn't want to fight for what they'd won. My vote will not matter in the presidential race unless there's some doubt about which way Arizona will go. Recognizing that is purely a matter of pragmatism, not principle. If the pragmatic thing to do this year is to vote for Kerry, I'll vote for Kerry. But I'm not such a hypocrite as to think that's anything but pragmatism.

Attacking me for pragmatism is an interesting tactic. Are you a Republican who's trying to convince me to vote for Nader?

Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:11 AM:

And while you're addressing your comments to me, dear readers, let me address one of mine to you: Ralph Nader can--

Actually, before I continue, I need to drop PNH a line and find out if I'm allowed to use a phrase that starts with "go", ends "himself sideways with a chainsaw and no lube", and contains exactly ten words.

It's amazing what four short years can do. Nader has managed to betray pretty much every principle I had once thought he held dear, starting in 2000 when he campaigned sufficiently well on the ludicrous premise that there was no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush to throw the election to the Supreme Court. And in 2004 he isn't even running to help elevate a third party into a position where they can effectively challenge the American political duopoly. He's doing it just to prove that anyone can run for president, provided they have enough Republican operatives canvassing for signatures to get them onto the ballot as a spoiler.

None of which is to say that the Democrats are campaigning against Nader rather than Bush, which doesn't pass the giggle test let alone the Google test I posted above. But I wouldn't be too teary-eyed if they did; never has a man worked so hard to deserve it.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:37 AM:

Okay, I'm backing slowly out of the room, making no sudden movements, my hands held high and open.

Anticorium, my "rather than" was hyperbole, and I apologize for that. Lest anyone think I believe that the Democrats are ony campaigning against Nader and are ignoring Bush, I will state that I recognize that the Democrats are putting far, far, far more of their resources into attacking Bush than Nader. I confess, I thnk the Democrats are hittng Nader a lot harder than they're hitting Bush because Nader's the little kid whose friends are nerds, so you can whomp him with all you've got. But with Bush, well, he's got his own gang, so you let some of your boys attack him, then you apologize for those homies instead of yelling, "Yeah, you hid in Texas 'cause your daddy was rich and powerful!" and "Iraq was a disaster and there's no way in hell I would've voted like I did if I'd know what a lying incompetent you are!"

But I'm pragmatic. Kerry's what we've got this year, and maybe he'll get some fire in his belly, or maybe he won't.

And now I'm slipping out the door--

FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:48 AM:

>>>Stupid Greens and third-party candidates who think that because Democrats name themselves after democrats, they might actually think democracy matters.

Democracy is being observed. The ballot access laws in Arizona were (presumably) passed by democratically-elected state legislators and are enforced and administered by democratically-elected county registrars. All of the big and small parties in Arizona have managed to obey them for the past diddley-ump elections. The laws are clear and easy to follow - you have to have X valid signatures submitted by Y date to get your name on the ballot. Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Reformers, American Independents, and everyone else have been able to follow those laws. Only the Naderites - because of catastrophically bad political organization - can't manage to follow the rules. And they expect everyone to just throw away all the rules (that everyone else was able to follow) and make a special exception for them - or else it's a crime against democracy, and they're going to hold their breath and turn blue.

If Naderites don't like the ballot access laws, they're free to lobby to change them. Raise money, pressure legislators, hold rallies, write letters to the editor, form alliances, support candidates, run ads - you know, like how everyone else with an issue they want addressed goes about doing things in a democracy.

Apparently the Naderite definition of "democracy" is that they don't have to follow the same laws and rules as all the other parties, and that it is absolutely unconscienable to expect them to do so. Perhaps the next step in Naderite "democracy" will be to dress in brown shirts and march through town squares. They've already got the whole cult-of-personality thing down cold.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 04:10 AM:

Okay, I have no integrity at all. All I have to do is let someone else have the last word, but no! I've get to stick my head back in the room and say:

Fmguru: Cult of personality. Right. Nader has no real issues. He's just a good-looking, sweet-talking, smart-dressing guy. That's why all the girls want him, and all the boys want to be him.

And now I'm slamming the door and running as fast down the hall as I possibly can--

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 05:33 AM:

On the LeGuin end, with her politics, and statements thereof regarding the current war, there's her poem in the Poets Against the War anthology, both the print anthology and the website:


One of my submissions, "Bad Fairies," also made the print anthology:


FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 06:21 AM:

"Right. Nader has no real issues. He's just a good-looking, sweet-talking, smart-dressing guy. That's why all the girls want him, and all the boys want to be him."

It's rather sad that you think this is, in any way, a response that does you credit in an argument. But that does appear to be the absolute limit of your rhetorical skills, doesn't it? Restating the other guy's case in exaggerated terms, and then posting it as if the inherent ridiculousness constitutes a withering takedown all by itself.

Free tip: it doesn't. You might find that actually responding to other people's arguments is a much more useful method of making your point.

"And now I'm slamming the door and running as fast down the hall as I possibly can"

Another free tip: running away from an argument isn't particularly convincing, and bragging about how you're running away doesn't do much to strengthen your argument.

Instead of playing these feeble little games, why not try responding to the meat of my posts - like explaining how holding Nader to the same (democratically-established) ballot access rules as ever other candidate/party is a betrayal of the tenets of democracy?

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 06:51 AM:

From the point of view of a Brit, it is all a little weird.

You have a centre-right Party. You have a far-right Party. You have a centre-left Party. The far-right Party has an influence and political power all out of proportion to the number of people it actually represents. The centre-right Party is drifting rightwards. The centre-left Party is being regularly demonised in the press for even existing, and has a hard time getting on the ballot.

The Republicans lost the 2000 Presidential election, and I don't see how Nader can be blamed for Bush getting appointed President anyway.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 07:29 AM:

One has to admire LeGuin's rhetoric. If the moderates had even a few rhetoricians of her skill, W & Co. would be nothing to worry about.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 07:30 AM:

Well, American politics is structurally pretty different from British politics, so it's not surprising that it looks "a little weird" from that point of view. For much-remarked-upon example, In a parliamentary system, third parties have a much greater chance of being effective.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 07:52 AM:

"I think the Democrats are hitting Nader a lot harder than they're hitting Bush because Nader's the little kid whose friends are nerds"

Actually, I found the Le Guin anecdote funny because my own opposition to Nader is rooted in the sense that he would be an absolutely terrible President of the United States. Based on the way he appears to have treated his own employees, allies, and supporters over the past several decades, I wouldn't put Ralph Nader in charge of a hot dog stand.

The tactical argument over how to best fight right-wing extremism and advance humane modern values is an important one. I happen to think that, right now, Americans who want to do those things should work through the Democratic Party. I realize there are serious arguments to the contrary and I have a measure of respect for them. What I don't have much respect for is Ralph Nader.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 08:10 AM:

Will's performance in this thread appears to be predicated on the psychological narrative implicit in the passage quoted in my previous post. "Naderites" like him are the awkward squad, good-guy nerds being bullied and ostracized by the dominant herd.

It's true that politics are often transacted at this kind of gut level. People support leaders who they view as winners. Successful right-wing demagogues understand that. So did Martin Luther King.

I remember reading Nader's announcement of his 2000 candidacy, and feeling tremendously tempted to support him. I also remember the point at which I was turned off of him completely: about the fifth time I saw him explain that progressives should support him because Democrats are "losers." Right--the people who were actually at the front lines trying to contain the extremist right were "losers," and deserved to lose even more. Might makes right!

All effective politicians have a streak of the killer in them. In Nader's case, at that moment, his own such streak came to seem to me just a little too raw, a little too untamed, a little too frankly bullying.

This isn't an argument; it's a narrative of my own gut perceptions of Nader, as they developed in 2000. Later, I learned a lot more about Nader's own history in the years since Unsafe at Any Speed, and that's another story. I mention this psychological stuff in order to make the point that Will's sense of having sand kicked in his face by bullies isn't necessarily the only way a reasonable person could emotionally parse these episodes in recent political history.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 08:14 AM:

However, the bottom line is that (to repeat) the Le Guin anecdote is funny because it gets at a widespread perception that there's something seriously wrong with Ralph Nader. Will's whole elaborate performance here appears to have been an effort to shift the ground to a discussion of Nader supporters. It's understandable; Nader's supporters are a lot more defensible than Nader himself is.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 08:25 AM:

Personally, I was uncomforatble with Nader even back in the ealy 80s when I was on the state board of directors of WashPIRG. But, tactfully, I kept my distaste to myself.

He was sort of a crank back then. (I don't even remember the reasons I felt that way, only that this was my reaction to occasional encounters with Nader's influence in the PIRG movement.) But I never anticipated the kind of politcal crank he would become.

There was an agrument to be made that we should not really blame him for Bush occupying the White House, but he flushed that one down the toilet by running again and accepting the kind of help he does.

I'll say in my smallest voice that I wish Kerry was the candidate we were campaigning against, since I see lots of room for improvement there. But I've given more money to the Kerry campaign than I have to any previous political campaign.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 08:55 AM:

"I'll say in my smallest voice that I wish Kerry was the candidate we were campaigning against, since I see lots of room for improvement there."

I'll say in a perfectly audible voice that I wish Kerry was the candidate we were campaigning against, since it seems to me an America in which someone like Kerry (war hero, pro-business economic centrist, foreign-policy realist) was the conservative candidate would be in pretty good shape. Time was when someone fitting that profile wouldn't have been out of place in the national Republican Party. Right now, we deal with the America we're dealt.

Matt ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 09:04 AM:

Fascinating as all the political discourse is, what I really want to know is what movie Ursula was there to see.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 10:01 AM:

Well, I was sure it would have been Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, but as it turns out the playlist at the Fox Tower theatre complex is all highminded and stuff.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 10:34 AM:

I'd just like to juxtapose two quotes from this thread:

Awwww....did the poor widdle Naderite get his feewings hurt? Would he like a wowwypop?


It's rather sad that you think this is, in any way, a response that does you credit in an argument.

Remarkably, the same commenter posted both. That's all I'm saying, except to add that when we fight amongst ourselves, we're acting to the advantage of our enemies - and I mean Bush and Nadir* both.

All of us who want Kerry to be in the White House come January 20, however qualified our support for him may be, need to stop fighting each other until after the election. Hold grudges for after then if you must, but remember that the goal is to get Dubya out of office. What compromises that goal must not be indulged.

*yes, that's on purpose.

Ray ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 10:45 AM:

Has Le Guin ever actually described herself as an anarchist? She has certainly written about anarchism sympathetically, but that's not necessarily the same thing...

Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 10:46 AM:

As someone who also lives under a parliamentary system and watched for years as a leader who 60% of the voters had rejected ran the country so far to the right that eventually a supposedly left-wing candidate was able to win even though he campaigned as being just like her, I'm not all that thrilled with the idea of 3rd-party candidates being able to wield significant power. Perhaps under a different voting system, such as instant run-off or something else, but not in the first-past-the-post system that both Britain and America use.

