It’s an Election, Not a Coronation

Democrats are once again experiencing Nader angst. In fact, many of them are suffering so much anxiety that they not only attack Nader, but also Nader supporters. The Democratic Party needs to be reminded that it is an election, not a coronation.

No one automatically deserves a vote simply because of Party affiliation. Hillary and Obama will get the votes of the Party faithful. Other voters will cast their ballots based on issues. On the issues, is any candidate better than Nader? No major party candidate even compares. That is why they have refused to allow Nader to debate.

The Democrats had their chance, and once again they blew it. They started out with Kucinich who called for the immediate withdrawal from Iraq — not only withdrawal across the Iraq border — but Kucinich called for bringing all troops home now. He also supported a Single Payer Health care system. That would save the lives of 18,000 U.S. citizens every year.

The Democrats also had Edwards who had promised to fight the wave of corporate crime — a major problem. Would there be war if the corporations did not profit from the killing?

Instead of voting for Kucinich or Edwards, the Party faithful cast their votes for candidates with a questionable history of support for peace, health care, and economic justice. This has created a vacuum of ideas. Nader is now filling that vacuum. The Democrats could have had it all — a peace candidate and an easy win against a weakened Republican candidate. Instead, they will again blame Nader, while refusing to accept the inevitable results of the votes of the Party faithful. They have ignored one of the most fundamental lessons of politics — you get what you vote for.

The Democrats have turned their backs on a large segment of the population — the anti-war groups. No self-respecting peace advocate can vote for either Democratic candidate. One candidate wants to increase the size of the military. The other stood by in silence while the Clinton administration was responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. Both Democratic candidates have foreign policy positions that are to the far right of Republican Ron Paul.

Nader is not only correct on issues of Foreign Policy, but he is also the world’s greatest consumer advocate. His candidacy is perfect timing. We are all consumers — consumers of war and peace, consumers of public utilities, consumers of agricultural products, the list could go on and on.

How’s NAFTA working for you? Have you read the fine print on your credit card statement recently? Are you happy with your public utility company — what about your cable company, your Internet provider? What about health care insurers who try to maximize profits by denying medical care to the seriously ill? What is the salary of the CEO of your health insurance company?

Lack of vigilant consumer protection has led to a culture of distrust. We live in a red tape jungle. Only Nader can bring about the necessary changes so that consumers can develop a sense of trust and confidence in the corporations that provide essential goods and services.

Ralph Nader has been a national treasure for decades. He has worked quietly — without publicity or fanfare — helping ordinary citizens. I first met him many years ago. The public utility had a plan to build a floating nuclear power plant off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Ralph came to Cape May. He met with the citizens. Because of his help, the floating power plant was not built.

Members of the Press have shown a lack of interest in, and knowledge of, the issues. Some TV interviewers are so uninformed that they avoid the real issues. Watching them is sometimes painful. The problem is not limited to FOX. Tim, Chris, and the others make me wish for a real journalist such as Helen Thomas.

Nader is not the only candidate who has been the victim here. Ron Paul and Mike Gravel have also been marginalized and disrespected. The voters are the ultimate victims. They never get to hear the platforms of all candidates. Cynthia McKinney has a powerful message that most voters have not heard. How about a Nader/McKinney team! Race, gender, and party affiliation barriers can be broken down with support for a Nader/McKinney candidacy.

The Democrats have a history of using unethical, strong-arm legal tactics to keep Nader off the ballots and out of the debates. Is there anything that they won’t try in order to silence an opposing candidate? Nader supporters will have to come up with a nation-wide network of Pro Bono lawyers to help with any assault from the Democrats. That’s not how democracy is supposed to work. Freedom of speech should not have to be purchased in a court room. Open the debates. Allow all candidates to be heard.

Nader’s announcement as a candidate has given an opportunity to demand the truth — but in the words of Jack Nicolson, maybe the voters “can’t stand the truth.”

Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont. Read other articles by Rosemarie.

43 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. catherine said on February 26th, 2008 at 11:14am #

    Yes, again, life as we know is it about to be over. I wonder how much money they’ll squander keeping him off the ballots this go-round.

    Actually, for his own safety (not his legacy – I have no right to make it more important to me than it is to him), I wish he wouldn’t do this again. There are just too many crazies out there.

    Thanks, as always, for your writing. Catherine in Cleveland Heights

  2. Mia said on February 26th, 2008 at 11:34am #

    The thing about Nader is this…

    He is seen as the “anti-establishment” candidate. If Obama gets the nomination (and he will), then what use is Nader? He has some good ideas, but he would do must better attempting (again) to advise Obama, not fight against him.

    It’s unfair to blame Al Gore’s loss solely on Nader, but Nader must be practical. He will not win, and he will likely take votes away from the Dems, whose views are much more closely aligned with his than are the Republicans!

    Either way, I like Obama’s take on Nader’s threat:

    “I think the job of the Democratic Party is to be so compelling that a few percentage [points] of the vote going to another candidate is not going to make any difference,” says Obama.

