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Nader writes: "Did the Republicans win these mid-term elections? Or did the Democrats lose? The numbers show that in contested Senate races, where the Republicans picked up seven seats and will probably gain two more to take control of the Senate, voters did not support those Democrats who were the most wishy-washy."

Ralph Nader being interviewed during his 2008 presidential campaign, 08/01/08. (photo: Scrape TV)
Ralph Nader being interviewed during his 2008 presidential campaign, 08/01/08. (photo: Scrape TV)

Democrats Not Knowing What They Stand For - Lose

By Ralph Nader, The Nader Page

07 November 14


id the Republicans win these mid-term elections? Or did the Democrats lose? The numbers show that in contested Senate races, where the Republicans picked up seven seats and will probably gain two more to take control of the Senate, voters did not support those Democrats who were the most wishy-washy.

In their campaigns, the defeated Democratic senators ran away from President Obama and often bragged about opposing his policies. But where did these senators run to? Certainly not to popular policies that appeal to Americans where they live, work and raise their children.

Getting Senator Mark Pryor to support a minimum wage increase took many months. By the time he saw the popularity of a statewide citizen-driven initiative on the ballot and switched, he appeared more as an opportunist than a leader. Shortly after, his Republican successor, Congressman Tom Cotton switched as well. All four initiatives to raise the minimum wage won in conservative “red states.”

Many defeated senators tried to localize the election by dumping on Obama and the national Democratic Party. They avoided siding with the people on matters such as strong law and order for corporate crimes against consumers, patients, workers, community and environmental health. They avoided talking about revising both the failed war on drugs and the failed war on terror that have resulted in more drugs in our country and created more anti-American groups around the world.

Washington Post columnist, the ever perceptive Steven Pearlstein, wrote just before the election that the “Democratic candidates find themselves caught in a vicious cycle in which their refusal to embrace and defend their party’s brand is discouraging the faithful and turning away the undecided, threatening their election prospects still further.”

Turning out young and minority voters requires candidates to articulate progressive visions of an America that will provide opportunities for improving the livelihoods for millions of lower-income, low-paid, underemployed or employed laborers. Low turnouts of these eligible voters this past Election Day ensured Democratic Party losses (nationwide turnout only reached 33%).

People have to believe that their vote means something. Viewing the billions of dollars of repetitive, negative, insipid political television ads created by both party’s political/corporate consultants doesn’t motivate voters to show up at the polls. Unfortunately, unlikely voters are the majority, outnumbering by about six to four those who voted this year.

The Mark Pryor senatorial campaign in Arkansas provides a teaching moment regarding political cowardliness. He had everything going for him—plenty of money and a father who was a popular former Senator and was visible in his campaign. Bill Clinton even came back to his native Arkansas six times and traveled to many communities in the state to lavish praise on Senator Pryor.

Yet on Election Day, Pryor lost big. Why? Because he did not speak truth to power; he couldn’t stand on his record in the Senate because he didn’t have one. As Chairman of the Senate Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance Subcommittee for some time, he was asleep at the switch; he did not return calls from civic leaders to strengthen his network and did not have high profile public hearings on the myriad of corporate abuses involving cheating, stealing and injuring consumers.

President Obama, by not barnstorming the country, reinforced the stereotype that he is a liability to his party. Mr. Obama could have united the nation behind a minimum wage raise (a restoration of purchasing power) for thirty million workers who today make less than workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation. This long-overdue correction is supported by seventy to eighty percent of the American people—a Left-Right alliance—for reasons of need, fairness, and economic stimulus, while reducing the burdens on public assistance programs.

At the same time, President Obama could have traveled the country saying:

“Give me a Democratic Congress, and I’ll sign legislation that will that will create millions of jobs repairing and upgrading the public works of our neglected land. There will be non-exportable, good paying jobs restoring our water sewage systems, our highways and bridges, our public transit systems and our crumbling schools, ports and public buildings. We’ll pay for these critical public investments by shrinking crony capitalism (taxpayer subsidies, handouts, giveaways and bailouts) and by making hugely profitable companies like General Electric, Verizon and Apple pay their fair share of taxes rather than shifting the tax burden onto the backs of middle-class taxpayers. And we’ll impose a tiny sales tax, far less than you pay on your necessities of life, on Wall Street stock transactions to raise about $300 billion a year. Every American can benefit from these community and policy improvements, strictly monitored as they develop with honesty and efficiency. Every local chamber of commerce, every union, every worker, supplier, and every civic organization will support our programs which I am going to call ‘Come Home America.’ ”

If you don’t think these grand initiatives would have brought voters out and won elections for the Democrats, I have another idea. Even with the Republicans controlling Congress, a group of progressive Democrats could unite to create a major bottom-up and top-down initiative demanding for public works programs that would itemize projects in every community to reverse the costly deterioration of our country’s public infrastructure. Such action would even gain the support of money from those on the other side of the aisle and create a Left-Right coalition in the new Congress, even if it required those on the Right to defy their Wall Street-indentured leaders, Senator Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner.

Instead, how did President Obama spend his six weeks before November 4? He flew to the salons of very wealthy campaign donors or went to support specific candidates mostly in safe states for Democrats. His presidential presence did not resound with “hope and change.” your social media marketing partner


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+22 # politicfix 2014-11-08 14:47
The Dems not rallying behind the President & touting what he has been able to accomplish with a Congress that was totally uncooperative. Not one of them earned a paycheck. They said "NO" to everything and disenfranchised the people & the country, with constant threats to "shutdown the Government" unless they got their way. Obama passed healthcare, Pre-existing conditions, got Bin Laden, and most of all the unemployment & economy & gas prices are vastly improved since Bush & he did it handcuffed by the Republicans. The GOP benefited from the elimination of pre-existing conditions. I did. I'm ashamed that the Democrats didn't allow Obama to campaign for them, brag about the economy etc., instead of giving the impression they had nothing to run. Dems failed to play their own cards. They waffled around intimidated by the Republicans AGAIN. It was just plain STUPID. Allison Grimes was tongue tied as to whether she voted for the President. The biggest mistake of her campaign. NO GUTS NO GLORY! They left any successes of the President lying on the cellar floor. There's no left to the Democratic party anymore . Dems think they have to run center right which makes the Radcons go crazy far right. The Dems had the economy going for them and the GOP had NOTHING. The Dems played defense on no agenda at all. They BLEW IT! It's time to quit being intimidated by the GOP, and be straight and honest with the people. The Dems learned nothing from 2008. Stop trying to be FAUX Republicans.
+32 # lsd 2014-11-08 15:36
Bluntly, how is it even possible to loose to the stupidest political party known to exist? Yet, somehow they not only do, but they even try to emulate them? It's just so freaking easy; yet, time and time again they do.
+15 # RLF 2014-11-09 06:14
It may be a party of stupid people but it is run by very smart business men who have been hauling ass since Jimmy Carter with the same message...gover nment is the enemy, unions are the enemy, taxes on the rich are the enemy...etc. The Dems just wash around not saying anything because they might piss someone off and they want to please everyone. The Dems couldn't even come together to get stuff done the first two years of Obama's ere were too many republicans in the party pretending to be democrats. Until the Democrats get back to a message that includes social justice, business be damned there will be no wins. I'll be voting Green or socialist like I did in the NY gubernatorial elections. Cuomo is a corrupt slime since being in Clinton's HUD...I don't care if he is a great hope for the party to win. They might as well lose as be governed by slime like Cuomo!
+1 # brux 2014-11-08 16:52
So, how do you explain the negative feelings of being betrayed and let down by Democrats and how people would think that voting for Republicans or not voting would be the way to send Democrats a signal?

The parties are a joke, the elections are a joke, we elect people from a pool of people who are mostly arrogant social climbers and manipulators who do not want to work for a living so they go into politics to cheat everyone.

With the majority like that it completely neutralizes anyone good from either party even if they wanted to serve the public.

Unless we know specifically what is wrong, backed by facts, we cannot discuss and formulate a strategy to defeat it.

Republicans have some of the best analytic minds in the country working on how to de-construct American government to force it to serve their monied interests. From what I see the people who post here are not capable of getting 5% of what is going on that is running circles around them.
-16 # brux 2014-11-08 14:50
Nader is so right on ... he would be the perfect politician if it were not for his prejudice for Muslims and the Middle East.

It is not that I have no criticism of the US, it is just that there are two deep veins in the US, that need to be able to coexist, and simply cannot. One is the social democratic aspect, and the other is the military industrial complex that developed post WWII and into the Cold War.

