Third Party Spoilers- The Nader Effect.

The political atmosphere of America has reached the highest level of polarity it has seen in decades. Pew Research found that 50 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats find discussing politics with opposing party members to be “stressful and frustrating.”

This state of affairs has given rise to great unrest. In turn, that has led some to believe that the nightmarish 2016 electoral cycle created momentum for a third-party challenge in 2020.  It seems a likely year to successfully make some waves. It is not unfair to observe that a third party’s traditional goal has been to make waves in the United States.

In recent history, several of those waves have been tsunamis.

During the summer of 2015, the editor of Millennial Democrats found that a simple Google search of the very word “nader” would instantly direct you to a Wikipedia article called “The Spoiler Effect”, which since the year 2000 has also been known as The Nader Effect.

These terms are used to describe the ghastly effect third parties tend to have on crucial elections. The United States has now had five Presidential races in a row that were absolutely key. As a result, third parties have had the chance to do more and more harm to causes they claim to advocate.

They ruined us in 2000. They hurt us in 2004. In 2008 Nader was the most hated man on Planet Earth. And in 2016, Nader passed the Spoiler’s Torch to Bernie Sanders, eager as his 2012 Green Party successor Jill Stein was to secure that role for herself. Bernie and Ralph, of course, are old friends.

No third party has ever managed to get a candidate of their own elected. What they have done, though, is to pull off dramatically awful effects on major elections, and therefore the political foundation of the country. They cause the major parties real harm. They sometimes get them to adapt and to change. But much more often, they bring the candidates they have the most in common with crashing down. To the overwhelming detriment of everyone.

Third-party candidates can impact the national outcome if they capture just the right percentage of votes in the right states, which is precisely how Ralph Nader was able to do such harm to the Democratic Party in the year 2000.

He insisted, against the dictates of all reason or common sense, upon campaigning for crucial swing states such as Florida, the state that cost Gore the election, by 537 votes. As the Greens are a left-wing party, they compete for votes with Democrats.

For this reason, the 97,000 votes that Nader won make it clear that George W. Bush would never have made it to the White House without him.

GOP strategists knew it, too, which is why they were paying to run swing state ads for Ralph Nader in 2004, slandering John Kerry on his behalf. Nader, who has made a career out of complaining, was strangely silent on this repugnant issue.

Barbara Perry is the director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and co-chair of the center’s Presidential Oral History program. She made a crucial point last year when she said that Bernie Sanders supporters leaning toward supporting Jill Stein over Hillary Clinton have to ask themselves an important question: “Are you willing to accept that your third party vote may help someone you utterly disagree with?”

The answer, sadly, usually ends up being yes. Stein and the Greens were invaluable to Trump against Clinton. It’s essentially certain that why she was at that famous meeting with Putin and Paul Manafort was to discuss her party’s part in ruining the chances of Hillary Clinton. And Nader is said to have been secretly jubilant at the knowledge that he’d ruined the chances of Al Gore.

Revelations came out last month about the ways the Russians used Facebook ads to hurt Hillary Clinton. Politico reported last month that some of the ads explicitly endorsed Jill Stein, and Bernie Sanders.

Left-wing third-party energy is all but completely limited to out of touch white leftists with no real interest in or ability to organize beyond their immediate circles. They tend to adopt a fanatical and uncompromising stance on every issue, and they tend to lack diplomatic finesse.

They call themselves progressives, but this is a misnomer.  In order to call yourself a progressive, you have got to demonstrate you can make progress. That takes cooperation and communication. All or nothing will not suffice.

We realize there are good people out there who share many views with us, people who would like to be allies but not formal members of the Party. We would like to thank those people for what help and support they are willing to offer. But we ask that they keep out of our way.

Progressives of every stripe have got to realize that their best chance of seeing their goals achieved is to give all the support they can to Democrats. Those are the folks who’ve been looking after the people of this country, ever since Franklin Roosevelt passed the New Deal. This is why we have spent the last hundred years getting rid of all the racist reactionary elements out of our apparatus.

When Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he carried the South because of it. Lyndon Johnson continued to push through civil rights legislation, although he was warned that in so doing he would lose the South for Democrats for a generation, a prediction that proved more than accurate. Didn’t matter. It was the right thing to do, and so we did it. It was a big part of how Democrats became the People’s Party.

The next election is going to be even closer than 2016 was, in all these battlegrounds. The bitterly divided parties, the high degree of partisan and ideological polarization, and the people confused and bewildered. Moving forward, we have got to pour light on this strategy.

