Re: [sixties-l] In Defense Of Ralph Nader

From: William M. Mandel (
Date: 12/02/00

  • Next message: Jeffrey Blankfort: "Re: [sixties-l] Re: Nader Fiasco"

    In response to Ron Daniels' piece, there was nothing militant about
    Norman Thomas, ever. The vote for him was a vote for the Debs tradition,
    but, understandably, never reached Debs' numbers. As to who stimulated
    the not-so-modest reforms of the New Deal, it was we who were
    Communists. The fact that I left that organization over forty years ago
    when it ran out of potential has nothing to do with the fact that in the
    years when I was a member, and still proud of it, it won unions to
    supporting unemployment insurance (which the A.F. of L. leadership
    opposed: "American workers will never accept the dole"); it insisted
    that the C.I.O. unions that hired local Communist paid personnel as
    organizers abandon the color line that many old-line unions maintained
    for decades thereafter; it fought for anti-lynching legislation and, in
    point of fact, for breaking the lily-white nature of big league
    professional sports, with the aid of the best sports writer who ever
    lived: Lester Rodney of the Daily Worker.
                                                                Bill Mandel
    radman wrote:
    > The Black World Today
    > November 22, 2000
    > In Defense Of Ralph Nader:
    > People Have A Right To Vote For What They Believe
    > By Ron Daniels <>
    > The frightening prospect of a George W. Bush presidency
    > has many within the liberal progressive movement angry with
    > Ralph Nader and the Green Party. Nader and the Greens are
    > being blamed and condemned for blocking Al Gore from a clear
    > victory over George W. Bush. The bitterness towards Nader
    > and the Greens may well create an irreparable chasm on the
    > left as some liberals and progressives are threatening to
    > punish Nader and the Greens for being reckless and
    > irresponsible.
    > In my view this would be a tragic and debilitating outcome.
    > In America people who have the courage of their convictions
    > should not be punished for voting for what they believe in.
    > There is certainly an argument to be made that had it not
    > been for the militant campaigns of Eugene Debs and Norman
    > Thomas, where hundreds of thousands of people voted their
    > convictions, some of the modest reforms of the New Deal
    > would not have been forthcoming.
    > By marching on ballot boxes and in the streets, the left
    > compelled the Democratic Party and the ruling elite to grant
    > more concessions than they would have otherwise. The liberal
    > progressive movement and its constituencies owe a great deal
    > to those who had the courage to vote and fight for their
    > convictions, at the ballot box and in the streets.
    > This is not at all to dismiss the critical nature of the
    > moment in terms of the 2000 election. While I have been
    > a leading proponent of independent politics for years,
    > I pointed out that the differences between Gore and Bush
    > were incremental not fundamental. I also argued that those
    > differences were not inconsequential. Without question,
    > Black people, people of color and poor and working people
    > have suffered under the rightwing onslaught of the
    > Republican Party. However, in my judgment, that onslaught
    > has been aided and abetted by the cowardice and capitulations
    > of the Democratic Party, particularly under the rise to
    > hegemony within the Party of the "centrist" Democratic
    > Leadership Conference led by people like Bill Clinton
    > and Al Gore.
    > I firmly believe the Nader campaign was not only important
    > it was essential to advance the progressive cause. At some
    > point in history progressives have to take a stand and break
    > out of the "lesser evil" mold that has bound us to the
    > Democrats despite their considerable transgressions against
    > key constituencies within the progressive movement.
    > Though the Nader campaign had some obvious weaknesses as
    > it relates to people of color, Nader was unquestionably the
    > most progressive candidate among the major candidates. His
    > relentless exposure of and opposition to corporate power
    > and the suffocation of the American political process by big
    > money was clearly a stance that neither of the establishment
    > candidates was willing to take.
    > As a result of Nader's anti-corporate crusade, hundreds
    > of thousands of people, particularly young people, went to
    > the polls for the first time because finally there was a
    > candidate who articulated their deepest convictions about
    > the crisis in American democracy and prescriptions for
    > creating a more authentic democracy in this country. Though
    > it is true that a sizeable segment of the Nader vote would
    > have gone to Gore, thousands of others would not have voted
    > at all, and Nader must be credited for giving thousands of
    > people a reason to vote.
    > The real villain in American politics is not Nader, but a
    > relatively closed electoral system, which discourages rather
    > than encourages participation. For all of the hoopla about
    > turnout, the fact is that a little more than 50% of the
    > total eligible electorate actually bothered to vote in
    > election 2000. The biggest political party in America is
    > still non-voters. The second major problem is that Black
    > people, people of color, labor and the poor do not have
    > a party that uncompromisingly promotes and defends their
    > interests.
    > The Democratic Party can no longer claim to be the
    > unquestioned champion of poor and working people, let alone
    > a party which articulates anything resembling a vision for
    > social transformation and real political and economic
    > democracy. But in the crunch, the Democrats were forced
    > to appeal to the very constituencies they have so woefully
    > neglected, Blacks, people of color and labor, to rescue an
    > embattled leader of the DLC. Recognizing the incremental but
    > consequential differences between Bush and Gore, the majority
    > of these constituencies heeded the call.
    > But those who elected to pursue the interest of the
    > progressive movement by refusing to embrace a Republicrat
    > should not be excommunicated from the movement. Whatever the
    > ultimate outcome of this election the Democratic party, if
    > it is intelligent, will have to look leftward in the coming
    > elections if it hopes to remain a force in American politics.
    > The Nader-Green voters must now be factored into the political
    > calculations and equations for the foreseeable future. The
    > challenge on the left is to avoid acrimony, bitterness and
    > permanent splits. Given our professed belief in the politics
    > of social transformation, neither a Bush or Gore presidency
    > will meet our expectations; neither candidate nor party is
    > committed to creating the kind of new society we believe in.
    > Therefore, rather than blame Nader, progressives should
    > use the Nader campaign as the spark to ignite a serious
    > pro-democracy offensive in this nation, in the courts, the
    > corridors of power and in the streets. Now more than ever
    > it is time to come together to discuss our differences and
    > explore ways and means of advancing our vision for a new
    > America.
    > Copyright (c) 2000 The Black World Today. All Rights Reserved.

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