Third Party & Independents Archives

Why I am Green, John Kerry, Part 6 of an Ongoing Series (End of Book 1)

Continued, on the discussion of how progressives died in the 2004 election. With one of the most disgusting incumbents of all time it was sure the opposition would win. It was sad when the opposition lost, especially because the Kerry campaign tried to mimic Bush. Why would one mimic one who is so despised? How could the Democrats do this? Well they did, and they lost. Stop playing to conservatives, or you will feel a loss in your progressive base.

The Democrats attitude towards progressive candidates goes much deeper than merely asking the question why they do not advocate strategic lesser evil voting. While Green Party candidate David Cobb chose a safe state approach, and thus avoided fierce legal battles by the Democrats for ballot access, some progressive candidates did not. The progressive candidate who faced the majority of the wrath of the Democrats was independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

Ralph Nader’s campaign saw a fight by the Democrats at nearly every step it took. In Florida, where Nader’s campaign believed it could use the Reform Party’s ballot line, Democrats sued to get Nader off of the ballot with the claim that the reform Party, which had nominated Nader, was no longer a viable national party (45). Fortunately the Florida Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision and Nader was placed on the ballot. Democrats have consistently gone out of their way to vilify Nader for his campaign to represent progressives, on CNN’s “Crossfire” James Carville stated, “Outside of Jerry Falwell, I can’t think of anybody I have greater contempt for than Ralph Nader” (46) When asked about Nader’s place in the presidential race Democratic progressive Dennis Kucinich would not comment, obviously fearful of the party if he happened to step out of line. Nader was also advised to not run by the Congressional Black Caucus, all of its members being Democrats (47).

In Wisconsin Democrats attempted to use a glitch in the system to remove Nader from the ballot. Democrats sued to remove Nader from the ballot on the grounds that they claimed he violated a law which requires presidential candidates to list the ten electors who would place ballots for them in the Electoral College (48). In order to perform this assault on Nader’s ballot access across the nation the Democrats employed ex-member of Congress Toby Moffett. Moffett claimed that the Democrats would not only attack Nader’s ballot access in swing states but also in safe states stating the goal was to “drain him of resources and force him to spend his time and money” (49). Here we see a remarkable disrespect for progressive values, as the Democrats show that they will use their greater fundraising ability, including corporate dollars, to push candidates off of the ballot.

Even worse, it was uncovered that twenty of the volunteers used by the Democrats to challenge signatures Nader had gathered in Illinois were employees of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s office (50). While Democrats in Illinois were harassing the Nader campaign they had no problems jumping over backwards to ensure Bush appeared on the Illinois ballot. Because the Republican National Convention was scheduled for a late date in 2004 Bush was supposed to miss an August 30 deadline that the candidates needed to be named by. However, Democrats led by Governor Rod Blagojevich wrote legislation which made an exception for Bush (51). Apparently Democrats have no problem in denying progressives the free choice to vote for who they wish while standing up for the rights of conservatives to vote for their candidate.

The contempt of Democrats towards a truly progressive campaign, Nader’s campaign, had no limits to how high it could reach. Democratic national strategist Tom Pazzi explained why the Democrats chose to bully Nader’s campaign, “If you take the high road and leave him alone, he could tip a state or two… then you’ll regret you took the high road” (52). Many progressives who formerly supported Nader in 2000 have encouraged this arrogant attitude among Democrats. Seventy of Nader’s more famous progressive past followers, including Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Cornel West, wrote a plan advocating a safe states strategic voting plan for progressives, this plan stated in part, “Even while we strongly disagree with Kerry’s policies on Iraq and other issues… for people seeking progressive social change in the United States, removing George W. Bush from office should be the priority in 2004” (53).

From analyzing the views and actions of John Kerry and the Democrats during the 2004 presidential election it becomes painfully obvious that they are not compatible with progressivism. On virtually every issue from universal heath care, to a living wage for workers, to the right of voters to vote for their chosen candidate without having his name removed from the ballot, the Democrats and John Kerry have not represented progressives. That is why I am proposing that progressives stop voting for the Democratic Party in presidential campaigns until they show that they will not take us for granted.

If Democrats will not nominate a presidential candidate with progressive values, than they can not expect to receive the votes of progressives. While I am aware that this strategy could result in another Republican administration in 2008, I still find it necessary. First if the Democrats do not field a progressive candidate and progressives withhold their votes from Democrats it is likely that a third party candidate will receive more votes than ever before, and potentially win some electoral votes. This will result in the Democrats understanding that they can no longer ignore our voices and that they must either change for the better or forget the votes of progressives for good. Secondly if the Democrats do not begin to adopt progressive values and continue to move rightward it will allow the Republicans to continue to control the nations debate and the country as a whole will move rightward. Finally if we do not withhold our votes from the Democrats isn’t it very likely that the Republicans will nominate someone as awful, if not worse than Bush, in 2008 and thus the Democrats will again ask us to silence our voices and vote for the John Kerry of 2008.

