SAM SMITH - AP started it in their lead story on Ralph Nader's announcement that he is running for president: "He is still loathed by many Democrats who call him a spoiler and claim his candidacy in 2000 cost the party the election by siphoning votes away from Al Gore in a razor-thin contest in Florida."

More on that below, but even if what the Democrats said were true, the behavior of the party in the years that followed 2000 did absolutely nothing to correct the situation. For example:

- The Democrats could have supported and worked for instant runoff voting which dramatically changes the effect of third parties on elections and politics.

- They could have avoided gratuitously angering Green voters through such cheap tricks as redistricting Maine's one Green state legislator.

- They could have adopted some Green policies, much as European major parties do when pressed by from the left or right.

- They could have stopped being so consistently indistinguishable from the Republicans.

- Obama could have said he would add one or more Greens to his cabinet just as promised he might with one or more right wingers.

None of this happened.



[From a note in Bart Cop]

CHRIS RAY - Ralph Nader was responsible for the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Administration. Nader was instrumental in the adoption of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Wholesome Meat Act and the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. It was Ralph Nader who maneuvered the auto industry into making airbags available on American cars. However, more than anything else, Nader is responsible for a wholesale shift in contemporary attitudes toward consumer rights, public safety, humane business practices, and open government. Nadar may be in the doghouse now because his strange desire to run for president and get beat up, but he is a damn good guy and has done a lot of good.




PITTSBURGH POST - GAZETTE - E-mail messages exchanged by top aides in the Democratic caucus starting in 2004 make clear that taxpayer-funded bonuses were given to legislative employees for their work on election campaigns. The messages, obtained by the Post-Gazette, are a key component in an investigation by Attorney General Tom Corbett into the bonuses and whether they constituted an illegal use of state money for political work.

In startlingly blunt language, a group of aides, at points working under the direction of then-House Minority Whip Michael Veon, D-Beaver, rated the political work of state employees, sometimes adjusting the amounts of the bonuses based on time they spent in the field or, in one instance, in getting presidential candidate Ralph Nader off the Pennsylvania ballot.

"Mainly, I based my decisions on the number of days people spent in the field," wrote Eric Webb, director of Democratic member services, in one of the e-mails, "but a few people were bumped up for extra efforts, like being a phone bank captain," or "helping with the Spanish phone bank."

The system that produced the pay bonus scandal now roiling the state Capitol took shape at least three years ago when a cadre of top House aides began tracking campaign hours put in by Democratic caucus employees and then tied them to taxpayer-funded salary bonuses.

The records obtained by the Post-Gazette show that in 2004 managers working inside the Democratic caucus based year-end payroll bonuses on time spent working political campaigns. A year later, the same group employed a spreadsheet that logged political work performed by the employees and used that data in deciding pay bonus amounts.

A trio of spreadsheets attached to an Aug. 31, 2005 e-mail by Mr. Webb, who kept track of volunteer hours, ranked caucus employees as "rock stars," "good," and "OK" and assigned bonuses according to the rankings. In another e-mail, dated Nov. 22, 2004, a House aide advised Mr. Veon that a list of year-end bonuses was based on "performance during session" and "Outside activities" which included election work that encompassed, "specials, general, Nader effort."

The "Nader effort" is an apparent reference to a Democratic project to challenge the ballot petitions of the independent presidential candidate, who they feared would peel away votes from Democratic nominee Sen. John F. Kerry. Mr. Nader's ballots were later thrown out as a result of the petition challenge and the state Supreme Court later ordered Mr. Nader to pay the Democratic party's legal costs. . .




THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY is perpetuating the Ralph Nader myth, blaming him for Bush's election in 2000. This is, at best sloppy journalism; at saddest, extreme denial; and at worst a plain lie. Here are just a few of the actual facts:

- A Review study of poll results throughout the campaign found no correlation between Bush's percentage change and that of Nader except in July and August when the change was minimal.

- For example, in September of 2000, Gore's average poll result went up 7.5 points over August, Nader's only declined by 1 point. Similarly, in November, Gore's average poll tally declined 5.7 points but Nader's only went up 0.8 points.

- In Florida, it was also true. In nine successive surveys in which Nader pulled only 2 or 3 points, Gore's total varied by 7 points. As late as two weeks before the election, Gore was ahead by as much as 7-10 points.

- As Michael Eisencher reported in Z Magazine, 20% of all Democratic voters, 12% of all self-identified liberal voters, 39% of all women voters, 44% of all seniors, one-third of all voters earning under $20,000 per year and 42% of those earning $20-30,000 annually, and 31% of all voting union members cast their ballots for Bush.

- According to exit polling, those who voted for Nader were disproportionately under 30, independent, first time voters, formerly Perot voters, and of no organized religion. Sixty-two percent of Nader's voters were Republicans, independents, third-party voters and nonvoters. In other words, many of his voters did not naturally belong to the Democratic party.

- The public had a cynical view of both major candidates with 41% believing that both would say anything to win votes. Barely half considered either major candidate honest and trustworthy. And an astounding 51% had reservations about their own vote.

- Perhaps the most important, but seldom mentioned, factor in the outcome was the impact of the Clinton scandals. 68% of voters thought Clinton would go down in history more for his scandals than for his leadership. 44% said that the scandals were somewhat to very important and 57% thought the country to be on the wrong moral track.

- In short, the individual who did the most harm to Gore (aside from himself) was Bill Clinton. If Gore had distanced himself from the Clinton moral miasma he would probably be president today.

- Kevin Zeese points out that had Nader not run, Bush would have won by more in Florida. CNN's exit poll showed Bush at 49 percent and Gore at 47 percent, with 2 percent not voting in a hypothetical Nader-less Florida race.

- Gore lost his home state of Tennessee, Bill Clinton's Arkansas and traditionally Democratic West Virginia; with any one of these, Gore would have won.

- Nine million Democrats voted for Bush, and less than half of the 3 million Nader voters were Democrats.

- Zeese also notes, "The Democrats lost the 2002 congressional elections, the California and New York governorships, and many state legislatures throughout the country. Surely Nader is not to blame for those defeats."



AP - Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader and his running mate must pay more than $80,000 in expenses for the lawsuit that challenged their nominating papers and kept them off the 2004 ballot, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in a decision released Wednesday. There was an implication of "fraud and deception" in their petition drive, the court said in its ruling.

A group of Pennsylvania voters sued to block Nader and Peter Miguel Camejo, who were running as independent candidates, from being placed on the ballot. As a result of the lawsuit, the state Commonwealth Court found wide-ranging improprieties among Nader and Camejo's petition signatures and disqualified nearly two-thirds of the 51,000 signatures they submitted.


The Commonwealth Court opinion described the Nader-Camejo petitions as "the most deceitful and fraudulent exercise ever perpetrated upon this court." Signatures were filed for "Mickey Mouse" and "Fred Flintstone," and thousands of names were created at random, the lower court found.

Five state Supreme Court justices said Nader and Camejo must pay the plaintiffs' transcription and stenography costs and handwriting expert fees.

"Given the magnitude of the fraud and deception implicated in (their) signature-gathering efforts, their claim that the Commonwealth Court acted in an unjust and unconstitutional fashion by assessing transcription and stenography costs does not pass the straight-face test," Justice Sandra Schultz Newman wrote for the majority.



Sam Smith

I had never been invited to dinner by Ralph Nader before, so I figured I'd better check it out.

