[sixties-l] NYTimes.com Article: A Party Crasher's Lone Regret: That He Didn't Get More Votes

From: epm2@lehigh.edu
Date: Mon Feb 19 2001 - 10:48:21 EST

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    This article from NYTimes.com
    has been sent to you by epm2@lehigh.edu.

    Thanks to Radman for passing along Doug Ireland's piece. It makes good points, but is also a little troubling.... For Nader's own 'response' see this from the Sunday New York Times (Feb. 18).
    Ted Morgan

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    A Party Crasher's Lone Regret: That He Didn't Get More Votes

    February 18, 2001

    RALPH NADER'S name used to be synonymous with consumer advocacy and
    corporate muckraking. But since running for president on the Green
    Party ticket, Mr. Nader, 67, has been more often described as a

     Among many Democrats, who blame him for taking votes away from Al
    Gore, effectively costing their party the election, Mr. Nader has
    been treated like a modern-day Hester Prynne, banished to the
    outskirts of the political arena and spoken of with open disdain.
    Former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, who had said he would "strangle the
    guy with my bare hands if he helps George W. Bush beat Al Gore,"
    has refused to apologize for his comment. Hillary Clinton, who said
    "that's not a bad idea" when the publisher and editor Harold Evans
    joked that he wanted to kill the Green Party candidate, has ignored
    16 phone calls asking for an apology, Mr. Nader says.

     In an interview last week with The New York Times, Mr. Nader said
    that although he considers such language irresponsible, he would
    rather not focus on gossip that "coarsens the public dialogue." And
    he remains defiantly proud of his candidacy, convinced that it has
    helped to energize progressive liberals disenchanted with the two
    major "corporate-dominated" political parties.

     Q. What have you been doing since the election? There are a lot of
    "Where's Ralph?" articles that say you seem awfully quiet these

     A. Well, I've been pursuing a number of civic projects, ranging
    from the California power crisis to advancing consumer protection
    on the Internet and other pro-democracy electoral reforms. I've
    been looking at worldwide health and diseases like TB and malaria.
    I'm also writing a book on the campaign.

     And then I'm also in the process of building the Green Party; 900
    campus Green Parties will be established by the end of the year.
    The organizing group, Campus Greens, has already gotten under way.
    We're looking for candidates for the 2002 election to run at the
    local, state and national levels. Most of the coverage of the
    campaign is a horse race, so when the horse race goes away, the
    coverage goes away.

     Q. You seemed to stay out of the fray during the post-election
    Florida recount.

    A. No. When I was out on the road, I had a lot to say, but the
    mainstream press didn't cover any of it. The campus papers or the
    small newspapers did. People who say that I've been out of the
    media ^ well, it's up to the media to cover what we say. We've had
    nine press conferences since the elections. You haven't heard much
    about them. I've spoken out on the California power crisis. We're
    taking on the New York Stock Exchange now over the $1.1 billion
    taxpayer-funded deal to buy land and build a new building for the
    super wealthy capitalists. . . .

     Q. You won less than 4 percent of the national vote, yet your
    votes were enough to put George W. Bush in the White House. What do
    you say to the people who say that you were nothing but a Gore
    spoiler all along?

    A. I say there must be 20 spoilers: the state of Tennessee, the
    state of Arkansas, the Democratically controlled counties of Palm
    Beach that didn't recount in time for the Supreme Court deadline,
    George Bush taking 10 times the number of Democratic votes in
    Florida that I did. Ten times! There were too many spoilers to
    single out one for his alleged defeat.

     Q. Arrogant. Conceited. Self-serving. Those are some of the
    adjectives that have been used to describe you and your campaign.
    Were you prepared for this kind of vitriol?

     A. I've had a lot of words used in the past. I've never had
    egotistical or those words used. That's what some people call you
    when you crash the political parties and try to give people a
    broader choice than the two political parties, and give them a
    broader political agenda. People who called me those things were
    people who thought Gore was entitled to all votes to the left of
    center. They were saying, "How dare the Green Party clutter the
    playing field?" . . .

