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Polls and the Antiwar Movement The Shunning of Ralph Nader

The Shunning of Ralph Nader

by JOHN V. WALSH

No sooner did Ralph Nader announce his run for president than Katrina Van den Heuval at The Nation was pounding out a frantic plea to Ralph to quit the race. Her assault on Ralph, reminiscent of how her mag treated him in 2004, was the first sign that the Democratic establishment was soiling its collective panties for fear of Ralph’s run. Clearly they had reason for concern, since Nader/Gonzalez raised $300,000 on their first day of fundraising. (Matt Gonzalez who nearly won the mayoralty race in San Francisco as a Green has now left the Green Party to join Nader’s independent candidacy.)

Three weeks ago a Zogby poll suggested that Nader will be a major factor in the race. The poll did two separate pairups and here is how they came out:

McCain, 44%; Obama, 39%; Nader, 6%.

McCain, 44%; Clinton, 39%; Nader, 6%.

It is not hard to add 6 to 39 and come out with 45. Nader/Gonzalez has said that it regards 6% as their floor. And it looks like Nader/Gonzalez will be on the ballot in all 50 states and DC. Message to Dems: you are in trouble. If you run a prowar candidate, either Obama or Clinton, you are in trouble. You cannot beat a prowar candidate with another prowar candidate. Very simple.

The Nation and other outlets, not to mention the mass media, were silent on the Zogby poll. Now another poll has come out, this time from Fox News of all places. It showed that 14% of the voters are willing to "consider" voting for Nader. That is a substantial achievement in the face of the small amount of mass media coverage given Nader so far. (Additionally Nader won the Green Party primaries by a landslide in California and Massachusetts even though he did not campaign there.)

The shunning of Nader is to be expected for The Nation crowd which endorsed the prowar Kerry in 2004 and promised that electing Dems to the Congress in 2006 would bring a Congressional assault on the war. That of course has not materialized. But the response to Nader on antiwar web sites has been disappointing so far. Over at Antiwar.com, Justin Raimondo has fallen into the clutches of the ObamaZombies. Nader has not received the support that Ron Paul received from the Libertarian movement ­ a big disappointment to those of us who thought that unity between the antiwar "left" and "right" was possible. It is a double disappointment to those of us who felt that the usually lucid Libertarian political analysts would never fall for Obama the hawk.

In contrast, The McLaughlin Report ("the sharpest minds"), affectionately known in my circle as "The Shouters," this past weekend gave considerable time to the Nader candidacy. Pat Buchanan and John McLaughlin both welcomed his candidacy as did all the guests with the exception of the reliable Dem loyalist, Eleanor Cliff. The usually very PC Cliff, whose political thought seems to go no farther than Democrat partisanship, lost no time in attacking Nader – based on his age ("Ageism" generally being shunned by the PC crowd), using reference to a Wahington Post cartoon to that effect. With the exception of Cliff the "finest minds" know full well that there will be no serious antiwar debate without someone like Nader in the race.

So how about it antiwarriors. In Nader you have a candidate who has been against the war consistently, who alone calls for cutting the bloated military budget and for changing US policy in the Middle East. In Hillary-Obama-McCain, you have consistent Senate votes for trillions to fund the slaughter in Iraq, votes for the Patriot Act and a promise to add 100,000 more men and women under arms. Hawks all. Right now Nader/ Gonzalez is the only antiwar game in town. So where are your voices for Nader? They need to be heard. It is time to be loyal to principles and candidates who have stood unfailingly for what you want. And with a little effort we might all be surprised at the outcome.

JOHN V. WALSH can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com