Re: Nader Declines Green
Source joel kovel
Date 03/12/28/21:25

[Joel Kovel is a former Green Party candidate for
governor of New York. -- moderator]

From: joel kovel
Sent: Dec 23, 2003

I have a somewhat different view of these events than
most people on this list, and most greens. In my
opinion, the third Nader campaign would have been a
disaster for greens, and it is just as well to be rid of
it. The 2000 Nader campaign had a tremendous internal
drive to it - I know from personal experience, having
been swept away by it in the primaries. The feeling then
was that the green/nader linkage hadn't been fully
developed in 1996 so that 2000 was the year it would
come into its own. This time around, however, the
campaign looked doomed to me from the getgo, for two
interlocked reasons:

1.the embarrassment of once again having to rely on a
star who wasn't going to join the party, has his own
parallel organization, and really only gives token
attention to who the greens are and what they can become
before doing what he wants to do anyway. Frankly, I
think that having to run with Nader a third time would
have been a kind of living indictment of a weakness
bordering on parasitism in the Green Party. Always
hovering over the campaign there would have been the
question of why greens can't generate leadership from
within. Running Nader would have enabled this to be
denied, but the reality would remain. It is better to
face it now than after a poor showing next November.

2. I think this poor showing would have been guaranteed
by perception of the green weakness, but most
importantly, the power of the Bush fear-and-loathing
complex. I also think that greens who want to run Nader
again consistently underestimate the force of this
factor and deny the effect it is going to have on a
Nader race. They forever cheer each other up with brave
talk about how the two parties are really the same, or
how Dean is just as bad as Dubya, or how we have to
fight "Bushism" rather than Bush, or some other
variation on the theme. This forgets the following:

* that irrespective of what a few thousand greens say to
each other, tens of millions of people, including a lot
of radicals, believe that Bush's men are moving to rip
up the Constitution and fundamentally restructure the
American republic to destroy the slim chance of
democratic renewal upon which green electoral politics,
along with much else, rests.

* That there are some greens who have come to this point
of view, including people like John Rensenbrink, with
whom I have had serious political differences. But they
think this way because there is real evidence and a real
danger out there; and nothing is going to make that
point of view go away, and allow Ralph to feel

* Yes, there is real evidence out there that an American
fascism is in the cards, and that four more years of
Dubya is going to ratchet up the chances even further,
given the judicial appointments he can make and all the
other mischief at his disposal. Do I have to go into
detail here?: the flagrant theft of the 2000 election,
unlike anything else in American history; the
overwhelming likelihood of even more serious skulduggery
occurring around the events of 9-11; the aggressive war
strategy itself, another turn in the march of US
imperialism; the wholesale tossing out of constitutional
guarantees in the Patriot Act, the internments at
Guantanamo the rampant gerrymandering by DeLay in Texas
and elsewhere, again unprecedented (they used to wait
ten years, now they do it continuously): the looming
voting machine fraud, etc etc; . . . These are
qualitative shifts, the way quantitative changes become
qualitative after a while, then create new
configurations. It is very weak reasoning to point out
how awful the Democrats are, how corporate, etc, and
neglect to realize that a rogue faction of the ruling
class, represented by the Bushies, can break loose even
from the traditional Republican party, and set out to
change the fundamental structures themselves. That is
how republics can turn into dictatorships. Will it
happen? Well, I don't know; nobody does. Is it more
likely now than ever before? Oh yes, yes, and will
become even more so if Bush gets in again.

* So there is a rational core to the fear and loathing
complex, whether felt by worried liberals, substantial
numbers of radicals, or a significant fraction, if not
the majority, of greens. Let me add a personal
experience. Our Congressman is a very liberal Democrat
and straight shooter named Maurice Hinchey, in politics
for 35 years, and someone I've known for 20 years (when
I went to Cuba in 1994 with Pastors for Peace he took me
aside, gave me his card and said that if the US gov't
gave me any trouble I was to call him). We chanced to
meet this past summer, and he immediately launched into
a tirade about how he had never seen the equal of the
current adminstration for violation of democracy. About
a month later he spoke before a community group in
Woodstock, and when someone asked him if he thought the
Bush administration was capable of actually destroying
the democratic fabric of American society, and intending
to do so, his answer was: "Absolutely."

* People who are receiving information consonant with
such views are going to be utterly unmoved by what
greens talk about internally. They are also going to be
utterly unmoved by the "scientific" opinion that Nader
really helped Gore in 2000 and that it was only the
latter's debility that cost the election. They are
instead going to be very irritated by a retread of the
2000 ticket. They might see this as an exercise in petty
selfishness and turf-protection when American society is
facing an unprecedented crisis.

* Finally, Dean doesn't need Nader to push him to the
left. Dean is moving to the left even as we speak,
because the real base of his support is a remarkably
democratised movement, pulled together by the internet,
that should make greens - and Nader - weep with envy.
Check out his Blog, and sense the thrill that pervades
his campaign, as hitherto un-and a-political people are
made to feel that they belong to and have a stake in a
vital historical process. Remember, too, that Dean's
campaign is mostly financed by innumerable small
donations. In fact the Dean campaign is shaping up to be
the sort of thing Nader asked the greens to do. Dean's
dynamism stems not from being the corporate creature
that the stereotypes prevalent on green lists make him
out to be; it arises because he is rapidly becoming the
creature of a lot of young, disaffected people who are
yearning for fundamental change, and he is behaving
accordingly. Note the remarkable ferocity with which the
Democratic old guard is turning on him lately, as he
questions the Clinton era, and speaks of "taking back
our party." Note what the Black Commentator said
recently about a speech he made recently on racial
matters, that it was the best statement made by a white
mainstream politician in 30 years. Remember, too, that
FDR in 1932 was considered a rather backward politician
calling for balanced budgets; and that no one would have
mistaken Lincoln in 1860 for a Great Emancipator.

I have no intention of actually supporting Dean, nor do
I think that it matters if any of us do. I think it
remains important to stand back and demand more
fundamental change - more fundamental, by the way, than
Nader offers, or that can be offered by any, you should
excuse the expression, bourgeois politician.

How are greens to do this in light of what has just
happened? Guess what?

There are no blueprints. There is only an imperative to
rethink fundamentals. No time to mourn the loss of an
ambivalent relationship, time only to organize.

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