[sixties-l] The US election crisis: why is Ralph Nader silent?

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 12/02/00

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    The US election crisis: why is Ralph Nader silent?
    By Jerry White
    24 November 2000
    Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader has maintained a deafening 
    silence on the political crisis surrounding the results of the US elections.
    During his campaign, Nader correctly criticized corporate domination of the 
    American two-party system as tantamount to the disenfranchisement of the 
    broad masses of the American people and an affront to democratic rights. 
    Yet in the face of a concerted effort by the most reactionary forces within 
    the political establishment, who are lined up behind the Bush camp, to use 
    patently anti-democratic methods and appeals to right-wing sentiment to 
    gain control of the White House, Nader has not uttered a word of protest.
    It is remarkable that a presidential candidate who won 3 percent of the 
    national vote, including nearly 100,000 votes in Florida, and presented 
    himself as a progressive alternative to the Democrats and Republicans 
    should have nothing to say about the events of the past two weeks. A public 
    statement from Nader denouncing the attempt of the Bush campaign to gain 
    the White House through the suppression of votes would undoubtedly 
    strengthen popular opposition to the Republicans' machinations.
    Yet in several public appearances and television, radio and newspaper 
    interviews since the election, Nader has said nothing about the election 
    controversy. A spokesman at Nader's Washington, DC headquarters confirmed 
    that the Green Party candidate had issued no public statements on the 
    subject. When this reporter asked why, the spokesman said, "We're not 
    deeply involved in what is going on down there. This is just a political 
    battle between the Democrats and Republicans." When asked how Nader could 
    remain silent about widespread charges of Republican vote-rigging and 
    intimidation of minority voters, in which fundamental issues of democratic 
    rights were at stake, the spokesman said, "It's Mr.  Nader's prerogative to 
    do so."
    How is Nader's silence to be explained? As his spokesperson indicated, he 
    considers the electoral impasse to be nothing more than a dispute over the 
    spoils of government between two identical corporate-controlled parties. It 
    is something that ordinary people need not particularly concern themselves 
    But how could that be? How could working people adopt an attitude of 
    indifference toward political forces on the right prepared to ride 
    roughshod over their democratic rights, as part of an effort to take full 
    control of the levers of power?
    The working class must oppose the attacks on basic rights, but it must do 
    so from its own independent standpoint and with its own 
    methods.  Opposition to the Republican right does not imply giving 
    political support to Al Gore and the Democrats. Experience has shown that 
    this party is incapable of seriously defending democratic rights against 
    the reactionaries in the Republican Party. What this crisis poses to the 
    working class is the need to construct it own political party, based on a 
    democratic and socialist program, to defend the interests of the vast 
    majority of American people.
    Nader's refusal to oppose the Republican-led attack on democratic rights 
    demonstrates that his organization has no real independence from the ruling 
    elite. His "plague on both your houses" position may appear radical, but in 
    reality it is a form of adaptation and capitulation to the extreme 
    right-wing forces that dominate the Republican Party. Precisely because the 
    Greens are not based on the working class, in fact, they reject the very 
    notion of the class struggle, they are incapable of mounting any resistance 
    to the overt attacks on fundamental rights.
    Nader's silence on the current crisis is consistent with his mechanical and 
    false conception that, because in an absolute sense an identity exists 
    between the two parties, insofar as they both represent the interests of 
    American big business, there cannot be any relative differences. But, of 
    course, such relative differences exist, and in times of political crisis 
    they can play a critical role in developments that affect broad masses of 
    It is true that corporate interests dominate both parties and that the 
    political differences between them have narrowed as the political spectrum 
    of official politics has lurched to the right. But it is also true that 
    over the past decade a ferocious battle has been under way between these 
    two parties. This must have an objective source in conflicts between 
    different sections of America's economic and political elite.
    The struggle within the ruling elite has escalated from a series of phony 
    investigations against the Clinton administration, to the shutdown of the 
    federal government, to the first-ever impeachment of a sitting president, 
    to the current effort by the Republicans to hijack the election. To pretend 
    that these events have no political significance is to deny reality.
    The Republican Party is controlled by extreme right-wing forces, which 
    speak ultimately for powerful sections of the corporate establishment who 
    consider even Clinton's conservative policies an obstacle to the far more 
    extreme right-wing agenda they seek to impose on the country.  They are 
    determined to lift all restrictions on the accumulation of personal wealth 
    and the exploitation of the working class. To achieve this, the Republicans 
    and their religious right, racist and fascistic supporters are prepared to 
    overturn democratic norms and constitutional rights.
    The Democrats, who have increasingly turned their backs on the workers and 
    minorities in whose name they once claimed to speak, represent other 
    sections of the ruling elite and more privileged social layers, who seek to 
    defend the interests of American capitalism through the more traditional 
    channels of bourgeois democracy.
    For working people to sit idly by while this battle is fought out within 
    ruling circles is to court disaster. The basic issue involved here is not 
    the fate of Gore or Bush, but the fate of the democratic rights of the 
    American people.
    Nader's banal and complacent views were highlighted in recent remarks about 
    the results of the election. In a November 17 interview on National Public 
    Radio's Talk of the Nation program he said, "What's next? I don't think 
    anything is going to happen regardless of whether Bush or Gore is elected. 
    They will be deadlocked. It's too evenly divided. I don't think there are 
    going to be any major changes in direction."
    Nader also told the New York Times that if Bush prevailed, his very narrow 
    margin, the closely divided Congress and the Texas governor's own 
    personality would limit the damage he could do. "He doesn't know very 
    much," Nader said of Bush. "He is not very energetic. He doesn't like 
    This is an utterly false assessment. Does it make any sense that the forces 
    behind Bush, who have been prepared to throw the country into a 
    constitutional crisis and raise the specter of divisions not seen since the 
    Civil War, are suddenly going to opt for a more moderate course once they 
    take the White House? On the contrary, sensing that their position is 
    increasingly weak and unpopular, they will push ahead with their 
    reactionary agenda.
    Nader, of course, does recognize that there are differences between the two 
    parties. That is why he spent much of his time answering arguments that he 
    was taking votes away from the Democrats, not the Republicans, and calling 
    on the Democrats to return to their "progressive roots."
    Much more is involved on Nader's part than a theoretical error or a false 
    appraisal of the dispute between the two parties. His silence is also bound 
    up with political calculations of a reactionary character. Nader has said 
    nothing about the Republicans' actions in the election campaign because he 
    does not want to alienate right-wing forces whose support he is courting.
    This is not new. In his acceptance speech at the Green Party convention in 
    June, Nader counseled Green members to appeal to conservative voters by 
    saying his campaign championed "traditional, not extreme values," such as 
    opposition to the "voyeurism of the media." He made no secret about 
    appealing to supporters of Senator John McCain and backers of even more 
    right-wing political figures.
    He made common cause with Reform Party presidential candidate Patrick 
    Buchanan, joining the ultra-right politician in protectionist campaigns 
    against trade agreements with Mexico and China, which Nader declared were 
    "subverting American sovereignty."
    Finally, Nader expressed support for the Republican impeachment drive 
    against President Clinton. In the course of his presidential bid he said he 
    opposed the Senate acquittal of Clinton, and declared that he would have 
    voted to remove Clinton from office. He reiterated this at a New York press 
    conference before the election, saying, "Clinton should have been convicted 
    by the Senate. He disgraced the office and lied under oath.  Matters like 
    these cannot go without sanction."
    By siding with the forces behind the impeachment campaign and in remaining 
    silent during the present political crisis Nader has, in objective terms, 
    aided and abetted the camp of right-wing reaction.

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