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Is Nader offering a left alternative?

MANY MORE people are considering a vote for Ralph Nader as a protest against war and corporate control of Washington than anyone would have guessed when Nader announced his independent presidential campaign in February. But Nader's recent moves--his acceptance of an endorsement by the right-wing Reform Party USA and his all-too-friendly meeting with Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry--have done a disservice to his supporters and severely undermined the case that he represents a left-wing alternative to the Washington status quo.
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader
Earlier this month, leaders of the Reform Party--launched in 1992 as a vehicle for the presidential campaign of millionaire Ross Perot and represented in the 2000 election by far-right bigot Pat Buchanan--endorsed Nader and offered its spot on the ballot in seven states. Nader's left-wing platform is wholly opposed to the Reform Party's on numerous issues--most prominently on immigration, where the Reform Party calls for expelling all illegal immigrants, a position to the right of George Bush.

Campaign organizers privately assure supporters that Nader does disagree with the Reform Party. But shamefully, Nader hasn't uttered a word of criticism in public.

Instead, the campaign's official statement welcomed Reform Party support and bent over backwards to find points of agreement. The net effect is that the Nader campaign gave a dying right-wing organization a breath of life--when it should have been shunned.

Within a week of the Reform Party fiasco, Nader was meeting with John Kerry--and instead of challenging Kerry for trying to "out-Bush Bush," as he put it a few days earlier, Nader absurdly praised Kerry as a "green spruce" compared to the "petrified wood" of the Democrats' last candidate, Al Gore. Nader explained that the meeting was part of his strategy of "opening up a second front" that will help to defeat George Bush.

Maybe Nader thinks this rhetoric will deflect some of the abuse heaped on him by Democrats who despise him for the "crime" of daring to run at all. If so, he's wrong. Democrats continued to snipe at Nader anyway.

But the more important point is that Nader's kid-gloves treatment is letting Kerry off the hook. For example, Nader says that he brought up the topic of Iraq during his meeting with Kerry, but that Kerry refused to discuss it and simply said that he had a "plan."

Rather than push Kerry on the most important issue in U.S. politics today, Nader didn't pursue it, nor did he criticize Kerry's support for the war and occupation during comments to reporters afterward. This is absurd. Even Kerry supporters recognize that Nader's recent jump in support is because he is the only candidate who calls for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

Nader is giving up opportunities to do what he says is his main goal--offer an alternative to the two-party "duopoly" in Washington--on a decisive issue where the Republicans' and Democrats' similarities are plain to see.

Socialist Worker was a proud supporter of Nader in the 2000 election. We believe his campaign was a lightning rod for millions of people fed up with corporate domination of the U.S. political system. Nader himself was no socialist and had political weaknesses on a number of questions. But, by and large, he spoke out for an unapologetic left-wing alternative.

Because of his enthusiasm for the Reform Party endorsement and his overtures to Kerry, the same cannot be said today. This is why we can't recommend a vote for Nader at this time.

The urgency of building a left-wing alternative to the two parties is profound. John Kerry and George Bush represent two candidates of the Washington status quo whose differences--when they exist at all--are overwhelmed by what they share.

Nader could be that alternative in Election 2004--but not if he continues to celebrate his support from the right, and not if he pulls his punches when it comes to Kerry. We urge Nader to renounce the Reform Party's right-wing politics--and to argue a consistent case against John Kerry's Republican Lite agenda.

 http://www.socialistworker.org/2004-1/501/501_03_Nader.shtml
The "Socialists" are out of touch 16.Aug.2004 09:53

Smelling Salt

Nader has many elements in his platform that ought to appeal to a socially minded voter including his stances on:

# Agricultural Policy
# Civil Liberties and Constitutional Rights
# Corporate Crime
# Education
# Electoral Reform
# Environment
# Fair Taxes
# Fair Trade
# Federal Budget
# Iraq War and Occupation
# Jobs
# Media Bias and Concentration
# Peace
# Poverty
# Universal Health Care
# Worker's Rights

 http://www.votenader.org/issues/index_home.php

As I mentioned on another thread, I spoke with a fierce "Socialist Party" supporter the other day, and she had no idea what issues Nader was campaigning on. The author of this article appears to have been written by someone with an ax to grind but very little information, and even less supporting evidence for their claims.

I understand that the Socialist Party is running 5 Presidential candidates this election. Despite the fact that I have been paying close attention, I can't name a single one. Why is that? Why don't the Socialists introduce their candidates, explain their platforms, and how their positions are preferable to those of Nader? This article is hardly better than the empty smear refuse that the Democrats have been spewing.

Note to Socialist backers: I can hear you BETTER if you are not yelling at me. I am more receptive to what you are saying if you at least appear to listen to me and care what I think. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the other candidates' platforms. You would be far more persuasive if you could name your preferred candidate, and explain to me what they stand for and how that contrasts with the other candidates. Be prepared with some successful examples of implementation of your party's ideas.

When you refuse to sign a petition for a candidate who is championing many of your issues and affording them much needed visibility, simply because you are a "Socialist Party" member, you are shooting yourself in the foot, and you appear to be as knee jerk reactionary as many Republicans. If I must join your exclusive club in order to work with you on common issues, then no thanks. The author of this article also misses that point in this article.

Reform Party 16.Aug.2004 14:45

George Bender

The Reform Party is not important, just a device to get Nader on some state ballots. People who are making a big deal about it have some other axe to grind. Look at Nader's record and platform, and then vote on that basis.

Nader is not a socialist, so I can see why socialists would not vote for him. He is in favor of regulating the capitalist part of our mixed capitalist/socialist economy so that it won't be so destructive. That's what his whole four decade career has been about. This puts him well to the left of the Democrats, in the "progressive" area of politics.

The Nader campaign is the only credible way we have of fighting the Democrats and the two-party system, forcing American politics to the left. It would be foolish of us not to use this power.


capitalism = constant war 16.Aug.2004 15:30

GRINGO STARS

Capitalism demands constant growth for its economic health. Constant growth will run up against barriers eventually. Not enough market, resources or workforce to continue growing. So wars happen. No matter how cute and cuddly you try to make capitalism, you will run up against the ugly fact that capitalism demands constant growth, which in turn demands constant war. To protest each individual side-effect of capitalism (war) as if it is some strange anomoly, or caused by personalities rather than the capitalist system, is to remain part of the problem.

Nader and Bush have that in common; defense of capitalism. They differ only in style of their defense.

To "Smelling Salt"... There are multiple socialist parties. One party does not run 5 candidates. Not all socialists are in the same party, and socialists differ on various issues. Also: most socialists are proponents of revolution, which is a mass, popular violent uprising against the ruling class. Such activities do not lend themselves easily to the masturbatory nature of fraudulent electoral politics in the US. They run candidates only to educate people about socialism.

Successful implementation of socialism: look at modern-day Venezuela. Nearly perfect implementation.

By the way, "SS", you must be speaking about some personal offline experience with this or that socialist, because I have seen no "shouting" online from any socialists. Perhaps you don't like what is being said, but that doesn't make it "shouting."

The original article of this thread is not an "empty smear" on Nader but a sober explanation of how Nader violates the principle of integrity, when it comes to politicking.

Reform Party 16.Aug.2004 16:47

Reform Party website

Reform Party of the USA
420 1/2 South 22nd Ave.
Hattiesburg, MS 39401

Reform Party endorses Ralph Nader for President

(May 11, 2004) The Reform Party of the United States of America overwhelmingly
voted to endorse Ralph Nader for President of the United States.

In 1992, founder and presidential candidate Ross Perot received over 19 million votes. Four years later, Ross Perot received over 8 million votes. Today, the Reform Party USA has over 1 million active supporters. For example, in November, 2003, in Mississippi, Reform Party candidate Billy Blackburn pulled over 182,000 votes.

This year, with your help, Ralph Nader can win the office of the Presidency, since over 80 out of every 100 registered voters did not vote for Democratic or Republican candidates in the 2004 Primaries.

Reform Party USA Chairman Shawn O'Hara said, "Ralph Nader has stood up for the rights of American citizens his entire life. He is a man of peace, and with the help of every citizen who did not vote in the primaries, he can win the November presidential election. Want Reform, vote Reform, and vote for endorsed Reform Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. On the whole, every time you go to the gas pumps, and see the high gasoline prices, look at what the Democrats and Republicans have done to you. Therefore, please vote for Ralph Nader for President."

Contact Chairman Shawn O'Hara at 601-544-1424, or
National Press Secretary David Weller at  taylor-co-rp@cox.net

The Reform Party USA can be found at
 http://reformparty.org.

ultra-right Reform Party: racist xenophobic scapegoating & anti-choice to boot 16.Aug.2004 20:44

GRINGO STARS

In the week before the Nashville meeting Buchanan was noisily parading his right-wing views. He was praised by—and did not disavow—former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who announced February 6 that he was prepared to quit the Republican Party, where he serves as chairman of the largest congressional district organization in Louisiana, and join the Reform Party in support of Buchanan's candidacy.

Buchanan took the occasion of a campaign appearance in Richmond, Virginia two days later to denounce the diplomatic boycott of Austria in response to the entry of Haider's Freedom Party into the Austrian government. "I do not see any threat to Europe or the world or anywhere from Mr. Haider or that coalition government sitting in Vienna," Buchanan said. "But it is an indication, I think, that any candidate of the right can expect universal hostilities."

Haider has become notorious for his public praise of the "orderly employment policy" of the Nazis and the "courage" and "discipline" of Hitler's Waffen SS (which enlisted many Austrians during World War II). His Freedom Party focuses on opposition to the European Union and scapegoating immigrant workers for the social and economic problems of Austria. To Buchanan, that makes Haider a political soul-mate. "He is an opponent of their whole global new world order," Buchanan said of the Austrian demagogue.

At his February 11 press conference announcing his withdrawal from the Reform Party, Jesse Ventura denounced Buchanan, saying, "I can't stay in a party that will have Pat Buchanan as its nominee and is getting David Duke's support." He called Buchanan an "anti-abortion extremist and unrealistic isolationist." Minnesota Reform Party state chairman Rick McCluhan said he plans to ask the state central committee to call a convention March 4 to vote on disaffiliation from the national party.

 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/feb2000/ref-f17.shtml

Knowledge, not hysteria 16.Aug.2004 22:36

Reform Party website

FOUNDING PRINCIPLES


Set the highest ethical standards for the White House and Congress:

* No more gifts.

* No more trips or junkets paid for by special interests.

* No more free meals.

* Pass laws with significant penalties - not rules.

* Give Congress and the White House the same retirement plans and health care as the average citizen.


Balance the Budget:

* Develop a detailed blueprint to balance the budget.

* Eliminate the practice of keeping some programs off-budget.

* Pass the Balanced Budget Amendment.

* Create an annual financial report in plain language so the American people will know whether or not we are following the plan to balance the budget.

* Give the President the Line Item Veto.


Campaign Reform:

* Reduce the cost of campaigns by shortening the election cycle.

* Vote on Saturdays and Sundays - not Tuesdays - so working people can get to the polls.

* Replace the Electoral College process for electing the President with a direct vote from the citizens - so that every vote counts.

* Prohibit announcements of exit polls until all voting has been completed in Hawaii.

* Require Members of Congress to raise all money from voters in their districts, and require members of the Senate to raise all money from voters within their States.


Term Limits:

* Limit Members of Congress to three terms in the House of Representatives and limit Senators to two terms in the Senate.


Create a new tax system:

* It must be fair.

* It must be paperless.

* It must raise the money to pay the bills.

* Require that any future tax increases under this new system be approved by the people in the next federal election, in order to impose discipline on spending.


Carefully putting together plans to deal with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security:

* Explain these plans in detail to the American people.

* Get a consensus.

* Pilot test each of these programs before implementing them nationwide to make sure they produce the anticipated results at the anticipated cost.

* Keep these programs dynamic, so they can be changed based on experience - don't freeze them with restrictive legislation.


Promoting jobs in the USA:

* Negotiate trade agreements that promote American jobs, consumer safety, environmental protection, and fair trade.

* Create a business environment that supports small business, which accounts for roughly 80 percent of jobs held by Americans today. Trade agreements, tax reform, health care reform, and other programs must reflect the needs of small business.


Lobbying Reform:

* Prohibit former elected and appointed officials from ever taking money from foreign governments or foreign interests.

* Prohibit any former high level federal employees - including elected officials - from ever working as a foreign lobbyist.

* Allow foreign governments to provide information to our government through the State and Commerce Departments and the Executive Branch, but prohibit them from giving contributions or gifts of any kind.

* Allow foreign representatives to visit with Members of Congress, but under no circumstances allow them to give elected officials anything now or later.

* Prohibit any former high level federal employees - including elected officials - from working as a domestic lobbyist for five years after leaving government service in the area for which they served.

* Limit domestic lobbying to presenting client's ideas to the Legislative and Executive Branches

* Prohibit domestic lobbyists from giving money, trips or other incentives to current or former members of the Legislative and Executive Branches.


? for Naderites 17.Aug.2004 17:55

Why not an independent publisher

Why did Ralph publish his latest tome though Reganbooks, a division of Harper Collins and not self publish or use some independent publisher.

Regardless of the Reform Party platform... 17.Aug.2004 18:45

GRINGO STARS

...there is the de facto platform, the platform that Reform Party members/delegates actually voted for. That platform is one of demonizing immigrants, anti-gay bigotry (denouncing "rampant homosexuality"), promising to "bring God back to government" and other fascist agendas, all as vindicated by Pat Buchanan's majority nomination in the Reform Party.
 http://www.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/08/11/reform.convention/

I wish there was more information, rather than the hysteria served up by the Reform Party.

The coming together of Perot and Buchanan has sinister implications for American politics, and follows an international pattern, which has seen the emergence of extreme-right-wing demagogues like Austria's Joerg Haider, Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, Preston Manning in Canada and Pauline Hanson in Australia.

Such reactionary political formations have come to the fore within a definite political context. In country after country, the trade unions and the old social democratic and Labor parties have abandoned any struggle in defense of jobs, living standards or social benefits. They have jettisoned their old reformist policies and adapted themselves to the right-wing, "free market" consensus of international capital.

Masses of middle-class and working people find themselves without any representation, even in the most limited form, within the orbit of the traditional bourgeois and social democratic parties. In the absence of a genuine socialist alternative with substantial organizational support among workers, political disorientation prevails within wide layers of the population. In the resulting political vacuum, extreme right-wing elements have been able to seize on social grievances and exploit them, in large measure by scapegoating minorities and immigrants and whipping up nationalism.

And now Nader is endorsed by these people? Fucking great.

Greens and Cobb a better choice 18.Aug.2004 09:28

B

Cobb's a better choice. Vote Green!

www.votecobb.org

www.gp.org

Why not an independent publisher? 18.Aug.2004 19:37

George Bender

I don't know. Why does it matter? And why are people like you so hung up over trivia? Believe it or not, there are real issues in this campaign.