I was saddened to read your open letter urging people to vote for John Kerry in 2004. Saddened, not because of the impact on my vote but because it signals more of the same surrender of some liberal thinkers.
Senator Kerry made it clear in the three debates with President Bush that he has no intention of getting out of the illegal occupation of Iraq. He is going to fight the war to win it and will send more troops if needed. He also showed that rather than challenging the military industrial complex he intends to expand the military by 40,000 more troops. How can any peace activist support a candidate who holds those views? Even without the voice of the peace movement, about half the American public wants the U.S. out of Iraq. If the peace movement had stood for ending the Iraq occupation and demanding that their candidate do so then we would have had a very different debate in 2004. Now, no matter how the election turns out, we are likely to see a bloody offensive after the war and a quagmire that will become a civil war with the U.S. on the side of our puppet government against the Iraqi people.
Regrettably, the same is true for other popular progressive issues. Two-thirds of the public supports health care for all now, yet Senator Kerry has put forward a plan that leaves 20 million without health care. The American public believes that full-time workers should make a wage that they and their families can live on. Yet, John Kerry only advocates raising the minimum wage to $7 an hour by 2007 this will keep wages at the equivalent of pre-1960 earnings at a time when some CEO’s are now earning $7,000 per hour. And, even on the environment, in the debates John Kerry made it clear he did not support the Kyoto Treaty despite the clear evidence of global climate change and its ruinous impact on the environment. The women’s movement has been told that Kerry will consider anti-choice judges and that he is proud of his vote for Justice Scalia. African Americans have been ignored, taken for granted and their issues not even discussed.
If the liberal leadership had not surrendered to the Anybody But Bush mentality and demanded John Kerry support these issues they would have accomplished two important things. First, they would have made John Kerry a better candidate rather than allowed him to become an echo of George Bush’s policies. Second, they would have advanced the progressive agenda, rather than allowed this popular agenda to be ignored in a presidential election year.
Those of you who were asked to sign this petition by Robert Brandon, a Democratic Party operative, should know that he misled you with his false statement, claiming that Nader/Camejo are supported by “right-wing campaign donors.” The Center for Responsive Politics found that only 4% of Nader/Camejo donations came from Republican donors, many from classmates who I have worked on various social justice issues. Indeed, the Center found that the Democratic candidate, John Kerry, has taken more than $10 million from Republican donors 100 times more than Nader/Camejo has received. You should not confuse the conclusion of the letter with its deceptive predicates. You should have done your homework.
Finally, what have you said about the anti-democratic dirty tricks, political bigotry, harassment and intimidation of the Democratic Party and the Kerry/Edwards campaign? We would welcome hearing from you if you want to join us in condemning these gross violations of civil liberties and Nader/Camejo and the millions of voters who are denied the candidate of their choice.
I plan to continue to fight for justice there should be no holiday from that struggle no matter how this election turns out. We hope the scared liberal leaders who abandoned their principles in 2004 will find a way to find the courage of their convictions in the future and rejoin this effort.
*A number of these people never worked for any group under my supervision. They are a tiny minority of the thousands of people who have worked in the groups I have founded.
Ralph Nader is running for President of the US as an Independent. He is America’s leading consumer advocate and founder of numerous public interest groups including Public Citizen. His latest book is The Good Fight: Declare Your Independence and Close the Democracy Gap (Regan Books, 2004). He can be reached through www.votenader.org.
Other Recent Articles by Ralph Nader
Nader on Dem Party
Dirty Tricks to Keep Him Off the Ballot, & the Sorry State of the Left