Third parties cannot work in the United States. What will work is to highlight and draw enthusiasm toward exactly what we’ve been doing. The Democratic Party is currently in the process of continuing our decades-long transition towards a nationwide, liberal, labor oriented coalition. We will not let ourselves be distracted from this goal by the pipedreams and fantasies of third-party Utopian dreamers. We have a good idea of where we’re going. And we’ve got a decent plan as to how to get there.

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How the GOP Grew Gangrenous-World Wars and Imported Fascism, Pt4.

In a free and open democracy, such as America was meant to be, the natural exchange and competition of ideas is a wholesome and essential part of social life. Citizens come together, hash out the issues, and forge a national dialectic on the anvil of debate. When communication thrives, interconnections between people come together of their own accord. This creates the large-scale social cohesion necessary to run a healthy state.

However, when that communication breaks down, those bonds start dissolving, and with them the prosperity and well-being of both individual and collective. It is our contention that the increasing ideological extremity of the Republican Party has grown increasingly corrosive, and as such has become a serious threat to national stability and harmony.

By the turn of the century, the political parties of America had become like the shells of hermit crabs, repeatedly picked up and sat down again by their varying occupants, the competing ideologies of the early 20th century.

Movements like socialism, anarchism, fascism, and communism were all established by this time. They settled naturally into their places on the political spectrum, and went about the business of fighting for control of humanity’s minds and hearts. The resulting struggles have had tremendous implication for the Republican Party, and for us all.

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The Great Cow Analogy

These days, the parties are more firmly in the hands of the two ideologies then at any other time in history, and in diametric opposition to one another. The result has made a pressure cooker out of our country’s political climate, which recently led to far-right Nazi thugs waving swastika flags around at Charlottesville and murdering our sister Heather Heyer.

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Colin Kaepernick

The President, at the time, said there were very fine people, waving around those Nazi flags and running down women- but says Colin Kaepernick is a son of a b*tch, over a perfectly nonviolent protest. LeBron James summed it up best on Tweeter this week, when on Sunday athletes nationwide took the knee in solidarity with the controversial quarterback and the protest that has made him famous.

This is all symptomatic of the larger problem, namely, that there is a well-entrenched and organized fascist element in American politics today. It has had control of the Republican Party for a very long time now. Cracks in the GOP defenses were opened gradually by disunity and change, and after World War Two, far more extreme and virulent faction has intermingled with their system and become it. In examining how these changes took place, it will be necessary to examine the foundation-shaking events that led to such massive upheaval,  for the Republican Party and for the world.

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The Revival of Fascism

In political science, realignment theory describes a synthesis of perspectives emanating from history, highlighting the existence and impact of “critical elections” as key factors in shaping the practice of democratic politics. The last two centuries have both seen their fair share, right around their turning. The Republican Party has radicalized increasingly as

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1900 Presidential election poster

President Woodrow Wilson, the beneficiary of the splitting of the Republican Party in 1912, spoke at length about World War One as a war being fought to make the world “safe for democracy”. That war was won, insofar as a war can be won. The war to decide the form that democracy would take was just beginning. This was to prove to  be of of the highest significance in the evolution of both American and international politics.

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President Woodrow Wilson

The general tendency in American presidential elections has generally been for one side or the other to win soundly. Extremely close elections like 2016 or 1896 used to be statistically rare. But in recent history, they’ve been the norm.  In times of unrest, when the public is highly polarized and inflamed against one another, it seems to be just the opposite.

The 1920’s came to be known as the Republican Decade for the three Republicans who occupied the White House during it: Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. Harding was corrupt and a fool, and Coolidge was a milquetoast.

Many historians rate Harding as the worst president the country has ever had. It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that the old ratings machine, Donald J. Trump, has finally managed to break a presidential record.

Herbert Hoover had risen to the occasion of large-scale relief work admirably in Europe, toward the end of 1918 when the Spanish Flu was killing men in the tens of millions. Unfortunately for everyone, he proved out of his depth when faced with similar challenges domestically. His short-sighted, laissez-faire policies did little to relieve the poverty and massive national debt that characterized the Great Depression.

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President Herbert Hoover

Before the 1920’s and 30’s, America was mostly comprised of a loosely-knit network of regional communities, who interacted little and communicated less. During this time, however, it began to consolidate and take on a nationwide flavor. Nothing encourages social cohesion like a terrible outside threat, such as a world war or a Great Depression. Both peace and the economy had been shattered, and things were not improving.

In the 1930’s, the Dust Bowl took place as a result of shortsighted agricultural practices, and rendered much of Middle America uninhabitable, leading to a large-scale migration from states we now think of as being solidly red, to California and other places still fertile.

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Traditional beliefs were also facing erosion, from the point of view of many Americans in the 1920’s. This led to a counter- movement known as fundamentalism, which partnered with mass media in the earliest prototypes of televangelism.