What we have in America is a situation in which only Bush or Kerry can win. If you think Bush should win, your best option is to vote for Bush. If you want Bush out of the White House, your best option is to vote for Kerry. Those are your choices. And by now it should be clear that allowing Bush to remain in the White House vastly reduces our chances of having better choices next time. Or even having a next time.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 11:01 AM:

Right on, Avedon. If that's not just plain redundant.

fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 11:08 AM:

I can understand why the Greens dumped Nader; they know enough American political history to realize that their road to power, or at least significant influence, lies in local organization and development. One of Nader's great weaknesses is that he's not willing to do that kind of work at this point--he's just willing to use the results of it. The third parties in US history that have had a significant effect on our lives have depended on solid local organizations and specific issues. Those parties tied to a single strong leader have typically dwindled and died once that life support system was removed.

However, I don't think we could call the effects of groups like the Free Soil Party [2 senators and 14 congressmen in the 31st Congress--a minority, but with swing vote powers--the Free Soilers are the ancestors of the modern Republican Party]; the Prohibition Party [the Volstead Act]; the Independent National Party aka the Greenback Party; or the first Populist Party [the 17th Amendment, with direct election of US senators] irrelevant groups. Nor were the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, or the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party lacking in influence on the nation's course, for all that their efforts were focussed on one state among many. All these groups had effective local organizations, which agreed on specific issues and goals. This doesn't seem to be important in whatever version of reality Nader lives in now; it seems to matter very much to those Greens I know. This leads me to believe that they are sane, have a clue, and have a chance of becoming an important and effective voice in American life.

The rise and collapse of the Reform Party delivers several good lessons: The leaders must be people that were given the leadership, not those who have simply claimed it; the issues the leaders proclaim to be important must be those the membership at large agree are important; and accountability is essential to both credibility and viability. Again, those Greens I know get this; Nader seems devoid of a clue, or even a clue-like substance.

Eugene V. Debs ran for president from prison in 1920, but had years of work as a labor organizer and political leader behind him when he did--Nader seems to want to be Eugene V. Debs, but doesn't want to work building a party. We have a saying in Nashville: "Everybody wants to be Hank Williams, but nobody wants to die."

We can work to build a better America while
dreaming about the Land of What-if, but to build it we must remember we're living right now in the Land of What-is.

Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 11:12 AM:

I voted for Nader in '96, and it was a strategic vote. I didn't think he matched my views better than anyone else in the country (if that had been my criterion I would have voted for myself), and I didn't think he would be the best President out of the subset of people who had a realistic chance of winning. (First, he wasn't and isn't in that subset; second, I think it should be obvious to everyone, Nader supporter or not, that he would be a miserably incompetent President if by some miracle he did get elected.) I voted for him for purely instrumental reasons: I thought at the time that the country would be better off if the Green Party got permanent ballot access and public funding, and that voting for Nader in '96 would help accomplish that.

I didn't vote for Nader in '00, because I thought my instrumental reasons were no longer valid (if they ever had been). And that's even more true in '04. Regardless of whether you think that the country would be better off if there was a national institutionalized left party that could consistently poll at the 5% level, voting for Nader can't give you that: he isn't representing any such party. He's now attacking the Green Party more viciously than any Democrat ever did. He now represents nobody but himself and Karl Rove.

Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 11:22 AM:

Will--or should I call you Nattering Nabob of Naderism?--I voted for Nader in the last election, and I am not one to blame him for Bush's "victory." In fact, I've read convincing arguments that he took about equal numbers away from both parties, In fact, I have an old friend who's basically very conservative, loves Ann Coulter, but is talking about voting for Nader this time around. I don't necessarily like his personality, but I could say that of a great many politicians. I did find his platform to be much more to my liking than Bush's or Gore's. And I got a good deal of flak from my sister, who I'm close with, about it; she's very involved in local Democratic politics where she lives.

However, this time around I plan to vote for Kerry, and what's more, I have actually given his campaign money (a first). Last time around I could make the argument that Nader represented an honest attempt to forge a more liberal third party that could eventually grow--just as the Republican Party or the British Labour Party did. This time around, I can make no such argument.

I can say plenty of negative things about Kerry, but he and his party, for all their serious flaws, represent the obviously better choice to me aganst the horror of four more years. So, I hear your sarcasm and agree with a lot of what you say. Yet I hope, rather than backing away, you might say why you still support Nader in what seems to me, this time around, a purely ego move. I'd be interested to hear your arguments.

PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 11:22 AM:

I read that as tongue-in-cheek--a flippant response to those people who like to argue that voting against a sitting president merely because he's who he is means that the other options can't be good, since we're not voting FOR them, but AGAINST Bush. (I say, if the devil I know is rotten to the core, and the devil I don't know so well, but have a reasonable expectation of a better expiration date and a taste more to my liking, then I'm going with the devil I don't know so well. After all, Bush has PROVED he's incompetent in the job. Even if you don't have somebody to fill the spot, most jobs would boot the incompetent. I don't know why the US government isn't held to a higher standard.)

Side note: Been reading Le Guin's books Steering the Craft (a book with writing exercises for the go-it-alone writer or writing groups) and A Wave In the Mind. Wave is more of her personal politics and ruminations....it's fascinating reading.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 11:26 AM:

Fidelio, I don't necessarily disagree with the main thrust of your post, but some of your historical assertions are dodgy at best.

"the Free Soilers are the ancestors of the modern Republican Party"

The Free Soilers were among the ancestors of the modern Republican Party. A much more important ancestor, obviously, was the Whigs, an actual national party.

"the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party"

An odd organization to include in a list of arguments for the relevancy of third parties, since the MFDP's main purpose was to get seated as the official Mississippi delegation to theb 1964 Democratic National Convention, in preference to the segregationist "regular" Mississippi party. The MFDP went on for several years after 1964, but its efforts were always bent toward purging the Mississippi Democratic party of old-line racists and getting their own people in instead.

No one who knows American history would categorically assert that third parties have never had an influence. Heck, here in New York we have the Working amilies Party, which I've been known to support, although to an extent the WFP's clout is an artifact of New York State's unique cross-endorsement laws. But it says something that we have to stretch quite so hard to come up with demonstrations of the persistent power and influence of third-party organizations. I persist in suspecting that a bipolar party system is an emergent property of our system of government; much of the political jockeying that happens between parties in some other countries happens within them in ours.

aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 12:28 PM:

Patrick - Michael Holt (the author of a massive tome on the history of the Whig party) seems to think that the Free Soil party played a critical role in the collapse of the Whigs. His argument is that a small handful of Free Soilers in Congress successfully redefined the Kansas-Nebraska Act as a sectional issue, rather than a partisan one; and that, once the issue was so defined, the northern and southern Whigs split on the issue, and caused northern Whigs to seek other allies in subsequent elections.

If it's true that the Free-Soilers bore a large part of the responsibility for the collapse of the Whig party, then it may follow from that that - institutionally at least - they had more responsibility for the growth of the Republican Party than the Whigs did: in a sense, they were what drove the northern Whigs into the arms of the Republicans.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 01:16 PM:

That doesn't make them the ancestors of the modern Republican Party, though, Rob — unless we’re calling the ex-Dixiecrat Republicans postmodern. :)

Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 01:36 PM:

Has everyone forgotten Ross Perot? It has been less than eight years since he got 19% of the vote, despite the fact that he was a complete whack-job. If Perot had been even remotely coherent, he might have won.

Third-party candidates (not necessarily third parties) can make a credible run. The fact that Nader doesn't stand a chance is an indictment of him, not of the system.

And perhaps people are missing Le Guin's message: of Bush, Kerry, and Nader, a Nader Presidency would be the worst-case scenario for an anarchist; at least Bush believes in limiting government's role in regulating corporate behavior.

Have people noticed that Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian candidate, is publishing a book through The Writer's Collective? In a stunning showing of their publishing acumen, the book is coming out five months after election day.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 02:17 PM:

My fellow Kerry Democrats, please help me. When we say that Nader is an egomaniac, do we mean that he does not represent any issues, or that anyone who represents those issues is an egomaniac, or that only an egomaniac would represent those issues when neither of the two parties had chosen to represent them? When we abuse Naderites, are we doing this because their votes don't matter and we want them to go away, or because their votes do matter and this is the best way to get them to vote for Kerry?

FMguru, I realize that you think the US election system is all the democracy a country can stand. I don't.

Patrick, apologies for making you think I took this personally. My politics are more extreme than Nader's. He shares some of my concerns that are neglected by the DLC, and I wish Democrats wouldn't use "Naderite" as an easy way to dismiss people who want to cut the military and improve education and health care. But if bashing Nader is part of rallying the troops to fight Bush, bash on, say I.

Avedon, our electoral college makes voting in the US a little more complex than that. The winner in each state takes all of the state's votes (with a few exceptions), so if your state's outcome is already determined, there's no harm in staying home. (I would like to change that, but it's what we've got.)

Fidelio, if I'd been part of the Green convention, I would've voted to dump Nader, too. My distaste for the way some Democrats hold him up as the anti-Christ's li'l suck-buddy has nothing to do with what I think of the man's political strategy. I think the Greens have chosen the most sensible approach under the circumstances.

Robert, the odds that I'll vote for Nader this time are infinitessimal. For me to vote for Nader, Kerry would have to have a solid lock on Arizona, and Kerry's been running such a Gore-like campaign that that's extremely unlikely. And if Kerry had a lock on Arizona, I would then have to see extremely undemocratic actions on the part of the Democrats (which is possible, since Nader's still fighting to get on the ballot). And even if Kerry had a lock and the Democrats were being undemocratic, I would also not have to have a helpful third choice, like helping the Greens instead of staying home.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 02:27 PM:

Oh, a question that has nothing to do with Nader. Does anyone know anyone who was a Kerry supporter before Kerry became the frontrunner? I knew Clark, Edwards, Kucinich, Dean, and even Lieberman supporters. I can't remember if I met any Gephardt supporters, but I'm sure there were no Kerry folks out there. I don't remember seeing any Kerry signs or stickers, either, but I'm less sure of that. Maybe that just says something about Arizona.

James Angove ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 02:33 PM:

Me. Not in the "It has to be my way, or I'm going to stamp my feet and take my ball and go home" way of a Nader supporter, and I wouldn't have felt the world was out to get me and mine had it become evident that the bulk of the party felt someone else was a the person for the job, so that my not count.

John-Paul Spiro: http://everythingisruined.typepad.com.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 02:44 PM:

Labor organizer, lawyer, and blogger Nathan Newman.

Anti-"War on Some Drugs" crusader and blogger Al Giordano.

Interestingly, both guys who are consistently to the left of most Democrats.

fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 02:45 PM:

Thank you, aphrael.

"No one who knows American history"--Patrick, I'm saying this with love in my heart*, but how many people is that true of any more, alas? Especially if we take it to mean "knows American history", and not just "distorts American history for certain ends."

