FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Todd Gitlin’s Nader Fixation

by JOHN V. WALSH

 

Democratic Party hack Todd Gitlin stepped onto the op-ed page of the LA Times today and flailed his carving knife at Ralph Nader and the Greens, but he succeeded only in further swelling his reputation as a career slanderer of the Left. In his purported political obituary, “Nader’s Dead End,” Gitlin claims “Democrats enlarged their tent to include leftist activists.” That comes as news to many of us of a “leftist activist” bent. The on-line rank and file discussions even of very mainstream activist groups like United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) brim with outrage over the all-too-predictable spinelessness of the Democrat establishment.

The touchstone for the delusional Gitlin’s “big tent” thesis would have to be the war in Iraq, the number one issue weighing on the minds of the American people and even more so on the ever patient and unfailingly disdappointment of the Democrat rank and file. Democratic politicians were elected to Congress in 2006 on the expectation that they would end the war in Iraq. They have not. And the people are livid, none more so than the ‘leftist activists.”

Here’s what Gallup says in its June 20 report: “According to the June 11-14, 2007, survey, 24 per cent of Americans approve and 71 per cent disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job. Congressional approval is down five points since last month and more than 10 points from the higher support levels in January and February following the Democratic takeover. The current 24 per cent rating is similar to the poor ratings Congress received last year, with Americans essentially voting to take control of Congress away from the Republicans in November.” Gallup continues: “It is unusual for congressional job approval ratings to be at or below 24 per cent. Congress has been rated this negatively only a few times in the four decades Gallup has measured this item — in 1979, during the energy crisis; at several points during the “term limits era” of 1990 to 1994; and last year.” The Democrat rank and file are the most dissatisfied with the nation’s state of affairs, so one can well imagine the rage on the Left, Democrat or otherwise.

Little wonder then that the “outsider’s outsider,” as Gitlin labels Nader, unintentionally bestowing a considerable tribute, provided the high point of the Green Party convention on July 14, with the crowd roaring “Run, Ralph, Run,” as Nader concluded his speech, hitting hard at both the War Parties. This writer has attended a series of antiwar confabs over the summer, and only the reception accorded Ron Paul at the Future of Freedom Foundation came close to Nader’s at the Green convention. But Gitlin will have none of it, and in his second paragraph he snidely refers to Nader’s age, 73. (Ron Paul is also in his 70s but both are a lot sprier than the torpid Gitlin. Of course Gitlin blames Nader for the Democrats’ past suicidal campaigns, losing to Bush. He accuses Nader of being on the take with Republican money. (How can this be determined since the two War Parties have pretty much the same contributors?)

But Gitlin assures us that now the “netroots” are firmly entrenched in the Democratic establishment, and all will be well under the” big tent.” The evidence? MoveOn.org! But MoveOn has long been disgraced among knowledgeable activists for its timid, belated and, at best, partial opposition to the war, also documented repeatedly here on CounterPunch . Gitlin whines: “MoveOn strategizes with Beltway politicians; Nader ships out on the Nation’s summer fundraising cruise later this month.” As Gallup shows in the quote above, the public is fed up with the crowd in Congress to which MoveOn is firmly cemented. There is no “big tent,” but it is clear that Gitlin shares a pup tent with Democrat employed pundits.

Lastly Gitlin contends that “To vote for Nader now means to agree with him that there’s no real difference between the Republicans and the Democrats — a proposition as absurd as attributing 9/11 to Saddam Hussein.” Never mind that many Democrats went along with just that proposition when they voted for the war. But on the crucial matter of war and peace, there have been no differences between the Republicans and Democrats. That is a fact ­ from the vote for war by the Dem-controlled Senate in 2002, to the prowar campaign of super liberal John Kerry to the failure of the Congressionial Democrats to defund the war since 2006 and even before. From Libertarians to Greens and among all those in between the Democrats are recognized as the “other war party.”

None of the leading Democratic candidates (and the media do not include Kucinich or Gravel in their number) calls for prompt and complete withdrawal from Iraq if you read the fine print of their statements. Furthermore, every one of these armchair bombardiers leave all options to lay waste Iran “on the table.” These are all positions where the Democratic establishment is at sharp odds with almost its entire base – and not just the “leftist activists.” This state of affairs is perilous for the Dems, and they know that a credible challenge might spell their demise.

The Democrats would have us believe that they would like to end the war but do not have the power. This is nonsense. It only takes 41 of the 51 Senate votes to terminate funding for the war by using the filibuster provisions, as argued at FilibusterForPeace.org. That is only 80 per cent of their number in the Senate.

Gitlin argues that Greens are only trying to influence but not displace the Democratic Party, as progressive movements have done in the past. In that he is sadly mistaken; the time for that is over. The Greens are ever more independent minded. The model now is to give birth to a credible new party, not to influence the old. And as this writer has argued before, that gestation and birth can proceed with incredible speed in a time of crisis. In 1853 the Republican Party did not exist; in 1856, it ran its first presidential candidate; by 1860, Lincoln, its second, was elected president. That transpired because the major parties could not meet the challenge of abolition and the possible breakup of the Union. Now neither major party is able to take a stand against war and empire, so despised by the great majority. The Greens and Libertarians take that stand against empire on principle. We may be surprised what 2008 brings. It may be a stepping stone, like 1856, or it may even be like 1860.

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

 

More articles by:

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail