[Marxism] The Case for Nader-Camejo, by L. Proyect

Gilles d'Aymery aymery at ix.netcom.com
Mon Jul 19 09:49:40 MDT 2004


The Case for Nader-Camejo
by Louis Proyect 

(Swans - July 19, 2004)  Although liberal attacks on Ralph Nader 
have been marked by a level of vituperation usually reserved for such 
as Slobodan Milosevic, Greg Bates's Ralph's Revolt is completely 
rancor-free by contrast. It is a calm, dispassionate "case for joining 
Nader's rebellion," as the subtitle puts it. 

As founder and publisher of Common Courage Press, Greg Bates 
selects works that go against the grain of conventional thinking. They 
include Jeffrey St. Clair's "Been Brown So Long" (reviewed on 
Swans in March 2004) and numerous titles by Paul Farmer, the 
Harvard physician who has dedicated his life to helping AIDS patients 
in Haiti. On the Common Courage website, the mission statement 
refers to Farmer, who had invited Bates to a ceremony in Boston 
where Jean Bertrand Aristide was to give a speech. In explaining to 
Farmer why he publishes his books and those of other progressives, 
Bates says, "Some ask why we do this work. We ask a different 
question: How can we not?" 

Throughout Ralph's Revolt, Bates likens Nader to Don Quixote, a 
somewhat unflattering comparison if you think solely in terms of tilting 
at windmills, etc. However, one must remember that Cervantes chose 
Quixote as a vehicle for his own unhappiness with the bourgeois 
transformation of Spain. If Don Quixote was a fool to romanticize 
Spain's feudal past, at least he had the wisdom to assert "There are 
only two families in the world, the Haves and the Have-nots," a 
phrase used by Bates as the epigraph for chapter nine of his book. 

In that chapter, titled Appease the Bond Market: the Kerry Plan to 
Make the Rich Richer, Bates lays out in convincing detail how Kerry 
would reinstitute Clintonomics. As a "deficit hawk," Kerry promised 
to abandon earlier plans to expand college tuition subsidies and aid to 
state government in order to "help the higher priority of halving the 
federal deficit in four years." These announcements worried liberal 
supporters such as Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect who 
shrewdly observed that Kerry was running an election campaign on 
the basis of how Clinton governed, rather than the way that he ran for 
office. He worried that "No president ever got elected by promising to 
appease the bond market." Of course, it makes things a lot easier if 
you don't have a gadfly like Ralph Nader calling attention to this in 
televised debates. 

While Paul Krugman advised his readers in the New York Times on 
July 9 that "John Kerry has proposed an ambitious health care plan 
that would extend coverage to tens of millions of uninsured 
Americans, while reducing premiums for the insured," Bates reminds 
us that this does not include a provision for single payer insurance, the 
most cost efficient and effective means for insuring access to health 
care for all. Instead, tax-payer money will be showered on 
corporations to ease the cost of private insurance plans. The May 3rd 
Wall Street Journal quotes Kerry: "I would think American business 
would jump up and down and welcome what I am offering." 

By contrast, votenader.org says: "The Nader Campaign supports a 
single-payer health care plan that replaces for-profit, investor-owned 
health care and removes the private health insurance industry (full 
Medicare for all)." 

If Nader's campaign suggests elements of Don Quixote, then Bates 
sees George W. Bush in terms of another familiar literary figure from 
the same period. "The year 1605, or possibly 1606, saw the creation 
of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. There are some parallels between 
this assassin and George W. Bush. The one murdered to become 
king, while the other stabbed democracy in the back by convincing his 
allies on the Supreme Court to anoint him. But, as with the Ralph 
Nader/Don Quixote comparison, it is the differences, not the 
similarities, that illustrate." 

As tempting as it is to understand everything that's gone wrong with 
the USA in the past four years as the plot of an evil King (a trope that 
was also found in Barbara Garson's Macbird, a send-up of LBJ 
during the Vietnam war), the real problem is the lack of a hero to 
come to the rescue in the final act. While so many liberals (including 
Michael Moore) hope that the Democrats arrive on a white horse to 
rescue the American people, the truth is that the Democrats have been 
complicit in the right wing drive to make war abroad, deprive us of 
decent jobs and curtail civil liberties. 

With respect to his ambitions, Bush is not qualitatively different from 
previous scary Republican Party presidents, from Richard Nixon to 
Ronald Reagan. What he has and what they lacked is control over the 
Congress and Judiciary, something that has not occurred since the 
1950s. Furthermore, Bush benefits from having a supine Democratic 
legislative opposition that has voted for the Patriot Act, "No Child 
Left Behind," the invasion of Afghanistan, and many other Bush 
initiatives. If Bush represents some sort of fascist threat, it is 
remarkable that none of the leading Democrats, including Kerry, have 
seen fit to filibuster against his proposals.

[Full: http://www.swans.com/library/art10/lproy17.html ]

Greg Bates, Ralph's Revolt: The Case for Joining Nader's Rebellion, 
Common Courage Press, ISBN 1-56751-316-6 

Ralph Nader, The Good Fight: Declare Your Independence & Close 
the Democracy Gap, ReganBooks, ISBN 0-06-075604-7 

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