     Q. Are you watching this presidency with fear and trepidation?

    A. The same decision makers under Clinton-Gore are operating under
    Bush-Cheney. They're all over the place and they've always been all
    over the place. We're talking about the politicians taking their
    orders from corporate paymasters.

     Q. So you really believe that the two parties are the same?

    Yes, on most issues. On the most basic issues of cordoning power
    from people as voters, consumers and taxpayers, they've very
    similar. Look at the massive mergers that went on during
    Clinton-Gore. GATT, Nafta, corporate crime, corporate welfare ^ the

     Q. You kept calling Gore and Bush Tweedledee and Tweedledum during
    the campaign. So you still think there's hardly any difference
    between the two?

     A. On most issues. In foreign policy, the Commerce Department,
    agriculture, criminal justice, defense, the Treasury, the Federal
    Reserve and even most of the regulatory agencies.

     Q. Do you think Gore would have appointed John Ashcroft attorney

     A. No. He wouldn't have appointed Ashcroft. But the Justice
    Department under Clinton-Gore has been horrendous. Their litigation
    enforcement rate is lower than the administration before them on
    illegal police violence and affirmative action. Environmental
    crimes prosecution is down more than 25 percent under Clinton-Gore
    than it was during the Reagan-Bush administration. This surprises a
    lot of people, but it's true. Only in housing anti-discrimination
    enforcement were they better.

     The similarities regarding the concentration of corporate power
    over our government tower over the dwindling differences between
    the two parties. . . .

     Q. And abortion?

     A. They differ on abortion. But I don't believe that Roe v. Wade
    is going to be overturned. And both parties condone the criminal
    injustice system, corporate prisons, the death penalty, the failed
    war on drugs.

     Q. Guns?

     A. On guns they're different, but not that different. We'll put
    guns in the column of a real difference. But are they that
    different on corporate armament?

     That's what the frightened liberals don't think about. They think
    that the five issues that the two parties differ on are the only
    ones. They're different on abortion. And on forest regulation
    they're very different. But the way I look at it, I make a list of
    all the departments and check where they differ. The F.A.A. has
    been asleep for eight years. OSHA's been asleep. The F.D.A. There's
    no difference. So that's the way really to rigorously support the
    conclusion that on most of the issues involving the corporate
    takeover of elections and the weakening of democracy, the two
    parties are humming along on parallel tracts, moving to the
    marching orders of the corporate paymasters.

     Q. Are you a pariah to the Democratic Party?

     A. That assumes I
    care about that. I did meet with [Representative Richard A.]
    Gephardt last week at his invitation and he said to me that the
    vituperatives that some Democrats are hurling at us ^ that the
    nasty comments that some Democrats are hurling at us ^ that he
    disapproves of that. I told him, you know the Democrats have been
    known to work with Gingrich and Lott and Delay between elections.
    What's their problem with working with progressive Greens?

     You know, every one of these Democrats who says that I cost Gore
    the election says that Gore has won the election. (Laughs.) They
    say he won the popular vote and the electoral vote. So how much of
    a margin did I cost him?

     Q. You've said you spent a great deal of time in California rather
    than focusing on swing states. Yet in the last week or so of the
    campaign you spent a lot of time in the swing states.

     A. That was making up for not spending time in them before. I
    mean, I went to Wisconsin three times, Gore went nine times and
    Bush went 11 times. Actually, it was Buchanan who cost Bush four
    states ^ Wisconsin, Iowa, Oregon and New Mexico. He gave them to
    Gore by taking them away from Bush. And the Republicans didn't
    whine the way the Democrats did as if they were entitled to those

     Q. Will you run again?

     A. Too early to say.

     Q. Any regrets?

     A. Yeah, I didn't get more votes. The Democrats'
    scare tactics in the last month took millions of votes that were
    leaning my way. The Washington Post said that there were five
    million votes that were leaning my way that got cold feet. People
    get cold feet. That happens a lot with third party candidates. . .

    Q. Anything you'd like to add?

     A. Just that basically, for us, the future is party building,
    corporate reform and promoting a pro-democracy agenda. We've got to
    make the term corporate reform as popular as tax reform. That's the



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