[sixties-l] Fwd: "Nader: Is There Life After Crucifixion?"

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 11/28/00

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    >Nader: Is There Life After Crucifixion?
    >
    >by David Corn
    >
    >After the election came the crucifixion. Before the
    >Gore-Bush mess was settled--but as soon as it was apparent
    >that Ralph Nader's vote in Florida was greater than the gap
    >between Al Gore and George Bush--pundits, editorial boards,
    >political partisans and liberals pounced. AFL-CIO president
    >John Sweeney called Nader's campaign "reprehensible."
    >Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook declared,
    >"The public-interest community is going to spend tens of
    >millions of dollars a year for the next four years playing
    >defense. I don't think [Nader's] going to build a Green
    >Party any more than O.J.'s out there looking for a
    >murderer." Larry Marx, co-executive director of Wisconsin
    >Citizen Action, complained that Nader "got tunnel vision and
    >lost sight of progressive goals." "I will not speak his
    >name," hissed Democratic spin man James Carville. "I'm going
    >to shun him. And any good Democrat, any good progressive,
    >ought to do the same thing."
    >
    >In addition to the demonization of a progressive icon--Nader
    >himself--Nader's campaign resulted in a sharpening of the
    >sometimes blurry line between inside-the-duopoly
    >progressives who try to nudge the Democratic Party to the
    >left and nonestablishment progressives who eschew the party
    >as part of the problem, not the potential solution. His
    >candidacy hardened positions along this divide. It also
    >diminished whatever opportunity he had to work with
    >left-leaning Democrats in Washington. "He's totally toast
    >among Democrats," says a senior Democratic Congressional
    >aide. "There is deep animosity toward him among high-ranking
    >Democrats in Congress. For now, the relationship is
    >completely ruptured." And with 2.7 million votes--3 percent
    >of the vote--Nader fell far short of the magic mark of 5
    >percent, which would have qualified the Green Party for
    >federal funding in the next presidential election. [JPC: But
    >who - or what - counted the votes?]
    >
    >So was it worth it? "Of course," says an utterly undaunted
    >Nader, who obviously relished the campaign experience. "Look
    >what came out of this--the third-largest party. Tens of
    >thousands of people were energized. It was a great burst. We
    >can continue on and recruit more candidates in 2002. There
    >will be a Green Party presence here [in Washington], which
    >will speak with authority--electoral authority--when it goes
    >to Capitol Hill, not just say, 'Please, please, do what we
    >want.'" He expresses no regrets; he is unfazed by the harsh
    >criticism; he is unrepentant. With the Florida recount under
    >way, Nader showed no sign of caring much about who will win.
    >
    >Instead, he was more excited about a letter he received on
    >November 8 from Holly Hart of the Iowa Green Party. She
    >reported that his campaign appearances there prompted
    >Republican farmers to contact the party and that "the Green
    >Party and the message of your campaign have come out well
    >ahead of where they started." Though Nader only scored 2
    >percent in Iowa, that was enough for the Iowa Green Party to
    >qualify for automatic ballot status. "Not only that," Hart
    >wrote; "we now have around five new Green student
    >organizations and many new county Green chapters--enough so
    >that we can now organize a real statewide Green Party." This
    >is evidence of the "benefits" of his campaign, Nader notes;
    >he has created a "ripple effect" throughout the nation.
    >
    >The 66-year-old Nader won't say whether he's interested in
    >another crusade for the White house ("one election at a
    >time"), but he insists that he remains committed to building
    >the Green Party. The details, though, are hardly set, and
    >it's not even clear what Nader is working with. On Election
    >Day, the party was split between two different entities--the
    >Association of State Green Parties and the more leftist and
    >smaller Greens/Green Party USA, though the two sides were
    >close to a merger agreement. Nader says he will be the de
    >facto party "leader," but without the title ("I don't like
    >the word") or the day-to-day responsibilities for the party
    >itself.
    >
    >Instead, he sees himself establishing several Green-related
    >outfits--a nonprofit educational group, a lobbying arm and a
    >political action committee--that would exist parallel to the
    >party. As he envisions it, "I'm on the outside expanding the
    >Green Party, while those on the inside intensify it." But
    >can Nader control or shape a party from the outside?
    >Political parties are usually difficult to steer, and the
    >Greens have their share of bickerers. Moreover, remember
    >Ross Perot and the Reform Party? Earlier this year, failed
    >Reform Party contender John Hagelin took a stab at gaining
    >control of the Seattle Greens. "They"--the Greens--"will