The hall where the drinks were being served could have been at any one of the scores of events Washington was throwing that night, but the difference soon became apparent. The difference was in the cause and the crowd. It was a confederacy of doers gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the publication of one of the most important books of our moment in history: Unsafe at Any Speed.

It had to be a large room because Nader, after all, was the guy who introduced cloning to contemporary progress. The business of leadership, he says, is creating more leaders, not more followers and the fruits of his labor were there: people like Lowell Dodge, Joan Claybrook, Sid Wolfe, John Richard, Teresa D'Amato, Russell Mokhiber, and Carl Nash. And reporters who shared or spread Nader's sense that the truth - whether in a Vietnam village or in a automobile factory - even if it doesn't set you free, may at least keep you alive. Reporters like Jim Ridgeway, Bill Greider and Sy Hersh. And people who had taken the Nader idea and applied it to other things, like Linda Schade of True Vote, currently leading the fight to make elections in Maryland safe at any speed of vote count.

Auto safety seems so reasonable today, but when Nader proposed Unsafe At Any Speed to a big publisher, he replied that "Alas, I fear it would only be of interest to insurance agents." Around that time, my wife, then assistant press secretary to Senator Gaylord Nelson, pitched a auto safety article to Parade Magazine that drew on Nader's work. They weren't at all interested.

The auto manufacturers, however, quickly saw the importance. Jim Ridgeway - whose coverage of Nader drew the attention of Unsafe's eventual publisher, Richard Grossman - described in a 1966 article the industry's reaction to the "lanky Washington attorney of 32 who recently has been getting publicity because he went after the automobile makers." His landlady got a call to find out whether he paid his rent on time. His stockbroker was called by an investigator who claimed to be representing someone who wanted to hire Nader. The editor of a law journal for which Ralph had written was approached the same way and asked about Nader's drinking habits. An attractive brunette approached him and said that a group of her friends were interested in foreign affairs and they wanted to get all viewpoints. Would he join them? He claimed to be from out of town. Oh that's all right, the woman said. The meeting's tonight. The next day, the man to whom Nader had dedicated his book, got a call from an investigator wanting to know about the activist's sex life and left wing leanings. And later that afternoon, Nader discovered two men following him as he flew back from Philadelphia from an appearance on the Mike Douglas Show. . .

If that all seems out of another time, consider this: from the moment Nader testified to the Ribicoff committee on Capitol Hill to the time that America had new federal car safety legislation that is still saving lives took all of about six months. Try to get anything done in Washington today in six months.

But that was a time of Phil Hart and Gaylord Nelson, not Tom DeLay and Duke Cunningham. And a time of Jim Ridgeway and Sy Hersh and not of TV toy journalists who look as though their last beat had been covering themselves at a beauty parlor.

Of course, the stories are still there. Dr. Sid Wolfe is doing much the same thing with medicine that his friend once did with the auto industry. Medicine - that's medicine, not disease - is one of our major causes of death through such things as adverse drug reactions and hospital infections.

Yet if you read the morning paper, you will get little idea of the problem other than as incidents without context, as if each bad drug was an exception to the general rule of benign health care. Perhaps even the user's fault.

Just like, forty years go, they said about auto crashes. Until Ralph Nader came along.

JULY 2004


SAM HANANEL, AP - Ralph Nader had a testy meeting Tuesday with black members of Congress and rejected their request that he quit the presidential race. At the same time, Arizona Democrats prepared to challenge Nader's qualifications to appear on that state's ballot as an independent candidate. . . Shouts could be heard from inside the meeting in the basement of the U.S. Capitol with more than a dozen Congressional Black Caucus members, including Nader's voice, in what proved to be a rancorous session. One female shouted, "You can't win," to which Nader shot back an inaudible response. Some lawmakers stormed out of the meeting for a House vote and didn't return..


HILL NEWS - Tensions between Ralph Nader and the Congressional Black Caucus flared again yesterday, after a letter from the independent presidential candidate to the caucus chairman, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), demanded an apology for an "obscene racial epitaph" at a tense meeting last month. Black lawmakers reacted to Nader's letter with a combination of anger and disdain, questioning his mental health and accusing him of acute and advanced egomania.

"He ain't playing with a full deck," said Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a member of the caucus and vice chairman of the Democratic caucus. "I don't think he gets it," said Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.).

Nader's two-and-a-half-page letter, released to the media before many members of the caucus had a chance to see it, demanded an apology from Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.). Nader took umbrage at Watt's choice of words. Watt, Nader alleged, called him "just another arrogant white man, telling us what we can do. It's all about your ego, another [expletive] arrogant white man."

"Exclamations at the meeting descended into vituperative (e.g., Congresswoman [Carolyn] Kilpatrick's [D-Mich.] tawdry, anatomical comment yelled loud enough so the press could hear it outside) and ending with the obscene racist epithet repeated twice by Yale Law School alumnus Congressman Melvin Watt of North Carolina," Nader wrote Cummings. As reported by The Hill, Kilpatrick told Nader to "get your ass out" at the June 22 meeting.

Caucus spokeswoman Candice Tolliver ruled out an apology. "It was a spirited exchange with the caucus," Tolliver said. "We just share two different strategies, and that's it."


CITIZENS FOR A SOUND ECONOMY - Oregon CSE members are working to get Ralph Nader on the November ballot! While this sounds completely backwards-- Ralph Nader opposes nearly every issue CSE fights for-- but there's sound logic behind Oregon CSE's actions. CSE does not advocate the election or defeat of political candidates, but Oregon CSE members feel that having Nader on the ballot helps illuminate the strong similarities between the uber-liberal Nader and John Kerry. That's why they've been making calls to their friends to sign a petition to get Nader on the ballot by attending a townhall on June 26th, using a phone script that reads:

"Hi, my name is Russ Walker, director of Citizens for a Sound Economy here in Oregon, and I wanted to tell you about an opportunity we have to drive a wedge through the Liberal Left's base of support. In this year's presidential race, Ralph Nader could peel away a lot of Kerry support in Oregon, but he has to be on the ballot first. He will make it if at least 1,000 people show up this Saturday at Benson High school at 4:00 pm and sign the petition to certify his candidacy. [[Please note-- this event already occurred on June 26th] Liberals are trying to unite in Oregon and keep Nader off the ballot to help their chances of electing John Kerry. We could divide this base of support by showing up at Grant High school on Saturday. Poor Ralph Nader: He just wants to make the ballot here in Oregon. Let's give him what he wants and just watch what happens in November!"

JUNE 2004


James V. Grimaldi Washington Post - Since October, Ralph Nader has run his campaign for president out of the same downtown Washington offices that through April housed a public charity he created -- an overlap that campaign finance specialists said could run afoul of federal laws. Tax law explicitly forbids public charities from aiding political campaigns. Violations can result in a charity losing its tax-exempt status. In addition, campaign law requires candidates to account for all contributions -- including shared office space and resources, down to the use of copying machines, receptionists and telephones.

Records show many links between Nader's campaign and the charity Citizen Works. For example, the charity's listed president, Theresa Amato, is also Nader's campaign manager. The campaign said in an e-mail to The Washington Post that Amato resigned from the charity in 2003. But in the charity's most recent corporate filing with the District, in January, Amato listed herself as the charity's president and registered agent.

The office suite housing the campaign, the charity and other sub-tenants had a common receptionist for greeting visitors. And Federal Election Commission records show the campaign paid rent to Citizen Works and Citizen Works' landlord. Nader said the campaign has taken over the charity's lease on its coveted location on 16th Street NW.

