Is Ralph Nader on to Something?



If the American mainstream media had given Ralph Nader the coverage throughout 2000 that they gave him this past weekend, we would today have a strong, federally funded Green Party and President Gore would be seeking re-election this November.

The widespread belief that those who voted Green in 2000 were mostly registered Democrats is a myth. Only 38% of the 2.7 million votes that Ralph Nader garnered in 2000 were from Democrats; 25% were from Republicans; the rest were from Independents and others who would not have voted at all. And as correctly stated on Nader’s website: “there are 100 million people in this country who do not vote. There are plenty of nonvoters for all candidates to attract.”

There are many who voted for Bush in 2000 that would have instead voted for Ralph Nader if they could have had access to Nader’s ideas. This time around, Nader has been able to get his message across in interviews that he has done in the past several days: a feat that corporate media would not allow in 2000.

Let’s face it: the few enthusiastic voters in America, regardless of political affiliation, are mostly the few with the money. Nader realizes something that the liberal intelligentsia does not: that the continuous, extreme class polarization in this country has created greater anger than ever at the Washington establishment from millions of poor and working people, regardless of where they see themselves politically, and regardless of whether or not they are political at all. This class consciousness, if nurtured, could in the future lead to greater civic engagement, and possibly, the expansion and diversification of the too white, too middle-class progressive movement in the United States.

In their open letter to Nader encouraging him not to run for President this year, the editors of The Nation asserted, “–[In the past], your appeal stretched across the political spectrum. No longer, alas.” They go on to dismiss the idea that Nader can bring in new blood to the progressive movement: “Such relationships take time to build and can’t be conjured out of thin air in the midst of a presidential campaign.”

I don’t know where the editors of The Nation have been, but for the past few years, Ralph Nader has been all over this country in his Democracy Rising tour (DR is one of four civic organizations that he has started since 2000). Not only did he speak at the usual progressive venues, but he spoke to those in various US cities who have been hit hardest economically by Bush’s policies. Here in Baltimore last June 26, we had our Democracy Rising event at Johns Hopkins University. Two hours before this event began, Ralph spoke at the Steelworkers Hall in East Baltimore County. His message resonated so well with this audience that he was nearly two hours late to the JHU event; the waiting audience was forgiving, of course, because we all know what is missing from the American progressive movement.

We progressives, as well meaning and hard working as we have been, have done a poor job in attracting our country’s most vulnerable citizens to the fight for economic and social justice. There was some success with the current anti-war movement, but we have a long way to go to truly diversify the progressive arena; we need new strategies. We need to hear how bad Wal-Mart is from people who work there; we need a new feminist movement led by working women, welfare mothers, and women of color; we need to hear about the effects of racism more often from those who are actually of color.

The only time there is a wide range of people working for progressive ideals is once every four years when we all get together and work to elect someone who is not progressive, which is what Bruce Jackson wants us to do-again. In his February 23 Counterpunch article, Jackson maliciously attacks Nader, claiming that civil rights, women’s rights, education, or jobs, “don’t seem to matter or exist for [Nader]–He does not live in our world.”

In our world Mr. Jackson, the majority of low wage jobs are held by women and people of color who do not have equal access to educational opportunities. Corporatization of our society hurts these people the most, and though racism and sexism are not solely economic struggles, money does play a large (if not the largest) part in oppression. But I do agree that you and Ralph Nader do not live in the same world.

Ralph, initially disappointed that you did not run as a Green, I now understand where your nephew Tarek Milleron is coming from: “What Nader has done by walking away from the Green umbrella this year is that he has boldly left the shelter of the vote he could most rely on.” You see the need to draw new people; to bring in those who are most affected by the Bush administration’s horrendous policies and by the Democrats’ inaction.

Obviously, change in the structure of the US Left will not occur between now and Election Day: it is a long-term project which will take a vast effort from lots of people in many places. But change will not stem from working to elect a candidate from the Democratic Party: the party that works to build its base every four years only to ignore it after the election is over.

Many have been asking you Ralph if you will drop out in the last days before the General Election if the Democratic nominee is at risk of losing. The real question is: Will you stick around and continue this effort AFTER the General Election? If so, then you sir, may very well be on to something. And we all need to start paying attention.

BRANDY BAKER can be reached at: bbaker@ubalt.edu


BRANDY BAKER can be reached at: bbaker@ubalt.edu

November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”
November 23, 2015
Vijay Prashad
The Doctrine of 9/11 Anti-Immigration
John Wight
After Paris: Hypocrisy and Mendacity Writ Large
Joseph G. Ramsey
No Excuses, No Exceptions: the Moral Imperative to Offer Refuge
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS Thrives on the Disunity of Its Enemies
Andrew Moss
The Message of Montgomery: 60 Years Later
Jim Green
James Hansen’s Nuclear Fantasies
Robert Koehler
The Absence of History in the Aftermath of Paris
Dave Lindorff
The US Media and Propaganda
Dave Randle
France and Martial Law
Gilbert Mercier
If We Are at War, Let’s Bring Back the Draft!
Alexey Malashenko
Putin’s Syrian Gambit
Binoy Kampmark
Closing the Door: US Politics and the Refugee Debate
Julian Vigo
A Brief Genealogy of Disappearance and Murder
John R. Hall
Stuck in the Middle With You
Barbara Nimri Aziz
McDonalds at 96th Street
David Rovics
At the Center of Rebellion: the Life and Music of Armand
Weekend Edition
November 20-22, 2015
Jason Hirthler
Paris and the Soldiers of the Caliphate: More War, More Blowback
Sam Husseini
The Left and Right Must Stop the Establishment’s Perpetual War Machine
Mike Whitney
Hillary’s War Whoop
Pepe Escobar
In the Fight Against ISIS, Russia Ain’t Taking No Prisoners
Ajamu Baraka
The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement
Andrew Levine
The Clintons are Coming, the Clintons are Coming!
Linda Pentz Gunter
Let’s Call Them What They Are: Climate Liars
Paul Street
Verging on Plutocracy? Getting Real About the Unelected Dictatorship
Nur Arafeh
Strangling the Palestinian Economy
Patrick Howlett-Martin
The Paris Attacks: a Chronicle Foretold
Vijay Prashad
Rebuilding Syria With BRICS and Mortar
Brian Cloughley
Why US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the Biggest Threat to World Peace