[Marxism] Labor for Nader for Kerry?

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Mon Feb 16 15:20:19 MST 2004


Published on Monday, February 16, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
What's the Historical Alternative?
by Fran Shor

It is becoming more evident every day that the presidential race in 2004 
will be a match-up between John Kerry and George W. Bush. Ralph Nader is 
still toying with the idea of running although he is getting lots of 
discouragement from Democrats and even Green Party members. As a former 
Green Party activist who worked in the Nader campaign in Michigan in 2000, 
I, too, would discourage him from mounting an independent run for the 
Presidency in 2004. While Nader's efforts in 2000 could be seen as an 
outgrowth of the struggles for global justice and hoped for reforms in the 
US political system, these are less evident now in an age of revanchist US 
imperialism abroad and political repression at home. Moreover, what 
constitutes the historical alternative in 2004 is a question which, so far, 
very few on the left have yet to address.

Unlike any other presidential election in our lifetime, a right-wing 
dominated Republican Party will go into the 2004 election with a majority in 
the House and Senate. Moreover, they will, most likely, keep those 
majorities, especially since they have assiduously been gerrymandering 
Congressional districts (in places like Pennsylvania and Texas) to guarantee 
their control in the House. In addition, it's also likely that Republicans 
may pick up some seats in the Senate, especially from Southern states where 
Democrats like Hollings, Edwards, and Graham have relinquished their 
incumbency. To neglect this historically significant moment of Republican 
congressional majorities is to blind oneself, either out of moral myopia, 
political obtuseness, or sectarian stupidity.

Those who wish to promote a third party alternative from the top-down, i.e, 
running an independent or Green Party candidate for the presidency, are 
neglecting the continuing structural impediments against third parties, 
including lack of proportional and preferential voting. In addition, 
electoral reforms necessary for any meaningful political change are still 
not in place. This means abolition of the Electoral College and 
enfranchisement of millions of people (a large proportion of which are black 
men) who are deemed ineligible to vote because of a prison record.

If the aforementioned political realities aren't bad enough for prospects 
for the 2004 presidential election, the focus on the Democratic candidate, 
as either savior or fraud, is also distressing. When critics of John Kerry 
in journals and websites begin to parrot the smear campaigns of right- wing 
columnists, such as David Brooks, there is something deeply amiss. Of 
course, Kerry should be challenged on his voting record and 
influence-peddling, but please spare us distorting the record and belaboring 
the obvious. If you think that Kerry was an inauthentic participant in the 
Vietnam Veterans Against the War, go back and read his moving testimony in 
front of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on April 23, 1971. 
Although Kerry has distanced himself from that moment, we need not cast 
aspersions on his anti-war activities, especially since the Republican 
smear-machine is already labeling him as unpatriotic and "weak" on defense.

It is also astounding that progressives manage to selectively highlight 
Kerry's record without acknowledging the failures of the Democratic Party as 
a whole. For example, to criticize Kerry for his vote on the Patriot Act is 
to ignore the fact that only one member of the Senate, Russ Feingold, voted 
against it. If one believes that Kerry would actually be no different on 
civil liberties issues than John Ashcroft and the Bush Administration, point 
to substantive evidence. Furthermore, to overlook his high ratings by NARAL, 
environmental, and other liberal organizations is to neglect the positives 
and accentuate the very real negatives in his record.

Most bemusing, however, is those who claim that Kerry's influence-peddling 
deserves special criticism as if the whole Washington establishment has 
clean hands on this matter. Such efforts to cast Kerry as the worst of 
Washington bunch are somewhat reminiscent of Claude Raines' mock-shocked 
response in Casablanca to gambling at Rick's. Furthermore, why should it be 
such a surprise that someone who can raise this kind of money is the 
Democratic front- runner for president? C'mon, did anyone really believe 
that Dennis Kucinich would emerge as the Democratic presidential nominee? 
Finally, regrets about the demise of supposed insurgent candidate, Howard 
Dean, a Vermont centrist who tilted left on the war in Iraq to mobilize 
support, are also suspect, especially when one considers his record and the 
rest of those Democratic "outsiders" like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Let's face it, our task is not to bemoan the fact that the Democratic Party 
and its 2004 presumptive presidential candidate, John Kerry, are lacking in 
left credentials. Our historic responsibility is to defeat Bush and turn 
back the advances of the right. In order to do this, we needn't immerse 
ourselves in the Democratic Party or wait passively for the election to cast 
our votes. First and foremost, we need to continue to delegitimize the Bush 
Administration on every front. We should renew and expand the teach-ins and 
demonstrations against the war on Iraq. We should join with women and people 
of color to mobilize in whatever campaigns in which they are engaged, from 
pro-choice marches and rallies to supporting the southern California food 
workers.

Given our limited resources and the frightful potential of a second Bush 
term, we should not be expending our intellectual or activist capital 
(excuse the expression) on railing at Kerry and the Democratic Party. It 
will be difficult in the face of the media framing of politics in 2004 to 
think beyond the electoral arena, but we must. And when we've completed our 
work in leafleting, debating, mobilizing, etc. our fellow citizens around 
those crucial issues of peace, human rights, and economic justice that are 
at the core of every progressive agenda, we can make sure that any vote we 
and they cast will be fairly and accurately accounted for. Whatever the 
outcome of the presidential election in 2004 (and we should be well prepared 
for every Republican dirty trick to steal this election as they did in 
2000), we will still have to be out on the streets the day after the vote to 
struggle for our own rendezvous with history.

Fran Shor teaches at Wayne State University in Detroit. He is an anti-war 
activist and member of several human rights and peace and justice 
organizations. E-mail: f.shor at wayne.edu

AND from article by same author,/ same site on
Oct 26, 2000
.....It is true that Nader has made important policy statements concerning 
the rights of labor (endorsing a living wage, urging the repeal of 
Taft-Hartley, and attacking the WTO and NAFTA), establishing universal 
health care, reducing military spending, protecting the environment, ending 
corporate welfare while promoting the general welfare, providing social 
justice for racial and sexual minorities, and seeking campaign finance and 
electoral reforms. Obviously, these positions have attracted many people who 
have taken the time and effort to educate themselves away from the 
restrictive reporting of the corporate media. Yet, Gore and his campaign 
staff have only themselves to blame for their miserable electioneering and 
faltering support. That they now have to rely on progressive surrogates to 
scold Nader for his temerity at providing a real alternative is a sad 
commentary on how frightened Gore and his institutional backers are that 
they may have frittered away the election.

Fran Shor teaches at Wayne State University. He is an active member of the 
Metro Detroit Greens and a coordinator for “Labor for Nader.” His e-mail 
address is: f.shor at wayne.edu.
###

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