FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Slander Campaign Against Nader Hits Wisconsin

 

As the field coordinator of the Nader/Camejo campaign in Wisconsin, my inbox has seen e-mails from excited volunteers, people wanting to sign a petition, desperate pleas telling me that campaign volunteers in Wisconsin represent the “left arm of the Bush campaign” and stubborn claims that Republicans are collecting signatures for Nader in Wisconsin, despite what I, the state coordinator of the campaign had to say in response.

It’s not hard to see why these claims persist. Based on many recent stories in the national press, one would assume that Ralph Nader’s campaign in Wisconsin was being run by right-wing nut jobs and that none of the 4 to 6 percent of the Wisconsin population that supports Nader are organizing to get an anti-war candidate on the ballot. From the meticulous fact-checkers at the New York Times on July 1 we get, “Republicans and some conservative groups in Oregon, Arizona and Wisconsin are feverishly, if not cynically, mobilizing to get him on ballots in those states in a drive to siphon votes from the likely Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry.” From Newsweek on July 19, “Republicans and conservative groups in battleground states including Oregon, Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan are also working to get Nader on the ballot this November.” The disgusting NaderFactor website founded by many former Dean staffers then took this up in a national ad, “Right-wing extremists are even trying to help Nader’s campaign in Oregon, Wisconsin and, yes, Florida again!”.

There must be some concrete proof backing these reports from such reputable news sources. If so, the purported conservative groups were violating Wisconsin state law that says petitioning for an independent candidate cannot begin until August 1. Perhaps Newsweek and New York Times could have done some research to find out when the signature-gathering period actually began in Wisconsin. But then again, we all remember the Times’ excellent fact-checking from the lead-up to the war in Iraq. All these slanders on the Nader campaign are based on one so far unsubstantiated announcement by the conservative group Citizens for a Sound Economy in early July, acting independently of the Nader campaign, promising to collect signatures in Wisconsin.

As the field coordinator of the Nader campaign in Wisconsin, I know a little bit about the drive to get Nader on the ballot. We are not working with the GOP or Citizens for a Sound Economy, nor will we take their signatures. We don’t trust these right-wing hacks with collecting signatures that are going to be challenged by the Democratic party machine. A terrible Wisconsin state law doesn’t allow us to turn in more than 4,000 signatures and 2,000 are required, and our goal is accuracy in the face of a Democratic challenge. The petitioners are taking a principled stand in the face of hostile opposition. They are veterans of third-party politics, antiwar activists, socialists, labor activists, students and those simply fed up with the choice between Bush and (as veep Peter Camejo says) not Bush “lite”, but Bush “smart”.

My point is not that there are no conservative groups that are cynically organizing to put Nader on the ballot, although there is no evidence of this in Wisconsin and we are not seeking or accepting their support. The point is that the Democrats and the mainstream press have successfully made this the issue of the Nader campaign, despite the non-issue that it really is. And that gets magnified ten-fold in a swing state like Wisconsin. So when we talk to well-minded people on the street about signing a petition to get Nader on the ballot, we are first asked if we are Republicans, if we are getting funded by the Republican Party. (The not so well-minded people just tell us to go to hell.) The hypocrisy of these charges from the Democratic Party goes without saying. Just to cite one example, the Democratic Party has taken more than three times as much money from Halliburton this year ($129,449) as Nader has taken from registered Republicans. The Democratic Party happily takes money from criminal corporations who actually expect the Democrats, if elected, to cooperate. Nader isn’t even aware of the support of groups like Citizens for a Sound Economy, much less beholden to their interests.

This slander campaign is meant to censor Nader and avoid a debate on the issues and the necessity of Ralph’s campaign against both parties, because if there were such an honest and open debate, the Democrats would lose. The Democrats’ only resort against Nader is slander and their deep pockets. We already saw this in the debate between Howard Dean and Nader on NPR, where Dean spent most of his time attacking Nader about conservative groups supporting him of their own volition and pretending that the Democrats and Nader were just different shades of gray, downplaying the vast divide that separates Nader from Kerry and Dean himself. The more the Dems can trumpet the idea that Nader’s campaign is being run by conservatives, the more they can marginalize and silence the campaign and the increasingly thick-skinned volunteers working on it. All progressives who want to see a real debate in this country outside the narrow confines of the Democratic and Republican parties need to defend Nader against these attacks. If we don’t do so and we allow this slander to continue because this is not a “convenient” election to actually defend someone we believe in, the next time around we will find it that much tougher to win the argument for independent politics and even more “inconvenient” to defend a progressive third party candidate.

