I got a couple of reactions to yesterday's entry. First Timprov, who chides me by email for being too narrow in my conception of economists. "Specifically, you've left out Richard Stallman." Tim is quite right: Stallman is a good example of a non-traditional thinker who has had a significant effect on economic matters. For that matter, I left out Winslow Taylor, Vannevar Bush, and many others. I was just trying to make a smaller point: that simply being a well-known modern economist does not necessarily make one a philosopher also. But point taken.
M'ris had some more extended comments:
Evan's journal entry from last night gives us a lovely run down of how pointless and silly the small party candidates for governor in California are. I can hardly wait for his assessment of how pointless and silly the major party candidates for governor in California are! California politics are such fun. Perhaps tomorrow.
Since M'ris is a devoted reader of this journal (she's Reader Number One, if I remember correctly), she no doubt clearly recalls the numerous times that I've criticized one of the two major candidates. So she must be taking me to task for failing to rip on the other major candidate. Well, okay. The reason I haven't bothered to attack Davis so far is that I simply lack the energy or enthusiasm for repeating the charges that one can find in the SJ Mercury on a daily basis. (Ditto for Simon's corruption charges.) But should my disdain for Davis not be apparent enough, let me just say that the Simon operatives who put up eGray pretty much have Davis pegged, and they say their piece in a much more creative way than I ever could.
Anyway, M'ris continues:
At the end of the entry, he says, "Of course, there's the fact that nearly every US government action in the last two years that that the Greens oppose is, in fact, a direct consequence of Green political activity." Wow, Evan. Nearly every one? Are you sure? Everybody repeat after me: "A Green is not a Democrat." Got it? Again: "A Green is not a Democrat."
Um, where did I say that Greens are supposed to be Democrats? I simply pointed out the obvious: that Green political activity in 2000 colossally backfired. And yes, M'ris, I meant exactly what I said when I said nearly every one. I racked my brains trying to think of major Bush administration actions that don't fall into this category, and I was able to come up with precisely three:
- The destruction of the terrorist-friendly regime in Afghanistan, which a President Gore would have certainly prosecuted with identical vigor;
- U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which probably would not have changed substantially;
- The tightening of arsenic standards in drinking water, which Bush delayed but did not ultimately eliminate.
And... that's about it. From foreign policy (the war on Iraq, the Kyoto Protocol, cutting off population control funding) to domestic policy (ANWAR, gas mileage standards, the tax cut) to political appointments (John Ashcroft, Linda Chavez, Gale Norton) to rights and liberties (TIPS, secret military tribunals)... pretty much everything the administration has done or tried to do in the last two years has been a disaster from a Green perspective, and would have been qualitatively better under a Gore administration. Of course, I have no doubt that Gore's higher mileage standards would have been too low for the Greens, his embrace of the Kyoto protocols too hesitant, and so on. But if we could somehow contact the Greens in the Alternate Universe where Al Gore won1, I think we'd be able to convince most of them that the grass is indeed greener on their side of the fence.
I know, I know, I've heard it a million times from a million Democrats: Al Gore would supposedly have been much better for a Green agenda than George W. Bush. However much you believe this, it looks pretty clear that not everybody was sufficiently convinced of it. Several thousands of people were not convinced, actually, after eight years of an administration in which Gore was a top member.
Supposedly??? Grrr. What am I supposed to do about what "several thousands of people" believed? What they believed was patently false then, and it is false beyond a shadow of a doubt now. (Unless someone cares to refute exhibits A and B, John Ashcroft and Gale Norton, that is. Any takers?)
So. Democrats who believe the Greens were the key to Gore's loss are left with two alternatives: blaming and haranguing (or, in Evan's case, gently needling) Greens for the current administration, or lobbying their own political leadership to consider Green concerns more thoroughly. As a libertarian (little l!), I can tell you how helpful haranguing people is in getting them to vote as you want them to. Try it the other way, folks. Nobody owes your guys a vote.
M'ris, M'ris, you have too much faith in me. You're being too kind. I'm not "gently needling". I'm blaming! I'm haranguing! As for your main objection ("Nobody owes your guys a vote"): perhaps you thought I was saying that the idea of a Green party is illegitmate, or that their duty is to help Democrats at all costs, or some such nonsense. Not at all. I have no problem with Greens presenting their case in an honest way. Sure, I might think they would be counterproductive in certain close elections, but they wouldn't make me angry. No, what makes me angry is that there's a world of difference between saying, "Sure, Gore's said some nice things about the environment, but he's still wrong/an idiot/a tool of the corporations and here's why," and straight-up lying and claiming that Gore = Bush.
Unfortunately, in the 2000 campaign Nader chose to set Gore up as a straw man instead of bothering to grapple with the positions that Gore actually held... which is sad, because it speaks volumes about Nader's own convictions and faith in his philosophy vis-a-vis Gore's. Nader is the textbook case of letting the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good... except that at the same time he managed to shed his "Perfect" guise by stooping to the same despicable tactics that he'd spent so many years whinging about. A neat trick, that one. Too bad we're all still paying for it.
1. "But wait!" I hear you cry. "This is that alternative universe!" Aw jeez, give it a rest already.