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: > http://www.tbwt.com/views/rd/rd_11-22-00.asp > > 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> > > 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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