Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Beyond Nov. 4

If we had a parliamentary system, Ralph Nader would still be a national treasure. His few minutes on The News Hour, the only entity with the grace to recognize that he’s on the ballot in 45 states, showed that despite the annoying word-torrent and the shagginess that comes from five decades in the political wilderness, Nader has ideas that deserve a hearing, especially in times like these. Given the massive debacle produced by the Republicans with plenty of Democratic enabling, the guy should get a tad of respect for being right all along. Whether he’s lost his moorings this year is another story.

My PBS channel also had a fascinating two-hour, double political bio on the two main candidates, remarkable mostly for its success in maintaining a non-partisan tone. The time-honored public broadcasting style of avoiding an identifiable position would be pointless and treacly any other time, but in the polemical heat of these last weeks, it actually felt refreshing.

McCain comes across with his dignity salvaged and trapped by the exigencies of his creepy, extremist base—to which, to his lasting shame, he then pandered to serve his personal ambition. (Country First!) Obama looks less airy and more bare-knuckled, a side I suspect will be seen by foreign leaders fairly soon.

As the suspense fades on the outcome, attention now may and should turn to the Republican attempts to subvert the voting process in any way possible, including this demented strategy in Ohio of accusing ACORN under the anti-Mafia RICO statute. Ohio’s appellate court also threw into doubt the suffrage of 600,000 newly registered voters based on some trumped-up Rovian accusations. Let’s hope for a reaction against these tendencies reminiscent of the segregated South that aren’t likely to go away just because of one cycle of electoral losses.

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