[Marxism] Nader on immigration, women, Palestine

Anna Fierling anna_fierling at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 21 06:06:38 MDT 2004

I'm all for supporting Nader, especially since he added Camejo, as this is clearly the only genuine alternative to the Republicrats in 2004. It would be nice if the Nader campaign generated some momentum toward a longer-lasting independent party, but his campaign seems to have less potential for this than did his 2000 campaign. This is partly due to the fact that the global justice movement, which was on the rise in 2000, is rather dormant, and the antiwar movement has also been somewhat subdued for the last few months; I'd like to think that the Nader/Camejo campaign might re-energize these movements, in part by getting them out of the 'anybody but Bush' framework that is largely responsible for their decline.

But I think socialist supporters of Nader should not endorse him uncritically; I see his campaign as, in a sense, a "lesser evil," because the closer I look at him and his positions, the less impressed I am: his 'antiwar' stand is no more uncompromising than Kucinich's ('we should leave in six months and let the UN take over'), his stands on women's rights are somewhat less militant than Al Sharpton's, and his views on immigration are consistent with his general 'America first' politics. 

That said, he is at least an independent, with ties to progessive movements; he calls for progressive forces to break with the Democrats (although he also vacillates a little on this); and he talks about class and working-class concerns in a manner that distinguishes him from even the most liberal Democrat (although it should be noted that Nader himself is a millionaire who doesn't allow his office workers to unionize).

These excerpts from his (excessively congenial) chat with Pat Buchanan last month provide some examples of my points about the limitations of his politics:


June 21, 2004 issue
Copyright  2004 The American Conservative

PB: How do we defend these shores?

RN: I don’t believe in giving visas to software people from the Third World
when we have got all kinds of unemployed software people here….
PB: Say we went to $10 an hour minimum wage. It is 50 cents an hour in
Mexico. Why wouldnt that cause not 1.5 million, but 3 million to head
straight north where they could be making 20 times what they can make
minimum wage in Mexico?

RN: Because 14 million Americans are unemployed or part-time employed who
want full employment or have given up looking for jobs….
PB: Should illegal aliens be entitled to social-welfare benefits, even
though they are not citizens and broke into the country?

RN: I think they should be given all the fair-labor standards and all the
rights and benefits of American workers, and if this country doesn’t like
that, maybe they will do something about the immigration laws. [Nader does this several times in the interview: express his desire that some of these issues be forced so that the U.S. will tighten its borders.]

PB: Should they be entitled to get drivers licenses?

RN: Yes, in order to reduce hazards on the highway. If you have people who
are driving illegally, there are going to be more crashes, and more people
are going to be killed.

PB: The Democrats have picked up on Bush’s amnesty idea and have proposed
an amnesty for illegals who have been in the country for five years and
who have shown that they have jobs and can support themselves. Would you
support the Democratic proposal?

RN: This is very difficult because you are giving a green light to cross
the border illegally. I don’t like the idea of legalization because then
the question is how do you prevent the next wave and the next?… 

PB: The U.S. population now primarily due to immigrants and their children
coming in is estimated to grow to over 400 million by mid-century. Would
that have an adverse impact on the environment?

RN: We don’t have the absorptive capacity for that many people. Over 32
million came in, in the 90s, which is the highest in American history.

PB: What would you do about it?

RN: We have to control our immigration. We have to limit the number of
people who come into this country illegally....


Nader's official statement on immigration, from his campaign web site; it
reproduces, verbatim, much of what he said in his chat with Buchanan:


(A little later in the interview, Buchanan gave Nader an opportunity to refute the nonsensical term "partial-birth abortion" and to speak at length about reproductive rights and women's rights in general; instead, this is all Nader had to say:)

PB: Let me move to the social issues. Would you have voted against or in favor of the ban on partial-birth abortion? 

RN: I believe in choice. I don’t think government should tell women to have children or not to have children. I am also against feticide. If doctors think it is a fetus, that should be banned. It is a medical decision. 

PB: Between the woman and her doctor— 

RN: And whoever else, family, clergy. 

(feticide?! Well, noone's ever accused Nader of going too far out of his way to speak up for women--or for African-Americans, come to think of it.)

And finally, on Israel/Palestine, Nader told Buchanan that the U.S. is ‘subservient’ to Israel and that Congresspeople act as ‘puppets’ to Tel Aviv, which all must have been music to the ears of his antisemitic interviewer. In his new book, Nader opines that ‘America should be seen as pro-Palestinian as well as pro-Israeli’ and he approvingly quotes from Thomas Friedman, who Nader believes has a wise and even-handed approach to these issues.

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