This partnership provided a localized and custom-made belief system, capable of justifying anything in the name of God and country. It also provided a way to disseminate these ideas to the rest of the country. Slowly, the American value system began taking shape.

However, this newfound social cohesion was not to work out well for everyone.

During these miserable times, the black community down South was continuously victimized by their white neighbors. America’s first terrorist organization, the hate society known as the Ku Klux Klan had experienced a major revival.

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This revival of the Klan generated an organization much stronger and more numerous than the original Confederate veterans who came up with the concept. Many black people living down South decided they had at last had enough. This led to a mass exodus to elsewhere, known as the Great Migration. Before 1915, 90% of African-Americans lived down South. After 1970, a full half of these were gone.

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They had always looked to the Party of Lincoln as their hope of legal protection, but times had changed.

In the critical election of 1932, many formerly Republican blacks switched their allegiance to Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Democrats.

FDR’s New Deal had largely eroded the Southern wing of Democratic coalition, because a large section of it had traditionally relied upon rural agrarian interests made possible by slavery. For those fine gentlemen, treating black people with human decency was viewed as a diminishing return, not politically or financially expedient. Many of them refused to adapt to the changing reality. Because of that, they were no longer wanted, and they knew it.

These began to find themselves more commonly in agreement with Republicans, in terms of economic issues such as the rejecting of deficit spending or the creation of a social safety net. Little by little, the reactionary elements of the party began defecting to the GOP. This tendency continued all the way through FDR’s four terms and was firmly established by the end of World War Two in 1945.

Meanwhile, the GOP had spent the 1930’s helping the Nazis all they could. This partnership was reciprocal and continued after the war. Perhaps the most famous example is that of Wernher von Braun, the rocket scientist and former SS officer who built America’s first ICBM missiles. Given a new image, that of anti-communist crusader, and the help of his ideological allies in the GOP, von Braun was able to successfully integrate into American civilization. In exactly this way, much of the rest of the fascist network that ranged across Europe back then was successfully was incorporated, imported, and used by us, both at home and abroad. We will take a closer look at this later.

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W. Prescott Bush shaking hands with Hitler

That network is alive and well today, and of the two parties, it has chosen the GOP as its home. This is an empirical fact of life that exists within the American political process. It is not the product of partisan bias. It was no accident, that they were waving Nazi flags in Charlottesville. It is not new, and it is not random. It is deeply entrenched, vicious, and deadly.

George W. Bush’s grandfather, W. Prescott Bush, has been tied to financial institutions used to help finance Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Most of the practitioners of eugenics were Republican, such as Lothrup Stoddard, whose works are of interest for the serious student of this time period, the repugnance of his views notwithstanding.

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The philosophy of eugenics

Charles Lindbergh, another Republican, actually flew to Berlin to meet with Hitler. Back home, he started an organization and gathered many powerful people together to vigorously pursue an isolationist position using a slogan that Donald Trump has repopularized- America First.

Had this policy become official, it would have given Adolf Hitler a completely free hand in Europe. The America First Committee was even against the Lend-Lease act during World War Two, which was our policy of lending material aid to our allies in Europe.

It is all but certain that the Nazis would have won the war in Europe, which would have placed the Axis Powers in control of two-thirds of the world’s resources. We had only a third. It would have been America last.

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Charles Lindbergh meets with Reichmarshall Hermann Goering

Fortunately for every living soul on the planet, that is not how it worked out. Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wise, temperate policy led us through that darkest of ages. He ended up being elected to four terms in the White House. People trusted him.

Franklin Roosevelt is unanimously placed near the top of the list of America’s chief executives. He guided the nation through World War Two, in which our participation was official after the cowardly sneak attack that was Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941. His domestic policy, known as the New Deal, ended the Great Depression and Prohibition. His policies secured tremendous protections for the people of the future.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Many of the rights and social programs that people take for granted now, were conceived and secured by him. His adaptation of his famous uncle Teddy’s Progressive policies to the Democratic Party platform stands as one of the most crucial realigning factors in the history of both parties, as the Republicans were to take a strong position against them. They have been entrenching that position ever since.

Roosevelt passed away during the final days of the war, and his Vice-President Harry Truman took the reins. Truman had his own style, resolute and unostentatious. He made some rational changes right away. This did not improve the increasingly strained relations between the Southern conservative wing of the Democratic Party and the new progressive wing exemplified by FDR.

The estrangement became more and more pronounced. Civil rights were to become a pressing priority for Democrats, which was to alienate its white conservative wing to the point of affecting their own great migration, one more commonly known as the “white flight”.

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The Geography of Segregation

Truman’s desegregation of the Armed Forces in particular was a decision that enraged them, and a series of others were to follow, such as when the Supreme Court ruled official prayer in school unconstitutional on June 25, 1962.

The developing value system of the Democratic Party was unified further following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Following this, the partisan realignment of the South was a fait accompli.

The crucial shift came when Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He carried the South, but failed to win the Presidency. Lyndon Johnson continued to push through civil rights legislation, but warned that it would lose the South for Democrats for a generation, a prediction that proved more than accurate.

These continuing developments ensured that Johnson was the last Democratic president to win a majority of white votes.

At this time, the Republicans began targeting and nurturing these malcontent white voters, encouraging their basest instinct and assuaging their hurt feelings with assurances of racial superiority. This policy has now borne a strange orange fruit named Donald Trump. These people have not done each other any service. Their decline is inevitable, because they have lost the capacity for self-reflection. When people try and make themselves stupider than they already are, they almost always succeed.

The 1950’s, primarily spent under President Dwight Eisenhower, were the last we were to see of anything grand in the Grand Old Party. Eisenhower was a good man and a good president, but he left office with an uneasy feeling. The speech in which he warns America against “undue influence from the military-industrial complex” is more relevant than ever today.

The Pentagon has been the only thing holding order together during the Trump crisis, and we are grateful for it, but caution must be taken. There’s never been this much of a military presence in our civilian government, and the tendency needs careful observation. Great warriors are not always great diplomats, and vice versa. Both are necessary for the maintenance of a healthy America.

Eisenhower’s successor was John F. Kennedy, popularly known as JFK. He was lain low by assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s bullet on November 22, 1963. A conspiracy to take his life cannot be proven. What can be proven, is that the Republicans, who ever since have served as the henchmen of military-industrial interests, gained a great deal from the removal of JFK. The GOP intensified and made official the Vietnam War. Kennedy had planned to end it.

Vietnam proved to be one of the bloodiest and most heartbreaking conflicts of the twentieth century. Its ramifications have taken decades to sort out and we are still not finished. Of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam, less than 850,000 are estimated to be alive today.

The Vietnam War was used by the Republicans to divide and discredit Democrats. It splintered the liberal consensus. Opposition to the war didn’t unify or define the party, it divided it. Lyndon Johnson’s heart was broken by it, and he refused to seek reelection in 1968. The Democratic nomination was up in the air.

JFK’s brother Robert Kennedy, who had served as his Attorney General, was a strong favorite to win. It looked like a sure thing, until he too was assassinated, shot down by kitchen worker Sirhan Sirhan for reasons that remain a mystery. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated two months and one day earlier, on April 4, 1968. The country was being torn apart.

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The Vietnam War

Lyndon Johnson’s Vice-President, Hubert Humphrey, ended up running instead, but he was associated with the war and couldn’t split with LBJ. He received the nomination in spite of not receiving any delegates, because the party machinery chose him. After he lost, he became a scapegoat because of it. The old Tammany Hall method of leaving the Democratic nomination process under the control of the party elite was scrapped. A commission, called the McGovern-Fraser for the men who were heading it up, was assigned the task of creating a more open and democratic system.

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Tammany Hall prepares for the 1868 Democratic National Convention

Authorities have roundly criticized the reforms they made as having been a mess. It was a badly conceived and chaotic system. It left a tremendous amount of the nominations decision up to a disinterested and uninformed electorate. Rational actors influenced by well-formed policy positions are not what is filling our voting booths. The McGovern-Fraser Commission is one of the key factors behind the rise of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

One of the Commissioners, George McGovern, ended up being the Democratic Party’s next Presidential candidate. He was the democratically chosen, favorite of the people candidate. He was also the recipient of a terrible slaughter at the hands of Richard Nixon, largely because his system was weak and full of holes.

But it didn’t stop there. It was the days of the Fourth Party System, all over again. Tad Devine, former campaign manager to Bernie Sanders, took steps to fix this by inventing the process of the superdelegate system. Democrats were being taken advantage of. Giving 15% of the party’s power back to its most trusted members was the most sensible thing the Democratic Party ever did. This was evidenced clearly by the first and worst crime of the McGovern-Fraser Commission- that it let Nixon seize and keep power.

The Nixon era was the beginning of the end, for any kind of Republican morality, although they continue to cloak the nakedness of their greed with the fig leaf of the Moral Majority. During this time, the men who ran the Nixon administration made the world a worse place to live in, with all the zeal they could muster. The damage they did paved the way for Trump and the Russians.

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Moral Majority

A decade before, Harry Truman said succinctly that “Richard Nixon is a no good, lying bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time.” This was the truth, and it had a tremendous amount to do with the setting of the stage for today. In our next chapter, we will be looking closer at the Nixon era, and its relationship with the enduring legacy of fascism.