Nader.

I’m not going to type this again. I’m sick of this discussion, and I’m sick of people who don’t get it.

Nader did not hand the White House to Bush. I repeat, Nader did not hand the White House to Bush.

Informal logic is overhyped in political discussions. Strawman this, red herring that, ad hominem y’all. But formal logic doesn’t suffer from the same problems. It’s kinda how things are. In formal logic, there is the concept of necessary and sufficient causes.

Causes are often distinguished into two types: Necessary and sufficient.

Necessary causes:

If x is a necessary cause of y; then the presence of y necessarily implies that x preceded it. The presence of x, however, does not imply that y will occur.

Sufficient causes:

If x is a sufficient cause of y, then the presence of x necessarily implies the presence of y. However, another cause z may alternatively cause y. Thus the presence of y does not imply the presence of x.

So, what were the necessary causes of Gore’s defeat? These are the things that had to occur for Gore to lose, but didn’t necessarily trigger his loss all alone. (1) A certain number of votes for Bush; (2) A certain insufficiently superior number of votes for Gore; (3) The Supreme Court’s bizarre holding; (4) [for the sake of the argument] Nader votes not going to Gore — assume there were in fact enough of these to bridge the difference. Now, parts of all of these causes can be parsed. Gore’s ridiculous campaign decisions, including picking Liebermann, distancing himself from Clinton, acting like a fucken robot, and so forth. Also, I assume for the sake of the argument that Buchanan stole no votes from Bush, and that the Libertarian candidate stole no votes from Bush. Those assumptions are made only to refute the Nader theory.

But none of these on their own caused his loss, since we know that the number of votes statewide in Florida actually handed the state to Gore, and that if the Florida court’s ruling had been left to stand by the Supreme Court, Gore would have won. So, what’s the sufficient cause? The fifth vote by a Supreme Court justice overruling the Florida court and stopping the recount with Bush in the lead. Part of me wants to believe that vote was O’Connor’s since she was usually the swing vote, but her election night comments don’t wash with that, so I think it might have been Kennedy. He wrote the per curiam opinion–maybe he demanded to to vote with the trio that really wanted Bush: Thomas, Rehnquist, and Scalia.

So, while it’s possible that if Nader had withdrawn, endorsed Gore, or never run that Gore would have got enough votes to exceed the recount threshhold, but we’ll never know–that’s pure speculation, but those factors could have shifted votes in innumerable ways. Nader’s endorsement of Gore could have tilted some towards Bush.

But what we do know is, absent the illegal decision of the Supreme Court, Gore would have won. It and it alone is the sufficient cause of Gore’s defeat.

And that cause was engineered by the Republican party, not by Nader, and not by the Greens.

I understand the rhetorical force behind the anti-Nader theory. It’s telling folks to go with the Dems because they’re the lesser of two evils. But it’s very un-Democratic to use slippery reasoning to push a thinly veiled political agenda. Just say it. Say, “Don’t risk it.” Don’t push the fallacious theory that Nader caused the loss.

Nader was among many factors that contributed to Gore’s loss. But it is impossible absent an agreed set of values to say just what percent he contributed. It’s a mash of complex systems that cannot be solved. In any event, it’s probably accurate to say that among all of the factors that Nader was not even the most important non-sufficient cause, that Gore himself was.

But it was the GOP dirty tricks machine and their plumbers that stole that election. They are the enemy. Don’t let Kos or Altermann’s anti-Nader arguments take your eye of the ball.