[Marxism] Nader Hits Two, Three, Many Campaign Trails

WSheasby wsheasby at earthlink.net
Fri May 14 12:25:41 MDT 2004


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 
made history. 

All this, however, depends on Nader’s 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 Nader’s 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 Party’s 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." 


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 let’s 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 Party’s 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." 
Fulani’s 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. Fulani’s 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." 


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 Gore’s 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 
that effort. 

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. 


The riskiest part of Nader’s 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 
has reported: 
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 
to Democrats: 
Remember, if you have voted in the Democratic 
primary you cannot sign Nader’s 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. 


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’s office. 

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 Nader’s new spectrum and get their groove back. 

1. CBS News Online. 

2. Salon.com. 

3. Texas Democratic Party, Political Week in Review- May 7, 2004 


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