Monday, October 25, 2004

I Wasn't Going to Vote for Nader ... Until They Told Me I Couldn't

I Wasn't Going to Vote for Nader ... Until They Told Me I Couldn't
If Bush Wins, Blame Me
By DAVID VEST


Originally published October 20th, 2004 at www.counterpunch.org

In Oregon, we all vote by mail, and I have just cast my ballot in the November 2 election. At least, I think I voted. I'm not sure, because the candidate I wanted for president wasn't on the ballot.

There was a space for write-ins, a dotted line. Shouldn't there be two lines? Am I allowed to vote for president but not for vice-president? Will my vote count if I guess wrong?

There appeared to be many ways to do this write-in vote incorrectly, so that my ballot can be declared invalid. That's what I am expecting. It would match the way my candidate has been treated in Oregon and in many other states.

To be completely honest, I probably wasn't going to vote for Ralph Nader until they told me I couldn't. I didn't vote for him in 2000. (I wish I had, but that's another story.) But when I found out they weren't even going to give me the choice, it rubbed me the wrong way.

When I looked at the ballot and Nader's name wasn't even there, that's when he finally became my candidate.

I thought it was un-American. Not only that, it proved Ralph's point about how corrupt our two-party system is.

A lot of things have been proving his point lately. Like the fact that most of what he warned about in 2000 has come true. I went to his web site and watched his commercials. You have to watch them online; he doesn't have enough money to put them on TV. They're very basic, he just looks into the camera and tells the truth. I found them very powerful. If they showed them every 30 minutes on TV, or as often as they show Bush and Kerry ads, I'm not sure Ralph would finish third.

I hate the Bush ads that make Kerry seem unpatriotic for even daring to oppose the incumbent. Bush and Cheney have consistently suggested that for Kerry to point out the obvious, that Iraq is a mess, somehow "hurts the troops." Even worse, he is "helping the terrorists," who are doing everything in their power to help Kerry win. A vote for Kerry is a vote for bin Laden, they imply. Might as well put Saddam in the White House!

I thought these were the vilest political arguments uttered in my lifetime, and that no one could go any lower or treat the American electorate with any greater contempt, until I looked at the thrust of Kerry's argument against Nader. It is exactly the same, only more contemptible.

Kerry has done to Nader precisely what Bush tried to do to Kerry, suggesting that it is somehow unpatriotic of Ralph that he would even consider running for president when Kerry is running. He is "helping the Republicans," who are doing everything in their power to help Ralph run. He is on an "ego trip," he is "damaging his legacy," and he perversely fails to see that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.

The character attacks on Nader launched by the Kerry camp have been, if anything, even harsher than the Bush campaign's attacks on Kerry. It's almost as though Kerry sees Nader, not Bush, as the more dangerous opponent. You'd think Karl Rove was running this part of Kerry's operation, considering how dirty (and how effective) it has been. I can imagine what kind of "documentaries" Kerry's corporate backers would be producing if Nader were up in the polls.

These people are good at what they do. Their anti-Nader "talking points" have successfully permeated political discourse, and not just on TV. I hear them coming out of the mouths of good people, folks who passionately love their country and who seem to have no idea they are helping to slander a good man who believes himself to be working on their behalf.

It's not necessarily intentional. It's just that once they declared themselves pro-Kerry, they found themselves echoing the Kerry line. A year and a half ago, they were marching against the war. Now they support a man who voted for it and vows to continue the killing, only he'll do it "better." What happened to these people?

They have almost managed to convince me that it will be not only Ralph Nader's fault but mine as well if Bush wins. For all I know, they may be right.

Since it's all my fault, feel free to vote for Nader if you want to, the damage is already done.

"Feel free" -- what a curious phrase to use in an election. Do you "feel free" to vote your conscience, or do you feel pressured to vote against your own interests to keep fear of Bush, or the terrorists, at bay?

Or do you look at your ballot, as I did, and see that they have no intention of letting you vote your conscience.

David Vest writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, just released a scorching new CD, Way Down Here. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch's new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com.

Visit his website at www.rebelangel.com

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