"There is nothing, no wrongdoing here," Nader said Friday. The shared-space arrangement was vetted by an outside lawyer and is legal, Nader said, because his campaign has paid Citizen Works fair market value to rent office space and buy furniture. "You can search until kingdom come," Nader said. "You'll find no cross-subsidies here."


RALPH NADER - I’m not expecting conservatives to change their minds on certain issues that we disagree on, but if we look at the issues where we have common positions, they reach a level of gravity that would lead conservatives to stop being taken for granted by the corporate Republicans and send them a message by voting for my independent candidacy.

Here are the issues. One, conservatives are furious with the Bush regime because of the fantastic deficits as far as the eye can see. That was a betrayal of Bush’s positions, and it was a reversal of what Bush found when he came to Washington.

Conservatives are very upset about their tax dollars going to corporate welfare kings because that undermines market competition and is a wasted use of their taxes.

Conservatives are upset about the sovereignty-shredding WTO and NAFTA. I wish they had helped us more when we tried to stop them in Congress because, with a modest conservative push, we would have defeated NAFTA because it was narrowly passed. If there was no NAFTA, there wouldn’t have been a WTO.

Conservatives are also very upset with a self-styled conservative president who is encouraging the shipment of whole industries and jobs to a despotic Communist regime in China. That is what I mean by the distinction between corporate Republicans and conservative Republicans.

Next, conservatives, contrary to popular belief, believe in law and order against corporate crime, fraud, and abuse, and they are not satisfied that the Bush administration has done enough.

Conservatives are also upset about the Patriot Act, which they view as big government, privacy-invading, snooping, and excessive surveillance. They are not inaccurate in that respect.

And finally, two other things. They don’t like “Leave No Child Behind” because it is a stupidly conceived federal regulation of local school systems through misguided and very fraudulent multiple-choice testing impositions.

And conservatives are aghast that a born-again Christian president has done nothing about rampant corporate pornography and violence directed to children and separating children from their parents and undermining parental authority.

If you add all of those up, you should have a conservative rebellion against the giant corporation in the White House masquerading as a human being named George W. Bush. Just as progressives have been abandoned by the corporate Democrats and told,”You got nowhere to go other than to stay home or vote for the Democrats,” this is the fate of the authentic conservatives in the Republican Party.

I noticed this a long time ago, Pat. I once said to Bill Bennett, “Would you agree that corporatism is on a collision course with conservative values?” and he said yes.



The libelous anti-Nader material the Democrats are running in TV ads and on the Internet could well backfire. Normally, when you're trying to win over a constituency you're nice to them, but in the case of Nader voters, the Democrats have been conducting a four year hate campaign against Nader that has gained in intensity with the current race. The underlying message is: you're so stupid you voted for Nader. Not a particularly nuanced approach to politics.

Unfortunately, however, the Democrats - especially liberals - have increasingly stigmatized those with whom they disagree on some issue, thus reducing their constituency with little chance of winning it back. The voters being insulted by the hate Nader campaign join people like gun owners, fundamentalists, southerners, and abortion opponents as among those rejected by the Democrats even though they were once a key part of their constituency.

Meanwhile, just as was true in 2000, the Nader support is not behaving the way the liberal Democrats would have one believe. For example, Kerry just lost 11 points in Minnesota polling but the Nader vote didn't change at all. Also, while Nader is showing strength in some expected states such as California, he is also doing better than expected in places like Indiana and South Dakota. Why? Because, despite the stereotype, the Nader support comes from a variety of sources: Greens, ex-Perot backers, the generally pissed off, and those just wouldn't vote without Nader in the race.

The best plan for the Democrats would be to cancel their hate Nader campaign and adopt some of his positions so his supporters might have a reason to back Kerry. As it is the Democrats are just acting mean and dumb.

MAY 2004


JACKSON DIEHL, WASHINGTON - Polls show the potential constituency for [an anti-war] movement is growing rapidly. A New York Times/CBS poll last week found that 46 percent of Americans now believe the United States should withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible -- a number equal to those who agree with Kerry and Bush on sticking it out. The percentage who believed the United States should have stayed out of Iraq had risen by 50 percent since December.

Nader's numbers, too, are rising. A Washington Post/ABC News poll showed him at 3 percent in early March, about equal to the 2.8 percent he polled in 2000. Five weeks later he was at 6 percent in the same poll and 5 percent in the New York Times and CNN polls. According to those polls, almost all his support has been drawn from Kerry.

Democrats have been hoping that Nader, like Ross Perot, will fade in a second campaign or fail to get on the ballot in many states.

But there is no sign that's happening. The campaign recently announced that it had raised $600,000 in its first two months, triple the amount Nader had at this time four years ago and enough to organize around the country. A spokesman told the Associated Press: "We're starting to establish ourselves as the only clear antiwar campaign."

JAMES K. GLASSMAN, FT WAYNE GAZETTE, IN - Supporters of John Kerry are kidding themselves if they think Ralph Nader won't hurt their candidate. In fact, he might hurt Kerry in 2004 more than he hurt Al Gore in 2000. . . In 2000, Nader received 2.7 percent of the vote. The latest Gallup Poll, taken April 5-8, gives him 4 percent. A Newsweek poll of 18- to 29-year-olds found 12 percent backing Nader, "at the expense of John Kerry." And Democrats have to be worried about a survey in New Hampshire last month that found Nader with 8 percent.

But they should worry more as they look at Iraq. The war there is not going well. In the first 18 days of April, 99 U.S. soldiers were killed, and, at that rate, another 1,000 will die before the election.
But the beneficiary, ultimately, might be Bush. Kerry's position on the war is not much different from the president's ­ except that Kerry says he would manage it better and make it more international. Nader, by contrast, is fervently anti-war: "I have been against this war from the beginning. We must not waste lives in order to control and waste more oil." Nader even believes that Bush should be impeached because he "led the United States into an illegal, unconstitutional war in Iraq.". . .

In early April, Gallup found that 28 percent of those surveyed wanted all U.S. troops out of Iraq, compared with 16 percent in January. If the war deteriorates, the sentiment for pulling out can only rise, and Nader (that is, Bush) will be the beneficiary. He's the only anti-war game in town. Under these circumstances, the imprecations of Nader's former allies ring hollow. The Nation magazine, the heartbeat of the Left, recently urged Nader to drop out, threatening that he risked separating himself, "probably irrevocably," from those who once admired him. The Times said much the same. But against an anti-war backdrop that could net Nader as much as 10 percent of the vote, such views look awfully petty and short-sighted.

The people who want him to quit don't know Ralph Nader. I have known him for a quarter-century. He is not like other politicians. While I disagree with him on practically every issue, I admire his seriousness, his vigor and his perseverance. This is his life. This is his movement, and it might be his moment. He is not stepping aside for anyone. Good for him.

APRIL 2004


DAVID E. ROSENBAUM, NY TIMES - Ralph Nader made an explicit appeal on Monday for votes from the antiwar movement and called for the United States to announce a firm date for the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq. Mr. Nader, running for president as an independent, said that President Bush was a "messianic militarist" and that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the probable Democratic presidential nominee, was "stuck in the Iraq quagmire the way Bush is.". . . He suggested that perhaps the withdrawal date should be six months from now. Merely announcing "a date certain," he said, would "separate the mainstream Iraqis from the insurgents."


I advised that Ralph Nader not run this year. It is, however, a long road from such a tactical judgment to the sort of vilification that is currently being hurled against him. Here are a few reasons why such excoriation is not only obnoxious but dumb, since it will only add to the Democrats' problems:

- Ralph Nader is not the Democrats' main problem. Their candidate and the party's policies (or lack thereof) are.