From the perspective of a Southerner, especially one who's lived in Mississippi, the MFDP's effect on the Democratic Party in Mississippi, and setting an example for change there throughout the southern US, is a big deal. I realize that's a limited point of view, and also that you do realize what a sea change that represents down here--and I understand that down here is not the whole wide world, too!

I agree with your observation about the dualist nature of the American political scene--most of the third parties that I've read about that had effective organizations and significant issues end up being absorbed into one of the Two, whatever the Two were at the time, although the Free Soilers were a bit different there. The Prohibition Party is still out there, although their relevance to modern American politics does not seem to be apparent to most Americans, including me.

If we have a Dualist system, are our Manicheans the ones who say "Don't vote, because it won't change anything"? (Sorry, that was my inner smart-ass talking. I try to keep it on a leash, but it gets loose anyway.)

*Regional usage signifying "I respect and validate you and your opinions, but do not agree 100%, just mostly". As you know Bob, the locution for total disagreement, with overtones of "You're crazy and a threat to life as we know it" is "With all due respect..." ;)

Neil Rest ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 02:52 PM:

At Aussiecon I, where Ursula got the Hugo for The Disposessed, I asked her if she called herself an anrachist. She replied with a question back: "Can a middle-class housewife and mother be an anarchist?" (paraphrase!)

fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:06 PM:

"My fellow Kerry Democrats, please help me. When we say that Nader is an egomaniac..."

I mean he's an egomaniac. The rest of the world's opinions and interpretations of anything are not merely irrelevant to him(like your opinion as to the best chocolate in the world on my decision to eat a Lindor milk chocolate truffle just now) but invalid, objectionable, and threatening. I feel he's close to, and possibly has passed, Richard Nixon in the "American Public Figure Who Is Crazier Than a Shit-house Rat" contest. He may, have passed Ross Perot as well. He hasn't yet reached the level of Byron Low-Tax Looper, the man here in Tennessee who murdered his opponent in an election when the poll results showed how big a difference he had to make up, but Nader is working on a larger stage. As for Lyndon LaRouche--maybe not yet.

I also object to him because even if he wasn't so comprehensively self-absorbed, I don't feel he has the skill-set needed to be a good president.

My objections have nothing to do with his opinions and positions.

It is possible that others here have similar objections, although they may phrase them with greater tact and delicacy. I cannot comment intelligently on the motivations, hopes, or beliefs of those currently supporting Nader, and so will say nothing about them.

fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:08 PM:

"My objections have nothing to do with his opinions and positions."

I should have said, "his opinions and positions on the issues currently affecting the US."

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:10 PM:

I have to mildly disagree that there's no harm in staying home, lock or no lock. Leaving aside upsets (where the polls are simply dramatically wrong), not voting at all undermines your credibility when you want to criticize the regime for the next four years.

"I voted for him, and I feel betrayed." "I voted against him, and I was right." Both these are better than "I didn't vote." Some of us will refuse to even listen.

I think it's important to develop the habit of voting every time there's an election in your district. That way you don't have to make a decision about going, which leaves plenty of energy for deciding what to do once you get inside the voting booth.

Besides, there may be issues you care about on the same ballot as the election you're dismissing as a foregone conclusion. Not everything gets publicity. Some outrageous stealth referenda would have gone right past me in some of these "unimportant" elections.

So don't stay home on election day. It's your duty as a citizen IMO to go and stand in the voting booth, even if you can't stomach pulling down any of the levers; and actually I think it's your duty to make a choice.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:14 PM:

Interestingly, the current New Yorker has a Talk of the Town piece (not online) about the current-day Prohibition Party, the gist of which is that they now get about 200 votes nationwide, so, naturally, they're undergoing a schism.

Cue the old joke: "Why are academic politics so vicious?"

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:18 PM:

James and Patrick, thanks. I should've added that I didn't get into Tucson much before the AZ Democratic primary, so when I suggested that Kerry supporters were initially invisible, I didn't mean to speak for all of Arizona. Just the Bisbee-Tombstone-Sierra Vista area, where Clark, Kucinich, and Dean seemed to be the most prominent, followed by everyone except Sharpton, Gephardt, and Kerry.

James, your "Not in the "It has to be my way, or I'm going to stamp my feet and take my ball and go home" way of a Nader supporter" is exactly the sort of comment that baffles me. If you check the polls, the Greens were going to get their 5% up until a day or two before the election, when enough potential Nader voters saw how badly Gore was doing and switched their vote. Half of them took the pragmatic choice to help you out. Gore won enough votes in Florida to take the state. Republicans stole it. And Democrats curse "Naderites." I guess I should give up now, 'cause I'll never get it.

Well, okay, I do get it. Germans blamed Jews after WWI, and Southerners blamed blacks and folks like Longstreet after the Civil War. There's something in human nature that would rather avoid admitting error or acknowledging the strength of the true enemy. I do get it.

But if you want to beat Bush, it seems counter-productive to keep driving away other people who don't like Bush. Isn't it worth trying to make the enemy of your enemy into a friend? Isn't that the heart of pragmatic politics?

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:23 PM:

Way, way back up the thread, Will complained about Gore only contesting votes in four counties, instead of all of them. This has become part of the accepted narrative. Unfortunately, it's a snow-job by the Republicans. Florida law did not permit Gore to request a recount for all counties. A candidate can only request a recount where the difference in votes is small -- I don't remember the exact percentage. The thing Gore did wrong was not to respond to the Republican accusations about his unwillingness to have a state-wide recount by offering to do one if a way could be found to do it legally.

As for we Democrats, Will, the reason we react to Nader with such particular disgust is that he betrayed us. He lied to us, he knifed us in the back, and he's proud of it. Towards the end of the election season, he said that he wouldn't campaign in areas where Democrats were vulnerable, and then went on to do exactly that. The Green Party is often a strategic ally for Democrats, and in 2000 it pit itself directly against us. One might argue that the Green Party is justly served; the Bush administration has been particularly hard on the issues that the Green Party care most about. It's a type of justice, though, that we couldn't really afford. I don't think that Kerry could roll back all the terrible things that Bush has done in four years, even if he had a majority in both houses, and balls of brass.

fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:25 PM:

"the current-day Prohibition Party...they now get about 200 votes nationwide, so, naturally, they're undergoing a schism."

My grandmother used to say that Democrats and Baptists were like cats--the noises that sounded fighting were, instead, the sounds of multiplication. However, I think she meant that you ended up with more actual cats, Democrats, and Baptists on your hands afterwards.

Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:31 PM:

I voted for Nader and was a poll watcher during the last elections. I actually stopped the election officials from erasing 20% of the votes, virtually all of the green party votes for my district. They had reported 103 votes for Nader as 3 votes. There were 500 votes on the machine.

My reasons were that Gore was too conservative for me to endorse with a vote. This time I gave money to Kerry. I'll vote for Kerry, even though I live in New York and he's sure to win. My vote for Nader didn't take any votes from the Dems, I've voted Green since I was 18.

But, now I'm convinced that Bush must be stopped and so I support Kerry. I don't hate Nader. I do hate the fact that the Democrats have become so conservative, but I understand that they've done so because my country has moved so far to the right that the opposition party has to become right-lite, just to capture some of Bush's moderates.

In the past four years I feel like my country has vanished and it's heartbreaking.

Steve ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:34 PM:

Will, I was a Nader voter in 2000 (I live in a decided state and it was that or Libertarian, since I have a visceral and unpleasant response to Joe Lieberman), and I was a Clark guy in the primaries. I'm no huge fan of Kerry's. But I'm frankly appalled by Nader's decision to torpedo the Green Party this year (in particular by trying to get the California Green Party to nominate him, rather than the candidate selected at the Green's national convention); it puts to lie everything he said about his candidacy in 1996 and 2000 being part of an attempt to build a strong and progressive third party and, frankly, makes me wish I had voted Libertarian. Nader has every right to run if he wants, but that, rather than the decision to simply run, is the egoism that seems a sort of willful madness to me.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 03:40 PM:

Fidelio, it seems to me that you have to decide whether you want to vote for the best person or the person who comes closest to representing you. Alas, there aren't many saints in politics, and the few you get tend to be terrible politicians. So I usually vote for my issues. If you never vote for your issues, there's no record that they exist.

Xopher, I've always voted. I understand why half the country feels like their vote doesn't matter, and I wish it wasn't that way, but as long as we've got the electoral college and two-party politics, that's way it's gonna be. I think it's generally better to try to work within a corrupt system than scrap it. The chaos in Iraq isn't a bad example of that.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 04:05 PM:

Way, way back up the thread, Will complained about Gore only contesting votes in four counties, instead of all of them. This has become part of the accepted narrative. Unfortunately, it's a snow-job by the Republicans. Florida law did not permit Gore to request a recount for all counties. A candidate can only request a recount where the difference in votes is small -- I don't remember the exact percentage. The thing Gore did wrong was not to respond to the Republican accusations about his unwillingness to have a state-wide recount by offering to do one if a way could be found to do it legally.

With all due respect I suggest this has become part of the accepted narrative based on the footnote by the Florida Supreme Court. The Court specifically asked Gore (in the person of his attorney Boies) whether Gore wanted a statewide recount and the open Court transcript answer was no. Some say the Court might have ordered a statewide recount if such relief had been requested. I for one read the record as saying the GOP asked for recounts where the GOP would pick up votes and the Democrats asked for a recount where the Democrats would pick up votes. See the various reviews in the Florida press long post election for further discussion - I read them to say that by voter's expressed wishes Gore was the choice; by voter's valid ballots Bush was the choice. Terry K and I among others have gone round and round on this next door with asssorted citations.

This issue of relief sought in Court can be readily distinguished from the issue of immediate post election recount requests. There ought reasonably be a rule to discourage losing candidates from seeking a full publicly funded recount in all cases. That is candidates ought to get prompt publicly funded recounts only when and where the difference is close or small for some value of small. This is not the rule for Court ordered recounts.

Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 04:06 PM:

Will, I don't think you can have it both ways. If you want Democrats to acknowledge Nader as a legitimate opposition candidate with a legitimate political agenda, then you have to expect, you know, opposition.

"Why do Democrats blame Nader voters, instead of Bush voters?" I blame both sets of voters, personally. Both Bush and Nader are running against my guy. They're both trying to make my guy lose. If Nader voters don't want to be treated like "the enemy," in electoral terms, then they shouldn't be running an opposition candidate.

There isn't a middle ground, where Nader gets to campaign against the Democrats but Democrats honorably agree to only target Bush. Why would there be?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 04:15 PM:

I think Rivka pretty much nails it.

Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 04:18 PM:

Isn't it worth trying to make the enemy of your enemy into a friend?

Friendship requires trust. Right now, Democrats have about 96,837 reasons to not give that trust.

Olive branches should be extended, yes. But not in a Ralphwards direction.

Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 04:29 PM:

The "enemy of your enemy" takes contribution money from your enemy, has your enemy pay its petition signature collectors, and has your enemy's supporters sign its petitions. Looks more like a "friend of your enemy".

ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 04:50 PM:

Will, perhaps you can clear up some of my confusion about (and disgust with) current Nader voters/supporters.

Regarding your point 3. "I think there's something suspect about the argument that when one candidate gives you nothing and one gives you crumbs, you should vote for the crumby candidate rather than protest the system or vote for someone who represents what you believe." Do you mean it is more principled to vote for someone who could never get elected or to make a point than it is to vote for "crumbs" (by which I am assuming you mean things like the chance for my mom to get health care)?

My big problem with third party voters (who have no chance of winning) is their disregard for the effect their votes have on real people that I care about. I particularly dislike the idea that I am somehow morally less for putting my family's health, civil rights, and chances of getting a job above improving Abstract Lady Democracy.

Perhaps you can clarify? Do you really believe that getting a third party on the ballot is more important than my family's well being? Are you truly willing to risk having four more years of torture, hidden arrests, and disastrous economies by voting for a third party? What if your beloved polls are wrong, and your vote would have swung the balance? How would you feel then?

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 05:00 PM:

Clark, thanks for that info.

Rivka, I generally agree with you. I don't mind Democratic opposition to Nader's issues. I just think it gets silly when they start blaming him for the Florida fiasco and the Bush coup and for being the knifer in the back and the less-than-perfect human being whose supporters must believe is Saint Nader rather than the demonspawn that true Democrats know him to be.

When you say, "There isn't a middle ground, where Nader gets to campaign against the Democrats but Democrats honorably agree to only target Bush. Why would there be?" I must note that I don't want a middle ground. I want a fair field where it's easy to get many candidates on the ballot and, more importantly, covered by the news. There was a time when the Democrats' name meant more than "the wimpy conservative party." Before super delegates could correct democratic excesses within the party, ideas like democracy and choice were not considered matters that pragmatists would naturally ignore.

Anticorium, if you want leftish folks to vote for your guy, it would be nice to give them a sop. If you don't want them, your approach is perfect.

Maybe I should add that I wasn't one of those silly don't-they-know-their-issues-are-irrelevant Nader supporters in 2004. I was one of those silly don't-they-know-their-issues-are-irrelevant Kucinich supporters. Now I'm a Kerryite who wishes the Democrats would put all of their efforts into fighting Bush. Because I think that's the way to get leftish folks to vote for a candidate that just ain't very leftish.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 05:14 PM:

Jon, it's certainly true that the Republicans have done a better job of making Nader's party into their friends. It's a sad thing when Republicans are expanding choice and Democrats are restricting it.

Elizabeth, my wife has diabetes and I'm very glad that she's covered by Arizona's health care plan. On the other hand, my mom, dad, and sister are Canadians, and they have universal health care, and I think we Americans deserve it, too. If Kerry or Gore or Clinton had argued for it, I would've supported them early on. Instead, they offer complex, expensive, limited plans that seem to be designed for insurance companies rather than human beings.

Here's the problem third-party voters have always faced: What do you do when you want something the two parties don't? Do you shut up and sit down? Or do you support our limited democratic process and vote for what you want in the hope that your vote will be noted, even though the electoral college system means it won't even be registered if you don't win a state?

The logical extreme of the argument that you should work within the system and take the most pragmatic position is that all leftish folks should join the Republican party. Given the success of the far right in taking it over, it might not be a bad strategy.

I'm really not arguing for always voting your principles. I was a Clintonite, then a Naderite, then a Kucinichite, and now I'm a Kerryite. The circle closes.

Matt Runquist ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 06:09 PM:

Wow. I came to this one late.

Will, glad to hear you're voting for Kerry in AZ. I myself am up in Tucson and if Pima County as anything to say about it, AZ will swing John's way. Of course, the Valley will probably force me to eat those words, but I am getting out there anyway.

I voted for Nader in 2000, but realized in the interim that PNH's comment above about intra- vs. inter-party politics in the US is true. Unless the system itself changes (not bloody likely) the only way to change things and get leftist or progressive issues on the table is to work from inside the party.

As someone who also cares about health care, I am a little confused about your commentary on Kerry's catastrophic insurance plan. I fail to see how it's a sop to the insurance industry. It seems obvious that national health insurance is not going to happen in one fell swoop and consequently, must be accomplished piecemeal or not at all. Kerry's plan seems like a baby step in the right direction (and of course, it is light years beyond half trillion dollar giveaways to the pharmaceutical industry).

I understand your reluctance to wholeheartedly support someone who fails to support universal health insurance from square one, but the grip of the insurance industry on Washington is unlikely to be released any time soon.

Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 06:21 PM:

It's a sad thing when Republicans are expanding choice and Democrats are restricting it.

Does intent count for nothing? The Republicans are not fighting to get Nader on the ballots because they are champions for choice. They are fighting to get Nader on the ballots because they believe that a Nader "alternative" helps their guy. So, does it matter that the Republicans are engaged in a cynical fight to cosmetically "expand choice" while truly attempting to game the eventual outcome to benefit their candidate?

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 06:44 PM:

Considering The Uses of History for Decision Makers (not a Tor book) I am reminded that the first U.S. President with a serious national health care plan that he might have put through with Democratic support was Dwight David Eisenhower - Republican. That plan was killed by labor opposition - the rationale was that health care by rights ought to be a benefit of a union contract. Of course taking health care benefits off the negotiating table was management trick.

About this time in Idaho charges for care at the County Hospital might be remitted for indigent residents of the County - but making the County ultimately responsible for care ended in Idaho when transients started getting carried to Salt Lake or Spokane and leaving a county of 5000 with a $5,000,000 bill.

The next president with a serious plan that he might have passed was Nixon. That plan was killed by Ted Kennedy who just knew he could do better. Rumor has it that Senator Kennedy has occasionally lamented his subsequent failure to do better - and even that this background has led Senator Kennedy to be ever more willing to take half a loaf.

Bearing in mind that it is not health insurance in the same sense that car insurance is car insurance but rather a level pay plan. A plan uch as utilities often offer to level energy cost payments year round instead of charging a great deal during heating (cooling) season and little the rest of the time. That is health insurance is not like car insurance something never to collect for most people but something to be collected on right along.


Looking at the current cost of health care - I have seen some figures from time to time about what it costs a major Seattle employer - and looking at the not so evident success and pricing model of Group Health in the Seattle area - and reflecting on some experience myself working systems for a major health insurance carrier - I sure don't see where the money is coming from to satisfy an insatiable demand.

Perhaps like Debs or Oliver Wendle Holmes Jr. in dissent a health plan candidate might see his views adopted but not himself elected.

Incidentally I learned to drive in a Corvair.

Temperance ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 07:00 PM:

I'm so glad I read your blog every day, Patrick, because today's entry and comments are just great. There are serious discussions of real problems here -- not just today, but all the time, and hardly any crapola from trolls. Thanks.

ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 07:07 PM:

Sorry Will, but the Republicans are putting Nader on ballots to limit choice to themselves, not expand it.

I guess I've never seen a '3rd party write down your issues until the big parties care' approach work. As far as I can tell, the libertarians have been at it for years without luck.

For me, a wonky health care system is light years better than no system. I'm willing to support any move in the right direction because I've seen such incremental approaches work time and time again. Clinton didn't get it through, but he put it on the table. Dean didn't get nominated, but he put it on the table. Maybe Kerry will get elected and some good things will happen. If not for my mom, then for someone else's mom. It is one of the reasons I sent money to Dean early on, and when he dropped out, started sending money to Kerry (also early on).

For me, that's far better, far more moral, than waiting for a perfect system that may never come or putting resources to perfect solutions or candidates that haven't a chance. Because not supporting the incremental system has real, huge costs. Just my own approach of course.

Martin Schafer ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 07:20 PM:

In response to Will's question

"Oh, a question that has nothing to do with Nader. Does anyone know anyone who was a Kerry supporter before Kerry became the frontrunner?"

Kerry was my favorite out of the field long before he became the front runner. I knew a tiny bit about him from the Senate contest between him and William Weld (I was visiting my sister in Boston at the time), I also vaguely remembered him from the Iran Contra hearings and I thought he seemed like the best choice out of the field. On the other hand Lieberman, Sharpton, and Gephart were the only candidates in the field I would have been grumpy about having to support.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 07:39 PM:

Jill, good question about intent. I flipflop on it, like most people: intent matters for our friends, results matter for strangers. I know the Republicans are being cynical. Yet the curious fact is that Kerry´s party with super delegates and efforts to limit ballot choice appears to be far less democratic than Bush´s. It´s not a big PR coup, but the Republicans have outmaneuvered the Democrats on democracy, and I hope Kerry´s gang are working on ways to fight back.

Elizabeth, I don´t think the Canadian system is perfect. It´s just a lot better than anything the US has or either major candidate is offering.

Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 08:20 PM:

Yet the curious fact is that Kerry´s party with super delegates and efforts to limit ballot choice appears to be far less democratic than Bush´s. It´s not a big PR coup, but the Republicans have outmaneuvered the Democrats on democracy, and I hope Kerry´s gang are working on ways to fight back.

I'm sorry if I'm being dense here, but - "wha?"

Republicans, IMO, have outmaneuvered Democrats on gamesmanship, which is not the same as democracy. The people who are looking to get Nader on the ballot on behalf of the Republican Party have admitted that they are doing it for their candidate (which does not, in effect, enhance choice).

I say that their intent does matter, as does anyone else who is looking to get their candidate on the ballot.


FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 08:41 PM:

"FMguru, I realize that you think the US election system is all the democracy a country can stand. I don't."

Not only are your amazing psychic powers in error (perhaps the "perverse imp" which advises you on voting choice speaks with multiple voices? I understand they have powerful medications to help treat that, now.), but your defintion of democracy is flawed, unless by "democracy" you mean "changing the rules by fiat to the benefit of a single political actor in direct contravention of the expressed democratic will of the people of Arizona". That sounds kind of like the exact opposite of democracy to me. But I don't have an imaginary monster living in my head, giving me political advice, so what do I know?

I suspect that you and Iyad Allawi could have a very agreeable discuss ion about democracy.

All sorts of little shoestring parties have managed to get on the ballot in Arizona. If the militia paranoids of the American Independent Party and the meditating goofballs of the Natural Law Party can manage to get on the ballot, while Ralph Nader cannot, then the it seems that the problem is with Ralph's political organization, and not the ballot access laws. Moreover, if you think the ballow access laws in Arizona are some kind of draconian impediment to democracy, then you can campaign to change them. Oh, but that would require hard work and sustained effort. Best to just crab about it on a message board, in as whiny and self-martyring a fashion as you can muster.

And wait for the mailman to deliver your brown shirt and your shiny, shiny black boots.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 10:28 PM:

Will, getting Nader on the ballot bears about as much resemblance to real democratic choice as giving a hungry man a picture of food bears to feeding him.