    Well put!

  3. *whistle* said on February 26th, 2008 at 11:50am #

    I would agree that nader is better than the Big 3. But i would also say i don’t agree with a few of his issues. Ummm speaking of red tape, doesnt he support lining carbon emission products with red tape? But since im pretty sure he doesnt want to subsidize the oil industry, it probably wouldnt be necessary anyway. Back to the point, this election is the most sickening thing ive ever witnessed. (and the best way to acknowledge that obama doesnt stand for change is the amount of publicity he gets…. i mean seriously, Corporate News? Ever heard of it? We can only get change if enough people finally realize whats going on before its too late, and the clocks tickin’ at twice the speed of light.

  4. Deadbeat said on February 26th, 2008 at 11:57am #

    Excellent article Rosemarie.

  5. Max Shields said on February 26th, 2008 at 12:02pm #

    Rosemarie Jackowski,

    Well said.

    Who knows might have happened if Edwards and Kucinich had stuck around for a while. Maybe single-payer health car, war/Iraq and corporate corruption and other progressive issues would still be on the agenda.

    For so-called Progressive Dems to condemn Nader and Nader supporters is hypocritical at best.

  6. Don Hawkins said on February 26th, 2008 at 12:31pm #

    Rosemarie after watching Ralph last night on CNN I will vote for him. I wasn’t going to vote but after watching him I did feel a little better. You never know stranger things have happened. Just maybe people will say, “I am a Republican, no I am a Democrat no I am a human being and tired of this insanity that passes for life and being controlled by people who’s God is money and not only can’t see the forest for the trees but still think’s cutting them down faster than they can reproduce is called progress moving forward. I am Ok, I have had a better day but I am Ok. I will vote for Nader and hope.

  7. Kristin said on February 26th, 2008 at 1:37pm #

    Why not just have McKinney as the front runner as opposed to Nader? Wouldn’t it make sense for the Green Party to put out a new and provocative candidate? I am a Democrat and will be voting for either Obama or Clinton, but I do really like McKinney a lot. I think the Green Party could use some fresh blood. This entire column pretty much focused on Nader with only a brief mention of McKinney at the end, and only to suggest she be a VP choice.

    Also, it’s a bit unfair to penalize the voters. I was a strong Edwards supporter all along. (I also am a strong Kucinich supporter.) However, as a Minnesotan, I had less than a week to decide who to vote for when both Edwards and Kucinich dropped out of the race. That is not exactly my fault when my preferred candidates drop out of the race before I have the opportunity to vote. In 2004 my choice would have been Dean, but he too dropped out of the race before I could vote for him. So, in 2004 I voted for Kucinich in the caucus.

    Also, if you are suggesting Edwards is a wonderful and honorable candidate, why did Nader have such an issue with the Kerry/EDWARDS ticket?

    As a strong Democrat supporter (despite annoyances with Pelosi trying to take impeachment off the table), I have no problem with McKinney or Nader or anyone running in a third or fourth or ten millionth party. I agree we need more than two parties. I would love to see Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) become a reality. But I must say, sometimes Nader and his followers annoy me. Not because of their beliefs (which are often similar to my own), but because of their tactics.

    For example, in 2000 as a student at the University of Minnesota, I recall walking across the Washington Avenue Bridge shortly before Election Day. I had already decided after careful consideration to vote for Al Gore. A gang of Nader people approached me and tried to tell me to vote for Nader and wanted to hand me a bunch of literature (in other words, PAPER from TREES…a bit hypocritical, but oh well) and when I said, “I’ve already made up my mind and I am voting for Gore” they BOOED at me! Now THAT is really mature, isn’t it? That’s just excellent campaign strategy! Just boo at anyone who disagrees rather than try to engage in a mature conversation! Also, while there are indeed flaws with the two party system, it is insane to suggest that Gore is the same as Bush or for that matter that Kerry/Edwards is the same as Bush or that Obama or Clinton are the same as McCain. Anyone who buys into that nonsense must take their head of their butt and get the facts straight. For example, if Gore and Bush are just the same, do you really think the country would be in such terrible shape with multiple wars going on and the economy in the toilet if Gore had in fact been the president instead? Gore might not be perfect (nor is Nader I might add), but I guarantee you the country would be on a much different path if the president had been Gore.

    I definitely would want ALL candidates running to be included in any debates, but I completely disagree with any sort of argument that the Democrats are identical to the Republicans. That is complete hogwash and the Green Party knows it. But either way, if the Green Party wants to prove that they are not same old same old predictable thing, they ought to at least endorse McKinney who would be a refreshing change to the Green Party. Nothing against Nader per se, but we’ve all heard Nader for at least two elections now. Why not give someone else a chance?

