jhurd_newparty: Re: The Nader campaign, part 1

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Mon Jun 5 09:17:41 MDT 2000

(This is a reply to David McReynolds, the SP candidate for president, who
posted a response to my Nader piece on Jim Hurd's New Party mailing list)

David McReynolds:
>His comments in the paragraph three focus on some real issues. But I second
>his "motion" that where Nader lives in DC is not really useful in a
>discussion. This is a little like the old discussion of the late Michael
>Harrington in terms of his having moved with his family out to the suburbs.

Look, this business is interesting to me because I had to put up with this
kind of hypocritical bullshit when I was in the SWP. People were being
driven out left and right in the late 70s and early 80s because they
weren't sacrificing enough to build the party. It wasn't good enough to pay
$35 per week in dues and to be at the headquarters 3 nights a week until 9.
People in the leadership looked crosseyed at you if you bought a new car or
a house. The goal, our leaders told us, was to emulate the footloose IWW
rebel who went from town to town on boxcars. So when I spotted SWP leaders
Jack Barnes and Mary Alice Waters in the $100 per seat rows at the
Metropolitan Opera, I went ballistic. I had been driven out of the party
because I was too "petty-bourgeois" and here were these two assholes in the
expensive seats.

Frankly, I think the idea of pretending that you live in a rooming house
just sucks. As I said, I have no objection to Nader (or Harrington) living
comfortably. Just don't put on airs like you are Mother Teresa or
something. I personally never knew about the discrepancies reported upon in
Sanford's book and I thought it was about god-damned time that the rest of
the left knew about them. I don't give a rat's ass that rightwingers write
about them as well. We have to be upfront on the question of personal honesty.

Now there are some troubling things in my article that people seem to be
stepping daintily around. One is the report in the NY Times that the Reform
Party is putting out feelers to Ralph Nader and the Greens about running
him instead of Buchanan. What is THAT about? The other thing that I didn't
mention but which is just as troubling is the claim that rightwing
industrialist Roger Milliken is a major contributor to the Nader
organizations and the campaign. The Nader camp refuses apparently to
confirm or deny, claiming that secrecy is important in order to protect
their donors. What is THAT about? The nickle-and-dime nonprofit upon whose
board I served as president always listed major donors in the Annual Report
and we were sending volunteers to the Sandinistas and the ANC, for chrissake.

At a certain point, the personal is political. We need candidates who
express the living heartbeat of a democratic mass movement, like Martin
Luther King Jr. or David McReynolds for that matter. Nader seems to be very
dedicated to his cause, but the political culture seems distinctly at odds
with what I was involved with in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

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