    >have to be very clever" to avoid would-be highjackers and
    >internal wrangling, Nader remarks, not using the word "we."
    >As one Nader adviser says, "Ralph does have a track record
    >of building things that last. And he'll stick with this. But
    >he will find it much more complex than building citizens'
    >groups."
    >
    >What might make the task even harder is that Nader hopes his
    >Green Party will be more than a political organization
    >obsessed with elections. In his grand scheme, the party
    >would join with citizens' movements across the nation to
    >wage local battles untouched by the Democratic and
    >Republican parties. An example: In Florida popular outrage
    >has been sparked by the state's decision--prompted by
    >agribusiness--to cut down orange and grapefruit trees on the
    >property of private residences to battle a citrus canker
    >that affects only the appearance of the fruit. Neither major
    >party has gotten behind the citizens' uprising that ensued.
    >Nader believes that fights like this one provide openings
    >for a Green Party concerned with activism beyond elections.
    >
    >Nader also wants to establish Green chapters on campuses and
    >Green Party storefronts in poor areas--"advice
    >centers"--that would help people qualify for Medicaid and
    >other federal programs. At the same time, Nader wants the
    >party to develop an "or-else relationship" with Democrats on
    >Capitol Hill. This is how it might work: The party would
    >zero in on twenty or so lawmakers--including Democrats--who
    >it calculates might be vulnerable to electoral pressure from
    >the Greens, and, depending on whether or not these
    >legislators adopt Green-friendly positions, the Greens would
    >decide whether or not to challenge them in 2002. (Such a
    >get-tough strategy will require plenty of planning and
    >commitment, for it will likely prompt further assaults from
    >progressives--environmentalists, union officials, abortion
    >rights activists, civil rights leaders--still working with
    >the Democrats.) Through a People's Debate Commission, Nader
    >will continue his campaign against the corporate-funded
    >Commission on Presidential Debates, which froze out all
    >third-party candidates in this year's debates.
    >
    >And the money for all this? The 75,000 contributors who
    >helped him raise $7 million in donations of $100 or less
    >will be called upon to finance these new Nader-Green groups.
    >But that won't be enough, he admits. He hopes to continue
    >holding "superrallies," which during the campaign attracted
    >tens of thousands of people willing to pay to hear Nader
    >offer his anticorporate/anti-two-parties critique.
    >
    >Is it possible that Nader's long-term mission of fostering
    >an anticorporate and progressive party will be overwhelmed
    >by noise about Nader-the-Spoiler and undermined by the
    >attacks from prominent progressives? "No," he declares. He
    >dismisses his left-of-center critics as "low-expectation,
    >frightened liberals. Across the country, in airports and
    >elsewhere, people are saying, 'Great job, thank you.' The
    >citizen-bureaucrats in Washington have been here too long,
    >and they've gotten too cushy with the Democrats. Bush got
    >twelve times the Democrats I did in Florida. That's the
    >problem."
    >
    >Asked about Sweeney, he shows his irritation: "Here's the
    >Democratic Party, which can't win without organized labor,
    >and it gives organized labor none of the programs and
    >principles organized labor needs to grow. Instead, it gives
    >them NAFTA, the China trade legislation and no mention of
    >revising the antilabor Taft-Hartley Act. Yet here's a
    >guy"--he's referring to himself--"who fought for OSHA and is
    >way ahead on other policies for organized labor, and his
    >campaign is 'reprehensible'? This can only fill one with
    >pity. They're on their knees, begging Gore and the DLC for
    >crumbs. It's pathos."
    >
    >Nader does not seem worried about being perceived as a rogue
    >or enemy by leaders of progressive groups. "Now people are
    >saying we better not come to [public interest] coalition
    >meetings," Nader says. "Well, they"--the Washington
    >establishment--"shut out progressive civil society a long
    >time ago." And Nader says he doesn't give a damn about
    >breaking ties with once-sympathetic Democratic legislators.
    >"The ties haven't been there. They said no to us on NAFTA,
    >WTO, the telecom bill, the merger craze, trade with China,
    >auto safety, stronger food-standard inspections, campaign
    >finance reform, universal healthcare. After a while, you get
    >the idea."
    >
    >Persuasion-lobbying is out for Nader; blunt electoral
    >realpolitik is what matters. "We still have a long ways to
    >go. But the first step in regaining power is to realize
    >you've lost power." Nader's Green Party run has confirmed
    >his view that resurrection awaits only those progressives
    >who recognize this harsh reality, give up on the Democrats
    >and act accordingly.
    



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