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Fri Nov 17 07:51:36 MST 2000
FEATURE STORY | December 4, 2000
Nader: Is There Life After Crucifixion?
by DAVID CORN
After the election came the crucifixion. Before the Gore-Bush mess was
settled--but as soon as it was apparent that Ralph Nader's vote in Florida
was greater than the gap between Al Gore and George Bush--pundits,
editorial boards, political partisans and liberals pounced. AFL-CIO
president John Sweeney called Nader's campaign "reprehensible."
Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook declared, "The
public-interest community is going to spend tens of millions of dollars a
year for the next four years playing defense. I don't think [Nader's] going
to build a Green Party any more than O.J.'s out there looking for a
murderer." Larry Marx, co-executive director of Wisconsin Citizen Action,
complained that Nader "got tunnel vision and lost sight of progressive
goals." "I will not speak his name," hissed Democratic spin man James
Carville. "I'm going to shun him. And any good Democrat, any good
progressive, ought to do the same thing."
In addition to the demonization of a progressive icon--Nader
himself--Nader's campaign resulted in a sharpening of the sometimes blurry
line between inside-the-duopoly progressives who try to nudge the
Democratic Party to the left and nonestablishment progressives who eschew
the party as part of the problem, not the potential solution. His candidacy
hardened positions along this divide. It also diminished whatever
opportunity he had to work with left-leaning Democrats in Washington. "He's
totally toast among Democrats," says a senior Democratic Congressional
aide. "There is deep animosity toward him among high-ranking Democrats in
Congress. For now, the relationship is completely ruptured." And with 2.7
million votes--3 percent of the vote--Nader fell far short of the magic
mark of 5 percent, which would have qualified the Green Party for federal
funding in the next presidential election.
So was it worth it? "Of course," says an utterly undaunted Nader, who
obviously relished the campaign experience. "Look what came out of
this--the third-largest party. Tens of thousands of people were energized.
It was a great burst. We can continue on and recruit more candidates in
2002. There will be a Green Party presence here [in Washington], which will
speak with authority--electoral authority--when it goes to Capitol Hill,
not just say, 'Please, please, do what we want.'" He expresses no regrets;
he is unfazed by the harsh criticism; he is unrepentant. With the Florida
recount under way, Nader showed no sign of caring much about who will win.
Instead, he was more excited about a letter he received on November 8 from
Holly Hart of the Iowa Green Party. She reported that his campaign
appearances there prompted Republican farmers to contact the party and that
"the Green Party and the message of your campaign have come out well ahead
of where they started." Though Nader only scored 2 percent in Iowa, that
was enough for the Iowa Green Party to qualify for automatic ballot status.
"Not only that," Hart wrote; "we now have around five new Green student
organizations and many new county Green chapters--enough so that we can now
organize a real statewide Green Party." This is evidence of the "benefits"
of his campaign, Nader notes; he has created a "ripple effect" throughout
Full article at: http://www.thenation.com
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