Re: [sixties-l] Re: Nader Fiasco

From: Peter Levy (
Date: 11/29/00

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    While Schneirov's point is well made we have to be very careful about
    seeing ways that history might repeat itself.  Clearly one needs to
    place the political developments of the 1840s and 1850s into a much more
    precise understanding of the times.  For instance, the third party
    movements of the times (Liberty, Free Soil and Republican), were all
    limited geographically.  This actually exaggerated their impact.  While
    the Green's are obviously strongest in the northeast and in liberal
    enclaves, like Madison, Wisconsin, it is harder to tie them to locales
    that are politically, economically, culturally and ideologically as
    distinct as was the "North" (was in the 1840s and 1850s as compared to
    the slave south).  In addition, the Greens have never figured out how to
    raise the funds necesary to make their campaigns viable and if they
    think George Bush and a Republican majority house of reps is going to
    pass meaningful campaign finance reform they have been smoking too much
    hemp.  The reality is that the two major parties have a stranglehold on
    the funds necessary to compete and they are not about to give them up. 
    Nader's inability to crack the 5% threshold insures that he and the
    Greens will remain marginal in four years, the present electoral dispute
    notwithstanding.  Furthermore, the third parties of the 1840s and 1850s
    were able to attract viable candidates to their cause, including Martin
    Van Buren, the one-time Democratic president who ran as the Free Soil
    candidate in 1848.  For history to repeat itself, either Clinton or
    maybe Jimmy Carter would have to agree to run as the Green or post Green
    party candidate, which is very unlikely.  Lastly, the Free Soil and
    Republican Parties were helped by the rise of a fourth party, namely the
    American or Know Nothing Party.  Pat Buchanan's terrible showing in this
    election suggests that a similar right-wing nativist party is not in the
    making and I, for one, don't welcome the rise of a contempory right-wing
    party just to give a left-wing party a better chance of winning.  In
    fact, many new leftists made the mistake of welcoming George Wallace's
    rise in the 1960s, thinking that they could outcompete the Alabama
    governor for the hearts and minds of the disaffected in America.  As
    numerous studies of Wallace have shown, the opposite took place.  The
    right was able to capture the Wallace vote and to label the Democrats
    and the left as one in the same.  
    Yours, Peter Levy, York College  
    Carrol Cox wrote:
    > Richard Schneirov wrote:
    > >  In 1840 and again in 1844 a group of "principled" abolitionists
    > > left the Whig party and nominated James Birney for President.
    > And the result was the election of Lincoln in 1860, the insurrection
    > of the slave drivers, and the 13th amendment. Had some principled
    > group kept up the struggle by deserting the Republican Party and
    > throwing elections to the Democrats, the Civil Rights Movement
    > might have come half a century sooner.
    > Carrol

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