BILL LINVILLE is the Wisconsin Field Coordinator for Nader/Camejo 2004 and a member of the International Socialist Organization in Madison, Wisconsin. He can be reached at bill_linville@yahoo.com.

 

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 20, 2020
Katie Fite
How the Military is Raiding Public Lands and Civilian Spaces Across the Western Front
Nicholas Levis
Bloomberg is the Equal Evil
David Swanson
Shut Down Canada Until It Solves Its War, Oil, and Genocide Problem
Thomas Knapp
Freedom for $5.30…and This Time Mexico Really is Paying for It
Nick Pemberton
Mr. Sanders: Would You like Your Coffee Without Cream, or Without Milk?
Rachel M. Fazio
A Trillion Trees in Rep. Westerman’s Hands Means a Trillion Stumps
Jeff Mackler
Break With Two-Party Capitalist Duopoly!
Rebecca Gordon
Impunity Guaranteed for Torturers (and Presidents)
Jacob Hornberger
The CIA’s Role in Operation Condor
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Let Rome Burn
Jen Pelz
Reforming Expectations to Save Western Rivers
Maria Paez Victor
Canada Trapped By Its Own Folly
Binoy Kampmark
Pardoning Julian Assange: Trump, WikiLeaks and the DNC
Mel Gurtov
Poor Bill Barr
February 19, 2020
Ishmael Reed
Social Media: The New Grapevine Telegraph
David Schultz
Bernie Sanders and the Revenge of the Superdelegates
Kenneth Surin
Modi’s India
Chris Floyd
Which Side Are You On?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Hysteria Isn’t Killing Nuclear Power
Dave Lindorff
Truly Remaking Social Security is the Key to Having a Livable Society in the US
ANIS SHIVANI
Bloomberg on Bloomberg: The Selected Sayings of the Much-Awaited Establishment Messiah
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Occupations: The UN Business “Black List” and Israel’s Settlements
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s Extradition Case: Critical Moment for the Anti-war Movement
Howard Lisnoff
The Wealth That’s Killing Us Will Save Us: Politics Through the Looking-Glass
Yves Engler
Canada, Get Out of the Lima Group, Core Group and OAS
Nick Licata
The Rule of Law Under Trump
Sam Gordon
A Treatise on Trinities
Nino Pagliccia
Open Letter to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Lima Group Meeting
John Kendall Hawkins
Just Two Kings Talking
February 18, 2020
John Pilger
Julian Assange Must be Freed, Not Betrayed
Peter Harrison
Religion is a Repeating Chapter in the History of Politics
Norman Solomon
The Escalating Class War Against Bernie Sanders
Conn Hallinan
Irish Elections and Unification
Dean Baker
We Shouldn’t Have to Beg Mark Zuckerberg to Respect Democracy
Sam Pizzigati
A Silicon Valley Life Lesson: Money That ‘Clumps’ Crushes
Arshad Khan
Minority Abuse: A Slice of Life in Modi’s India
Walden Bello
China’s Economy: Powerful But Vulernable
Nicolas J S Davies
Afghan Troops say Taliban are Brothers and War is “Not Really Our Fight.”
Nyla Ali Khan
The BJP is Not India, and Every Indian is Not a Modi-Devotee
Binoy Kampmark
Buying Elections: The Bloomberg Meme Campaign
Jonah Raskin
Purgatory Under the Patriarchy
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Herakles in the Age of Climate Chaos
Bob Topper
The Conscience of a Conservative
John W. Whitehead
We’re All in This Together
Gala Pin
Bodies in Freedom: a Barcelona Story
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail