We’re hearing a lot about the 2000 election these days. The Democratic Party faithful have reminded us several thousand times how foolhardy it was to vote for Nader.
It’s an interesting spin. One could have attributed Gore’s loss to the Supreme Court decision. Or to the purging of Democrats from voter rolls. Or to the mass confusion in Palm Beach County over the butterfly ballot, which caused about 5,000 Jewish Democrats to vote for Pat Buchanan. Or to, well, Gore.
But after the dust settled, the Democratic Party establishment chose a different epitaph. It was that no good Nader and the idiots who voted for him.
Okay, let’s give the Party leaders the benefit of the doubt and assume they really believed it was all about Nader. And let’s assume they wanted to make sure history didn’t repeat itself. That logically left them at least two options.
One option would have been to get behind election reform, specifically, ranked voting. By 2000, the technology was available to allow voters to rank their choices and allow voting machines to re-assign the votes of those who voted for the last place finisher to their second choice candidate. Essentially, it works the way a runoff election does, but without the need for another election. In fact, the term “instant runoff” often is used in place of ranked voting.
If you buy the Democratic Party’s logic, had there been ranked voting in 2000 the second choice of those stupid Nader voters would have been Gore, and their votes ultimately would have taken Gore over the top after Nader was tossed out.
Has the Democratic Party advocated for this seemingly logical fix to the terrible fate that befell its candidate? Absolutely not. Why? Because ranked voting would make third-party candidates more attractive to voters. Gone would be their worries about “wasted” votes. For that reason, the two major parties have been in lockstep to prevent ranked voting, despite the indisputable logic supporting it.
Not willing to risk losing its duopoly over elections, the Democratic Party chose a different approach to the Nader problem: Use the 2000 election results to bully voters into passing on third-party candidates. With the advent of social media, it’s generally not an ineffective approach, albeit not as efficient as ranked voting. But it has the advantage of leaving third parties in the wilderness.
So that tactical decision was a bit piggy, but perhaps not hog-like.
Here’s another way the Democratic Party establishment could have been piggy, but not hog-like. It could have done whatever was required to make ranked voting a reality. Then, it could use the Party machinery, it’s donor base, and affiliated organizations like Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, the environmental groups and organized labor to put its thumb on the scale when it saw fit. Even if it angered some voters into voting for a third-party or independent candidate as their first-ranked choice, they still would rank the Democratic candidate above the Republican candidate when push came to shove.
So what’s being a hog? In this case, it’s kind of like “pig squared.” It would be putting a thumb on the scale in an obvious, corrupt and insulting fashion, then invoking the 2000 election to bully supporters of the non-establishment candidate to vote for the establishment’s pick in the general. The overall message is “Yes, we screwed your candidate, but you really must get over it and vote for our candidate or [fill in blank].”
And in 2016, it seems, the Democratic Party establishment is going, well, whole hog, as they say.
Reports have it there was quite the fracas at the Nevada State Democratic Party meeting over the weekend. First, Barbara Boxer, who is not from Nevada but whose daughter is married to Hillary Clinton’s brother, took to the mic to taunt the Sanders delegates. Then, on a vote for a measure that favored Clinton, the chair said the ayes had it, when they didn’t, at which point tempers boiled over. Police were called in for crowd control.
I’m not sure exactly how many convention delegates were at stake, but it was a tiny fraction of the number Clinton will have in excess of the amount needed to secure the nomination.
The bottom line: In order to secure a few unnecessary delegates, the Hillary camp poured gasoline on an already raging fire. The Party faithful keep saying “no matter who, vote blue,” but the feeling increasingly is “no matter what, vote Bernie.” Or Jill Stein. Or just stay home.
I had a comment exchange on a recent post with our own Captain Arizona about this:
Captain: I will be voting for a strong woman, Jill Stein, Green Party, if Bernie is denied the nomination. A Clinton supporter asked me: “What about the Supreme Court?” I said “Well, what about it? You should have thought about the Supreme before you voted for Hillary!”
Me: Interesting. I remember you commenting how you were going to hold your nose and vote for Hillary, but now the stench is too powerful, even with your nose held. I’ve a hunch you’re not alone on this front.
Captain: Bob, I tried to hold my nose, but it didn’t work!
If you follow the commentary, there’s been talk for weeks of the need for Sanders to “tone down” his attacks on Hillary. You know, for the sake of party unity. Shouldn’t the concern be about the tone of Hillary and her minions? Call me crazy, but every time Hillary lets loose with one of her snide remarks, and I heard one as recently as yesterday, Jill Stein inherits a few supporters. Every time Tameron Hall or Chris Matthews engages in rank intellectual dishonesty to spin events in Clinton’s favor, more Sanders supporters say “no mas.” And then there’s social media and the blogosphere, where the Ready for Hillary crowd is out to prove to those they insultingly refer to as “Bernie Bros” what a bunch of idiots they are. It brings to mind the old fable about the North wind and the South wind competing to see who could make the old man remove his coat. [Spoiler alert: the North wind lost]
I had my own reasons, independent of party politics, for not supporting Clinton this fall should she be the nominee. Months ago, I was practically alone in my feeling. Bernie supporters and Hillary supporters alike were lecturing me why I must “vote blue, no matter who” in the fall. I remember joking to a Facebook friend, who was the only person I knew who shared my view, that she and I would stand back-to-back and fight everyone off if they tried to force us to vote for HRC.
That was then. Now, the discussion among Sanders supporters is more along the lines of “should I write in Bernie or vote for Jill Stein?” [Answer: Vote Stein. Nobody will ever know about your write-in vote for Bernie] Will those Bernie supporters ultimately hold their noses and vote for Hillary? It doesn’t seem so. Just ask the Captain. He tried holding his nose and it didn’t work. The stench still got to him.
That’s the thing about hogs. They smell even worse than pigs do.
And that’s before they get slaughtered.