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19.8.04

Nader Haters

I can't think of any real way to measure this, but my subjective observation is that many Democrats hate Ralph Nader more than they hate George W. Bush. The volume of Bush hatred is far greater, of course, because W has given us more to work with. But with regard to intensity of hate, I think Nader comes out on top. It's sort of an irrational sounding situation, since Nader hate is derivative of Bush hate -- Democrats only hate Ralph because his candidacy helped Bush win in 2000 and makes it more likely that he will win again in 2004.

One reason, I think, is a sense of betrayal. Democrats knew all along that Bush wasn't going to do what they wanted. Nader, on the other hand, seems like he ought to be an ally -- yet he stabbed the Democrats in the back. In the worst cases this feeling manifests as an air of entitlement -- Nader's votes rightfully belong to the Democrats yet have been stolen from them. Bush's votes, meanwhile, are either lost causes (true conservatives) or won fairly on the field of battle (swing voters).

Because Nader and his supporters are (at least from the Democrats' perspective) fellow travelers in the realm of policy, they seem like more rational beings than hardcore Bush voters. There's little point in hating people so brainwashed with conservative ideology that they would support Bush -- it's like hating an earthquake or a crocodile. But Nader supporters seem like they ought to know better. Hence the desperate rehashing of the same strategic voting argument, in the hopes that its logic (it convinced the Democrats in question, after all) will sink in. Bush hatred, on the other hand, gives up on argument and skips straight to ridicule and snark. (Some of the same desperate persuasion-by-repetition comes out in the head-shaking over why libertarians vote Republican. But it's muted by a lack of a sense of entitlement to libertarian votes, and libertarians' lack of a figurehead personality for hate to crystallize around.)

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