Why I am voting for Nader
Mon Aug 28 13:24:10 MDT 2000
I am one of the founders of the Socialist Union of America, better known as
the Cochran group. For six years the editorial expression of the American
Socialist represented the views of Bert Cochran, Harry Braverman and George
Clarke. They sought to expand socialist ideas by attempting to unify the
left around non- sectarian concepts. To a small degree they succeeded
because they adopted their organizational concepts to the era in which they
No one knows how these Marxists would have responded to the new century and
the problems they faced but as a friend of Bert Cochran for four decades I
do not believe his response in 2000 would be the same as it was in the 50's.
In 1991, My wife and I became a charter members of the Labor Party. My wife,
Genora Dollinger, and I had seen the retrogression of thinking and action by
the union movement saddled everywhere by complacent union bureaucracies.
Under the leadership of Tony Mazzocchi and like minded leaders in labor they
obtained the endorsements from 1 and 1/2 million affiliated union members
and the support of five international unions. The Labor Party leadership in
convention decision of over a thousand delegates abstained from the 2000
elections to prevent our becoming an electoral sect like so many socialist
Abstention was in recognition of the pitiful level of political
consciousness on the part of the union leadership. They didn't respond to
the foremost political program thrashed out at the convention. We have
waited so long for the unions in the industrial sector to move and concluded
we should wait for another turn of the screw.
The arrival of the Greens with Nadir as presidential candidate was an
opportunity to break open the log jam and change the political landscape.
The reaction of Steven Yokich, President of the UAW and James R. Hoffa
President of the Teamsters union showed some political cracks. Yokich
threatened the Democrats by meeting with Nader and suggesting that the UAW
take a fresh look at his candidacy. Yokich did this with a reasoned
presentation sent to all UAW locals.
Eventually, Yokich endorsed Gore but the Yokich early stance sent shivers
through the Democrat Party, Hoffa has still not made an endorsement and met
with Nader at a press conference to urge the election commission to allow
Nader into the debates.
The union developments presage further movement when and if the economy
turns south. In the meanwhile Nader helps prepare the way. His recent
meeting in Portland attracted a turn-away crowd of 10,000. No sect of the
left could have done this in this period. Nader gives a class conscious
talk and he is a legend in fighting corporate wealth.
Nader and the Greens, are they the end result of a process now underway? I
don't think so.
When on a book tour for my book, Not Automatic-- Women and the Left in
Forging Auto Workers' Unions, I was invited to speak at a Detroit UAW local
After my talk I was asked to give my views on labor today. I called
attention to the antilabor legislation on the books for five decades. The
removal of this legislation that has hog-tied the unions is a political act
that can only come about by a Labor Party.
I called attention to the meetings of the Greens in coffee houses and their
campaign for five million dollars. I contrasted this with ten thousand union
halls across the country with thousands of union locals with their own union
publications. While Nader scrounges for finances, a union supported Labor
Party would start with a minimum of thirty five million dollars, and that
would be a conservative estimate.
I am reminded of a letter that Frederick Engels wrote to an American
Socialist in the last century in which he said a single step forward of the
mass movement is better than 100 correct programs. That is why I am voting
for Ralph Nader.
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