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by Bill Weinberg

Excuse me, I would just like to say something.

Fuck Ralph Nader. OK?

I went to bat for him in '00, interviewing him for a national magazine and promoting him in liberal fora where I took gobs of abuse for not toeing the anyone-but-Bush line. I did so despite my misgivings about his flirtation with Pat Buchanan and the nativist right. And I still don't regret it because I believed it was the tactically correct thing to do at the time. But the result of his bid was an unmitigated disaster: Nader got enough votes in Florida to be reasonably accused of throwing the election to Bush, but NOT the five percent needed to win the Green Party federal matching funds and permanent ballot status.

This time around, I was unimpressed from the first. Nader's '04 bid seemed more informed by ego than principle. He completely failed to grapple with the debacle that his '00 campaign was, and his unchanged anti-corporate rhetoric seemed oblivious to everything which has ensued since 9-11--almost nothing about the fast-unfolding police state, the anti-immigrant crackdown, etc.

Now the current edition of Buchanan's American Conservative magazine features an interview with Nader by Pat himself, in which Ralph does nothing to disassociate himself from Pat's evil politics. In fact, Pat dogs Ralph to take an anti-immigrant stance, and Ralph finally breaks down, saying he opposes an amnesty because it would give "a green light to cross the border illegally." He also happily spews the Buchananite Jew-baiting wag-the-dog theory that US foreign policy is secretly controlled from Tel Aviv, decrying the "congressional and White House puppets to Israeli military policy." Ugly stuff indeed.

Worse yet, Nader also gave an address at a January conference in New Hampshire of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, latest incarnation of the creepy therapy cult run by Fred Newman and fronted by Lenora Fulani (formerly the New Alliance Party), which has been wooing both Nader and Buchanan. Fulani was a co-chair of Buchanan's presidential campaign with the Reform Party last time around. (Doug Ireland in The Nation, January 4)

I should make clear that I am not opposed in principle to a populist alliance that incorporates alienated conservatives. We can unify with conservatives around protecting the Bill of Rights, opposing Free Trade, etc. But there has to be crystal clarity on the areas where we disagree, not obfuscation or acquiescence. And there can be NO compromise on opposing racism--which means NO alliance with an avowed racist such as Buchanan. For me, an important reason to support Ralph in '00 was precisely that he was stealing the populist fire from Buchanan. The notion of an alliance between the two seems to me as absurd as one between Henry Wallace and Strom Thurmond in '48.

Yet that is very nearly what is happening. This time, Buchanan's (and Ross Perot's) former vehicle the Reform Party is backing Nader. The Green Party--which Nader never joined despite running on its ticket last time--is still deciding whether to endorse him, and some state chapters have already dumped him. So it seems his candidacy will do nothing to help build an explicitly anti-racist populist movement, which some of us hoped the Greens might represent. On the contrary, it could well assist the forces of racist scapegoating.

I should also make clear that I am not arguing the standard liberal Nader-is-a-spoiler line. Nader did not steal my vote from Gore last time--he wooed a former abstentionist back to the polls. This year he has confirmed my abstentionism. Neither he nor Kerry--who supports expansion of the Iraq war--will get my vote.

Fuck Ralph Nader.

I just wanted to get that off my chest.


Special to WORLD WAR 3 REPORT, June 10, 2004
Reprinting permissible with attribution

Reprinting permissible with attribution.