This article from NYTimes.com
has been sent to you by firstname.lastname@example.org.
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).
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A Party Crasher's Lone Regret: That He Didn't Get More Votes
February 18, 2001
By EVELYN NIEVES
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
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.
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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