  8. Virgil Alley said on February 26th, 2008 at 1:41pm #

    After Nader entered the race,i have to decide between him and McKinney.I have had it with the democrats after they let the corporate media shred him to pieces.I continue to support dennis for his congressional race the greedy corporations are trying to root him out of.
    Sorry Hillary and Barak,you don’t deserve my vote.both of you are caught up in corporate greed.A Nader/McKinney presidency would a progressives fondest dream since the democrats helped corps.throw their best candidate out.

  9. Max Shields said on February 26th, 2008 at 4:00pm #

    Kristin,

    When people say “there’s no difference” I think they realize that there are always differences. The question is are they the right differences? Are they the kind of differences that puts us in a different direction than the auto-pilot empire that has been in play regardless of Dems or Repubs in “control”?

    I, for one, appreciate that you are interested in Cynthia McKinney. It’s just too bad that you won’t support her.

  10. rosemarie jackowski said on February 26th, 2008 at 4:22pm #

    Kristin…You say that you would have voted for Dean. His policies as governor were hostile to the poor and he opposed a Single Payer Health care system. Other writers have written articles about the corruption during his term – Joshua Frank, I think is the author. Check him out on the Internet. The point is that unless voters become better informed they will decide their votes on irrelevant trivia instead of the important issues.
    Just a reminder in case anyone has forgotten – more Iraqi children were killed during the Clinton administration than during both Bush administrations. The dems are silent about that, but some of us will never forget.

  11. HR said on February 26th, 2008 at 6:04pm #

    Glad Nader is running. Now I’ll at least be able to write in his name instead of leaving my ballot blank. The current electoral circus is proving once again just how stupid, yes, stupid, most Americans really are … this goes beyond ignorance, or any other excuse.

  12. Michael Hureaux said on February 26th, 2008 at 7:09pm #

    The only problem I have with Ralph running is that I think at this point he should be content to advise another candidacy with his platform. The cat’s 72 years old, there are younger progressives out there, why not support a McKinney, or a Gloria La Riva? I’ve voted for Ralph twice, I’m not interested really in casting a third ballot for him. Not because he’s not a good candidate, he’s one of the best, but I’d really like to see some new blood out there.

  13. Ray Ralph said on February 26th, 2008 at 7:32pm #

    I agree with Michael Hureaux. I am a Green Party member and I voted for Nader in 1996 and in 2000. I am not interested in voting for him again, especially since his candidacy is likely to hurt the Green Party, not the Democrats. To qualify for future federal funding the Green Party must get at least 5% of the vote. If he runs and the Green Party members elect Cynthia McKinney instead of him as their presidential candidate (which seems likely) his candidacy would ensure that the Green Party would fail to get the needed 5%. If Nader wants to run in the Green Party primaries against Cynthia McKinney and is willing to withdraw from the race if he does not get the Green Party nomination that is one thing. If he intends to run regardless, and does not care about grass roots democracy or the will of a majority of the Green Party, then I have no desire whatever to support him. Perhaps he should run as Cynthia McKinney’s Vice Presidential candidate. Nader’s continuing tendency to nominate himself and his seeming indifference to grass roots democracy is troubling. Nader can be correct on most of the issues and still not necessarily be the best candidate to run on those issues.

  14. Sunil Sharma said on February 26th, 2008 at 8:29pm #

    On a related note, Michael Colby over at CounterPunch penned an article today about Nader that contains in its first two paragraphs the most well-crafted and astute summary of modern American liberals I’ve read anywhere:

    “We live in scary times. And no one scares me more than the faux-liberals of today. They are a most intolerant mob that has become so dislodged from logic that they’d rather gaze reverently at the false packaging of hope than seriously contemplate the issues of the day. They love bandwagons and hate activism. They strive for insular popularity while trampling the populace. And, in the true spirit of fundamentalism, they loathe dissent and flog the dissenter with the kind of glee that is seemingly borrowed from Jimmy Swaggart’s beating of the ungodly unbelievers.

    Oh yeah, hell hath no fury hot enough for the fool who holds a mirror up to the nonsense of modern liberalism. Just ask Ralph Nader.”

  15. Mark Barnes said on February 26th, 2008 at 11:16pm #

    Nader hasn’t said as far as I know that he wants the Green nomination. Sure don’t want a rehash of the endorsement v. nomination debacle. I think it’s time for a woman of color to head the Green ticket. Although I think his time as a candidate has passed, I hope he continues to speak out as he is one of the most articulate, knowledgeable and passionate progressives in the country and never sold out. He said he would not run unless he had the legal pro bono help he would need to get ballot access so I assume he does have that and could run as an independent again.

  16. Dave said on February 27th, 2008 at 1:17am #

    I just wish that Mike Gravel and Nader got together for an independent run. Their the ones who’ll actually lead us out of Iraq, go the right way on healthcare, and bring down the military industrial complex. I’m very upset at mainstream media’s marginalization of the issues and the candidates.

  17. nostalgiphile said on February 27th, 2008 at 1:30am #

    Very articulate article, and I have to say that I agree with your assessment of the Democratic Party’s failures–Nader’s candidacy is a direct result of (and reminder of) their own inability to rally the traditional base of the Party. If they fail again, it will because Obama/Clinton didn’t dare to speak out on the issues that matter to ‘traditional Democrats': namely, domestic issues like health care, corporate control of our government, public education, environmental degradation, etc. Basically, those issues that Kucinich and Edwards tried to get the focus back on but couldn’t because of the mighty DLC and the right wing of the Democratic Party…Is it really any wonder that if someone like Nader comes along and starts talking about these issues people will dare to vote for him?

  18. Mike McNiven said on February 27th, 2008 at 2:11am #

    Mia,
    Nader had written a piece about BHO which may be you missed:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/nader01072008.html

    Also, for those who care about the Palestinians too:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/beattie01052008.html

  19. David Gaines said on February 27th, 2008 at 3:27am #

    A pretty thoughtful discussion here with the ad hominum attacks left at the door. Well done all around. Compare this with the Fox News Channel-like hysteria over at DailyKos, Huffington Post, etc. One woman at the Huffington Post actually went one step beyond the James Carville playbook and called, not Nader, but two Nader SUPPORTERS, “egotists” in the middle of a hyperventilating verbal rampage. Wow.

    In response to previous posts:

    1. Gloria LaRiva is a communist and is already the nominee of another party altogether (the Party of Socialism and Liberation). She is not likely to be attractive to more than a tiny fragment of the Green Party’s base, to put it mildly.

    2. “Nader is likely to take votes away from the Dems”

    How many times do political scientists, thoughtful journalists, and Ralph himself have to address this issue before people clue in? Ralph Nader attracts votes from everywhere: Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, independents, people who don’t care and would otherwise stay home. In 2000, exit polls showed his support in New Hampshire came equally from Democrats and Republicans, yet the party line is that “Nader cost Al Gore New Hampshire.” Never mind that Harry Browne and/or Pat Buchanan cost George W. Bush New Mexico, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Funny how no one ever points that out. In 2004, at least one study showed that Nader’s votes nationwide came equally from Democrats and Republicans.

    And let’s not forget how many votes downticket Democrats get when people who would otherwise stay home drag themselves to the polls to vote for Ralph. Has Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington ever sent that thank-you note she owes him from 2000?

    Look, I told Ralph to his face in 2004 not to run as an independent. I’m interested in building a party, and the Green Party is the party to build, regardless of all the blah blah blah about the internal probems it has. I will be disappointed and frustrated yet again if Ralph spurns the GP — and the guy has already won the California GP primary, for heaven’s sake. But no one else carries the moral authority he does, no one has the decades-long track record, no one is more consistently out there advancing the 3rd party/ballot access/IRV/eliminate-the-electoral-college position, and I mean day after day after day, never shutting up about it. So I say run, Ralph, run. I sure wish you’d join our party, though.

    Here’s an example to further illuminate one of Rosemarie’s points. Where were Barack Obama and Cynthia McKinney in 2002 when the District of Columbia’s public library system was about to crumble into oblivion, and the D.C. Democratic Party was perfectly willing to watch the crumbling? Ralph Nader got off his rear end, as he has done so many other times, and created an organization – the D. C. Library Renaissance Project – to do what the District’s Democrats failed to do. He browbeat and armtwisted wealthy D.C. residents to chip in, and he practically singlehandedly started a movement to save the District’s public library. There was little media coverage of this whole process aside from a remarkable piece in the Washington Post by Mark Fisher (not a big RN fan, by the way) which mentioned nothing about his presidential campaigns but lavishly praised his efforts to respond to this crisis when no one else would. I was so astonished and impressed that I cut the article out and I keep it with my copy of “Crashing The Party.” And if you were to mention the issue to Ralph, he would wave his hand at you in that way of his and completely minimize his role in the whole affair.

    Egotist? The guy is an object lesson in humility & selflessness, as far as I’m concerned.

  20. Max Shields said on February 27th, 2008 at 6:50am #

    David Gaines,

    You raise very good points. I, too, think the GP offers the semblance of an alternative. We are in agreement in your sense of Nader (including the fact that he has yet – ever – to register as a Green!). I don’t think Ralph is on the same page with you (or me) with regard to building a party. Frustration occurs when you think he is but just hasn’t gotten around to it. He has a consistent set of interrelated missions which dove-tail into much of what the Green Party is about.

    While he has been the most viable candidate the Greens have “produced” to date, I would submit that the Greens seem to have done little to recruit alternatives. Cynthia McKinney is certainly a very smart, and on a personal level at least, very engaging person with some name recognition and certainly is one of the strongest advocates for the poor and disenfranchised. But is she a “Green”? She may have registered Green but the question still remains.

