Don’t Give in to Fear

My old friend Harry Lonsdale recently produced an opinion piece titled “Urgent Plea to Nader: Don’t Run.” First published in The Oregonian January 30th, it has now, thanks to the Internet, made the rounds nationally.

In it, Harry’s almost atavistic fear of the “Bush imperial presidency” completely clouds his judgment. It’s not that the fear is unwarranted–certainly not–it’s just that many of the reasons he gives have their basis in long-refuted misinformation and misinterpretations.

Foremost is this long-disproven canard: “It’s also true that (Nader) tipped the 2000 election to Bush….Gore could have easily won Florida, where Nader drew 97,288 votes and Gore lost by 537.” Simply not so. Gore won Florida and the presidency. It was not the fault of those Florida Nader voters that the Democratic Party, and Gore himself, chose not to resist the coup.

A recount of ALL ballots cast in the 2000 Florida presidential election commissioned by the nation’s main media outlets showed Al Gore beat George W. Bush “under all the scenarios for counting all undervotes and overvotes statewide.”

Under any standard that counted all of the votes in Florida, Gore erased Bush’s advantage. Had Gore not followed a losing legal strategy seeking to count only some of the votes he would have been the winner with a small margin that ranged from 42 to 171 votes.

The media review proved his only chance was to demand what he stated publicly but did not pursue in court — a full statewide recount of ALL untallied votes!

And, then the Democratic Party folded up and not ONE Democratic Senator, not even Wellstone or Feingold, rose up to back the Black Congressional Caucus in their bid to challenge the certification of the election results–and all it would have taken was just ONE senator’s challenge. With party discipline, in a 50-50 divided Senate, Gore, in his role as vice-president, could have cast the tie-breaking and deciding vote himself.

The reality is Gore won and blaming Nader is not only untrue, it’s unnecessary and unproductive.

This Greens for Anybody But Bush (ABB) stuff Lonsdale brings up reminds me of nothing so much as it does the “1990 Democrats for Hatfield” who chose to back the Republican Senator against none other than Democratic Party candidate Harry Lonsdale in that year’s senate race.

Sen. Mark O. Hatfield, rather corrupt and atrocious on many issues usually associated with the Democrats, got a free pass because of his pro-Peace stands–not at all that courageous given Oregon’s dead last rank as Number 51 in defense spending amongst the states and District of Columbia. (I assure you had Hatfield represented California; he’d have been a hawk.)

I used to consider the 1990 Democrats for Hatfield one of the party’s most shameful efforts. Now, with the DNC-led full court media press attacks on Dean, how can anyone place any value in the integrity of this party? Virtually ALL the issues raised by Nader vis a vis the two-party duoploy still stand today. I mean, come on, the DNC and their media supporters attacked Dean’s wife, Dr. Judith Steinberg, a respected surgeon and ran what they viciously labeled the “I have a scream” clip over 900 times on network TV in 24 hours! That tiny break with decorum pales next to Ronald Reagan snarling “Hey. I paid for this microphone,” at a debate. No one ever said THAT was “unpresidential.”

We cannot let one issue, the Bush Imperial Presidency, cloud our judgment here. How does supporting Anybody Who Supported Bush 75%+ of the time change anything? John Kerry, himself, voted for the illegal war of aggression and spread mindlessly Americo-centric misinformation (“Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don’t even try?”) on the Senate floor to justify his vote. Does Harry condone this? (Of course, the real question is, “Why does the only country to ever ‘field test’ one continue to stockpile and brandish nuclear weapons when most countries never have and don’t?”)

Kerry, Bush I and Bush II, Lieberman and Cheney are four of only 800 living members of the secret society Skull and Bones. Skull and Bones permeates our policy establishment far out of proportion to its numbers. This group clearly believes in a caste system with themselves as the Brahmins — antithetical to a real Democracy.

Kerry and Howard Dean, another thoroughly conventional Centrist Dem, have both gone on national TV to brag about their support for the class war on poor, single moms–the welfare “reforms” signed into law by the Democrat Clinton in 1996. Has Harry forgotten this? Has he forgotten Clinton’s own imperial adventures all solidly supported by all the Democratic candidates, except Kucinich and Sharpton? Has my fellow former Oregon Natural Resource Council board member forgotten that it was Clinton, with a Democrat controlled House and Senate, who RESUMED Ancient Forest logging in our public forests?

How about General Clark? Another progressive Green friend, Michael Moore flat out lied about Clark in his fawning endorsement letter which called the general “anti-war.” Never mind the two-year Clark-led saturation bombing campaign against densely populated areas in Yugoslavia, less than an hour after Moore’s endorsement letter went nationwide, Clark’s testimony in favor of the current war/occupation was published.

Now I have questions regarding Nader myself. I was even widely quoted before his last run as worrying that Nader would become “the Gus Hall of the Greens.” I even encouraged Michael Moore to run as the Green candidate instead, as I was less than impressed with Nader’s 1996 effort. But, Nader acquitted himself magnificently in 2002.

Ultimately, I don’t share Harry and Mike’s fear to the same degree. I fear more that giving the Democrats one more undeserved free pass is the surest way to continue our fateful slide from democracy to empire–a slide that’s not that new: we’ve been in some imperial conflict somewhere my entire life–55 years. A contest between the Centrist wing of Skull and Bones and its Right-wing is nothing to look forward to and is a lose-lose situation for progressives. It’s time to get over the false choices and fear what’s really going on here.

MICHAEL DONNELLY of Salem, Oregon, grew up in Flint, Michigan and was a lifelong Democrat, even a Senate and House candidate, himself. Now, he’s decidedly Independent. He can be reached at:


MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at