If the Republicans (or anybody else) were implementing ballot reforms that would make voting for minor parties a viable alternative (like NY’s fusion balloting, which allows voters to vote for major party candidates while indicating which sub-section of the main party they favor, or approval voting, which prevents vote dilution among similar candidates) it would be another matter. But they aren’t, so it’s not.

Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 10:31 PM:

I may have completely missed the point, but I think LeGuin was making a joke. She says "Anybody but" and you expect her to say "Bush", but she says "Nader" instead. The joke is funnier because a lot of people think Nader would make a very bad president, but mostly it's just the fun of being surprising.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2004, 10:34 PM:

FMguru, #1 you have no idea what sort of actions Will has or hasn’t taken outside of this discussion. Have you ever run for political office? Will has.

#2, your crack about the boots and brown shirt is way, way out of line.

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 12:31 AM:

Damn, how come I only get to the good discussions after Godwin kicks in?

I found Will's sassy remarks humorous from the start, was perplexed by the really, really focused hatred they evoked, then relaxed as the dialog grew less sanctimonious. As a Perot-Perot-Gore voter who will by God vote Kerry even though he's a hopeless cause in Indiana, I've got the same bent towards throwing a monkey wrench in to see the ants scurry, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor.

The Democrats' attitude that if you're liberal you owe them your vote reminds me of a friend who ran for office once. Without even asking me about my position, he made a point of saying, "Well, there's one vote I can count on." (Proved himself an ass in other ways over the course of the campaign, too -- a local one -- campaign, not ass -- and lost ignominiously, as pride goeth before &c.)

I didn't vote Nader in 2000 mostly because he screwed up getting onto the Indiana ballot, but by the time the election rolled around I'd pretty much decided I actually liked Gore (and could stomach the fortunately not yet named Joementum, oy), so I ended up voting with the plurality, which makes me proud now. Bitter, but proud.

But I respected people who did vote Green. They had valid reasons for doing so (that magic 5%), and if the Democrats had wanted to avoid spoilage in future elections, they had only to push for removal of impediments to third parties, such as the requirement in many states for a party to have a presidential candidate to appear on the ballot as a party -- and of course they instead decided to play nasty. Really nasty. And judging by FMguru (sorry, FMguru, you're really not normally so vitriolic, but this time your head is spinning like a top) this is normal for the True Democrat Believers.

All of which was a long-winded way for me to chime in with an <AOL>ME TOO</AOL> on not understanding Nader bashing. I don't like him, wouldn't vote for him in 2004 after his sorry performance of late, have in fact never voted for him -- but to act as though he was the anti-Christ, as True Believers seem to -- I just don't get it.

Avram -- for a moment there I thought you were advocating giving hungry people pictures of bears. That kind of threw me. Maybe I need to get off this board, finish today's portion of work, and go to bed. Yeah. That sounds good.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 01:17 AM:

On the subject of "the really, really focused hatred" Will Shetterly's remarks are alleged to have evoked, I can't help but think some people are suffering from massive context failure.

Will Shetterly is an old friend of mine. I don't hate him. I like him very much.

I sometimes think he's wrong; and even more, I sometimes think he uses the medium of online argument in ways that mystify me. But there are plenty of fights in which I'd be very happy to know that Will Shetterly had my back. And he's a fine fiction writer whose work I'm proud to publish.

So, as George Orwell would say shortly before going into convulsions, put that context into your pipe and smoke it.

Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 01:17 AM:

Upstream there were some comments about Nader as perhaps crazier than Nixon.

Um, no.

I've met both, personally. Nixon was a neighbor at one point when I was a young child, in fact. Despite never confusing Nader and Nixon due to their height differences (JC Cherrist! Nader is one of the tallest men I've ever met who wasn't currently a pro basketball player), Nixon was indeed crazier than a bag of rabid ferrets. He had one of the severest cases of OCD I've ever seen -- he agonized over his pristine lawn to the degree that he went out in the evening and swept it with a broom. If one of us stepped on the lawn (we were kids, mind you), he would rush out of the house and threaten and scream and yell. I'm told it was worse as he got older, but of course I have no proof of it personally other than a few visits when he was president.

Nader, on the other hand, is an egoist. I can't speak to true egomania, but he does have a heck of an ego -- which was evident even in the short meeting I had with him at the Dean offices here in NH back during the primary. He does appear to think rather much of himself. I can't speak to his politics, frankly; I know little about them other than third-party information. I'm sure this is a huge gap in my understanding of the world, but I only have so many hours in a day, and I was never very interested in much of what he was advocating other than environmental issues that were being advocated by others as well.

Health care. Will S. -- yeah, talk to me about that some time. I've been having (literal) nightmares for months, now. If GWB closes the last windows to cheap(er) Canadian drugs as he has been promising to do, I will have little opportunity to actually maintain a meaningful chance at keeping my health on an even keel. As it is, I'm paying insurance rates so high I have to choose between food and insurance/prescription bills. Food has been losing; I've lost 50lbs. Luckily, I had it to lose. I haven't been sleeping for weeks now, thinking about "what if I lose my self-paid health insurance?" If GWB stays in office, my chances at a healthy life in this country will continue to drop.

Sad part is, I'm considered "middle class." My business is doing well. I find this entirely bizarre: How can I be doing so well and yet not be able to buy groceries? I live in a state with no income tax; I'm actually pretty well off -- or I should be. But not with what I pay for heating oil, gas, electricity, and my health costs, all of which should be considered basics for living. My mantra for the last six months has been, "How can this be happening?"

Damn, that sounds self-pitying. I'm not. Just scared GWB will take the election. And I mean take.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 01:28 AM:

I just want to say that Will is my friend too, which is why, for going on four years now, I have repeatedly stifled my impulse to forward him news stories about the latest iniquities and depredations, along with a note saying "Woo! Look at that! Another victory for progressive policy!"

Everybody means well, but Will means better than most; and if he ever learns the proper conduct of arguments, there's no reason to think he won't acquit himself creditably.

Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 01:36 AM:

Anticorium, if you want leftish folks to vote for your guy, it would be nice to give them a sop.

I'm sorry, all I have to offer is the promise that a second Bush term would be another four years of having liberalism kicked in the teeth over and over by steel-toe-booted feet.

This is the trauma team stage of American progressivism. It sure would be nice to treat the patient's tennis elbow, lance that nasty-looking boil, and give out some vitamin supplements. But right now, the patient's got a knife in their back, and the ruptured arteries are gushing blood all over the emergency room. Get that fixed first, or there won't be any opportunity to hand out vitamins.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 01:55 AM:

Jill, my mistake: I had thought Democrats were the only party that has the remarkably undemocratic institution of superdelegates, but I'm relieved to have learned through a quick Google search that Republicans have them, too. But managing to appear to be the more democratic party of 2004 (if you define democratic as giving choice to voters) is quite an impressive piece of gamesmanship for Republicans. You also have to give the Republicans some credit for doing that when they know there are Republicans who'll gladly vote for Nader instead of Bush. They're just gambling, and I think rightly, that Nader's positions are more popular among Democrats. But it's a gamble. Nader's appeal isn't just to Republicans and Democrats. He's got at least a threeway pie that includes people who otherwise would not bother to vote. One of the things that I like about third-party candidates is that they bring more people into the voting booths. And, once they're there, they often help other parties in the less-prominent races.

And let me say quickly that that's about all the credit I'm willing to give Republicans in this election.

FMguru, de gustibus.

Avram, don't remind me of fusion voting, another democratic institution that Democrats oppose! I've always liked it, and I think the decision to oppose it was a strategic error born of smugness. If the point is to get your guy elected, why should you care if, oh, the Commie Cowboy Party also nominates him and gets all of their voters to vote for him purely so they can get their 5%. They get their 5%, you get your candidate in, everyone wins.

I didn't know about approval voting. On first glance, I like it.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 02:33 AM:

Nancy, it turns out there are a few reasons I'm glad I didn't figure out how to delete my first post. Your Nixon reminiscence is jostling for the top of the list. I read bits to Emma, who laughed very hard.

But great sympathy on the health care nightmare. We've been in it since Emma broke both elbows a few days before 9/11. (She woke up in the hospital the morning after her surgery, and they told her a plane had flown into the World Trade Center, and she thought, "Bad drugs.") What I've learned is that parts of America's health care system aren't too bad if you're bright, educated, patient, poor, and think of yourself as a visitor in a well-meaning third-world country. Well, except the standards of cleanliness are probably higher in many third-world countries than they are in LA's county hospital.

If you're not bright, educated, and patient, you'll probably decide that dying is better than working your way through the system. If you're not poor, you're probably not eligible. It's a system designed for slackers, but most of them are too young to need to take advantage of it. I guess all I can ultimately suggest is that you take it on as a research project and try to find out what your state has (the benefits that exist are rarely promoted because advertising them would be a waste of money, right?) or whether it might make sense to move your business to a place that's more generous. Minnesota has tended to be among one of the best, but they've also been hurt by the rightward march of the two parties. Check out eligibility for food stamps; lots of working people have no choice but to use them, and I understand that they've mostly switched to plastic cards like credit cards so you won't feel like you're standing there with all your neighbors thinking you're poor. Study vegetarian cooking: it's both cheaper and healthier.

And if you know all that, well, good luck, and here's hoping the country goes in a new direction in a couple of months.

Patrick and Teresa, thanks ever so, and a big ditto, and, you know, manly manly, you're quite all right yourselves, eh? Hrmph. Leaving now.

Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 02:49 AM:

PNH mused about an America in which someone like Kerry (war hero, pro-business economic centrist, foreign-policy realist) was the conservative candidate would be in pretty good shape. Time was when someone fitting that profile wouldn't have been out of place in the national Republican Party. Right now, we deal with the America we're dealt.

Ah, yes, I remember it well. The 1950s.

One of my first sentences, my mom -- who was one of the few Republicans in our neighborhood -- always told me, was "I yike Ike." (That was 1952, and I was a month or two short of my second birthday.) I considered myself a Republican until 1964, when Goldwater was nominated. I took one listen to his brand of Republicanism -- "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." Um, I thought, isn't it still extremism? -- and switched, though since I was still not quite 14 it didn't count for a few years. Only looked back once, briefly, when Ford named Nelson Rockefeller his Veep, but I voted for Carter after Jerry dropped Rocky for Dole. And have not seriously considered a Republican for any major office, State or Federal, since. (Of course, Republicans in West Virginia sometimes help matters there by failing to put candidates up for the U.S. Senate, or in our Congressional district.)

And to think Goldwater would be considered somewhat liberal compared to the GOP's "leaders" today.

And I heard Ralph Nader speak once when he visited our campus when I was in grad school. If anyone had told me then he'd try to run for President, I'd probably have asked, "Of what?" He was far too intense and serious, and seemed to have few "people skills," especially very little sense of humor.

jane ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 03:45 AM:

Some quick thoughts: I was a Kerry supporter from the first. (And a Teresa Heinz-Kerry supporter the first time I heard her speak.) Of course, I live in Massachusetts which means I have been following (and voting for) Kerry for quite some time.