    Frankly, I don’t support the runs for Presidency that the Party seems determined to march out every election year. Ralph is not supporting the Green Party except incidently. There is no solid political Green base. Every time, the Green Party shoots for the Presidency it loses and becomes associated with those loses rather than gains in the Congress. The Green Party has let some goals of increasing the number of Green candidates at all levels of government. That should be the main focus. Get out of the hub-bub of the Presidential race. Build the Party, build a power to be reackoned with by a President. In time, the head will fall (to use the boxing analogy). But that base will need, imo, to be based on a coalition of what Ralph goes after, but it must be done in a conscious way than one person’s run for president. The latter leaves the GP with nothing, at best.

  21. Myles Hoenig said on February 27th, 2008 at 6:57am #

    Very good points, Rosemarie.
    My support will go to McKinney. I, too, am concerned that Nader could prevent the Greens from attaining 5% and matching funds for 2012. I’m not too fond of a McK/N ticket simply because I believe a party should have registered party members on their ticket. The same would go for any candidate of any party representing other parties in an election. That shows a party lacking confidence in itself and sometimes having suicidal tendencies.

    So much of Nader’s time and money will be spent on ballot access across the US. The Greens, even though they lost a lot of state access due to their fiasco run in 04, are on ballots throughout the country.

    If the left is to have an electoral presence, it’s already there with the Green Party. I would hope that America hears Nader, but votes Green instead.

    Myles

  22. rosemarie jackowski said on February 27th, 2008 at 7:10am #

    Wow – while I was out shoveling snow, you all have been having a great discussion here.

    David, I agree . The discussion here is much better than at the KOS, HUF, and other places. Also much better here than at “The Nation”. You say, Nader is “an object lesson in humility and selflessness”. Sad, that most people do not seem to know that. He is one of the most kind and humble people I have ever known. During my meeting with him, I had a child with me. She asked him for his autograph. He took the time to have a conversation with her. I got the impression that he does NOT consider himself to be any kind of celebrity. Watching the way that Nader interacted with a small child was a lesson for all of us.

    Michael…You say that Nader is 72. I’m almost 71 and feel like I’m just getting started. I was arrested for the first time in my life on my 66th birthday. That was the day of Shock and Awe. I was one of the millions peacefully protesting the war. I ran for public office for the first time when I was 69 – running against the State Attorney General who had been put in office by some questionable methods of the dem machine and Howard Dean. TODAY IS NADER’S BIRTHDAY. You can click on and sign his birthday card.

    Last night, I watched the debate. It would have been a totally different experience if Nader was participating. The unethical legal tactics that the dems have used to keep Nader out of the debates in previous elections should be exposed.

  23. David Gaines said on February 27th, 2008 at 9:45am #

    A few rejoinders:

    I’m one of the people who doesn’t give a hoot whether or not Ralph Nader carries a Green Party membership card in his wallet. However, I thoroughly respect and understand the opposing view. It’s not an irrational position by any means. I just don’t think it ultimately means anything. No GP member has done more over the years to advance the party than Ralph has, bar none. It’s been a net plus.

    Nader’s humility is legendary. He HATES talking about himself, is VERY uncomfortable with any of the trappings of celebrity, and has never done anything to advance himself above the causes he promotes. And if you think his Saturday Night Live & other TV appearances belie this, put on your glasses. He’s a geek with a self-effacing sense of humor.

    He’s quite Norman Thomas-like in his astonishing ability to withstand the most withering public abuse. He has also made it quite clear that he would be more than happy if the Democrats (or anybody) would just take his issues away, one by one, and render him politically irrelevant. Great! Terrific! Go for it! He even tried to get Jim Hightower and Bill Moyers to run in 2008, but no dice. No one decent & of prominence wants to run for office. Sad.

    It’s funny how the most partisan Democrats are pathologically incapable of actually inquiring of people like us as to why we feel the way do, why we vote the way we do, etc. Do they assume we are all LaRouche-like cultists? I’ve got a doctoral degree & have been pushing the 3rd party cause for almost 35 years. I’m inclined to think that, even with my moderately advancing years, I’m not stupid. But people like Todd Gitlin lose sleep at the level of dunderheadedness that MUST be involved if I don’t agree with everything he has to say. Sad.

    Let me relate one more anecdote about Ralph. Back when “Crashing The Party” came out and he was on his book tour promoting it, I went down to the Barnes & Noble in downtown Washington DC to watch the sparks fly. Sure enough, during the Q-&-A, a guy who was, shall we say, rather unhappy with RN having run for president in 2000 asked a question. This, I must point out, took a lot of guts, because he was in a minority of practically one within this sea of Ralph Nader admirers. So he fires away with the standard objections, pointing & jabbing his finger at Ralph. Everyone starts to boo and jeer, and I actually felt sorry for the guy. Then Ralph holds up his hand and asks everyone, basically, to shut up and let the guy finish. “He’s laying down a predicate,” he said, using one of those classically unique Ralph Nader expressions. Then Ralph stood there for another few minutes taking this excoriating abuse without even raising an eyebrow. He responded with hardly any emotion, really quietly, and, most noticeably, very charitably and politely. I was amazed by that.

