Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/339/5689
US presidential election
Support Nader's Campaign
Time to break the two-party system
THE MOMENT the radical, third party candidate Ralph Nader announced his run for president, the entire political establishment - from the liberal intelligentsia to the strategists of corporate America - unleashed a torrent of abuse and condemnation.
From a statement by Socialist Alternative, US section of the CWI
Their campaign of character assassination reveals the potential mass appeal of Nader's message should it penetrate into the mainstream dialogue. This coalition of Nader's critics understands this threat to their two-party system, and they are hoping to preemptively crush his campaign.
Socialist Alternative strongly supports Ralph Nader's decision to run against the Democrats and Republicans, as we did in 2000. Every Nader vote registers a protest and strikes a blow against the establishment and their two parties - the people who are responsible for the war in Iraq, the lack of healthcare, poverty, sexism, racism, and the millions rotting in hell-holes called jails.
George Bush is a very real threat to workers and oppressed people in the US and throughout the world. His administration is the most right-wing in decades. We would love to see Bush and his right-wing, corporate agenda defeated. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party and John Kerry offer no real alternative to Bush.
John Kerry - another corporate politician
DURING HIS 20 years in the Senate, Kerry has proven he is a safe, reliable defender of big-business interests who will seek to maximise corporate profits at the expense of workers and the environment. In fact, John Kerry is the richest man in Congress, worth over $550 million! While he now poses as an opponent of "special interests," he has taken millions from corporate America.
Listening to Kerry now talk about "holding Bush accountable" for the Iraq war and criticize the Patriot Act, you would never know that he actually voted for both, and wholeheartedly supported the "war on terrorism" and the war on Afghanistan.
A Kerry White House would continue the occupation of Iraq, possibly even sending in more US troops to crush the Iraqi insurgency.
According to the Washington Post, Kerry has already "rejected sweeping policy changes such as ... moving too quickly to provide health coverage to every American," and he opposes a single-payer healthcare system - the only way to achieve full medical coverage for all.
Kerry has been a firm supporter of imperialist "free-trade" deals such as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China, etc.
While it is possible that Kerry will defeat Bush, it is ruled out that Kerry or the Democrats will end corporate domination of society, racism, sexism, or the many other urgent problems that capitalism breeds.
Democrats fail to fight Bush
DESPITE ALL the propaganda from the "anybody but Bush" Democrats, George Bush would never have been able to carry out his attacks without the active support of the Democratic Party. It was the Democrats in Congress who voted to support Bush's "war on terrorism," the war on Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, the Iraq war, and the $87 billion for the occupation of Iraq.
Most Democrats voted for Bush's tax cuts for the rich, etc. Sixteen Senate Democrats, including Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, voted for Bush's "Partial Birth Abortion" Ban.
It was Bill Clinton and Al Gore who paved the way for Bush, not Nader. During their eight years in power, Clinton and Gore ruthlessly attacked the living conditions and rights of the groups they claimed to represent. In disgust, half of eligible voters - 100 million people - refused to even vote in 2000.
Clinton was the main enforcer of the genocidal sanctions on Iraq that killed more than 1 million Iraqis. He also carried out the brutal war against Yugoslavia and pushed through the $1.3 billion "Plan Colombia" aid package to the Colombian military.
Nor was Clinton averse to using violence for political gain, as when he bombed Sudan and Afghanistan and killed many innocent people to divert media attention away from his impending impeachment crisis.
And now we are told to vote for another Democrat rather than build an anti-corporate, anti-war independent challenge.
The recent Democratic primaries have shown yet again that the Democratic Party is a dead-end for anti-war activists and workers. Howard Dean attracted significant support by challenging the Democratic Party leadership's cowardly acquiescence to Bush and his war on Iraq, showing the potential for an anti-war, anti-establishment campaign. At the same time, he tried to downplay his 12-year record as Vermont Governor when he carried out 'neo-liberal' policies.
Dean has since dropped out and pressed his supporters not to support Nader but to get behind the Democratic nominee.
Building a mass alternative
OUR ABILITY to resist the ruling class's attacks and advance our own agenda lies solely in the independent organisation, consciousness, and fighting capacity of workers and the oppressed. The strategy of supporting the "lesser evil" restricts movements to demanding only what is acceptable to the Democratic Party and its big business backers.
The best way we can defend our interests and win the most concessions in this presidential election is by voting for Nader and building a powerful movement that will bring pressure to bear on whichever corporate representative is in power after 2 November.
Socialist Alternative wants to see the creation of a new political party in America based on the interests of workers, young people and the poor that will defend the millions against the millionaires. The Nader campaign could help prepare the way for such a party by encouraging other independent, left-wing, anti-war and working-class candidates to stand.
The approach the Nader campaign takes towards the occupation of Iraq will be decisive in determining how much support Nader receives.
Last year's anti-war protests were the largest movement in the US in a generation. As the occupation drags on and US casualties and costs rise, opposition to the occupation will grow. This could lead to the re-emergence of a massive anti-war movement, possibly reaching the size of last year's movement or even the enormous anti-Vietnam War movement.
Activists supporting Nader should fight to build a mass movement from below to defeat Bush and big business by linking the Nader campaign together with mass protests and strikes.
Specifically, we should help build for strikes like the California grocery strike, the 20 March protests against the occupation, the 25 April demonstration to defend women's abortion rights, and the protests against the Republican and Democratic national conventions this summer - none of which the Democrats are doing.
We need to build a movement that fights beyond the election and that aims to address the root causes of society's problems. As socialists, we are fighting to build a movement to overturn this whole rotten capitalist system that breeds war, corporate rule, poverty, racism, sexism, and environmental destruction.
A full statement is available from www.socialistworld.net
THE NADER campaign will popularise radical demands among tens of millions of people that the Republicans and Democrats won't touch with a ten-foot pole, such as:
- Public works programmes to create millions of jobs.
- A universal single-payer healthcare system.
- Opposing the Iraq war and occupation.
- Repealing the Patriot Act.
- Same-sex marriage rights.
- Repealing Bush's tax cuts for the rich - a progressive tax system that makes big business and the rich pay.
- An end to poverty in the US.
- Abolition of the death penalty.
- An end to the 'war on drugs'.
- Expansion of workers' rights and repealing the (anti-trade union) Taft-Hartley Act.
- Rigorous environmental protection and a sustainable energy policy.
Nader's Electoral Prospects
DESPITE THE Democratic Party's and the media's constant exaggerations that there is no support for Nader in 2004, 23% of Americans want Nader to run again. 65% want him included in the presidential debates and 52% rejected the idea that Nader's 2000 run cost Gore the presidency (USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, 22/10/03).
A 20 February Fox News poll showed Nader getting 4% of the vote in a race with Bush and Kerry.
However, because of the strong "anybody but Bush" mood, if the election remains close between Bush and Kerry, Nader will face a more difficult political climate than in 2000 and may get fewer votes this time.
In The Socialist 20 March 2004:
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