Re: [sixties-l] To Nader or not to Nader

From: Jeffrey Blankfort (
Date: 10/31/00

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    I don't wish to repeat what I wrote in my reply to Todd except to point
    out just two of the fallacies in Peter's reponse:
    The first is in regard to Taft-Hartley. To indicate how far the AFL-CIO
    has descended into the abyss of Democratic Party politics, they never
    even mention it, let alone demand its repeal. Embarassing is the last
    thing John Sweeney or the other labor bureaucrats want to do. Nader's
    mentioning it, of course, was the last thing the AFL-CIO wanted. So if
    Levy believes that there is a chance of ANY positive labor legislation
    coming out of a Gore administration, he is dreaming.  Unfortunately he
    is not alone.
    Finally, the notion that we will put press ure on Gore from the streets
    is equally unrealistic. Not since LBJ up to the WTO have there been any
    street actions that are critical of a sitting Democratic Party president
    and the WTO and IMF/World Bank were directed more at the corporations
    than at the administration. As I wrote to Todd, all the major groups
    that would be critical of a Republican administration, roll over and
    play dead when a Democrat is in office.
    If I am wrong in my facts and anyone can point to a major protest
    against a Democratic president from JFK to the present, with the
    exception of LBJ, I would appreciate having my mistake pointed out to
    Jeff Blankfort
    Peter Levy wrote:
    > Todd begins his analysis of whether or not to Nader or not by suggesting
    > we should look at what the legacy of the sixties tell us.  It is
    > important to remember that by in large the New Left opposed "mainstream"
    > electoral politics.  Even before Eugene McCarthy scored his upset
    > victory in the Democratic primaries, Paul Buhle reasoned that McCarthy's
    > campaign was a waste of time at best and a "positive detriment to the
    > process of ideological clarification" at worst.  SDS stuck to its
    > strategy of bringing the war home even after McCarthy strung together
    > several "victories" in the primary.  Terming electoral politics
    > "bourgeois" SDS's national office maintained its opposition to all
    > Democratic candidates throughout 1968.  On another occassion, one-time
    > SDS leader Carl Davidson welcomed George Wallace's third party candidacy
    > on the grounds that Wallace would help bring down the two parties and
    > the left would outcompete the Alabama governor for the support of the
    > working class.  In 1972, many new leftists adopted the same reasoning.
    > The Guardian  argued that "No fundamental change in the nature of
    > imperialism or of the state apparatus are in the offing as the result of
    > the contest between Richard Nixon and Geoge McGovern."  Dave Dellinger
    > called for build an enlightened, responsible people's movement," rather
    > than endorsing McGovern.  Of course, other new leftists challenged this
    > strategy, some on the grounds that too much was at stake and others on
    > the grounds that little evidence existed to suggest that Dellinger's
    > strategy was working.  Paul Cowan, for instance, inquired, "What mass
    > extra-legal parlimentary struggles are you referring to?"
    >         There are many different reasons to vote for Nader or Gore in this
    > election, but as I see it, the experience of the sixties suggests that
    > third party or independent politics produces few results (and this is
    > said by someone who did not vote for a "mainstream" candidate until he
    > was in his late thirties).  Dellinger's "people's movement" did not
    > deveop after McGovern's defeat.  On the contrary, the right took
    > advantage of the opening to attain political power, maintaining control
    > of the White House for nearly a generation.  Perhaps Gore is more
    > conservative than McGovern or McCarthy, but the same can be said for
    > George Bush and the GOP leaders in congress, who are more conservative
    > that Nixon and Ford.   After all neither of them vowed to repeal the
    > inheritance tax, the most progressive form of taxation on the books, or
    > to privatize social security, the embodiment of the New Deal. What I
    > find most amazing about the pro-Nader people is their refusal to
    > consider what might happen if conservative Republicans control all three
    > branches of government.  Do they think that a Republican controlled
    > congress, Republican president and Republican court are going to pass
    > campaign finance reform? Enact pro-labor and environmental laws?  Last
    > night I heard Nader support repealing the Taft-Hartley Act.  How does he
    > suppose he is going to do this with Republicans in control of all three
    > branches of government? Chances are instead the National Labor Relations
    > Act will be decimated, along with Social Security, all forms of
    > progressive taxation, not to mention Roe v. Wade and much environmental
    > protection.  I agree with many on the left that we need to keep the
    > pressure on Gore, but that can be done most effectively via political
    > protests in the streets, not at the ballot box, as was the case in the
    > sixties.
    > Peter B. Levy
    > Dept. of History
    > York College

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