    In fact, since that time I very, very rarely see Ralph really lose his temper in these situations — and ohmigod, I have seen him deliver speeches where most people would have run off the podium crying. But Ralph lets everyone have their say, receiving verbal abuse that most people would find humiliating, then he methodically and politely responds. He rarely gets exasperated and certainly never loses control, which more than I can say for many members of his audiences.

    I hope that guy at Barnes & Noble took something away from that event that he wasn’t expecting. I know I did, and it’s still important to me, even if I don’t vote for Ralph this time around.

  24. rosemarie jackowski said on February 27th, 2008 at 11:43am #

    What a great comment from David ! “…It’s funny how the most partisan Democrats are pathologically incapable of actually inquiring of people like us as to why we feel the way do, why we vote the way we do, etc….”
    Also, I think that Nader waited to get into the race because he was hoping that it would not be necessary. He lives by a code of ethics that demands public service when intervention is required because of crisis conditions.

  25. Max Shields said on February 27th, 2008 at 12:32pm #

    David Gaines
    First, I always think it’s helpful to address someone if you are responding. It just helps the flow and keeps us from fighting windmills.

    From my perspective Nader could be running on any Party or non-Party. If you believe it is worth it to create a real alternative to the 2 Party (inny-minny Parties) then that is the framework you work within.

    I don’t think Nader is particularly interested in that. That has nothing to do with the stands he’s taken or how nice he is to children. I like the guy. I think he’s a real intellect. I respect his integrity to the nth degree, etc. etc. He’s a fellow CT Yankee and much of what he stands for has its roots their as well as his family up-bringing.

    But that was not my point assuming (don’t tell me you were “addressing” someone else) you were responding to me.

    Cheers
    Max

  26. Max Shields said on February 27th, 2008 at 12:32pm #

    David Gaines
    First, I always think it’s helpful to address someone if you are responding. It just helps the flow and keeps us from fighting windmills.

    From my perspective Nader could be running on any Party or non-Party. If you believe it is worth it to create a real alternative to the 2 Party (inny-minny Parties) then that is the framework you work within.

    I don’t think Nader is particularly interested in that. That has nothing to do with the stands he’s taken or how nice he is to children. I like the guy. I think he’s a real intellect. I respect his integrity to the nth degree, etc. etc. He’s a fellow CT Yankee and much of what he stands for has its roots there as well as his family up-bringing.

    But that was not my point assuming (don’t tell me you were “addressing” someone else) you were responding to me.

    Cheers
    Max

  27. John Halle said on February 27th, 2008 at 1:01pm #

    Great discussion.

    All things considered, I share the favorable evaluation of Nader which most people have evoked here, and which David has expressed very eloquently.

    There is, however, one paradox which I can’t reconcile: why is it that someone who has spent his lifetime building hugely successful organizations to achieve his objectives (those who have seen “An Unreasonable Man” will recall the concluding title sequence itemizing these which takes about two minutes to scroll on the screen!) seems to have no interest in establishing an organization which can support his and other independent runs for office.

    Maybe someone with better insight into his character, philosophy, or recent experiences can speak to this.

    I’m baffled by it.

    John

  28. David Gaines said on February 27th, 2008 at 1:20pm #

    John: Awhile back I heard Ralph say that the point of leadership is to create more leaders, not more followers.

    I think he’s really anxious for people to pick up the ball and run with it, which would include shoring up the Green Party, forming other parties with deep roots where that may be necessary, and in the process encouraging other people with leadership abilities to step forward. One example of the supportive organization to which you refer is the Populist Party he formed in several states last time out, which never really took off, but at least he made the effort. Ultimately it’s up to other people to keep the embers burning, as it were. I think when all is said and done that it’s way more difficult to make headway against the two-party system than RN thought it would be.

    This gets to Rosemarie’s point….I agree that he really was waiting for someone else to run. In fact, I heard him say something more or less to that effect on news show interviews last year. Of course, he has been suspiciously silent re: Cynthia McKinney, who is the closest thing to a charismatic leader that can really move the Green Party forward that has come along since RN. I moderated the February 2nd GP candidates forum here in Washington DC and I was favorably impressed by what her people had to say and how well received they were. It looked like a whole new and unexplored (or, more accurately, weakly explored thus far) potential “market” for GP candidates.

  29. John Halle said on February 27th, 2008 at 1:38pm #

    David,

    What you say here is consistent with what I’ve observed.

    While Nader has, in principle, expresses his support of other progressive third party efforts, the evidence, as you point out here, is quite mixed. If he wants others to pick up the ball, why no favorable comments about McKinney, or for that matter, other Green points of light such as relatively strong showings for state offices in Illinois and Massachusetts or the one mayoralty the Greens managed to pick up in Richmond, CA.

    Now, maybe he has thrown in the towel on the Greens, for reasons which I’m sure we would both understand if not entirely sympathize with.

    But if so, a clear statement from him as to what is necessary for independent politics to develop along with a commitment to set up the kind of infrastructure that is necessary.

