Thursday, February 28, 2008

In defense of Ralph Nader

Some Democrats won’t speak to me because I don’t hold Ralph Nader responsible for George W. Bush’s election in 2000.

In January, 2005, my friend, Tod Brilliant, and I arranged a venue in Healdsburg for Ralph to come talk with us and raise funds to pay off the debts related to his run for president in 2004. Everything he had to say made sense.

Ralph Nader has always made sense to me. I realize that many Democrats think he was a “spoiler” in the 2000 election, resulting in GWB’s running our country for eight disastrous years. To them, Nader’s run in 2000, 2004, and 2008 doesn’t make sense.

Here’s what I ask these Democrats:
1. Is there any substantive issue on which you don’t agree with Ralph Nader? The answer is always, “No.”
2. Why do you blame Nader instead of blaming the Democratic Party for moving so far to the right that Nader stands almost alone in support of Democratic principles? Typically I don’t get an answer to this question.
3. Why don’t you blame the Democratic Party for not supporting public funding of campaigns so that those who are running for office can afford to listen to the citizens? Again, I usually don’t get a response.

Yesterday I posted "The Paul Wellstone Way." Wellstone, whom I admire very much, urged us to vote for what we believe in. For those that believe that Ralph Nader best exemplifies the principles Democrats should stand for, he deserves their support.

On February 25th, I posted ”Zinn and Nader .....hold presidential candidates' feet to the fire." Nader came up with 12 questions to ask Clinton and Obama, questions they should be addressing. I even got some flack for this post.

If the issue of whether or not Ralph Nader is a plus or a minus for our country is worth your time, I urge you to read the following and make up your own mind:

1. Transcript of Ralph Nader's February 24th interview on "Meet the Press."

2. Chris Hedges’s February 26th Truthdig article in support of Nader running for president, "Pariah or Prophet?"

3. "Robert Scheer debates Ralph Nader," a transcript of their conversation on The Nation cruise in July of 2007. Friends who were on the cruise told me they thought Nader won the debate. The debate was presented as “Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer goes head to head with progressive icon Ralph Nader, who denies the charge that he has been a spoiler and challenges the value of the Democratic Party.”

Scheer’s final comments: “Ralph Nader has been one of the great citizens in this country’s history. And I don’t think he cost Gore or Kerry the election. I agree with that analysis, I think that they shot themselves in the foot. And I think they should have run a more vigorous, progressive campaign. In Gore’s case, no one has mentioned it, but he distanced himself from Clinton, who was enormously popular, and he failed to carry his own home state. And if you can’t carry your own home state, you haven’t done something right in that connection. So I agree with Ralph that he should not be held responsible for the state of the country, in any negative way. I think he has been an incredibly useful person, I’m not being condescending here—this is heartfelt. I think he’s a great person. And I do think he has the right to run. ...”

I’ve already decided that Ralph is a plus for our country. I haven’t yet decided whom to vote for, but if I take the late Senator Paul Wellstone’s advice, I’ll be voting for Ralph Nader.

Sidebar: If The Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles captures the feelings of a majority of Democrats, Tuesday's cartoon makes me sad.

(photo of Ralph Nader: World Prout Assembly)

4 comments:

tod said...

Food for thought/dissemination:

FOR THE RECORD: Here is a list of the other candidates on the Florida 2000 ballot, besides Ralph Nader, who received more than the 537 votes that separated Bush and Gore:

Pat Buchanan (Reform) - 17,484
Harry Browne (Libertarian) - 16,415
Monica Moorehead (Workers World) - 1,804
Howard Phillips (Constitutional) - 1,371
David McReynolds (Socialist) - 622
James Harris (Socialist Workers) - 562

Gail Jonas said...

Thanks, Tod.
Hedges, in his article linked in my post, makes the same point. Why blame Nader when there were numerous third parties?

chris said...

Hmm ... very interesting.

I had never given consideration to the fact that there were liberal candidates other than Nader who also got more votes in Florida in 2000 than the number that eventually brought the Bush Crime Family into the oval office.

Any one or two of them, had they withdrawn, could have given Gore enough additional votes to win Florida in 2000 (and hence the White House), Nader's presence on the Florida ballot not withstanding.

Clearly, if the blame is to be assigned to third party candidates, one has to blame third parties in general, not Nader's candidacy in particular, for giving Florida to Bush in 2000 (there's certainly plenty of blame to be assigned elsewhere: election fraud, intimidation of black voters, not counting votes, etc.).

As has been stated, not many Nader haters (I used to be one) would be willing to advocate for the removal of the right of third parties to put forth presidential candidates – but they'd really have to do so, to insist on blaming third party candidacies for giving us W.

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