- Blaming others for problems you created is a sign of a dysfunctional, self-destructive individual badly in need of therapy. Every attack on Ralph Nader is a reminder of the Democrats' deep denial.

- Not since segregation have so many with so much power used it so badly, cruelly, corruptly, and dangerously and with so little public or media criticism. Many Democrats, including the current presidential candidate, have participated deeply in this conspiracy of silence. Nader, at least, has broken the major bipartisan rule for Americans these days: shut up.

- To expect someone not to run against the Democrats and Republicans in such a crisis is a further sign of the arrogance that has made the two major parties so unappealing. Twenty-five percent of voters are not Democrats or Republicans. Are they not allowed to have opinions of their own?

- Nader didn't cause the defeat of the Democrats in 2000. For example: 20% of all Democratic voters, 12% of all self- identified liberal voters, 39% of all women voters, 44% of all seniors, one-third of all voters earning under $20,000 per year, 42% of those earning $20-30,000 annually, and 31% of all voting union members cast their ballots for Bush. Sixty-two percent of Nader's voters were Republicans, independents, third-party voters and nonvoters. Had Nader not run, Bush would have won by more in Florida. CNN's exit poll showed Bush at 49 percent and Gore at 47 percent, with 2 percent not voting in a hypothetical Naderless Florida race.

- This time Nader - divorced from the Green Party - is going after not the left but the forgotten middle, in what may be a revival of the Perot constituency. It is not by accident that where Nader has had to create a party name for easier ballot access he has called it the Populist Party. Thus Democrats who think Nader is backed only by leftist malcontents don't understand what's going on.

- Many people who will vote for Nader or the Greens are former Democrats who were told explicitly and implicitly they were no longer welcomed in the party. They see the difference between the Republican and the Democratic parties to be slimmer than between either of these parties and their own views. The assumption that such people are only misguided Democrats annoys them mightily and further assures them not to have any truck with their former party. A little more humility and hospitality on the part of Democrats might help; treating voters you want as prodigal sons definitely won't.

- While it is not popular in decadent contemporary America, doing the right thing and letting God deal with the consequences has a long history of theological sanction. I'm personally pretty sloppy about such matters, but I recognize morally based personal witness when I see it and respect it, albeit vicariously. Democrats and the media assume that it must be egotism because they have forgotten in this age of post-modern relativism what a moral response to crisis looks like.

- Such responses are a fact of life. Therefore, politicians and the media should quietly take into account that some will make such responses and not publicly inveigh against those who refuse to be as corrupt, wrong, and pointless as they are.

- Scolding people is the worst possible way to get them to vote your way. Every time the Democrats and the liberal media scold Nader and his supporters, they solidify his support.

- The Democrats have had four years to appeal to the Nader constituency and have done absolutely nothing. It's a little late now to start, but they could at least try to be as nice to the disenchanted as they are to soccer moms and campaign contributors. Even more radical would be to actually come up with programs they might like.

- The worst damage to the Democratic Party was done during the Clinton years. Since Clinton was inaugurated, the Democrats have lost 12% of their registered voters, and lost during his administration the largest number of seats in Congress, the governorships, and state legislatures of any Democratic White House incumbency since Grover Cleveland. No Democrats even mention this, another sign of denial in dire need of treatment.

- Democratic margins have been declining in the Senate and House since the 1960s, in the governorships since the 1970s and in the state legislatures since the 1980s. This is not Ralph Nader's fault.

-I wasn't even planning to vote for Ralph Nader but you're beginning to piss me off. - SAM SMITH


SCOTT TUCKER, OPEN LETTER - In general, I admire Smith for his resolutely independent mind and politics, and for documenting the widening gap between democracy and the bipartisan corporate system. Smith is correct that Nader is pitching a "populist" campaign beyond the ranks of already convinced left wing voters. In principle, this makes good political sense. But not all populism is progressive-- sometimes quite the contrary. I was troubled by Nader's opportunist "populist" politics in the past, and put my views on the public record in various articles and a book. I have never trusted Nader to understand the depth and danger of fundamentalism and of cultural reaction. His economic worldview is likewise mechanical. I have always thought that the Green Party would be better off letting Nader go his own way, and taking a clear partisan course of our own.

Sam Smith comes all too close to the truth when he writes (see column below) that Nader may be "going after the forgotten middle, in what may be a revival of the Perot constituency." Both Smith and Nader view corporate domination as the greatest danger to democracy. I tend to agree. But there are some deeply reactionary currents among sectors of the population Smith calls "the forgotten middle," a subject Smith tends to treat very lightly. From time to time, Smith blames the Democratic Party for putting more focus on gays and abortion than on jobs and the economy. In the spirit of populist provocation, Smith also says the Democratic Party doesn't appeal to people who own guns and Bibles. He knows, of course, that this is not simply about duck hunting and church picnics. There really are people who want to run the country by making the Constitution a footnote to the Bible-- and those people are more, not less, dangerous if they aim to do so at the point of a gun.

Smith also knows (or should by now) that the Democratic Leadership Council has been pumping out "populist" propaganda for decades along these very lines, impatient with "wedge issues," and eager to get out the straight white male voter. Whether Smith likes it or not, this is precisely why Nader's flirtations with Buchanan, Newman, Fulani et al are well worth noting, especially since a movement of electoral resistance must keep very high standards.

Nevertheless, Smith is quite right that many of Nader's critics are not serious about breaking the stranglehold of corporate politicians on public life. Whatever Nader's faults may be, Kerry's much deeper love affair with corporate bosses is a much greater danger to democracy-- precisely because Kerry is closer to actual power. On this subject Smith is persuasive. . .


ONE RESULT of the Democrat's hate campaign against Nader and his supporters is a bit more sympathy for born-agains, hunters and others who have likewise been expunged from membership in humanity by hyper-righteous liberals. Here's one recent example from a sociologist at CUNY, Harry Levine: "In the year 2000, Ralph Nader strapped political dynamite onto himself and walked into one of the closest elections in American history hoping to blow it up. He wanted to punish the Clinton-Gore Democrats for having betrayed him and the causes he believes in. His primary campaign mission was defeating Al Gore, but Nader concealed this from his supporters, even as he went after votes in swing states like Florida. On the day after election day, when everyone else was grim, and many Democrats were furious at him, Ralph Nader was a happy man."

Isn't there anyone in the Democratic Party who understands that you don't win votes with that sort of nastiness?

The Democrats did not do one thing after the 2000 debacle to improve relations with Greens and other Nader supporters. Among the possibilities: adopting some Green programs, avoiding holy wars against Green local candidates such as carried out against Matt Gonzalez in San Francisco, easing ballot access laws, and allowing fusion voting. Instead, those who supported Nader were subjected to a steady stream of blame and insults based on grossly incorrect assumptions.

Now Nader is running again and this time, although he has lost considerable Green support, there are signs he may be creating a new constituency of what might be called the zapathetics: people who are so pissed off at both parties that rather than staying home, they will come to the polls to make their point.

If the two parties make such a mess that it is hard for any self-respecting citizen to support them, it is simply a further sign of their corrupt arrogance for them to blame someone else for being mad about it. What possible reason is there for someone deeply troubled by the Kerry-Bush choice to change their mind knowing that they will be joining those who hold them in such contempt?

