[Hpn] The Nader Conundrum

Anitra Freeman anitra@speakeasy.org
Mon, 06 Nov 2000 17:01:38 -0800 (PST)

A few months ago I attended the Nader Rally in the Key Arena, and I got
excited.  I supported voting for Ralph Nader as a step toward building
pressure from the people to change politics in this country.

On the eve of the election, I have misgivings.  I am going to vote for
local Green candidates.  I am not going to vote for Ralph Nader.

I expect to catch some hell for this.  But I am adamantly opposed to
anyone -- from a bureaucrat to an idealist -- who justifies the pain of
people today because "we know what's best for them in the long run."  
That's the argument the City officials give for opposing homeless camps,
or even more funds for emergency shelter.  "Keeping people alive tonight
has to be skipped, sorry as we are about that, because we have to focus
all our energy on jobs and housing, long term solutions."

Ralph Nader's candidacy was presented as a way to build the progressive
movement.  Instead of building the progressive movement, I see him
tearing away at it.  He is making no attempt to educate or win over Bush
supporters or even undecided voters. He has not demonstrated a marked
ability to open a cooperative dialogue with people who disagree with him
-- a quality essential in a President.  He is savaging Al Gore, glossing
over true differences between Gore and Bush, distorting Gore's record
worse than Bush is doing, and making every attempt to win over liberal
Democratic voters -- "low-hanging fruit."  This isn't winning anyone new
to progressive issues.  What it is doing is raising a serious risk that
George W. Bush is going to win the presidency.

Maybe that isn't serious for you.  But I'm looking at the prospect of
losing the right to abortion, losing all remaining vestiges of
Affirmative Action, losing all that remains of the social safety net,
watching the poverty of myself and my friends grow markedly worse, and
facing the serious prospect of forced psychiatric treatment becoming
public policy.  That's for starters.

And what sealed the issue for me was the attitude of Nader that the pain
created by a Bush presidency would be a * good * thing, because it will
solidify a progressive reaction.

Ralph Nader is a great human being, but a great human being can do an
evil act.  Sacrificing human lives for political ends is evil.  

The Nader campaign has served to raise the profile of progressive
issues.  That was good.  But it should never have been continued to the
point of endangering the very cause that it was supposed to be serving.

In Ralph Nader's speech at the Key Arena, he expressed disgust that
Deborah Senn had lost the Senatorial primary to Maria Cantwell.  But if
Ralph Nader had done any stumping for Deborah Senn before the election,
I missed it.

If Ralph Nader wants to be a positive force for change, he can do a
great deal of good by using his moral weight and charisma to campaign
for local Green candidates and to support forging a broad progressive

There are many local people who have been working hard to build a
progressive movement here.  November 30th did not happen as the result
of one man orating, nor as the result of a spontaneous popular uprising
-- nor even because WTO, Federal and Seattle officials were obligingly
stupid and vicious.  It was the fruit of thousands of hours of effort by
thousands of activists  that culminated in a popular uprising and was
able to keep it moving.

Thats the kind of hard work we need to keep doing.   The work will be
just as hard under Al Gore as it was under Bill Clinton.  But the work
would be even harder under George W. Bush than it was under Ronald

And more of my friends will die if Bush is elected.  I will not
contribute to that.  I will vote for Al Gore, and local Green and
Progressive candidates, and continue to work for radical progressive
change -- not just campaign for it.

Write On! / Anitra L. Freeman / http://www.speakeasy.org/~anitra/
"We can't help everyone.  We can't fix everything.  It hurts. 
 But it is better to live with pain than to live without caring."