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Kerry, Nader and the Greens Need to Kill the Circular Firing Squad

It's time for the Kerry, Nader and Green campaigns to get locked in a room until they disarm the circular firing squad and focus on the real enemy, George W. Bush.
Published on Monday, August 16, 2004 by CommonDreams.org


Especially in swing states like ours, the endless wrangling and rancor must stop. Every boring, suicidal attack harms our ability to beat Bush.

In light of his votes for war in Iraq, the Patriot Act and way too much else, it's obvious President Kerry will be no messiah. But we doubt our democracy or our planet would survive four more years of Cheney-Rove-Bush.

So we may ask friends in safe states like Massachusetts and Hawaii to balance our Kerry votes here in Ohio with votes there for Ralph or for the Green Party candidate, David Cobb.

If Al Gore had met and worked with Nader in 2000 instead of attacking him, we might have been spared the horrors of these past four years. It's inaccurate, unwise and self-destructive to continually blame Ralph for the Democrats' "loss" when in fact Gore won the election. We are glad Kerry has had the good sense to meet with Ralph, and to refrain from attacking the Greens.

But the three camps need to make a pro-active peace. Now!

Pat Buchanan clearly cost Bush some key states in 2000. The Republicans haven't spent the past four years screaming at him. But they did find a way to keep him from running in 2004.

Ralph has every right to run for president. Fighting to keep him off the ballot presumes the way to save democracy is to suppress it. It also presumes those who ultimately choose to vote for him are some sort of inanimate stolen property, wrongfully taken from the Democrats if only Ralph hadn't somehow brainwashed them into voting for him.

Please!!!

You can regret voting for Nader in 2000. But he was not responsible for the Democrats' miserable campaign. Among other things, Nader should have been included in the presidential debates. Instead he was physically ejected from the first Gore-Bush debate, which Gore proceeded to lose.

The Democrats won the popular vote by 500,000 votes, but sat on their hands and kept their mouths wide shut while the Republicans stole the presidency. Gore's catastrophic mis-handling of the Florida debacle and his silence after it were catastrophic, and ran directly counter to the kinds of campaigns Nader has run--- successfully---since 1963.

From the Liberty and Free Soil Parties through Lincoln's Republicans, the Greenbackers, Populists, Socialists, Progressives, Dixiecrats, Peace and Freedom Parties, Peronista/Reform Party, and Buchananites, third parties have been part of American presidential campaigns more often than not. Those who have accommodated and co-opted them rather than attacking them have been the ones to win the White House. Gore's polls ran consistently higher when he adopted the pro-peace, environmental and social justice stands Nader and the Greens have demanded. Rather than attacking Nader now, Kerry's Democrats should be adopting Green positions.

Nader ran in 1996, and in again in 2000. There is no mystery about what he or the Greens stand for. There's no excuse for anybody---Nader, the Greens or the Democrats---to attack each other in 2004.

We need a joint declaration of strategy from these three campaigns. We don't need Karl Rove smirking at yet another mass leftist suicide.

Franklin Roosevelt, against whom the Socialist Norman Thomas ran four times, honored him in the Oval Office for being the principled gentleman he was. FDR's victories were based in part on his co-option of key parts of the Socialist platforms, which Thomas graciously welcomed.

It's a time-honored model. Kerry, Nader and the Greens could all win if they follow it. It's unlikely democracy or our planet will survive if they don't.


Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis are co-authors of GEORGE W. BUSH VERSUS THE SUPERPOWER OF PEACE (www.freepress.org) HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is available at www.harveywasserman.com. Bob's SPOOKS, NUKES & NAZIS is at freepress.org
There's A Major Problem Here... 18.Aug.2004 07:12

alsis38 alsis38

...Or two, perhaps.

One is that this sort of "Can't-We-All-Just-Get-Along" article, however well-intentioned, always makes the mistake of assuming/pretending that all parties in the "Circular firing squad" have the same amount of power and influence. C'mon !! Look at Medea Benjamin, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton, et al: All of these peaceniks --and so many more-- have fallen on their swords for Kerry. What have they gotten in return ? Absolutely nothing, except the unspoken problem that in the future, they'll be kicked repeatedly in the butt by someone wearing Keds (Kerry) instead of someone wearing steel-toed boots (Bush). To pretend that "unity" and "progress" can be anything but hollow words when one part of the "squad" throws down its guns while the other side gleefully continues shooting is absurd.

If someone wants to discuss the prospect of all of us "Just Getting Along" perhaps they can start by discarding this hopelessly clueless notion that those to the Left of the assholes running the Democratic Party can have the ear of and gain concessions from the likes of McAuliffe and Kerry anytime they want to. This is nonsense. The arrogance of the Demo Leadership has known no bounds for years. They don't even pretend for five minutes anymore to infuse a whiff of reform or populism into their campaigns (as Gore did, briefly and unconvincingly) because they don't have to. If they just sit on back smugly on their fucking thrones, eventually 99% of even so-called Progressives will come crawling back to kiss their feet and beg for protection. They don't treat this as an opening to negotiate and compromise with the Left. They treat it as something they are owed by virtual divine right. No one "negotiates" with a serf, and the relationship between Democratic leadership and the Left these days is little more than glorified serfdom. :(

Problem Number Two: At this point, if Kerry were to somehow gain enough common sense to say he'd throw a few bones to the Naderites and other disaffected, angry Leftists, who in their right mind would believe him ? What in the man's history points toward him keeping any such promise once he's in office ? Have we all forgotten how the Clinton-Gore-Morris three-headed beast spent much of Clinton's first term stabbing virtually everyone in the back that Clinton had promised real help to when he was on the campaign trail ?

The "firing squad" model is a joke for its ASSumption that we're all on equal ground in this little tete'-a-tete', with equal weapons and armor at hand. I'd try another metaphor if I were the one writing this piece. One that actually acknowledged whose really running the "squad" and whose treated repeatedly as expendable.