We are an Anyone But Nader household and have been for some time. My husband, normally soft spoken, has Words about Mr. N. Frequently and loudly.

And hi! Will. We actually love you (and your books) here. But you know that.


FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 04:43 AM:

"Have you ever run for political office? Will has."

The last ballot I marked featured Gallagher, Gary Coleman, porn starlet Mary Carey, and a barely-literate bodybuilder all running for public office. So, in light of this new bit of information you've revealed to me, I'll treat Will's opinions with the same gravity and respect as I would those of the stars of "Diff'rent Strokes" and "Asses In The Air 4". Fair?

"your crack about the boots and brown shirt is way, way out of line."

It seemed an appropriate way to categorize someone who advocates unilaterally overturning democratically-established laws for ballot access to promote a particular candidate in the service of creating more democracy. The authoritarian impulse just runs strong in some people, I guess.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 08:14 AM:

Jane, I dearly wish I could hear David on that subject. Give him my best.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 08:31 AM:

Actually, Will ran for Governor of Minnesota in 1994, and IIRC he came in third.

Mind you, as a result, several editors of our acquaintance now refer to all auctorial writing-avoidance behaviors under the catch-all term "running for Governor of Minnesota."

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 11:14 AM:

FMguru, you accused Will of being unwilling to do anything that "would require hard work and sustained effort", that all he was doing was "crab[bing] on a message board, in as whiny and self-martyring a fashion as you can muster." (Leaving aside the fact that Will's opening statement was actually pretty witty, and that, as a writer with a number of novels to his name, he could certainly muster up something considerably more whiny and self-martyring if he wished.) I was pointing out that Will has, in fact, done considerably more than that, having actually gotten up off his ass and run for political office.

If you'd actually been keeping track of the exchange of comments, you'd have realized this. Instead, you just moved your goalposts, acting as if I'd been trying to paint Will as having some added authority, rather than just pointing out that you've made an accusation that isn't borne out by the facts. So frankly, I don't give one-eighth of a metric fuck about your "gravity and respect".

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 11:18 AM:

but to act as though he was the anti-Christ, as True Believers seem to -- I just don't get it.

They forget the simple logical fact that only one person can be Anti-Christ at a time, and that Karl Rove is that person. Or maybe Dubya himself (but I'm a strict Rovist). Nadir is not at the apex of that list by any means (pun very much intended).

Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 12:45 PM:

I love Will Shetterly's books, and had one of my favorite all-time dinners with him, Emma, Mike Ford, and Rob Hansen. Nevertheless, I do not understand the logic of voting for third-party candidates when in our system the result will be that everyone ends up pretending the result means the Democratic Party is "too far left."

The Democrats need to win big, and move much farther to the left first, before any more democratizing steps can be expected. It's pretty silly talking about changing the entire system when we can't even eliminate the bias in the Electoral College toward "red states", or even the Electoral College itself.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 12:58 PM:

Hear, hear, Avedon!

I think it was Ariane Huffington who said "you don't try to remodel the basement when the house is burning down."

Bill Shunn ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 03:02 PM:

I voted for Nader in 2000 (in New York) for the strategic reason, like others here, of attempting to open ballots and public funding to the Green Party. While I'm upset at Nader that he broke his promise not to campaign in swing states that year, every time I read one of Al Gore's recent speeches I'm reminded that he lost himself the election. If he had sounded as presidential then as he does now, the election might not have been close enough to steal. If he had acted as presidential as he sounds now, he wouldn't have handed the keys to the White House to the thugs holding him up. But I'm more upset at Bush than at either of them, and I will be voting for Kerry this November despite the fact that my vote probably isn't necessary for him to win New York. If every Kerry supporter (or Bush opposer) stayed home because they thought the state outcome was a sure thing, where would that leave us?

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 03:20 PM:

Avedon, y'know, any meal with you, Mike, Em, and Rob has to be swell.

But (remembering that I'm voting for Kerry and I've already supported one Democrat this year with my hard-earned cash!) here's the situation as I see it: When Carter was defeated by a Republican double-whammy of slimeball tactics and a speaker who had more fire in the belly (I've become a big believer in the importance of fire in the belly in US politics), key Democrats decided that the party had to move right in order to regain the presidency. And the left, of course, would follow, because they would have nowhere else to go.

They ran Michael Dukakis, perhaps the only man with less fire in his belly than George Bush the First. Then they ran Bill Clinton, who combined conservative Democratic politics with fire in the belly and won, appearing to validate the approach. But moving rightward handed the House and Senate to the Republicans. Clinton's bungling of health care and success with NAFTA drove leftish folks into a desperate quest to create a viable third party in a system rigged for two. I believe that under those circumstances, the combination of Gore's uninspiring campaign and Republican dirty tricks in Florida would've resulted in the Bush Occupation whether the Greens were in the 2000 campaign or not. Obviously, the last is a matter of faith, 'cause our handy alternate universe viewer has had its battery stolen.

Leftish folks have one question to answer, thanks to the DLC: Is it better to be ignored in a third party or to be ignored in one of the official two? By fighting for what you believe and trying to get a third party going, you at least tell Party 2 that they should not take you for granted. That was the attempt in 2000. It might've worked if not for the Florida fiasco.

So here we are. The DLC has gotten what it wanted: The Democrats have become the Republican Party of the 1950s. But I don't think the DLC expected the Republicans to become the Rapture Party. Now leftish folks are vindicating the DLC approach by helping a champion of the industrial military complex in his effort to defeat someone who thinks God will show up before he has to pay his bills.

The classic Chinese curse has come true. But then, it always does.

Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 03:23 PM:

Nancy L: I am with you in thinking that one of the great fantasy writers of our time was not speaking with serious literalness.

ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 04:26 PM:


What you don't seem to see is the catastrophic real world pain caused by your second choice--stepping outside the party and letting Evil win because Good is not Great.

You want the Dems to cater to your beliefs, because their beliefs are too far right for you. Have you forgotten that democracry is the rule of the people? What if the people need to have a more a moderate platform in order to vote for the Dems?

I say, then give it to them. Because the alternative to mediocre is isn't the fabulous Left it's:
Hidden arrests
No medication from Canada
Insane deficits
War and bloodshed
Death to civil liberties
Shrinking of the middle class
Energy scandals
Rove, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, and Cheney

No matter how much you want it to be a choice of
Good guys, Bad guys, and Great Guys, it isn't. It's a choice of two. That's real.

There are other options for leftists besides hiding ignored in a party and creating a pipe dream. I know because I have taken those other options.

As far as I am concerned, anyone who did not vote for Gore in 2000 is partly to blame for the disastrous state of our country.

As much to blame as Bush himself? Of course not. But partly to blame. You've put him in a position to take away my right to vote. If the Nader campaign didn't take up that dumb Gore and Bush are the same rhetoric, or campaign in Dem sensitive states, or pull that year's young and eager progressives, what might have happened? It's not just Florida, but other states were close, too.

So I hold you partly responsible for the misery I see around me and it irks me to no end that you can't seem to see how harmful the pointless pipe dream of a 3rd party is.

I don't care if the Dems take my vote for granted, I care if the Republican thugs come to my workplace and seize all our patron records and put me under a gag order.

rea ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 04:29 PM:

"key Democrats decided that the party had to move right in order to regain the presidency. And the left, of course, would follow, because they would have nowhere else to go"

Well, of course. Find a spot on the political spectrum at which 51% of the country is to your left (maybe you better make it 54% or 55%, just to be safe). If you are a leftist in our system, that's where you want your presidential candidate to be, isn't it? If, as a lefty, you tug the presidential candidate further to the left on the spectrum--say, to the point at which 51% of the country is to the right--then you have engaged in a self-defeating exercise. And if you split off the 5% farthest left into a 3rd party, all you've done is push the center/left candidate 5% farther to the right in order to put together a winning coalition.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 06:20 PM:

I see some discussion that assumes voting preferences can be mapped along a single axis with something very near to a single peaked preferance - might be said to resemble a Gaussian distribution.

Seems to me that if this country had that distribution we would have the friendly political discourse our host has said he wants. (IIRC not meaning to put words in his mouth)

I suggest at least double peaked preference that does not lie along the accepted left right axis. That is best mapped as a surface that looks like a Cirque de Soleil tent city or the Denver Airport.

It might be obvious that I don't understand the candidate of the left. A man who makes a special effort to vote to extend the cosmetically ugly gun ban which vote fails and which ban is meaningless. A man who apparently doesn't care about Maria Cantwell's effort to extend jobless benefits, not a meaningless thing, which also fails by the margin of his vote.

And finally I don't understand the bit aboutNo medication from Canada. There is a personal use opportunity is there not? Last I heard Canada lacked a big pharmaceutical industry. It currently happens that there is price discrimination based on market size and price elasticities across borders - with free flow across the border it seems to me likely uncontrolled Canadian market prices will rise as the U.S. and Canadian markets merge.

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 07:07 PM:

Just a point to Bill Shunn's comment: Al Gore made what I thought was a terrific, presidential speech in mid-2000: his nomination acceptance speech. It's not just my opinion that it was a great piece of work from start to finish; it gave him a sizable convention bounce, much bigger than Bush's. In general, whenever Gore had a chance to speak directly to the American people before the election, his support went up significantly, including after all three debates. It took the focused efforts of the Republican Noise Machine to overcome that effect.

Gore's speeches as president-in-exile (starting with his concession speech in December 2000) have been even better, because he doesn't have to tailor his statements or his delivery to his audience, so he can really rabble-rouse and tub-thump. Gore is no Churchill or Obama, but he's a good speaker, and has been one far longer than has been acknowledged as part of The Story.

(Of course, in 2000, The Story included the idea that Gore should tap John Kerry as his VP candidate because Kerry was a charismatic leader and a great orator who would counterbalance the stiff-as-a-board Gore. But The Story shifted when Kerry became a potential nominee on his own. Strange, that.)

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 09:09 PM:

Y'know, I wonder if Ms. LeGuin would consent to having "Anybody but Nader" printed on a bumper sticker?

Tappan King ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2004, 10:55 PM:

I actually like and admire John Kerry, and don't concur with the consensus here that he's a poor excuse for a liberal. My reading of twentieth century history is that when liberals do get elected president, they compromise on some hot button issues, then quietly go about the business of cutting more Americans in on the deal.

I also don't accept the "story" that Al Gore was a lackluster campaigner with no fire in his belly who failed to energize his party. What I saw was a charming, engaging man who won the hearts of a majority of voters despite the fact that A BILLION DOLLARS was spent to defeat him.

But the main reason I'm voting for Kerry is because I do map voting preferences along more than one axis. In this election, the choice isn't just between Left and Right, it's a choice between Up and Down -- decency and malevolence.