Neither side is perfect, both sides are fallible and fallible in big dangerous ways, but unless they can both coexist, we have internal political war that tears the country apart ... and that is the existential threat, not even the threats themselves, the long term consequences of having no culture, no civilization and eternal escalating bickering.
+17 # skeeter 2014-11-08 16:15
I don't think the problem is simply messaging. Aside from a few notable exceptions most democratic candidates are as bereft of ideas as their republican counter parts. Let's face it folks...we have a defacto one party system...the Business Party. The "left" is represented by the democrats and the right by the republicans. There really is not a dime's worth of difference between the two of them. Oh sure there are real progressives among the democrats (eg Elizabeth Warren...Bernie Sanders, etc) but they have no real power inside the halls of power, and the corporate media, whose role is to articulate the needs of the ruling elites, will make sure things stay this way. The arrangement also promotes the illusion that we actually live in a Democracy. We can debate abortion and gay marriage and marijuana legalization ad nauseam... until we're blue in the face... and truly believe that we are participants in a great democracy...dis cussing in open debate all the great issues of the day. But what about the real issues? Income imate change...well, these are issues that impact all of us in very significant ways...issues that have consequences for the oligarchy and challenge the status quo. Issues that would be front and center if we really were a Democratic nation instead of a sham democracy.
+8 # brux 2014-11-08 16:47
>> Aside from a few notable exceptions most democratic candidates are as bereft of ideas as their republican counter parts.

Oh yeah!! Very true. Nice post.

I don't even know if we have parties anymore, we have two levels of product branding that appeal and manipulate two different groups to basically appease then and pander to them, but no in action, just by words.

The group that seems to make out the best in American are the criminals, so the incentive is to go as far as you can into criminality without getting caught, and if you get caught playing the game and keeping as much of the loot as possible, and then repeating it.
+15 # skeeter 2014-11-08 17:30
The political class and the apparatus that supports,sustai ns and enhances its power are the real criminals...and I don't mean that figuratively. Like criminal gangs the two Parties wage (mock)warfare with one another... while busily shoveling money into their own pockets and the pockets of their corporate benefactors and ignoring the needs of the rest of us... making a mockery of every democratic value.
-1 # lsd 2014-11-09 09:04
Simply, it's about power and control. The state is the ultimate form of power and control. The state is the only organization that can coerce and force it's will. The state can take your earnings, draft you, confiscate your property, stop you at anytime or even kill you. Money and strategy are the basis of power and control and is magnified by Darwinian evolution. The more money and better strategy will win; over time strategies become better and better; money becomes more and more concentrated. So, give me some hope here; what can we possibly do to make things better?
+1 # skeeter 2014-11-08 17:31
I enjoy your posts too brux and look for them in every thread.
+6 # lfeuille 2014-11-09 11:41
It isn't just messaging. You have to follow through on the message. The Dem's (including Obama) failed to follow through on the message from the last campaign. But there is a difference. There are at least a few true progressives in the Democratic party, there are none in the Rupublican Party. They can't survive there. If we had a system where corporate money were not so important most of the Dem's would probably be more inclined to listen to the people. The Republicans are philosophically opposed to populism.
+4 # Regina 2014-11-09 13:02
Skeeter: You left out the Supreme Court established by Republican presidents and senates, which has already handed the election system to the "humanized" corporations.
+23 # Radscal 2014-11-08 18:14
What is the news about the 2014 Mid-Term Elections?
Democrats lost. Progressives WON!

Richmond CA
Chevron spent $3 million to buy the mayorship and city council. They lost every single seat to the Green Party, which had a budget of about $50,000. ( That's a 60:1 spending ratio. Money does not guarantee election wins.)

As polls have consistently shown for the past 1/2 century, when asked about specific policy issues, large majorities of USians are far more progressive than any Presidential candidate, and almost any Congressperson. The 2014 election showed that is true, even in VERY Republican States.

Minimum Wage increase won in:
Nebraska, Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, San Francisco CA

Anti-abortion "Personhood" laws lost in:
North Dakota, Colorado

Paid sick leave passed in:
Massachuset ts, Oakland CA, Trenton NJ, Montclair NJ

Universal background check passed in:
Governors of Colorado and Connecticut had created background check and other "gun control" laws. NRA, etc. spent big to get them voted out.
Both won reelection.

Recreational Marijuana legalized in:
Oregon, Alaska, Washington D.C.

Drug and other non-violent "crimes" reduced from felony to misdemeanor in CA.

OK, Democrats. Are you willing to win in 2016? Are you ready to go progressive?

Or, do you want to keep losing with corporatist/mil itarist/financi al industry shills like Ms. Clinton?
+7 # skeeter 2014-11-08 20:11
Great post...the two Parties are essentially irrelevant... yet they occupy all the space.
+6 # futhark 2014-11-09 02:06
They've rigged it that way by arranging for general elections in which only the top two vote-getting candidates in the primaries are listed on the ballot and by excluding any non-Democrats and non-Republicans from candidate debate forums. Both tactics deprive the voters of becoming aware of alternate approaches to political problems, cutting off representationa l government at the knees.

With only two parties to manipulate in the charade, the illusion of democracy can be maintained while the rich are never seriously challenged on issues in which they have an interest.
+3 # RLF 2014-11-09 06:18
Thanks for the rosey side...I needed that!
+12 # Thebigkate 2014-11-08 22:58
The Democrats would have done much better in the mid-terms had they not "posed" as Republican-lite and treated Obama as Typhoid Mary. In every case, voters will choose Real Republicans over fakey "Republican-lites!"

