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  • Thursday, November 04, 2004


    Nader in a Different Light

    This article in The Progressive, written before the election, caught my eye because it reminded me of the phrases "9/11 changed everything" and "That's a pre-9/11 mentality." Before the election, Ralph Nader was a spoiler, someone draining votes from Kerry for a lost campaign. Now, post-election, this article looks almost prophetic. I have to agree that progressives gave up or severely compromised many of their positions and values to support Kerry. I don't necessarily believe voting for Nader would have been better, just that the "anyone but Bush" movement had certain self-induced blind spots.

    From Nader's Students by Ruth Conniff:

    "When I caught up with him before his speech at the Wisconsin Union Theater, the statement from his former supporters asking people in swing states not to vote for him had just come out. He called it 'unconditional surrender.' 'It's the politics of fear run amok,' he said. 'The loss of nerve. They are helping Kerry lose.'

    Nader blamed liberal intellectuals--along with labor unions, the ACLU, and other progressive groups who are now backing Kerry--for what looked like a floundering Democratic campaign. By giving up their 'stature and integrity,' by acting like 'weaklings,' and by not holding the Democrats' feet to the fire on trade, civil liberties, the war in Iraq, and economic justice, progressives have allowed the party to be pulled to the right by corporate interests and their preferred brand of 'swing vote' politics, he says. Hence, Kerry's dismally vague message.

    'I don't remember any time in history when the left has surrendered like this on the foreign policy, military, and economic issues they believe in,' Nader said.

    Instead of releasing a statement opposing Nader, 'Why couldn't they have said, 'We urge Kerry to adopt the following positions'?' he asked. 'If they don't make Kerry better, he'll be made worse.'

    Sitting backstage before his speech, eating Middle Eastern take-out, Nader looked tired. Who are his supporters now? I asked. 'We've been abandoned by most people,' he said, matter-of-factly. 'Patti Smith is the only entertainer.'"

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