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Ralph Nader got exactly what he wanted. I mean it.

I know you don't believe it, so bear with me for a few paragraphs and I will try to explain.

Ralph is a LTBH kind of guy. He's patient. When he found a car that killed people, he didn't firebomb one of them, he wrote a book. That took a year, and it took years more to get Corvairs off the market, but it did happen. It took decades to get seat-belts, airbags, and those other safety features we now take for granted designed into our modern cars.

Ralph can wait.

If you'll skip with me for a moment to the political process, there is another election in 2002. As it turns out, there are far more Republican Senators than Democrats up for election then, and far more of those Republicans are thought to be "vulnerable". Given that the current makeup of the Senate is 50-50 or 51-49, that does not augur well for them two years hence.

But it's not even "two years", since there is a six-month "election campaign" which precedes the election, giving the new president about 18 months in which to accomplish something before Washington clears out to go stump in the local precincts.

Now I'm going to posit that W will be the President. The popular vote doesn't count, and 96.2% of us accept that. I'm also going to posit that there will be no re-vote in Dade County, or in Florida, or in the USA, mostly because the legal rules for doing so are murky, untested, and difficult to timely adjudicate in any event.

When the recount is over, it will be clear that W has the most votes, although I should not be surprised, given the closeness of the election, if Gore waits for some or many of the mail-in ballots to arrive before conceding. Perhaps he won't, but it is of no matter, he will concede. And he will try to look his Presidential and Statesmanlike best doing so, "for the good of the country."

I'm even going to posit that the electors will follow the rules, although I should not be surprised to see much speculation about, and perhaps even one of them "voting their conscience."

All of that said, there will be a nagging doubt among broad swaths of the population that W is an "illegitimate" president, having lost both the popular vote, and, when the research is done on the Dade County confusion, the actual vote intention in Florida as well. I'm not going to debate whether that perception is valid or not, just that it will exist, even in spite of the staunch partisan cries of "He's the President. He won fair and square." I would liken it to the chant of Clinton supporters during the impeachment vote who were, behind the bravado, thinking "What a schmuck."

So if W has 18 months to accomplish something, and if I know that, then the super-interest groups of the right wing of the Republican party surely also know that, and they will be the first and loudest to clamour for attention. Abortion. Gun control. Supreme Court nominees. The gays did it to Clinton in '92, remember?

I take it on faith that enough moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats will stop the worst excesses of this kind of mischief, but then that is a crap shoot. If they do, Nader has stopped a conservative from being conservative. If they don't, then there will be a mighty reaction in '02.

Those sorts of issues will make the first 18 months of governance particularly difficult for W, leading to a loss of both Houses of Congress in the '02 elections.

With both Houses back in Democratic control (although nothing so strong as in previous decades), Al Gore will run again in '04, given that the other likely candidates on the Democratic plate include such non-starters as Kerry and Hillary. Additionally, Al will have been "out" of government for four years, allowing him to run as an outsider, if appropriate, or "of service", if that seems to make sense. The incumbent President virtually always runs, setting up a perfect rematch.

Either way, Gore has a strong starting position against what I view as a particularly difficult time for W, given the lack of mandate, inexorable political changes in the '02 election, and fragility of the coalition between moderate and right-wing Republicans. Additionally Gore would be long disentangled from the Clinton mess, and assuming he doesn't go back and invent the light-bulb or something, should be reasonably positioned for success.

Then Ralph gets what he really wants: Democratic control of all three branches of government which is surely more to his liking, and he gets to write a another book to boot!

And that makes him very happy indeed.

Please note: I feel no compulsion to declare, as I have seen in many posts, "I voted for Bush" or "I voted for Gore" or even "I voted for Nader" or whatever. But readers who have gotten this far and who may be wondering about my political predilection are referred to the following post, written on election day, and which correctly predicted the outcome:
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