[Marxism] Nader Hits Two, Three, Many Campaign Trails
wsheasby at earthlink.net
Fri May 14 12:25:41 MDT 2004
NADER HITS TWO, THREE MANY CAMPAIGN TRAILS
By Walt Contreras Sheasby
If Ralph Nader is able to build his broad coalition, he is likely to
break into the televised debates this fall, hitting Bush and Kerry on the
Iraq War, the Patriot Act, and Neo-liberal trade policies. His support will
jump into the double digits, and John Kerry will be forced to come out for
withdrawal from Iraq by a date certain or lose the election. Either way, a
Nader anti-war campaign, the first such campaign since 1968, will have
All this, however, depends on Naders ability to create that broad
"We need to speak out on the truth about the war and the Patriot Act,"
said Peter Camejo, the Green Party's 2002 gubernatorial candidate in
California. "Ralph Nader is a respected voice that will be listened to and
get a hearing." Camejo, who also ran as a Green Party candidate in last
year's gubernatorial recall election, is considered Naders likeliest choice
as running mate. The Commission on Presidential Debates has indicated
that if enough State ballots are achieved Nader and Aaron Russo of the
Libertarians will be included in the October debates.
By accepting the support of the Reform Party as its Presidential
Candidate, Nader has also made it clear that he wants and will accept the
Green Partys support as well. On Mar. 24, 2004, Nader told the Steering
Committee of the GP, "As you know, I am running as an Independent and
am not seeking nor accepting the Green Party nomination. If you do not
choose a presidential candidate in Milwaukee, I would welcome your
endorsement and have said the same to other third parties as well."
ENDORSEMENT VERSUS NOMINATION
There is no question that a Green Party nomination of Nader would be
better for both than an endorsement. But that path has been torn up by the
misleadership of the Greens and compounded by the mistakes Nader
made, such as endorsing Dennis Kucinic and waiting for his challenge in
the Democratic primaries to fizzle out before saying he would run. Delays
on both sides led to a refrain of lets call the whole thing off, and Nader
is not even able to count on an endorsement at this moment.
The difference is that in a nomination, the Party claims the candidate
for its ballot line exclusively; fusion with another party supporting the
same candidate is allowed in some states like New York, but is prohibited
in some states, and is legally ambiguous and historically rare in most
others. A Party endorsement, on the other hand, may or may not offer
ballot lines, but in any case puts no claim on the candidate, who can
accept or refuse ballot lines on a state-by-state basis. The candidate can
qualify for federal matching funds, but not the endorsing Party or parties.
A candidate endorsed by a national Party convention could also agree to
being nominated by any of the State affiliates where this is permitted.
In 2000 Nader was endorsed by the American Reform Party, an
offshoot of the Party founded by Perot and run into the ground by Pat
Buchanan. Nader refused the endorsement of the Reform Partys strange
affiliate in New York. Lenora B. Fulani denounced "Nader's bigshot
attitude", saying "Nader turned down overtures from independent
progressives.... Nader's elitism was why the Independence Party of New
York, the state's largest minor party with 200,000 members, gave its
presidential line to the active coalition builder, Dr. John Hagelin."
Fulanis group has been at odds with the Reform Party, which is now
controlled by those who identify with the politics of the American
Reform offshoot and repudiate Buchanan. Fulanis group is now
welcoming Nader, but so far he has been noncommittal about the New
York ballot line.
Nader spokesperson Kevin Zeese said Nader welcomes the Reform
Party support but plans to continue running as an independent. He said
Nader would decide on a case-by-case basis whether to accept the ballot
lines in each state. "This shows that Nader can garner support from across
the political spectrum, including conservatives who supported Bush in
2000," Zeese said. "The naysayers who said Nader could only get liberal
votes are being proven wrong. Conservatives are upset with Bush and
looking for an alternative."
A SPECTRUM WITHOUT GREEN?
The danger to Nader is that if the Green Party refuses to support him,
this would be seen not only as another disavowal from the left, it would
doom his campaign to a fringe of the conservatives rather than proving
his drawing power across the political spectrum. His anti-war and anti-
corporate message would be drowned out by the culture wars that often
divide and distract the electorate. Nader without the Greens would find it
harder to connect with the young and the alienated.
A Naderless Green Party is an option that offers a perhaps comforting
media invisibility to those harassed over Al Gores loss in 2000. It might
rate a footnote to the liberal rebuke of the "suicide bomber", as he was
called in the Nation magazine. But more tragically, it would transform the
booming voice of the peace marches of 2003 into a tiny squeak in 2004.