While, as a matter of political tactics, I didn't think Nader's run was a good idea (and said so) it is grossly insulting to the principles of this county to argue he doesn't have the right to run or that his decision to do so akin to the act of a suicide bomber.

People who say things like that deserve not getting every vote they lose


KAREN CROFT, SALON - Nader really is like a priest. He is little affected by the world he affects. He has never been married, never had children. No one knows for sure if he has a love life. He has never owned a car and has lived in the same inexpensive Washington boardinghouse for many years. "Fashion" is not a word he could define: He has the look of a man who cuts his hair with kitchen scissors and his idea of great bedtime reading is the Congressional Record. His hero is baseball legend Lou Gehrig because Gehrig was a modest man who just kept going, playing in 2,130 consecutive games. . .

Critics would get on Nader's case for being a nag, for being single-minded, for not getting certain issues. Gloria Steinem once told me that she thought Nader never understood the women's movement. He was always more interested in general consumer issues than feminist causes like the Equal Rights Amendment or abortion rights. . . Henriette Mantel, a comedy writer and actress who worked alongside me in Nader's office for two years, says, "He's just a great man. He's a walking, talking Jefferson Memorial, except he doesn't have as much sex."

One hopes Nader would laugh at this. I once asked him if he ever wanted a wife and kids, to have a family like the one he grew up with. He said he had considered it, but felt that he couldn't give all of himself to both family and work, so he had made a choice.

He chose to work for us. And, like the priest-ballplayer he is, he sits long into the night, surrounded by mounds of paper, books and his poster of Gehrig. When I asked via fax how he wants to be remembered, he wrote: "For helping strengthen democracy, for making raw power accountable and enhancing justice and the fulfillment of human possibilities." Let the record show he has lived up to this epitaph.


JANICE D'ARCY, HARTFORD COURANT, ST PETERSBURG, FL - Those who publicly have stood by their Nader vote here have had to develop a Teflon skin as well as an appreciation for the all-caps e-mail. After Zundmanis sent out 700 e-mails to former Nader supporters this week reminding of the meet up, a reply popped up in her inbox. It read, "ROT IN HELL." Then there are the family feuds, bumper sticker defacing and worse.

Palmer opens her eyes wide when she almost gleefully recounted the series of humiliations since 2000. Worse than the verbal abuse and being spit on, she said, was the Christmas drive when she casually mentioned her Nader support to her Democratic mother. "I could hear the vertebrae in her neck snap her head toward me," Palmer said. Her mother demanded Palmer pull the car off the road and let her out.

Rob Lorei, news director at the public radio station WMNF in St. Petersburg, told his story with a more bemused tone. "We got the reputation that somehow we were backing Nader," he said of the station, which serves the six counties where Nader drew one-third of his Florida support in 2000. An odd result, given there are many more tanning salons here than alternative coffee shops. But there is at least one distinction: In a landscape of Hooters and amusement parks, WMNF airs Noam Chomsky lectures.

Many angry Democrats concluded after the election that Lorei's progressive radio station was a Nader mouthpiece and it should share the blame. Though the station broadcast a Nader interview and hosted open call-in shows that Nader supporters flooded to argue for their candidate, Lorei said there was no explicit or implicit endorsement. He points out the station offered air time to all the candidates but only Nader and other third-party candidates took the offer. Lorei's protests were dismissed by the callers and e-mailers that besieged the station with hostility in the weeks and months after the 2000 results.


DOUG IRELAND, LA WEEKLY - Nader has now jumped into bed with the ultra-sectarian cult racket formerly known as the New Alliance Party and its guru, Fred Newman: Ralph was the star attraction at a January conference of "independents" that was just a front for the Newmanite crazies. . . The New York Times reported Nader says he'll "link up" with existing "independent" parties in New York and elsewhere - which can only mean the Newmanites (who control New York's Independence Party and similar remnants of the Reform Party in many states).

This cult is the antithesis of every value Nader holds dear. A Maoist grouplet in the '70s, the Newmanites morphed into supporters of Pat Buchanan in the Hitler-coddling commentator's 2000 takeover of the Reform Party. Newman recruits and controls his followers through a brainwashing scheme baptized "social therapy," designed to create blind allegiance to Newman. He has frequently dipped his rhetoric in the poisonous blood-libel of anti-Semitism, denouncing Jews as "storm troopers of decadent capitalism." By French-kissing the cultists to get on the ballot, Nader has allowed himself to be used as bait to lure the unsuspecting into the Newmanite orbit, where they risk being sucked into the cult. That's a betrayal of the many young people to whom Nader is still a hero. And an acid commentary on Nader's judgment.

DOUG IRELAND, LTR TO VILLAGE VOICE - Nader quite consciously allied himself with the odious Newmanites knowing full well who and what they were because, having brushed off the Greens, Nader was desperate for their help in getting himself on the ballot. The Boston Phoenix article I cited quotes Nader's campaign manager, Teresa Amato, as saying quite baldly that she and Ralph discussed the Newmanites' odiferous past before he decided to join with them. And as Ralph runs around the country putting his campaign together, he is actively soliciting the help of Newman's network of brainwashed illuminati. Latest example: The March 5 Austin Chronicle reported that, on his recent visit to Texas, Nader met with and recruited (for a role in his campaign) Linda Curtis, longtime head of the Texas Newmanite front group.


WAYNE SLATER, KNIGHT RIDDER - Nearly 10 percent of the Nader contributors who have given him at least $250 each have a history of supporting the Republican president, national GOP candidates or the party, according to computer-assisted review of financial records by The Dallas Morning News. Among the new crop of Nader donors: actor and former Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein, Florida frozen-food magnate Jeno Paulucci and Pennsylvania oil company executive Terrence Jacobs. All have strong ties to the GOP.

According to campaign finance reports, Mr. Nader raised $930,000 through February. During the same period, Mr. Bush had raised $158 million and Mr. Kerry $41 million. More than 24 Nader contributors of $250 or more ­ about 10 percent of his total ­ are otherwise reliable GOP donors, The News review found.


Dear Friends: As you may have seen from media appearances and public remarks, our Independent campaign is advancing a people's agenda of social and economic justice, protection of the environment and ending the militarization and corporatization of our country and its policies at home and abroad.

Thus far, the campaign has drawn people from across the political spectrum. We have received calls from many Green Party members who want to work with Nader for President 2004. Some Greens are also urging a draft Nader movement. Some state parties have asked whether I would accept a ballot line in their state. We have also received support from some Reform and Libertarian Party members, Independents, first-time voters and disaffected members of the two major parties.

What is developing is a true independent coalition of voters who oppose the direction in which our country is being taken. There are people in all parties and no party who want to unite to take a strong stand against the corporatist two-party duopoly that is taking the United States downward and taking apart our domestic economy. These are people who are saying enough is enough! They want a government that is truly of, by and for the people.

After my letter in December to the Steering Committee, I have been asked by individuals and representatives of state parties as well as the Steering Committee to respond to a number of inquiries. First, I will not intrude on the Party's presidential selection process. As you know, I am running as an Independent and am not seeking nor accepting the Green Party nomination. If you do not choose a presidential candidate in Milwaukee, I would welcome your endorsement and have said the same to other third parties as well. And if individuals want to work with our campaign as part of the broad Independent coalition that is developing, we would be grateful.