See, these Bush folks are bastards. Their cardinal operating principle is viciousness, and their motto is "Don't Fuck With Us." And what scares me most about that is not the damage they will do if they continue unchecked, but the thermonuclear karmic payback that will ultimately result from this unbridled arrogance.

Note that I use the word here "bastard" as a term of art. George W is my fifth cousin, and he comes from the same Mayflower stock that I do -- albeit with a shitload more money. If he were true to the values of the best of his class, he would be governed by noblesse oblige -- an idea that at its most basic means that great families can only hold onto great power by sharing it with those they govern. (Funny how most of our words for goodness carry this same origin: "kind" means "part of the herd," "gentle" means "a member of the clan," and "noble" simply means "us.")

In contrast to thugs like Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz et al, John Kerry seems to me a real gentleman. I'll pull the lever for him enthusiastically.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2004, 12:28 AM:

Hmm, Tappan King, since I really don't want to get into a big set-to about "what does 'mean' mean?" especially at this omigod-look-at-the-time hour, I'll just read your 'mean' as "originally meant." It's not what it means now, of course. But you know that.

Ray ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2004, 04:14 AM:

No definite answer to my earlier question, so how about this - Has LeGuin ever said, in relation to a previous presidential/congressional/senatorial election, "actually I won't be voting for any of them because I don't believe voting in elections does any good", or words to that effect?

(Don't get me wrong, I still admire LeGuin, I'm just wondering if this is actually an example of a famous anarchist putting aside her principles)

rea ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2004, 09:16 AM:

"A man who apparently doesn't care about Maria Cantwell's effort to extend jobless benefits, not a meaningless thing, which also fails by the margin of his vote."

That was a bit of Republican stage management. The R's had the votes to win, but manipulated the total so the vote would seem closer than it actually was, in order to give them Kerry-bashing ammunition.

CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2004, 12:16 PM:

Will says: The logical extreme of the argument that you should work within the system and take the most pragmatic position is that all leftish folks should join the Republican party. Given the success of the far right in taking it over, it might not be a bad strategy.

This is obviously some meaning of the word "logic" that I haven't previously encountered. Why is it more "logical" to start with someone who is farther away from your position? IMO, part of Republican political viciousness (towards lobbyists, party members, etc.) is that they have nothing real to offer; putting a bit of spine into the Democrats, ala An American President, instead of staying in one's own corner, seems more likely to get them to bring out the differences in action.
And no, I haven't run for office; my people skills would make Dukakis look like LBJ.

Clark: reality check. rea's already corrected you on Cantwell; I'll add that Canada doesn't \have/ an uncontrolled market (IIRC, neither does the rest of the ]First World[) -- that's why drug prices are reasonable. But I like your similes for voter distribution, especially with the Cirque in town just now.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2004, 02:13 PM:

I don't exactly take it as a correction to be told that in fact Kerry's vote would have made less difference therefore he was correct not to bother or to support Cantwell - behavior we should all emulate?

Whereas when everybody knew it wouldn't even be close Kerry was correct to do something that did no good - and would have done no good even if successful! - and some annoyance to me? Something I object to very much Kerry did for purely symbolic reasons? I should support that?

The drug pricing is a complex issue. My point pretty much is that drugs bought in Canada for re-export to the United States would not be expected to fall under the pricing scheme for in Canada use drugs. Current Canadian pricing is based on the monopsony power of a single payer health scheme.

That is drugs bought in Canada for re-export would fall in a different part of the market - outside the single payer health scheme. Such purchases would be more subject to market power by the vendors. We're not talking generics here but more or less single source patented drugs the so called Ethical Drug Market.

We already see restrictions by American makers on resale by Canadian wholesalers when such resale is to customers who will be re-exporting to the United States. There need be no explicit price fixing in either market. FREX I can imagine a maker of patented drugs in the United States selling to wholesalers at a uniform price in the NAFTA. However that maker would rebate to wholesalers in Canada for sales under the Canadian Single Payer Health Plan and not otherwise. Consequence, re-import is just a way to get stale drugs at the same price.

Arbitrage between previously isolated markets will often converge to price - that price likely closer to the larger market price than the smaller market price.

For further discussion, notice that the United States arguably spends as much and more per capita on health care as any nation on earth. Like famines (see e.g. Francis Moore Lappe - Food First) the issues are market power and distribution.

Compare what amount and at what rate Aetna pays for medical services and drugs to what a natural person pays for medical services and drugs. Aetna has administered plans (acted as administrator but not as insuror) for enterprises where the enterprise self-insured but Aetna shared its discounts with the private plan. That is the plan passed to Aetna (round numbers) 80% of the bill instead of 100% and Aetna passed along to the providers a negotiated 60% and everybody was happy except the uninsured being billed at 100%.

Notice also that I don't see a great expansion in supply of medical care at a lower price in the future. If a middle class household today cannot afford health care in isolation then I don't expect a coalition of 2 or more n such households to be able to afford medical care for every member of the coalition.

Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2004, 04:33 PM:

Will asks who was for Kerry before he was the nominee:

Folksinger Nanci Griffith, of all people. She did a concert
in Northampton MA before our primary, when I was still an
active Edwards supporter. Nanci is far-left by USA standards,
I suppose, but she has done a lot with go-back-and-help-Vietnam veterans' groups and formed a high opinion of Kerry
(and McCain) through them.

The other early Kerry supporter groups I know of were firefighters and some police, two groups who of course
overlap heavily with Vietnam veterans.

It was interesting that in February or so _The New Republic_
had its Democratic endorsement issue. The main editorial
went for Lieberman (!) and other writers chipped in on behalf
of Dean, Edwards, Clark, and Gephardt in separate articles.
Kerry at that time was either thought to be dead in the water
or could not find a single champion among TNR's writers...

Tappan King ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2004, 11:35 PM:

Xopher, of course you are right. "Means" meant "meant," as I used it above in re "kind," "gentle," and "noble." Though I do believe that noblesse oblige still means what I said above. Great leaders intuitively understand that they derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.

As Lao-Tzu put it:

"The fourth-best leaders are feared.
The third-best leaders are respected.
The second-best leaders are loved.
But the best leaders cause men to say:
'Look what I have done!' "

What, then, should we call the Bush Family philosophy? noblesse oubliee?

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2004, 01:20 AM:

Nader in the news today:

He won't be on the ballot in Virginia, because they turned their petitions in wrong.

He won't be on the ballot in Maryland, because they didn't get enough signatures.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2004, 02:25 AM:

I've learned a lot from Will over the years, so I mean this in a constructive spirit: Will, the sarcasm schtick isn't working for you. At least, not if your intent is to get an audience rather than drive folks into reaction. When you put it down and convey actual info and views, I continue to learn things, but it's too damn much work to play word games with someone who's out to be rhetorically misleading.

My own take on Democratic hostility to Nader is this...

A lot of things combined to work against Gore, starting with deliberate Republican duplicity (falsely purged voting rolls, for instance) and an actively dishonest mass media representation of the race. In the absence of those big things wrong, Nader's campaign would almost certainly not have thrown the election (and ensuing adjudication) to Bush. The thing is, most of us have precisely zero input into or influence over those things. What we're left with is the actions of people of good will who sincerely don't approve of Bush's agenda.

It's wrong to say "you must bear the sins of all those others". But it's right, I think, to say "in an environment where these forces were operating, and known to operate, you should have considered more in making your choice". When our choice and control are limited, we have to be more careful with what we've got.

(And yes, I've been making precisely this argument to my libertarian friends. "Sure, there's stuff Kerry is for that you're not. But he seems unlikely to mount big new wars, advance the cause of plutocracy, or seek more opportunities for unbounded arrest and torture. We can get back to having candidates we just dislike and disapprove of.')

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2004, 10:18 PM:

I spent a little too much time on the web trying to track down who’s to blame for the 2000 election. I got this:

The national vote: Democratic Leadership Council head Al From wrote in Blueprint Magazine (January 24, 2001) that, according to their exit polls, if Nader hadn't run in 2000, Bush would have beat Gore by one percentage point. But thanks to the Green presence, Al Gore beat George Bush by 50,999,897 to 50,456,002, a victory of 543,895 votes.

The Florida vote: According to the San Francisco Chronicle of Nov. 9, 2000, "Twelve percent of Florida Democrats (over 200,000) voted for Republican George Bush." Officially, Gore lost to Bush in Florida by 547 votes. Those registered Democrats were the largest single group of Florida voters that did not vote for Gore. (The results for the eight other parties in Florida ranged from less than 100,000 votes to 562. If you blame the smallest group rather than the largest, the Florida spoilers were not the Democrats themselves, but the Socialist Workers Party.)

The conclusion is fascinating: If Nader had not run, Gore would have lost, but because Nader ran, Gore lost.

Me, I still blame Republicans and the Electoral College, in that order.

(Oh, other scenariors for 2000 are fascinating. I found one site that claims, "While Gore likely would have won the presidency if only Gore and Bush had run, Bush would have won comfortably if Buchanan and Browne had not been running The Browne-Buchanan vote - which, while not uniformly conservative, likely heavily leaned toward Bush over Gore - was more than Gore's margin of victory in Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin and also would have put Florida clearly beyond Gore's reach no matter how the recount had been conducted."

Bruce, since I don't viscerally get the degree to which people blame Nader or feminazis or flouridation, I often underestimate the reaction to something I just think is funny. I was reading Fafblog shortly before my first post. So blame everything on Giblets. (I do understand that humor's tougher when you think you're the butt. I'm still trying to figure out what Trudeau is trying to say with the current Doonesburys with the vindictive Kerryite tracking down timid Naderites. I'm sure I would just think it was funny if I hadn't voted for Nader in 2000.)

Good luck with the libertarians!

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2004, 12:22 AM:

Will: I'm still trying to figure out what Trudeau is trying to say with the current Doonesburys with the vindictive Kerryite tracking down timid Naderites.

What do you think he’s trying to say?

Alex (the “vindictive Kerryite” in question) is an enthusiastic teen, formerly a Deaniac. Trudeau is poking gentle fun at youthful zeal, as he’s done many, many times before.

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2004, 12:43 AM:

Avram, it's the behavior of the Naderites that makes me wonder. They run and hide, then gather desperately on-line. I haven't known any past or present Naderites who behave like that. I'm still waiting to see where he goes with this.

Okay, and wondering why he's spending time on Nader when Bush and Co. are so seriously in need of bashing. Yes, there's a two-week or so time lag in cartooning. Was the Bush camp really so little a source of humor then?

The Vietnam War replay should be fun. A great opportunity to bring back all the young Doonesbury cast, if he wants.

Rebecca Scott ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2004, 01:42 AM:

Y'know, every time I see the "blame the people who voted for Nader!" argument, I wonder why it's Nader specifically. I did see somebody earlier in this thread blame everybody who didn't vote for Gore, but most folks just focus on Nader.

I feel a bit ignored.