In order to "garner support from across the political spectrum," Nader
is now really compelled to go leftward, and that can only mean doing
whatever is necessary to mend fences and win a nod from the Green Party.
Nader could potentially be on ballots in 23 states with established Green
Party lines including AK, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, HI, ME, MD, MA,
MI, MN, MS, MT, NV, NM, OR, RI, SC, UT, VT, and WI. Of these six
are unsafe or swing states: FL, MN, NV, NM, OR and WI.
With Nader heading their ticket, Greens would have at least some
chance of getting on the ballot in AL , AZ, AR, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS,
KY, LA, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, PA, TN, SD, TX,
VA, WA, WV, and WY. Of these four are swing states: IA, MO, NH,
and OH. It is doubtful that any other announced candidate could help in
Nader was clear when announcing that he would run again this year
that he would be on ballots under different party names. Although known
as the Green Party candidate, as Kevin Zeese, a spokesperson for Nader,
points out, in 2000 Nader's name was on the ballot in 13 different
incarnations, including as the nominee of the Progressive Party in
Vermont and the Mountain Party in West Virginia. Zeese said that in
2000, Nader challenged ballot application laws in eight states. He was on
the ballot in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
DEMOCRATS RIDE HERD ON THE BALLOT RANGE
The riskiest part of Naders current strategy is his petitioning for an
independent ballot line. An actual nomination would enormously simplify
the problems faced both by Nader and the Green Party. Here is what CBS
Democrats clearly hope Nader doesn't get
on the ballot, particularly in the
battleground states. According to Sarah
Leonard, spokesperson for the Democratic
organizations America Votes, ACT and the
Media Fund, they are keeping an eye on
Nader's efforts. "If we think it gets to
the point where we need to step in and
mobilize to make sure he doesn't get on
the ballot, then we will," she says.
Take, for example, Nader's effort to
amass 1,000 signatures in one place in
Oregon earlier this month, which would
have won him a spot on the state ballot.
ACT joined forces with other organizations
in the state to discourage people from
signing the petition and then called on
Howard Dean to speak out against Nader
as well. Nader wound up with only 741
signers, though he has vowed to try
Salon.com reports that:
...according to a well-placed source
close to Dean, Kerry and Dean have
discussed Dean's projected role in
challenging Ralph Nader, whose fourth
run for president has Democrats,
Independents and even some Greens
apoplectic. Dean has been careful to
praise Nader's accomplishments before
urging people not to be seduced by a
quixotic campaign. This is a tactical
move to avoid driving people into
Nader's arms by being too combative.
But should Nader manage to get on the
ballot in some key states and threaten
to throw them to Bush, expect the gloves
to come off. (2)
Nader has already lost out in Texas as an independent. He is still
collecting signatures there for two more weeks that will help him get
on the ballot ONLY IF is he is nominated by a party or if his longshot
lawsuit is successful. The Texas Democratic Party has put out a warning
Remember, if you have voted in the Democratic
primary you cannot sign Naders petitions (or
those for any other third-party or independent
candidates) and that a vote for Nader is a vote
for Bush. We are here to elect Democrats
because their vision is the right one for our
country. Ralph Nader makes a point of
attacking and trying to defeat Democrats.
We need to make sure he is nowhere near a
ballot in Texas. (3)
If Nader strikes out in a couple more States, it would discourage
volunteers and drive up costs. Other State deadlines come up in June: He
needs only 800 by June 8 in New Jersey; but 14,694 by June 9 in
Arizona; 25,000, a hefty number, by June 21 in Illinois; and a tougher
task, 29,552 in Indiana by June 30.
In California he would need to get 153,035 by August 6, which would
take an army of signature gatherers approaching only those who had not
voted in the last Party Presidential Primary election in March of this year.
CAN THE GREENS GET THEIR GROOVE BACK?
The Green Party National Convention in Milwaukee June 23-28 will
be a nail-biter. The outcome is very uncertain. A lot will depend on the
last-minute telephone call between his Convention supporters and
Nader won the Reform Party endorsement shortly after midnight
Tuesday, May 12, when more than two-thirds of its national and
executive committee members who participated in the vote chose the
consumer activist. Nader spoke to Reform Party leaders via a conference
call Monday night and asked for their support.
Similar last-minute phone calls have decided the fate of previous
Nader campaigns. I remember similar calls, from the Third Parties 96
meeting and the Peace and Freedom Party 96 Convention. If there is a
similar hookup in Milwaukee on June 25 when the Green Party meets,
history could easily repeat itself and the Greens may be able to put their
color into Naders new spectrum and get their groove back.
1. CBS News Online.
3. Texas Democratic Party, Political Week in Review- May 7, 2004
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