Should the national Green Party decide to endorse my candidacy and have its members focus their efforts on state and local races, then State Green Party ballot lines and the participation of Greens in a variety of ways would be mutually helpful. However, having spent years helping to build the Green Party, I do not want to be put in a position of responding to individual state parties and thereby dividing the national party because of state ballot requirements. So the rest is up to your decision. With a big task ahead of us we are challenging an entrenched corporate political system that will not relinquish any of its power without a mobilized opposition. We need to work synergistically. As Frederick Douglas said, "power concedes nothing without a demand."

No matter what the National Party decides at its convention, I intend to use the platform of my candidacy to advance many Green values and issues and will also encourage serious state and local Green Party candidates across the country.

Together, in many ways, we can expand the challenge to the corporate governments and their political party proxies.

Ralph Nader



For the past four years, the only thing the Democrats and their media enablers have had to say about Ralph Nader is that he was to blame for their troubles. It was an utter lie that ignored, among other things, the lack of correlation between Nader and Gore in the polls leading to the election. For example between August and September 2000 Gore's average poll results rose 7.5 points but Nader's went down only 1 point. Between September and October, Gore's average went down 5.7 points and Nader's went up .8 points. At least 85% of Gore's changes were due to something other than Nader.

The Democrat's libel is further revealed in exit polling which showed that:

34% of union members voted for Bush but only 3% for Nader 13% of self-described liberals voted for Bush but only 6% for Nader 25% of gays voted for Bush but only 4% for Nader 15% of people who voted for Clinton in 1996 voted for Bush in 2000 but only 2% for Nader. 26% of those who voted for a Democratic candidate for governor split their ticket to vote for Bush but only 2% for Nader. More significantly, and totally unmentioned by either Democrats or the media, was the role that Clinton's corruption played in the electron. Sixty percent of votes had an unfavorable opinion of Clinton and 68% said he would go down in history books for his scandals rather than his achievements.

Further the party remains in deep denial about what had happened to it during the Clinton years. It went into the 2000 race having lost under Clinton nearly 45 seats in the House, 7 seats in the Senate, 11 governorships, over 1200 state legislative seats, 9 state legislatures, and over 400 Democratic officeholders who had become Republicans.

It also ran as a presidential candidate a loyal member of the Clinton political machine which had chalked up criminal convictions for drug trafficking, racketeering, extortion, bribery, tax evasion, kickbacks, embezzlement, fraud, conspiracy, fraudulent loans, illegal gifts, illegal campaign contributions, money laundering, perjury, and obstruction of justice yet still insisted that its only problem was about sex.

None of this mattered, however. It was, we were constantly reminded, solely Ralph Nader's fault.

And so we come to the 2004 race and guess what? Ralph Nader is pissed off and ready to try again.

For four years, while insisting that Nader and the Greens had cost it the election, the Democrats did not do one thing to insure that what they claimed was true didn't happen again. In fact, they went out of their way to insure that American progressives would feel as unwelcome in 2004 as they did in 2000.

They made no common cause with Greens on any issue.

They appointed no Greens to positions in federal, state or local government.

They took not one step to institute instant runoff voting which would have eliminated the problem they complained about.

They refused to recognize that the policy differences between conventional Democrats and Greens was greater than between such Democrats and Republicans and failed to respond to that reality.

They made it clear that any Green-Democratic unity was a one way street by sending in Clinton and Gore to help defeat a Green candidate for mayor of San Francisco and moving immediately to redistrict the first state legislative seat won by a Green.

This has not prevented a hideous whining and gratuitous nastiness upon Nader's announcement that he intends to run again. For example, Tim Russert told Nader on Meet the Press, "I've got thousands of e-mails from people over the last several weeks talking about you and your potential candidacy and many of them come down to three letters, E-G-O, ego, this is all about Ralph. He's going to be a spoiler because of his ego. How do you respond?"

A proper response might have been, "Gee, Tim, it sounds like I must be watching your show too much" for in fact there is not a scintilla of evidence that Nader's ego, robust as it may be, is any more hypertrophied than that of the major party candidates or of the host of Meet the Press.

It quickly, however, became clear that Russert's question was not accidental. It was soon echoed by others in a way that signals 'talking points' - those widely circulated, contrived clichés that pass for debate and discourse. Thus we found Bill Richardson speaking of Nader's run as "an act of total vanity and ego satisfaction," and the chair of the Florida Democratic party speaking of Nader's 'enormous ego.' In Salon, Todd Gitlin wrote, "What Nader's decision amounts to is not logic but an exercise in monomania." Robert Scheer in Alternet called Nader's run 'an act of pure egotism.'

Even the leftwing Counterpunch ran an article by Bruce Johnson who suggested, "If he were driven more by principle than ego, perhaps he'd end all this posing and weaseling and (emulating Buddhist monks in Saigon and a Quaker on the Pentagon porch during the Vietnam war) he'd go sit on the capitol steps, douse himself with gasoline and exit this world of imperfect humanity in a blaze of protesting glory."

Having followed Washington egos for a good deal longer than most of those analyzing Nader's, I would rate him a middlin' monomaniac easily outpaced today by Bush, Kerry, and 72% of the White House press corps.

Nader is not the first to undergo such an assault this season. The same technique was used effectively against Dean who, despite being clearly one of the most accomplished, decent, and best qualified candidates, was turned into a caricature of inadequacy by the Democratic machine and its servile supporters in the media. In the process, his supporters were told they weren't wanted either and the party lost its one chance at meaningful reform.

And when Dean was finally quashed, what did the victors do? Here's how Frederick Foer described it in the New Republic:

"Officially, the Kerry campaign pledges to bring the party together and move past [the] gloating. But some establishment Democrats both inside and outside the Kerry campaign still intend to punish the Dean heretics. And, while well-known politicians, such as [Al] Gore, Harkin, and Moseley-Braun, may endure the most public abuse, the people who may ultimately suffer explicit retribution for their Dean-boosting are cogs in the Democratic machine . . . As one former high-ranking Clinton administration official put it, 'Will they work again in this town again? I hope not.'"

Thus, not only are Greens and Naderites persona non gratis among those in control of the Democratic Party but also Howard Dean, Tom Harkin, Al Gore, Carol Mosely Braun and any cog who didn't pick the right candidate. Is this politics or just another version of "Survivor?" Perhaps the losers should immolate themselves as well.

With such attitudes, the Democrats don't need Nader to do them in. They're doing a fine job all by themselves, and giving plenty of voters reason to stay home on election day.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote one of Nader's top aides suggesting that Ralph not run. I had just finished an article for the Green Horizon Quarterly in which I reviewed the history of third parties in the U.S. It seemed clear that the parties with the greatest influence had achieved it far more through grass roots organizing than through presidential races.

For example the most influential forces on left of center 20th century thinking were the Populists, Progressives and Socialists. Only occasionally did their presidential candidates do well: once each for Theodore Roosevelt, LaFollete and Debs. Yet despite this weakness the parties profoundly affected how American thought about politics right up to the Reagan counter-revolution..

The Populists only got 8% when they ran for president but they gave us numerous reforms including the progressive income tax. Eugene Debs got only 11% in his best run but by World War I the Socialists had elected 70 mayors, two members of Congress, and numerous state and local officials. Milwaukee alone had three Socialist mayors in the last century, including Frank Zeidler who held office for 12 years ending in 1960. As late as 1992, Karen Kubby, Socialist councilwoman, won her re-election with the highest vote total in Iowa City history. Other examples were state parties such as Farmer Labor and New York's Liberals which exercised considerable power without ever running their own candidate for president.

In my letter I argued, "My own feeling is that while I share Ralph's annoyance at the arrogant twerps at the Nation magazine [who had pompously urged Nader not to try again], presidential runs are the icing on the third party cake [and] before you can have an even partly successful run you need far more beneath the icing than we have at present.