I voted for Browne in 2000. Contrary to popular belief and many jokes about the Libertarian Party Convention, there actually are people who vote Lib. Oh, yeah, and just to up the joke quotient, I voted in Florida, so it wasn't as if my vote would have been permitted to mean anything anyway.

(Actually, in Leon County, where Tallahassee is located, the voting went very smoothly, thanks to Ion Sanchez deciding that having a functional system for voting was more important than his reelection. He spent lots of money on scantron voting machines and forms; it was generally believed that he would've lost his next election because of how much he spent. A recount would've taken perhaps a few hours, and should've tallied pretty precisely. Mr. Sanchez has his job for as long as he wants it, now. Floridians are really, really sensitive about 2000, and folks from Leon County are very proud of having had accurate vote counts.)

I'm with Will here: blaming third-party voters misses the point. We voted our consciences. Which is, unless I am much mistaken, exactly what a responsible citizen is supposed to do. In general, the third-party voters I know are better educated about the issues and have taken more time to consider them than those I know who standardly vote for one of the two major parties; a lot of the latter vote along party lines, every time, and assume that, because the candidate belongs to the same party they do, they'll vote the way they want them to. Some of these people have been steadfastly ignoring for years or decades that both parties have been hijacked, and that they don't stand for what they claim to stand for or what they used to stand for.

The real problem in 2000 was that our system failed us. Our President wasn't selected by even the half-assed form of democracy we have; he was selected by the Supreme Court. The man who won the popular vote in Florida let them get away with it, and the citizens of Florida (and the rest of the country) let them get away with it.

My conclusion is that the system is broken. Neither of the two major parties acts in accordance with the principles it claims to hold. Neither of them are either truly conservative or truly liberal.

At least I know that I can count on the Libertarians. Mind you, I can count on them to fail to get elected, but I can definitely count on them. Thanks, Will, for reminding people we exist.

Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2004, 03:26 AM:

Marilee notes:
Nader in the news today:

He won't be on the ballot in Virginia, because they turned their petitions in wrong.

He won't be on the ballot in Maryland, because they didn't get enough signatures.

And his petitions in West Virginia are being investigated because there may be invalid signatures on them. Which doesn't rule them out yet, of course, it just notes that they are iffy.

sinboy ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2004, 11:21 PM:

I've got no beef with those who voted Nader, even in the most contested districts of Florida.

What I do get insulted and annoyed by are the GP and Naderite nitwits who tell me there's no differnce between Bush and Kerry.

Who are these morons? Have too many anti-globalzation rave drugs fried thier brains? Legal abortion on one side, the stated intent to make it illegal on the other. Worst ecological policy imaginable on one side, at least some semblance of on the other. And so on.

No difference? More like they're too stupid to see what a huge differnce it is. Or worse, they're trying to get us to think there's none for their own political power.

Y'all can get back to me when the Green Pasrt has a platform that dosen't involving insulting my inteligence by saying Bush and Kerry are no different. Until then, you get treated like the self absorbed egotistical poseurs you are.

Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2004, 06:48 PM:

Way high up, it was said "the winner in each state takes all of the state's votes ... so if your state's outcome is already determined, there's no harm in staying home."

Florida in 2000 demonstrated to us that "already determined" is an elusive & deceptive condition.

Please, please, go out and vote even if your state has been "called" for a candidate by every network there is. Hell, even if you live in Hawaii and the polls closed back east two days ago. You're going to trust NBC, Fox, Comedy Central, anybody telling you your vote isn't necessary? *** that!

I'm going to be staying in Phoenix an extra three days after World Fantasy Con and volunteering with the Election Protection Coalition. Check it out.

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2004, 02:38 AM:

And as of today, Nader is back on the Virginia ballot. You see, the office of the VA Attorney General originally said that the Nader petitions weren't proferred properly. But then the actual VA Attorney General himself, a Republican who is running for Governor next time, decided that the Nader petitions are valid, even though they don't meet the stated rules.

Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2004, 01:58 PM:

This was niggling at me all weekend. Way up the thread, FMguru said

> The last ballot I marked featured Gallagher, Gary Coleman, porn starlet Mary Carey, and a barely-literate bodybuilder all running for public office. So, in light of this new bit of information you've revealed to me, I'll treat Will's opinions with the same gravity and respect as I would those of the stars of "Diff'rent Strokes" and "Asses In The Air 4". Fair?

What this made me wonder is who FMguru (or others) think _should_ be running for political offices. Without debating the specific or individual merits (or lack thereof) of any of the candidates cited above, why should appearing on a tv series at some point (of whatever quality) or writing a novel or being a comedian or a schoolteacher or a homemaker disqualify one for political office?

Sarcasm aside, isn't it possible that people other than lawyers or ivy leaguers have something to offer, politically speaking? Yet there seems to be a sort of caste of "professional politicians" in this country, and here in NYC, there are still machine politics and people "bequeathing" seats to their friends or children.

And fewer people I know would even consider running for office because almost everyone I know has something in their past for an opponent to fasten on and blow out of proportion. An off-the-books nanny, for instance, which is common in NYC.

carla ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 10:46 AM:

Okay, I'm REALLY late to this one--likely too late--and I don't have time to read all the posts, and I don't like Nader, even if I don't blame him for the last (perversion of an) election, blah blah blah. but I really thought some of Will's original posts were funny! "Heap heap. Scorn scorn." Snort snort!

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 11:24 AM:

RE "the winner in each state takes all of the state's votes"

I'm not very knowledgeable about the US voting system, but I thought that some States had a 'winner take all' electoral college votes, and others were more proportional, and that sometimes - though this may be disputable - delegates could vote differently to their State's voters.

Have heard, however, that more recently it's been tended to be assumed that it is "winner takes all" - always a system I dislike since it so badly represents the constituency.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2004, 11:45 AM:

Epacris -- Almost all of the states are winner-takes-all. The two exceptions are Maine and Nebraska. Colorado may become the third.

The word you're looking for is electors, not delegates. Yes, electors can vote for someone other than who their state's voters chose; those who do are called faithless electors. This is pretty rare, and I don't think it's ever thrown an election.

Chris N ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 05:29 AM:

Virgin poster here.

I came to this blog after searching for guidance on how to write query letters, and finding the thread about the guy who advised making stuff up. Hope it's OK to post this to an 'open thread'.

My wife's a new author (-ish: she got her DPhil thesis published back in the 1990s), and last week she sent snail-mail query letters to three agents in London. The big two being CL and CB. The MS is complete.

CB, her second preference, replied by email as soon as they got her letter , asking for the entire manuscript.

CL, her first preference, haven't replied yet.

How should she read CB's action? Is this standard operating procedure? Or did someone think "this could be juicy, so let's make sure we get to read the MS before she sends it to someone else".

She was expecting replies saying "please follow our preferred procedure and send us a synopsis with three specimen chapters", or alternatively, if they read the query letter all the way through, saying the same thing more courteously.

I guess she'll get replies from the other two agents very soon - she didn't forget to enclose saes - but what would 'you' do?

1) Send the entire MS to CB right away?
2) Wait until CL reply and if they ask for three chapters then send 'em three chapters and ignore CB?

Maybe it would be silly to think that having CL would be so much better than having anyone else?

We're kind of thinking CB must be eager but this may be wishful thinking.

If she sends the entire MS to CB she won't be sending anything to the other agents

Advice welcome - many thanks.


LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 04:26 PM:

Chris, that email from CB is very promising. As a professional writer, my advice would be, as long as CB is a reputable agent and unless she has any serious objections to CB, she should send her manuscript right away. Doing so does not commit her to CB, until CB has read the manuscript and they've had a discussion about what kind of representation CB would give her, etc.

Anyway, congrats to her on a positive response, and best wishes.


Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 03:02 PM:

Chris: An MS request isn't a guarantee (Though yes, it is very promising), so it would be bad to outright turn down the others while waiting.

My understanding (And someone please please correct me if I'm wrong - I've not got that far yet myself) is that you should send the MS to CB exclusively - but request that they hold it exclusively for a limited duration (Common ones are 8 weeks and 12 weeks - if you're requesting it will be exclusive only for a set time rather than the agent making the offer, it might be wiser to use the longer time...). That way, if the others do call or e-mail or anything with a request for more, you can say, "It's with someone else, but I can send it on on X date", so they will know there's a reason for your delay.

This means you don't have to lose an opportunity if the first one falls through - and it does not reflect badly on you to either agent.

Ace Parsi ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2004, 08:34 PM:

If we do lose this election you can put the blame in several places. The Democrats and the campaign will bare a good part of it but once again so will Ralph Nader. Republicans know this and that's why they've been working so hard to get Nader on the ballot. This includes everything from Ken Sukhia, Bush's attorney in the 2000 recall who is quoted on the Bush website defending the Patriot Act, representing Nader in his Florida suit, to the Michigan Republican Party collecting 40,000 signatures to get Ralph Nader on the ballot. I encourage everyone to look more into this. It's a huge concern. Bush supporters are helping Nader in every state. Check it out at http://www.thenaderfactor.com/press/072304/.

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2004, 08:45 AM:

I'm struggling to keep positive, feeling sick & in despair. Tomorrow (October 9th, now less than 2 hours away) is polling day for the Federal Election in Australia (as well as Afghanistan). Most of the commentators & poll-people are saying they don't feel there's enough of a feeling for change in the population to change government.

It's not just the stuff about Iraq & the whole slimy political opportunism around the "War on Terror" scenario, but the blind destruction of so much that means anything worthwhile at all in the universe & for humanity, as we are just struggling up towards a glimpse of what it is & what it means (Maurice Wilkins died this week).
For a small rant on one aspect of it, see my reaction to the last budget. So much of what this government -- and some others before -- has done is just so against everything that I think is better in the world, that I despair at support for it. Can we be the Hadrahim(sp?) & Southrons? What have we learned & struggled for over the last 150 years (not to mention the previous 500 or so)?

Still, I remember The White Rose, and try to cling somehow to hope.

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2004, 10:24 AM:

Also; for a good overall view of some important issues about democracy, check out the entry "A Road Less Travelled" in Margot Kingston's Webdiary on (well, near) the Sydney Morning Herald website.

Ace Parsi ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 05:42 PM:

Ralph Nader's the only one that doesn't get the negative impact he's going to have on the progressive movement. We've got to do everything we can to stop him before it's too late!
"I am voting my conscience" and not supporting Nader
In the following statement, Winona LaDuke, Nader's 2000 running mate, announced:
I am voting for John Kerry this November. I love this land, and I know that we need to make drastic changes in Washington if we are going to protect our land and our communities. I'm voting my conscience on Nov. 2 I'm voting for John Kerry. He wants to move federal policies to support Native communities, whether Native farmers, businesspeople or tribal governments. We are on his radar; this is a beginning. Kerry offers other reasons for hope. He opposes converting Yucca Mountain into a nuclear waste dump. By Nov. 2, 2004, John Kerry will have earned my vote.

Stefan sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 02:05 AM:

All over the place. Yuck.