Works Cited:
45. Brian Faler, “Nader to Be Absent From Florida Ballot,” Washington Post, September 10, 2004, A10.
46. CNN Crossfire, “Three’s a Crowd in Presidential Race,” Available at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0402/23/cf.00.html.
47. Lenora Fulani, “CBC’s disservice to our ongoing struggle to make American democracy whole,” New York Amsterdam News 95 (19) (May, 2004).
48. “Democrats Again Try to Get Nader Knocked Off Ballot,” Wisconsin State Journal, September 25, 2004, B1.
49. “The Democrats’ War On Nader,” The Socialist Worker Online, August 6, 2004, Available at http://www.socialistworker.org/2004-2/508/508_08_WarOnNader.shtml.
50. Ibid.
51. Ibid.
52. Ibid.
53. Ruth Conniff, “Nader’s Students,” The Progressive 68 (11) (November, 2004)

Posted by Richard Rhodes at May 25, 2006 3:05 AM
Comments
Comment #151199

Please don’t tell me there’s a Book 2!!!

Posted by: Aldous at May 25, 2006 11:28 AM
Comment #151206

Just a joke.

Seriously… do you have any analysis on current or future Candidates?

Posted by: Aldous at May 25, 2006 11:50 AM
Comment #151246

Hey Richard, forget John Kerry — it’s a thing of the past and progressives always have to look to the future. Time to MoveOn.org, no?

Posted by: Adrienne at May 25, 2006 12:55 PM
Comment #151284

Why don’t you give Richard a break. At least its well written and researched exquisitely which is more than can be said for most of the articles posted here.

If the Democratic party is such a big tent isn’t there room for dissent?

Posted by: goodkingned at May 25, 2006 2:09 PM
Comment #151294

Ned:
“If the Democratic party is such a big tent isn’t there room for dissent?”

Richard belongs to the Green Party, Ned. If his goal is to see progressive values to dominate the Democratic Party, he needs to rejoin them the way I have in order to move us in that direction.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 25, 2006 2:30 PM
Comment #151302

Adrienne are you seriously proposing that the Dems don’t court the left wing stragglers whenever there is a ballot box nearby? Anyway, he’s posting in the independent column and these continual calls for him to go away are a high handed.

Posted by: goodkingned at May 25, 2006 2:49 PM
Comment #151305

Ned:
“Adrienne are you seriously proposing that the Dems don’t court the left wing stragglers whenever there is a ballot box nearby?”

No. If the Dems returned to representing their progressive base they’d be winning elections rather than bleeding voters and driving them into the Green Party.

“Anyway, he’s posting in the independent column and these continual calls for him to go away are a high handed.”

I’m not telling Richard to go away! Not at all. I just think he might want to move on from this fixation on John Kerry.
Btw, your one to talk about high-handedness when you’ve been mocking him openly in his other threads.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 25, 2006 3:01 PM
Comment #151309

Adrienne:

Richard and I had words, but I respect his work, even if I don’t agree with his conclusions. Anyway, largely I was mocking Kucinich.

Posted by: goodkingned at May 25, 2006 3:06 PM
Comment #151348

Does anyone think this has gone on long enough, And doesn’t this post belong in the blue column?

Posted by: Jason at May 25, 2006 5:22 PM
Comment #151350

One more question. Does anyone besides Richard Believe Nader didn’t cost Al Gore the 2000 Election. Their by giving Bush the Presidence?

Posted by: Jason at May 25, 2006 5:26 PM
Comment #151382

To Jason: Why this does NOT belong in the blue column. Although my articles discuss the Democratic Party, and to this point particularly John Kerry, they are speaking of why I chose Green over the Democrats. Thus no it does NOT belong in the blue column because it is a critique from the progressive left on the Democratic Party. It is meant to show people, that are progressives, that the Democrats do not represent them, and that there are other alternatives, particularly the Green Party (www.gp.org)

Moreover in the coming weeks I will be conducting an interview with one of the top Green Party candidates, Michael Berg, and posting it here.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 25, 2006 6:58 PM
Comment #151384

Aldous stated: “Seriously… do you have any analysis on current or future Candidates?”

This piece (part 1 to 6) were an analysis of a possible future candidate. Although it discusses the 2004 election in general, it also is meant as a warning to please not help John Kerry run for President in 2008.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 25, 2006 7:10 PM
Comment #151385

Richard,

Good article. I’m going to have to read your others. However, the fact that you’re up to part 6 and planning on writing more “books” does scare me a bit… There’s such a thing as being too into politics, you know!

Adrienne,

forget John Kerry — it’s a thing of the past and progressives always have to look to the future.

You know what they say about learning from the past…
I thought you of all people would agree with this statement:
if the Democrats do not begin to adopt progressive values and continue to move rightward it will allow the Republicans to continue to control the nations debate and the country as a whole will move rightward.

Isn’t that what you’ve been saying all along?

Jason,

Does anyone besides Richard Believe Nader didn’t cost Al Gore the 2000 Election. Their by giving Bush the Presidence?

I do. In the last two presidential elections, both parties have displayed a complete lack of electoral strategy. There was no national campaign from either side, especially in ‘04. The campaigns only focused on certain “swing states.” When you only shoot for 50% of the vote, 50% of the vote is all you’re going to get.

Posted by: TheTraveler at May 25, 2006 7:12 PM
Comment #151407

The Traveler: Haha, I am not actually writing these as I post them, all six parts came from a 30 page graduate paper of mine that I wrote about 2 months ago and just broke into six parts. Book 2 is also already written, and again comes from a graduate paper of mine.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 25, 2006 8:56 PM
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