"I would only even think about another run for Ralph if I felt that he had attracted a much larger constituency than he had in 2000.

"While I understand Ralph's moral position and think he has a perfect right to run, I come out of the Quaker tradition where virtue tends to be blended with pragmatism. Besides, once you decide to enter politics you are selecting a pragmatic tool for virtue so it is a bit hard to say that you want to be political but reject the pragmatic.

"By running for president, Ralph is using the most undemocratic, perverted tool of the establishment to make his point. He is, in a sense, playing right into the hands of the establishment. I think the trick is to use your own tools, in the manner of a guerilla, rather than to play the most rigged game in town."

My letter had no impact at all, but it was written not to declare the one true route to virtue but to argue a pragmatic tactic. I'm sorry my advice wasn't taken but Nader's choice neither shocks nor angers me. I am far more disturbed by the disgusting reaction by some towards it, and to an arrogance that assumes that despite the collapse of the American republic and despite the bipartisan destruction of the Constitution, no one is meant to stand up on the table and shout, "Enough!"

It doesn't really matter because movements don't take orders - especially from those with no vested interest in their success. The Democrats will have to live with the vituperative behavior they have displayed towards those they more wisely would have been sought to attract. If some Dean voters stay home, if others join the Nader cause, and if Nader does better than expected, the Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. They then really will have only one choice: either to open up or to shut up - either to welcome those they now excoriate and exclude or have the decency to accept the consequences of their own greed and stupidity without whining and blaming someone else. - February 25, 2004


CINDY - Thank you!!! Much needed commentary. I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was going to be Nader Trader again in 2004, just as I was in 2000. That is, I was going to trade my vote with a friend in another state that was a sure win for Gore. In the 2000 election, I made a personal agreement with a friend in Massachusetts to cast my Nader vote there, and I cast her "Democratic Party" vote here in Florida. Did my vote count? Still not sure, though I did examine my ballot to ensure that all the chad were absent. (Side note: by definition, chad is plural! I am so annoyed that the media, and supposedly brilliant persons, keep using the word "chads" Spell check even picks up on this.)

As you wrote, I may get pissed and vote for Nader again, and not trade my vote, since again Florida is a very important state in the election, and again the Democratic Party is not paying attention to the liberal base. I'm weary of being told to "shut up." Randi Rhodes stated on Air America Radio, "Ralph, I agree with you, but I can't afford you." So long as the Democratic Party puts up pseudo-liberals, I just don't think I can afford my conscience to vote for them. But, Kerry has seven long, long months to change my mind. I hope he does.

BILL TOWER, WORCESTER MA - Your April 7 piece on Nader bashing is the best thing I've read on the subject. So many times, upon hearing the whine of the Democratic establishment siren, I find myself unable to do anything more than sputter incoherently at the monumental idiocy of the anti-Nader "arguments". Thanks for giving voice to my own exasperation.

RICHARD L FRANKLIN - Kudos to you for taking the anti-Nader attack dogs to task. Ralph Nader, as the founder of over 50 progressive organizations that have given incalculable service to the American people, as the man who has literally saved millions of lives over the years with his books, political agitating, and Nader's Raiders, as the one lonely and brave voice speaking up and demanding the impeachment of Bush, is the person who surely rates as American's greatest progressive leader.

When Progressive Magazine began attacking Nader as some kind of numbskull who doesn't understand what he's doing, [the] "Progressive" lost its credentials as a voice for American progressivism. Although I had nine months remaining on my subscription, I cancelled it and advised that so-called progressive rag to send what they owe me to Ralph Nader's campaign.

I will be voting for Ralph Nader, since I cannot morally or psychologically abide choosing the less vile of two Bonesmen hawks. On the evening of November 2, I will relax with some good wine, an enjoyable film, and an absolutely clear conscience. I wonder how many heartfelt progressives voting for the flip side of the same counterfeit coin will feel as content and peaceful as I do on that evening.

JERMEY, ROCKLAND CTY, NY - I just wanted to thank Sam Smith for his editorial in defense of Ralph Nader. I am too, sick of the Democrats bashing Ralph Nader out of their own faults and mistakes. Mr. Smith's words were a breath of fresh air for me.


JAMES RIDGEWAY, VILLAGE VOICE - Somewhat surprising, on the surface, are the lefties huffing and puffing about what a horrible thing Nader has done to them. But they ought to remember that the left, especially the New Left, never cared for Nader. He actually comes out of the conservative, small-town, family-values world that politicians love to talk about. Nader has this in common with Edwards, another lawyer with whom he shows some affinity, and Kucinich. Nader always has been attacked on the left as just another liberal because he put his faith in the court system as a civilized way to seek fairness and equality. Not only did Nader not run around making bombs and yelling at the cops during the 1960s, he -unlike a good number of the former lefty leaders- has not changed his course one iota. The Republican political strategists apparently believe that the election could be decided by the base supporters of both parties. If the Democratic candidates want to lose more of their base than they already have, then they should go ahead and attack Nader for being a spoiler.


[Add this to another published suggestion - that Nader immolate himself - and you get some idea of the level of psychotic denial abroad in the liberal camp]

HENDRIK HERTZBERG - More than any other single person, Ralph Nader is responsible for the fact that George W. Bush is President of the United States. Nader is more responsible than Al Gore, who, in 2000, put himself in the clear by persuading more of his fellow-citizens to vote for him than for anybody else, which normally—in thirty-nine of the forty-two previous Presidential elections, or ninety-three per cent—had been considered adequate to fulfill the candidate's electoral duty. Nader is more responsible than George W. Bush, whose alibi complements Gore's: by attracting fewer votes, both nationally and (according to the preponderance of scientific opinion) in Florida, Bush absolved himself of guilt for his own elevation. A post-election rogues' gallery—Jeb Bush, James Baker, Katherine Harris, William Rehnquist and four of his Supreme Court colleagues—helped, each rogue in his or her own way, but no single one of them could have pulled off the heist without the help of the others. Nader was sufficient unto himself.

JAMES RIDGEWAY, VILLAGE VOICE - If the DLC wonks, unimaginative leftists, and others devoted to the "Beat Bush" agenda can manage to stop gnashing their teeth over Ralph Nader's "betrayal" long enough to really think about it, they might just find that the consumer advocate's candidacy can help, rather than hurt, their cause. As a practical matter, until Nader gets on the ballot, his independent bid for the presidency doesn't have much potential to affect those all-important electoral votes. . . From both within and outside a presidential run, Nader has the ability to push issues into the limelight when they are ignored by other politicians. For example: Universal health care has been spearheaded by the Nader groups since Hillary Clinton made her famous flop. Likewise corporate crime—it was the Nader groups in Washington and their allies in California who were most responsible for exposing Enron. It wasn't anybody in the Democratic Party, that's for sure....

Somewhat more surprising, on the surface, are the lefties huffing and puffing about what a horrible thing Nader has done to them. But they ought to remember that the left, especially the New Left, never cared for Nader. He actually comes out of the conservative, small-town, family-values world that politicians love to talk about. Nader has this in common with Edwards, another lawyer with whom he shows some affinity, and Kucinich.... The Republican political strategists apparently believe that the election could be decided by the base supporters of both parties. If the Democratic candidates want to lose more of their base than they already have, then they should go ahead and attack Nader for being a spoiler.

