Howard Dean used to say that the “perfect is the enemy of the good.”
The younger you are, the more this sounds like a license to sell out; the older you are the more it sounds like wisdom. Now, of course, everyone has their own definition of perfect, but the truth is that Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich probably stand for all of the values that unite Democrats, instead of emphasizing a couple, and compromising on the rest.
So, with Obama the de facto nominee of the Democratic party, the guns have temporarily turned on Ralph Nader–and with partially good reason. He doesn’t help. (I think blaming him misses the point that the Republicans stole the 2000 election and they are the bad actors, but that’s an argument for textbooks now.) If Nader wanted to destroy the conservative movement by letting it win, he accomplished that in 2000. Conservatism is dead. He doesn’t need to destroy the new liberalism too.
But Obama is the nominee in large part because he got people to believe that the perfect was not the enemy of the good. (It is also evident that Clinton’s campaign could have been run a lot better.) It was a campaign that ran on the manic aspirations of many, partly created by the upchucking of Bush, partly by the zeitgeist, but mostly by Obama’s enormous charisma.
And all of this energy–energy that has been waiting to explode–is being poured into an engine that doesn’t even believe in universal health care. It’s quite obvious why it never created a Clinton movement—this movement’s glue is largely opposition to Iraq. But why it never fueled John Edwards I cannot fathom. (Or Kucinich)
Those candidates were running a truly progressive policy campaign. Neither Obama or Clinton are. Then comes Nader — he is.
It’s seems like, by deduction, we can reason then that the primary attraction of Obama is Obama, not his policies. (And the primary repulsion of Clinton is Clinton.) There’s nothing wrong with that. Indeed, it’s probably what we need to win.
But don’t fucking tell me it’s a progressive movement.