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The Nuance Comes Off

Former Naderites Beg for Kerry Votes

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

It’s desperation time. Ever since John Kerry’s Grand Canyon Concession Speech, fearful libs have taken to, once again, attacking Ralph Nader and his supporters, as if that’s the magic carpet the pro-war Democrat will ride to the White House.

As the Democrats’ sleazy efforts to deny ballot status and resultant voter choice for Nader continues to crumble – a judge in Idaho will likely follow courageous Oregon Judge Paul Lipscomb and place Nader on the Idaho ballot – it falls to the self-nuetered "Greens" and other former Nader backers to try and wheedle progressives into the Kerry fold.

In a two days this week, we’ve seen minor-office elected Greens go after Nader and the next day over 70 academics, actors, authors and nonprofit professionals from Nader’s 2000 Citizens Committee sent out a statement "urg(ing) support for Kerry/Edwards in all "’swing states,’ even while we strongly disagree with Kerry’s policies on Iraq and other issues…Progressive votes for John Kerry in swing states may prove decisive…"

This surrender doc was signed by Noam Chomsky, Ben Cohen, Phil Donahue, Barbara Ehrenrich, Jim Hightower, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Cornel West and Howard Zinn among others.

Greens for Impact (sic)

Declaring it a matter of "critical…progressive unity," three Greens from the ironically named group Greens for Impact have come clean and dropped all pretense of having ANY impact at all.

These guys, two city councilors and a state rep, published an opinion piece in the Sunday, September 12 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel http://www.jsonline.com/ which was predictably reprinted Monday by the pro-Kerry liberal website Common Dreams. Their high-pitched piece makes Harry Lonsdale, author of a seminal Anybody But Bush piece which was also distributed by Common Dreams last winter, look like a statesman. http://www.counterpunch.org/donnelly01312004.html

With a mixture of vicious Nader bashing, hyperbole, inanities and outright fabrications; David Segal, Austin King and John Eder lay out quite succinctly David Cobb’s "Safe State" (non)strategy which has beached the Greens on the rocks this election year (and in the future) as firmly as hurricane season has the fleets of the Caribbean.

Nader Bashing: "We are heartened that this year the Green Party nominated the pragmatic and principled Cobb rather than endorse Nader and his scorched earth campaign, with little concern for the way it affects the election’s outcome or the lives of voters. We are adamant in our belief that Nader’s unilateral, adversarial tactics are counterproductive."

These guys above all certainly should not be using Cobb’s candidacy and the term "scorched earth campaign" in the same decade, much less same sentence. Ditto; "principled." This comes from a group proud to have used decidedly "unilateral, adversarial tactics" to nominate the "principled Cobb" who garnered but 12% of the Green Party’s rank and file votes in ALL pre-convention Primaries, caucuses and state conventions combined! Guess the resulting implosion of the Green Party was "productive."

Hyperbole: "Real people’s lives are at stake. The outcome of this election holds tremendous consequences for the future of abortion rights, civil rights, gay rights, spending on social programs and countless other issues affecting those shut out from power."

And just what has it been that has motivated the noted "unilateralist" Nader all these years? Just contrast Nader’s work and positions on these issues with the non-impact and rollbacks of Kerry and the Democrats. And, after all these decades of scared liberals voting for the Democrats in election after election, if the Democrats and Kerry were/are so good, then why are these issues still unresolved in our favor? Are we doomed to merely having them brought up Groundhog Day-like every four years just in order to keep progressives in the Democrat stable? Have these issues become like the annual shadow dance over oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) – a predictable foxtrot whereby nothing ever changes, but politically-correct non-votes are duly recorded on the scorecards of both sides’ interest groups?

Outright Lie: "Despite the mainstream media’s characterization of Democrats as unified and progressives as mobilized, former consumer advocate Ralph Nader continues to divide the left, by bashing Democrats for their complacency and attacking Green Party nominee David Cobb for challenging his monopoly on the progressive vote."

Of course, Nader takes on the Democrats for fiddling while the world burns. What part of opposition candidate don’t these guys understand? Every part? At least they paired up Democrats and "complacency" as has most of the Left for quite some time now.

But, Nader has NEVER "attack(ed) Cobb." I’ve never even seen a single sentence from Ralph Nader concerning the undemocratic nature of the Cobb nomination, much less any commentary on Cobb himself (or his cabal of undemocratic cronies), though they ARE running for the same position. Some folks would deem it part of the process to draw out distinctions between competing candidates. What are they attempting right here if not that? But what’s needed are real distinctions, not this fabricated nonsense we have from Segal, King and Eder.

Perhaps, they cannot find any. Just this week, the Democrats
proved once again that there isn’t even "A Dime’s Worth of Difference"
between the two major parties. An overwhelming bipartisan majority of 406-16 passed a resolution linking Iraq to the Al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Every credible analysis, including that of the barely credible 9/11 Commission, concluded that no such links ever existed.

Inanity: "To vanquish ‘the politics of lesser-evilism’ once and for all, we encourage the left to focus its energies on Instant Runoff Voting. Under IRV, voters rank candidates in the order of their preferences. Candidates with the lowest vote totals are eliminated and their votes are transferred to their supporters’ next most preferred candidates. This process is repeated until a candidate achieves a majority."

So, there you have it. This Nader-derived fantasy solution, one that they failed to even use at their own nominating convention, should be the "focus" of the left. Though highly unlikely, we’ll adopt a Parliamentary Democracy in the USA before this IRV beast ever gets off the ground, even if it was desired by the greater public more than it was by the GP in its own internal processes.

But perhaps the most disingenuous part of the whole sorry screed is this:

"Even worse, in several states Nader will be the candidate of the right-wing Reform Party, meaning that voting for him in those states will help the Reform Party maintain its ballot lines, thereby aiding in voicing that party’s radical xenophobia."

That’s right: bash Ross Perot and the Reform Party which DID cause the reelection defeat of Bush the Elder, giving us that other Kerry champion, Bill Clinton. At the same time, maintaining the Green Party’s ballot lines matters not at all, as Cobb himself has said in an interview with Michael Albert at Z-Net, "I am not very concerned with my vote total." The Green Party is in danger of losing hard-won (yes, by Nader and his running mate, Peter Camejo) ballot status in a dozen sates – a certainty given Cobb’s microscopic polling.

I have yet to hear a single Republican (and yes, I know quite a few) disparage Ross Perot and the millions who voted for him; content to bide their time knowing they would need those Perot voters in the future and that alienating them further was, indeed, "counterproductive." Yet, the Cobbite caucus of the Democratic Party consistently and mindlessly insults the very guy who "built the Green Party" AND the 2.7 million who voted Green last election. Talk about "little concern for…the lives (and rights) of voters!"

In writing a piece last year on his safe state strategy called "Growing the Greens" Cobb noted, "In the battleground states that will decide the election, we understand if you won’t vote for our ticket this time. That’s OK."

And, we understand, as well. On this point Cobb did display more pragmatism and principle than one can find in Segal, King and Eder’s shrill, defeatist rant or even the statement of the 70 Nader ex-pats. How brainless of them to join the Democrats in trashing Nader and Nader supporters. How dim-witted are these whiny, begging, yet hostile efforts on behalf of the other half of the War Party duopoly? The only possible result is the destruction of the very raison d’être of the Green Party. How’s that for "Impact?"

MICHAEL DONNELLY of Salem, OR is a longtime forest activist. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s new book on the 2004 elections, A Dime’s Worth of Difference. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com