Santa Cruz Indymedia :
Santa Cruz Indymedia

Commentary :: Government & Elections

Trusting Democrats: A Familiar Trap

Trusting Democrats: A Familiar Trap
Mickey Z.

Gadfly is not a word you hear very often...even the New York Times saves it
for special occasions. For example, when reviewing a book by cognitive
scientist Steven Pinker a few years back, the newspaper of record could not
resist taking a cheap shot at Pinker's MIT colleague, Noam Chomsky...calling
him a "short-tempered political gadfly."

On February 23, 2004, the Times dusted it off again for use in a headline:
"Nader, Gadfly to the Democrats, Will Again Run for President." I guess
Ralph has managed to earn a place of honor alongside Chomsky in the
Fit-to-Print hall of shame.

Let's get this over with quickly: Ralph Nader's announced bid for the
presidency only disturbs me in the sense that he chose to run as an
independent. Eschewing the Green Party not only hurts Nader's chances of
getting on ballots, it foolishly ignores the importance of
cultivating a movement to go along with the theory. We must never look to
one person for answers and Nader's shunning of the Greens, I feel, is a
tactical error. Having said that, I must say I'm not surprised to witness
the venom being launched in Nader's direction from frenzied centrists and
lefties alike.

"I think that Ralph Nader is proving that the only master that he serves is
his enormous ego," Scott Maddox, chairman of the Democratic Party in
Florida, told the Times. "I have nothing nice to say about him."

"The most regrettable thing about Mr. Nader's new candidacy is not how it is
likely to affect the election, but how it will affect Mr. Nader's own
legacy," declared a New York Times editorial...feigning concern for a gafly.

Calling Nader "The Lone Ranger Of Righteousness," Paul Loeb at
pronounces: "The reasons to defeat Bush escalate daily. How can Nader know
this and still run?"

"The only reason he's running is either he's an egomaniac or as a Bush
contract," answers Al Sharpton, conveniently sidestepping his own allegiance
to Republican power broker, Roger Stone. "What's the point?" the good
reverend asks. "This is not 2000 when progressives were locked out. I'm
going on a national crusade to stop Nader. This is only going to help Bush."
Hmm, I wasn't previously aware that "progressives" were not locked out by
John Kerry...the man who voted to invade Iraq, repeal welfare, enact NAFTA,
and pass the USA PATRIOT Act. Thanks, Rev.

According to John Kerry (Norman Soloman's "pragmatic choice"), the
differences between Gore and Bush were like "night and day," and he (Kerry)
intends to " speak to all Americans. If people want to beat George Bush
badly, and that's what's at stake here, they'll see that I'm speaking to
concerns that Ralph Nader and other people have."

What? Kerry, whom Nader said, "has been known to bend before the will of
corporatism," is speaking to the concerns that Ralph Nader has?

When announcing his candidacy on "Meet the Press," Nader characterized
Washington DC as "corporate-occupied territory" and described the US
political system as "two parties ... ferociously competing to see who's
going to go to the White House and take orders from their corporate pay
masters." Yeah, that sounds just like Senator Pragmatic's campaign speeches.

Nader also called for President (sic) Bush's impeachment: "If there's any
better definition of high crimes and misdemeanors in our Constitution than
misleading or fabricating the basis for going to war, as the press has
documented ad infinitum, I don't know any cause of impeachment that's
worse," he told Tim Russert. Has anyone heard Kerry mention that? Not with
foreign policy advisors like Richard Morningstar, Rand Beers, and William

When Russert asked Nader if he thought a President Gore would've invaded
Iraq, he replied: "He would have. I think he was a hawk. He may have done it
in a different way. He and Clinton got through Congress a regime-change
resolution as a pillar of our foreign policy."

Yep, just like Kerry the Lesser (of two evils).

The day after announcing, Nader told the press: "Corporatism has turned
federal and state departments and agencies into indentured servants for
taxpayer-funded subsidies, budget-busting contracts of great lucrative scope
and dwindling law and order against the widely publicized corporate crime

Didn't you hear Senator Pragmatic say something like that the other day?

What about Nader's life work? Is anyone-besides Kucinich, to some
degree-speaking to those concerns? His efforts resulted in such programs as
the Freedom of Information Act, the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, defending
African-Americans against bank redlining, seat belt laws, air bags in
automobiles, the Community Reinvestment Act for banks, the Center for
Woman's Policy Studies, the Safe Water Drinking Act, and the countless
ongoing accomplishments of Public Citizen and the 50-odd other Nader-spawned
non-profit organizations. We're supposed to believe Kerry, a man who has
voted to smash civil liberties and cut off welfare, will give voice to such

"Attacks on Nader for deciding to enter the presidential race are
intrinsically anti-democratic," writes Patrick Martin, at the World
Socialist Website. "They take as their starting point the preservation of
the existing two-party system, which is itself a mechanism for curtailing
democratic rights."

This reality doesn't stop "alternative" writers like Loeb from
self-defeating rhetoric like this: "Assuming the admittedly flawed John
Kerry becomes the Democratic nominee, progressives do not have to support
him blindly. We can work to unite historically separated progressive
movements and keep raising core issues no matter who's elected in November."

Yeah, just like all the "progressives" lined up to fight Clinton's assaults
on international law and social programs. Where were the liberals when
Clinton bombed Yugoslavia? Where were the Nazi analogies, Hitler mustaches,
and MoveOn.orgs then? Who was "raising core issues" when Clinton abandoned
his pledge to consider offering asylum to Haitian refugees, reneged on his
promise to "take a firm stand" against the armed forces' ban on gays and
lesbians, and backed away from his most high-profile campaign issue: health
care? (Kerry has already warned us: "The same people who helped me formulate
my health care plan are the people who helped formulate the Clinton budget
in the 1990s.") What about when Bill signed NAFTA, increased the Pentagon
budget by $25 billion, fired Jocelyn Elders, dumped Lani Guinier, and passed
a crime bill that gave us more cops, more prisons, and 58 more offenses
punishable by death. Where was Loeb's historical unity as Clinton was
delivering a telecommunications bill further narrowing the already laughable
parameters of public debate and he was signing the welfare repeal bill and
the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act?

Did we see an Anyone-But-Bill movement when Clinton perpetrated
environmental crimes like the passage of the salvage logging rider, the
signing of the Panama Declaration, the continuation of the use of methyl
bromide, the weakening of the Endangered Species Act, the lowering of
grazing fees on land, subsidizing Florida's sugar industry, weakening the
Safe Drinking Water Act, reversing the ban on the production and importation
of PCBs, and allowing the export of Alaskan oil?

The reasons to defeat Clinton were escalating daily.

Ralph Nader is far from ideal and certainly is not THE answer, but he's far
more principled than the Anyone-But-Bush crowd...who choose to ignore the
relevant history of the Democratic Party.

"Being a serious candidate means more than just having an effect on the
eventual result," Nader said in 1996. "It's about whether you are serious
about broadening the issues of the political debate, nurturing a political
alternative-a progressive mainstream that defends consumers and workers
against corporate power."

One last question to the Anyone-But-Bush crowd: If you want regime change
and truly don't believe it can come from outside the two-party (sic) system,
why weren't you all jumping on the Kucinich bandwagon from the start? The
"admittedly flawed" Kucinich has given voice to progressive concerns and
could have wielded power with delegates in hand. Instead, the liberal
sellout began with Dean...then Clark...and now Kerry. How many times will
the professional progressives walks into the same trap and fall for the same

It's like the Kurds still trusting the US government after decades of lies
and betrayal. Kissinger explained that one succinctly: "Covert action should
not be confused with missionary work." Eugene Debs has the answer for
today's Kerry fans: "I'd rather vote for something I want and not get it
than vote for something I don't want, and get it."

Mickey Z. is the author of two upcoming books: "A Gigantic Mistake: Articles
and Essays for Your Intellectual Self-Defense" (Prime Books) and "Seven
Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda" (Common Courage
Press). He can be reached at mzx2 (at)

New Comments are disabled, please visit


No events for this day.

view calendar week
add an event


Media Centers

Syndication feeds

Account Login

This site made manifest by dadaIMC software