But will they ever get it?
+12 # nogardflow 2014-11-09 02:46
I'm not sure which group is more ignorant, the Republican electorate that consistently vote against their own best interests or the Democrats running for office that don't seem to have a clue as to what the Democratic electorate wants.
-6 # ericlipps 2014-11-09 07:19
This would be more convincing coming from someone who hadn't handed the White House to George W. Bush in 2000. Someone who hadn't said at that time that he considered himself to have "won" because Al Gore didn't make it to the Oval Office.

Ralph, go back to consumer advocacy. It's what you're good at. In electoral politics, you're not a gadfly; you're a tsetse fly.
+6 # CommonManNY 2014-11-09 07:46
I was with you up to a couple of weeks ago. But then Thom Hartmann made a couple of points during his radio show that altered my distaste for Nader. First, Gore won and that's the reality. Second, Gore ran from Clinton and ran an awful campaign. That he came so close was a miracle. Nader had impact but he did not lose the election for Gore. He did that on his own. Nader's essay is meaningful and helpful.
-2 # Rain17 2014-11-10 23:33
Here is my view on the wealthy celebrities and activists who voted for Nader:

They could afford the luxury of throwing their votes away because, even if Bush won, they wouldn't be the ones suffering the consequences. They knew what Bush's policies would be like and they clearly knew better. They do bear responsibility for that election.

I know the Nader apologists and fanatics will blame everyone but themselves for the 2000 election, but the numbers in FL and in NH don't lie. In FL, even if 1% of Nader's approximately 96,000 votes went to Gore, Bush would have lost FL.

The bottom line for me is that, had Nader not been on the ballot, Gore would have probably won FL by around maybe 10-50,000 votes. There would have been no Supreme Court case.

Lastly there was no chance of Nader winning that election. And voting for him was throwing away a vote.

Hatmann, Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, and the rest of those famous activists who voted for Nader helped make Bush president no matter how much they claim otherwise. They could have done the right thing and endorsed Gore. But they didn't.
+8 # RMDC 2014-11-09 07:36
Nader is right. The democratic party is now the party of Clinton-- the third way democract who sees his role as being the junior partner of the republican right wing. Clinton turned himself into Gingrich's errand boy and most democrats and the party itself has played that role ever since.

If there were a democrat party that stood for something in the way a few democrats still do -- Kucinich, Warren, Sanders -- it would mop the floor with republicans. But the democrat party marginalized the really good democrats in favor of the third way Clintonites like Obama.

The US is a one-party state. It is the republicans and their little helpers.
+6 # hkatzman 2014-11-09 08:52
Defeat from the jaws of Victory...
The Party of Government Shutdown (fiscal irresponsibilit y) wins control.
While the Party of near universal Healthcare lost.
Obamacare, despite what Republicans and the media have convinced the public, is a resounding success. Lowest number of uninsured ever recorded. No more "pre-existing conditions," children under 26 covered by parents.
Why would Democrats not scream their successes and the horrible record of Republicans? Democrats could not get people out to vote because voters are disillusioned because the Democrats will not stand by their victories.
0 # Radscal 2014-11-09 17:45
"While the Party of near universal Healthcare lost."

ACA's supporters say that, at best, Obamacare will leave 30 million uninsured. There were 46 million uninsured before ACA passed. That is, it will cause 1/3 of those without health coverage before it passed to buy insurance from a private corporation (maybe with some government subsidies).
+4 # Corvette-Bob 2014-11-09 14:37
As a flaming liberal, I cannot believe how the Democrats have ran the worse imaginable campaign possible. Republicans ran a campaign based upon fear and hate and totally destroyed the idea of helping people and providing a safety net. We have entered the era of every man, woman and child for themselves. If you suffer a setback do not look for anyone except your mother to help you if she can. Certainly do not expect the religious right to provide and assistance.
0 # Robbee 2014-11-09 15:59
often i wonder why dems represent ideals so poorly. nader's memo is sorely needed reading in prep for any meeting of dem strategists

the only thread in our above discussion that bothers me goes like this:

There really is not a dime's worth of difference between the two (parties). Oh sure there are real progressives among the democrats (eg Elizabeth Warren...Bernie Sanders, etc) but they have no real power inside the halls of power, and the corporate media, whose role is to articulate the needs of the ruling elites, will make sure things stay this way.

whoever espouses that wants us to do nothing to fix our broken government. nader, warren and sanders are our messengers. they are our keys to moving our nation forward. to do that they don't have to bcomee president

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