    Succeeding in this could be the crowning achievement of his career.

    JH

  30. David Gaines said on February 27th, 2008 at 4:38pm #

    Rosemarie: “The unethical legal tactics that the dems have used to keep Nader out of the debates in previous elections should be exposed.”

    According to something Ralph has mentioned several times in interviews, Theresa Amato (his 2000 & 2004 campaign manager) is finishing a book on how RN was kept, not out of the debates per se, but off of various state ballots in 2004. I’ve got stories of my own. Those who went through the experience aren’t exactly eager to jump back onto Howard Dean’s DP bandwagon.

  31. David Gaines said on February 27th, 2008 at 4:39pm #

    [correcting the hyperlink to my website]

  32. rosemarie jackowski said on February 28th, 2008 at 6:39am #

    David… I look forward to Amato’s book. About Dean – he is the ultimate politician. I could write a book about what he did to Vermont. It wasn’t all nice. People should read what Joshua Frank has to say about Dean. It explains a lot about the DP.
    It has just been reported on Democracy Now by Jeremy Scahill that Obama plans to keep Blackwater in Iraq. I wonder how far the dems will go to keep that secret.
    Also just reported ( but not verified) – Nader will announce later today his selection for VP.

  33. Deadbeat said on February 28th, 2008 at 11:44am #

    Matt Gonzalez is a good choice but what does it mean for the Greens and Cynthia McKinney?

  34. LanceThruster said on February 28th, 2008 at 12:03pm #

    Nader did not enter the fray until it became clear that HRC was toast. He is a spoiler funded by right wing operatives

    ( http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Citizens_for_a_Sound_Economy ).

    Whether or not he actually draws enough votes to actuaaly effect the election, his presence will provide cover for the upcoming election theft.

    He has every right to run, but his motivations are far from pure. He could have worked towards making a viable 3rd party of election reform with an IRV system. Instead, it seems that he has an interest in seeing Rethuglicans get elected. He was offered a cabinet level post in 2000 if he would just work within the party but rejected it on the basis that he could do more good from without. Now one has to ask, good for whom?

    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Nader#Presidential_campaigns )
    ( http://www.tompaine.com/articles/naders_grassroots_campaign.php )

  35. JBPM said on February 28th, 2008 at 1:25pm #

    “It’s funny how the most partisan Democrats are pathologically incapable of actually inquiring of people like us as to why we feel the way do, why we vote the way we do, etc.” I think it is pretty obvious why they don’t inquire. They don’t give a fuck. To a congenital Democrat, Democrat=good, Republican=bad, and that’s that. If you don’t like them rules, then you need to “grow up,” be “realistic, “etc.

    Son problem is that Democrats take all non-Republican votes for granted, and so assume that any vote that goes to a third-party was “stolen” from a Democrat. Here’s my solution. Register as a Republican and then vote for Nader (or the “third-party” candidate of your choice). That way, you add to the statistics that show how a Republican vote was lost to the third party, and you undercut the entire “a vote for a third party is a vote for a Republican” meme.

    And frankly, if the Democrats can’t defeat the Republicans at this point, after 8 years of Bush and a candidate as obviously unhinged as McCain, then they need to vanish from the page of history. Period. They are to blame for their obsolescence, and not the voters.

  36. Deadbeat said on February 28th, 2008 at 8:10pm #

    You are right about the mindset of the Democrats especially the Daily Kos crowd. I wrote my take on the Nader candidacy and essentially stated that the Democrats are providing the space for his candidacy and need to improve their policy positions. For that bit of “insurgency” my account on the Daily Kos was disabled from commenting (essentially I’ve been “silenced”) as they assumed it was an endorcement for Nader rather than an serious analysis.

    With this kind of insecurity you’d think something is “lacking” with their potential (Obama) nominee — LOL.

    You are right, if the Democrats fail to landslide this year they’d ought to fold up but their insecurities and their unwillingness to discuss reality and to challenge their nominee’s positions (such as health care) is pathetic and absolutely undemocratic. I remember when the Democratic Party used to fight but they haven’t done that since 1974 with the entry of the so-called “New Democrats”. Since then they’ve been ever drifting to right.

    I was hoping to see some traction with the Greens but clearly Nader/Gonzalez are planning to run a 50-state campaign and are much better on the issues than Obama or Clinton and I am looking forward to their campaign.

  37. David Gaines said on February 28th, 2008 at 9:33pm #

    LanceThruster: Wacky. Are we talking about the same person? You know, the one that I’ve met and talked to, the one that I’ve heard speak dozens of times, the one whose painstakingly written books and articles I’ve read, the one who according to at least one study drew his 2004 votes equally from Democrats and Republicans? Please specify exactly what Ralph Nader’s (or anybody’s, besides Karl Rove) interests are in seeing Republicans h0lding onto the White House.

    JBPM: Clever, and creative. And pretty funny.

