FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Chokehold of "Anybody But Bush"

 

For those who wondered why the U.S. left has never built a social democratic or labor party, last weekend’s Green Party convention in Milwaukee offered a bird’s-eye view. America’s largest independent left-wing political party, which won 2.7 million votes and garnered ballot lines in 22 states and the District of Columbia after Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign, rejected an endorsement for Nader in 2004–nominating David Cobb instead.

“David who?” many outside the Green Party will ask. Don’t be too concerned if you have never heard of Cobb–his campaign intends to be quite muted. The Green Party candidate will campaign only in so-called “safe states,” where either Kerry or Bush holds such a solid lead that Cobb’s campaign is irrelevant to the outcome. Cobb will avoid as many as 20 “contested” states, where a Green Party presidential campaign could threaten a Kerry victory.

More than a year ago, a group of prominent Greens set an election-year objective of “replacing Bush with a Democrat (since we’re not yet strong or organized enough to replace him with a Green or an independent),” as Ted Glick, national coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics Network, wrote in July 2003. Nader rejected the “safe-states” strategy from the outset, saying it “sounds to me like political schizophrenia. You either run or you don’t.”

Nader’s 2000 Green Party candidacy did much to propel the Green Party to national prominence, but this didn’t spare him from a stream of invective from the Anybody-But-Bush faction that led the well-organized Anybody-But-Nader rallying cry at the convention.

Peter Miguel Camejo, the Green Party candidate for California governor in 2002 and in the 2003 recall election–and now Nader’s running mate–was booed loudly by some Cobb supporters as he addressed the convention. “The only practical ‘success’ [Nader] can now have will be to bring W. back to the White House,” scoffed Nader’s 2000 Green presidential rival Joel Kovel shortly before the convention began.

“Ralph Nader turned his back on the [Green] party and announced earlier this year that he would mount an independent campaign for the nation’s top job,” the Nation’s John Nichols sniped on June 28. In reality, those in the Anybody-But-Bush left–both inside and outside the Green Party–had ruled out support for Nader long before (See, for example, the Nation’s “Ralph, Don’t Run” feature article immediately after the 2002 mid-term election).

Cobb supporter Ted Glick has admitted that a Kerry campaign would be a “centrist, corporate-friendly, more-troops-to-Iraq Democratic campaign” that will “inevitably dampen the enthusiasm of the labor, community, feminist, people of color, peace and other activists.” Yet Cobb couches his campaign as an effort to “build” the Green Party, even as the safe-states strategy undermines the Greens’ political independence.

Glick, for example, maintains that a safe-states campaign “will put pressure on the Democratic presidential candidate to use more populist-sounding, anti-corporate language, as was the effect of the Nader/2000 candidacy on Al Gore, which then increased his standing in the polls and helped lead to his popular vote victory.” True, but the job of an independent left political party should not be to help prowar, neoliberal John Kerry to sell himself more effectively at the polls.

History has shown that, however tepid the left’s support for a Democrat (“Half the way with LBJ,” anyone?), the end result is strengthening the hold of the Democratic Party on the left, not the other way around. As the Avocado Declaration, initiated by Camejo in January, stated plainly, “[I]t is precisely by openly and sharply confronting the two major parties that the policies of the corporate interests these parties represent can be set back and defeated.”

And as Nader supporter Howie Hawkins argued recently, “We can’t defeat war, repression and economic austerity from the Republicans by supporting Democrats who also support war, repression and economic austerity.” As such, the Green Party convention, marked the latest missed opportunity by the U.S. left, perpetually ensnared in the politics of lesser evilism, to escape from the chokehold of the Democratic Party.

SHARON SMITH is a columnist for the Socialist Worker and a contributor to the book, Iraq Under Siege.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail