Monday, October 04, 2004

Nader's Nadir

I grew up admiring Ralph Nader. He was, I thought, the quintessential selfless citizen dedicated to improving the lot of his fellow man without regard for any reward. Even during the 2000 presidential campaign his reasons for running for office seemed noble if misguided. His rational for running was that the Democratic party was being run by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and he believed that some of their positions where not much different from the Republican party's policies. He could argue with a modicum of conviction that he was offering a clear choice between the other two parties.

The last four years however, have clearly demonstrated that the Democratic Party even with the DLC guidance would have been infinitely preferable to the disaster the Bushites have wrought. On every issue this country has gone backwards in the last four years: foreign policy, the environment, civil liberties, and even the economy.

Ralph Nader either does not see it or does not care. He still believes he offers a clear choice between the two parties. Worst still, he is on the ballot in many states with the help and support of the Republican right which Nader continues to deny. The support that Nader is receiving from the Republicans is well documented. Here are some of the more egregious examples:
The Republican Party in Michigan gathered almost 45,000 signatures to put Nader's name on the ballot, compared to only 5,000 gathered by actual Nader supporters. Republicans even went to the State Court of Appeals to allow Nader's name to appear on the ballot - and they have been successful. [Associated Press, 8/30/04; Associated Press, 9/4/04] The Court of Appeals ruling confirms that Republicans who gathered the signatures for Nader were, in fact, agents of his campaign.

Individuals with Nader petitions and wearing Republican campaign stickers gather signatures at the GOP's annual barbeque in New Hampshire. Norway Hill, a firm run by a prominent GOP staffer from George H.W. Bush's administration, paid a dollar per signature to other Republicans who would collect names for Nader's ballot drive. [Union Leader, 8/8/04]

A phone script used by the right-wing, anti-government Citizens for a Sound Economy in Oregon said, "Ralph Nader is undoubtedly going to pull some very crucial votes from John Kerry, and that could mean the difference in a razor-thin presidential election. Can we count on you to come out on Saturday night and sign the petition to nominate Ralph Nader?" Nader's Oregon campaign chair said he saw nothing wrong with the right-wing outreach efforts on his candidate's behalf. [The Oregonian, 6/25/04]

Right-wing social conservatives, such as the pro-life, anti-gay Oregon Family Council, have also worked to gather signatures for Nader in the hopes that this will help President Bush's bid for re-election. "We'd like to take a few votes away from John Kerry if it would be possible," Tim Nashif of Oregon Family Council said. The group made hundreds of phone calls to members urging them to help get Nader on the ballot. [Oregonian, 6/25/04]

Signature gatherers for Nader have been accused of misleading people in Pennsylvania into signing petitions to put Nader on the ballot while telling them that they needed to sign the petition to confirm their voter registration. [Philadelphia Daily News, 7/30/04]

A Florida marketing firm hired by the Nader campaign gathered signatures for him at a Bush rally in Beckley, WV, by encouraging attendees to sign the petition and help Bush's re-election effort. "That's not our usual position, but wherever people are gathered, we go," Nader's spokesman said. In Charleston, WV, petition-gatherers for Nader wearing large Bush campaign stickers that read "W '04." [Charleston Gazette, 7/15/04; Charleston Gazette, 7/20/04]

Nader purports to represents the left in American politics but his movement enjoys almost no support among minority groups, feminists, gay-rights groups, most environmental groups, and the national labor movement. This does not leave much left of "the left" and begs the question who is he representing.

Why does he continue to campaign for President? Doesn't he know that a vote for him is Kerry's loss and Bush's gain? Of course he does, but he does not care; he is all ego and hubris and has reached a new low with many of his former supporters and the liberal voters in the United States.

Copyright © 2004, David M. Goldberg

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