    Deadbeat: DailyKos and Wonkette scare the hell out of me. They prove, on a daily basis, William F. Buckley, Jr.’s old line about liberals being people who advocate diversity of opinions and then are shocked to learn that other people actually have them.

    Everyone else: I do not agree with Ralph’s reasoning about there being room for lots of progressive candidates, and I’m not happy that he’s out on his own again, but having said all of that, I went and saw him and Matt Gonzalez speak tonight in D.C. and I was quite surprised (yes, I actually base my opinions about candidates after I go and listen to them, read what they’ve written, and digested their arguments).

    I was surprised at the reception he got from the audience, which was virtually all George Washington University students (plus a sprinkling of oldtimers like me), most of whom seemed to have little knowledge of Nader in general and his presidential campaigns in particular. They were attentive, they were openminded, and they were obviously moved at several points by what the man had to say. His criticisms of the current political system, and of numerous injustices of all kinds which the Democratic Party never discusses, are quite persuasive.

    Both he and Matt Gonzalez made it clear that they are very raring to go, they came out swinging, they obviously organized their campaign themes & structure very well, they know what they want to emphasize and they did so in impressive detail. The sense I got overall is that this campaign is already way beyond the 2004 Nader campaign. The vibe in the room was very reminiscent of 2000 and I was not expecting that. Basically it confirmed what I’ve been sensing in the media, from the surprisingly large number of pro-Nader blog entries around the web to supportive comments from the likes of Michael Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times. None of this was present four years ago.

    Also, and most interestingly from the perspective of Green Party partisans who read DV, Ralph said at one point “we’re thinking of forming a new party.” Hmmmm.

    In any event, even given all of the above, I don’t see this ticket getting 5% of the vote, which means Cynthia McKinney will be lucky indeed to get over 1% of the vote. I’m not sure what will be left of the Green Party at the national level after this campaign. I agree with those who feel that, by this time, the GP should have attracted at least one other leader in the Nader mold. As I’ve written before, I very much like the direction Cynthia McKinney is going in and the people she’s bringing into the fold who otherwise wouldn’t give the GP the time of day, but I’m not convinced yet that her campaign is the vehicle to really grow the party up and beyond the Nader era.

    We’ll see. I was really stunned by the Nader/Gonzalez event tonight and that has changed my thinking quite a bit.

  38. Bev Clark said on February 29th, 2008 at 1:05am #

    Greetings to you all

    I just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed reading this thoughtful discussion. Here in Zimbabwe we’re experiencing something (a bit) similar to Ralph’s entry into the “race” with a third contender (Simba Makoni) attempting to challenge Robert Mugabe. Makoni’s entry has been met with extreme dislike by both Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters and Zanu-PF supporters. Unfortunately there isn’t the openness and courage among our electorate to welcome more choice. Makoni because of his Zanu PF affiliation is automatically disregarded, and blind loyalty shrouds the MDC campaign. Anyway – perhaps a bit off the point but I’ve read and learned from you all.

  39. Mike McNiven said on February 29th, 2008 at 2:14am #

    David Gaines,
    The following link, on the roots of the current situation, is worthy of your attention:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/fiyouzat02192008.html
    ( why DV is not posting this very critical writing? )

  40. out of the loop said on February 29th, 2008 at 3:39pm #

    I went to vote four years ago thinking that I would vote for Kerry as the lesser of the two evils. Bush is so bad that I thought I could hold my nose and pull the lever for Kerry. But once in the voting booth I thought of Kerry, who wanted to increase the troops in Iraq, who thought that Bolivians who were taking control of their country should be stopped and I realized I couldn’t vote for him. I pulled the lever instead for Nader. How I wish the Democrats could have provided a real alternative to Bush for whom I could have voted, but they didn’t. Looks like the same thing this time. Is Obama better than McCain? I suppose so in some ways, but Obama so far is a man who supports the powers that be in this country, and that’s not acceptable. I probably won’t be able to hold my nose this time either. I’m glad Nader is running. At least there’s something for me to do when I get to the polls other than leave.

  41. hp said on March 1st, 2008 at 10:16am #

    “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”
    Mencken

  42. rosemarie jackowski said on March 1st, 2008 at 1:58pm #

    out of the loop…For many years, when he is not on the ballot, I have written Nader in and encouraged others to do the same. The dems will do most anything to keep him off the ballots. Writing Nader in is the only thing we can do. If enough voters do that, it will start a “movement”. I urge everyone to contact C-span and request real debates that include Nader, McKinney, and other lesser know candidates. The “movement” can start here and now!

    hp…soon there will be nothing left to sell. Already many people are cold, hungry and homeless. The systems, all of them are failing. What about the 40,000 people who have just been notified that they might have been exposed to hepatitis and/or HIV ? The medical facility cut costs and now we have 40,000 people in anguish.

  43. gravel kucinich paul nader said on March 7th, 2008 at 1:50pm #

    gravel kucinich paul nader,
    dare speak truth,
    demand peace.