DOUG IRELAND, LA WEEKLY - I wrote columns in support of Nader's 2000 candidacy, and I was one of just two dozen hardy writers and intellectuals who signed a New York Times ad supporting him in 1996, as my personal protest against the Clintons' destruction of the New Deal legacy and the endless Clintonian corruptions. But the political context this year is dramatically different.

Four years ago, there was a genuine progressive base for a protest candidacy, and the similarities in the positions taken by Gush and Bore were quite striking. Today, the rank-and-filers of disparate American progressivism are unanimous in their perception of Bush as the most dangerous president of our lifetime, one whose radical reactionary governance has given the lie to his infinitely more moderate 2000 promises of "compassion." Nader is tone-deaf to the fact that his audience has already left the theater. And John Kerry, for all his flaws, is far from an enforcer for reaction. Nader himself has already conceded this point: he said "yes" when asked by Tim Russert if there would be a significant difference between another Bush administration and a Democratic one. He made it explicit the next day on MSNBC, admitting to Chris Matthews that " Kerry and Edwards would certainly be much better than Bush."...


JOSHUA WEINSTEIN, PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, ME - Ralph Nader's decision to run for president could reverberate in the Maine Green Party, even though the party's 2000 candidate said Sunday he is running as an independent. In fact, there is a chance he could show up as the Green nominee on Maine's ballot in November.

Greens in this state had different reactions to Nader's candidacy Sunday, with some saying they wish he were running as a Green and others saying not only should Nader not run as a Green, but the party itself should not offer a presidential candidate at all...

State Rep. John Eder, who represents Portland and is the only Green legislator in the nation, said he will not vote for a Green for president this year, because "people are pretty unified in their feeling that we have to get rid of (President) Bush. And who can argue with that? Really?"

Eder said he will vote for the Democratic nominee this time. He said the party would be better off focusing on local, rather than national elections this year. "This is where we're making the most inroads," he said.

Ben Meiklejohn, the party's Maine co-chairman and a member of the Portland School Committee, said Nader's announcement "is actually causing a bit of debate."...

Julian Holmes, a retired physicist who lives in Wayne, switched from Green to Democrat in order to vote for Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, but is excited about Nader's candidacy. He plans to switch back to Green and vote for Nader.

Pat Lamarche, who ran as a Green Independent for governor in 1996 and received 7 percent of the vote, said she does not think the party should field a presidential candidate this year ­ not Nader, not anyone. "It's of absolute, utmost importance that George Bush is not re-elected," she said. She does not want Democrats to be able to say that a Green was a spoiler this time around, drawing votes away from anyone who opposes the president. Nancy Allen, a national spokeswoman for the party and a Maine resident, said she "was personally extremely disappointed that he decided not to seek the Green Party nomination."

BECAUSE OF THE CONTINUED SLANDER OF RALPH NADER by Democrats in deep denial, we went back and looked at the actual poll results in the last months of the 2000 campaign. The chart above shows the change in the average poll percentage from month to month. You will note that except between July and August during a period of minimal change, there was no correlation between Bush's percentage change and that of Nader.


MICHAEL JANOFSKY, NY TIMES - Three years after the election in which Democrats say he cost Al Gore the White House, Ralph Nader is considering another campaign, and says he will decide shortly. At this point, Mr. Nader said in an interview this week, a run depends only on his ability to collect enough money and volunteers to mount a credible effort. Otherwise, he said, he has a zillion reasons to go ahead - including, he insists, that doing so would be good for the Democrats. "But you've got to have money, and you've got to have volunteers," he said, though declining to specify the levels he would need of each. "The verdict is still out, but I'll decide by the end of the month.". . .

By hammering away at populist themes like a higher minimum wage, union rights and occupational health regulations, all of which he says have been neglected, he would force the leading Democratic contenders to move left. That, he says, would expand the party's base, drawing out more liberal voters, some angry enough at him about 2000 that they would vote for the Democratic nominee instead, and many who would vote Democratic in close House and Senate races. At least that is the rationale he offered in recent talks with Democratic leaders, including the party's national chairman, Terry McAuliffe; the Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota; and the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi of California. "They were very polite," Mr. Nader said. "They listened. They were clearly receptive to the spillover vote."

But while they did not tell him outright not to run, he said, they remained "seized by the inaccurate zero-sum mentality" of a presidential field of just two candidates. He called that a limiting dynamic that forced Democrats to hew to the center rather than "expand the electorate with electrifying issues."


Sam Smith, 2000

- Too many Democrats these days are just pro-choice Republicans.

- Third parties move politics in their direction even when they don't win. The Green Party already has; that's why Gore is pretending to be a populist.

- If it only takes Al Gore two weeks to become a populist, he could become a right-wing nut even quicker.

- I don't think a guy who grew up ordering breakfast from room service would make that good a populist, anyway.

- While Clinton will be gone in January, all those people who have been covering up for him will still be around. I'm tired of hearing Joe Conasan, Lannie Davis, and Eleanor Clift making lame excuses for corrupt Democrats.

- If I vote Democratic I'm afraid I might be liable under the RICO anti-racketeering statutes.

- I voted for Clinton in 1992 which proves my prescience isn't so hot. This time I'm going to trust my conscience instead.

- Nader hasn't lied to me. No major candidate can make that claim.

- Nader has done more good for America than Gore, Bush, Cheney, and Lieberman put together.

- Nader isn't afraid to debate Gore and Bush, but they're afraid to debate him.

- Nader promises he'll end the drug war. Gore and Bush only promise they've ended their drug use.

- Nader is the only one of the three who supports public campaign financing, proportional representation, national health care, and an end to the death penalty.

- Nader is the only one of the three who seems truly concerned about the planet, our democracy, and the constitution.

- I think the planet, democracy, and the constitution are at least as important issues as abortion.

- If President Gore says we're in a crisis, how can I tell he's not just exaggerating again?

- Pro-Gore commentators keep saying that third parties are ineffective, unimportant, and meaningless. In fact, while third party candidates often lose, their i programs often win. From the Populist Party, for example, the Democrats stole the ideas of a graduated income tax, direct election of the Senate, civil service reform, pensions, and the eight hour workday. Not a bad list of accomplishments for a party that got just 8.5% of the vote in its only national race.

- Clinton and Gore spoiled the Democratic Party long before Nader decided to run. More major Democratic officeholders lost their posts or switched to the GOP under Clinton and Gore than during any Democratic administration since Graver Cleveland.

-. I'm not worried about wasting my vote. I wasted my vote on Stevenson, Muskie, Mondale, and Dukakis. In 1992,1 really wasted my vote by voting for Clinton. I can't do any worse than that.

- The Clinton-Gore administration has had the most number of convictions of, and guilty pleas by, those close to it; the most number of cabinet officials to come under criminal investigation; the most number of witnesses to flee country or refuse to testify; and the greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions.

- There have been 47 individuals and businesses connected with the Clinton machine who have been convicted or pled guilty to such things as drug trafficking, racketeering, extortion, bribery, tax evasion, kickbacks, embezzlement, fraud, conspiracy, fraudulent loans, illegal gifts, illegal campaign contributions, money laundering, perjury, and obstruction of justice. And those are just the ones who got caught.

-. My parents told me to stay away from people like that.

- For eight years the Democrats have ignored, discounted, and dissed progressives like me. Now they say it's essential for us to vote for Gore. If they want us so badly in November, why weren't they nicer to us in May?

- The Clinton-Gore people get mean when they think.

- How can we expect politicians to follow their conscience if we don't set a good example?

- If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always got. I'm going to try something different