Things may be shaping up nicely for Ralph Nader, who could very soon
an unlikely endorsement from the Ross Perot founded Texas Reform Party.
This may prove to be a huge victory for Nader's solo candidacy, as the
support from the conservative Reformers could help him gain ballot access
for the upcoming November election.
As you well know, Texas is not renowned for its democratic virtues or
integrity (remember Trent Lott's legislative redistricting?). And now
faces numerous hurdles as he attempts to get his name on the state's
Texas requires over 64,000 signatures by its May 10th deadline, and
who cast a vote in its presidential primary can sign his petition. But
that's where the Reform Party may lend a helping hand.
Un-registered Third Parties are required to garner only 45,540, with a
slightly later deadline of May 24th. Independants are not currently
recognized as a Third Party, and in Texas only Democrats and Republicans
reserved special access to the state's ballot.
Nader would of course openly embrace the Reform Party's support, but
he is not seeking it out. And now the Green Party is actively debating
whether or not to endorse the consumer advocate during its National
Convention in Milwaukee Wisconsin in June. With no high profile
of their own, and a ridiculously late start, many Greens feel throwing
weight behind Nader could be their most resourceful option.
The Greens and the Reform Party's added funds could shove Democratic
loyalists, who continue to wrongly blame Nader for their 2000 defeat, into
the emotional deep-end.
A poll released by the Associated Press on March 4th showed Nader coming
at a strong 6%, with Kerry and Bush in a virtual tie. However, we all
the popular vote doesn't mean as much as we'd like, as it's the Electoral
College that really counts.
This could mean good things for the Nader camp, as the alienated classes
American voters could unify behind his candidacy. Such an alliance could
force the Republicrat controlled Federal Election Commission to allow
to pass through the locked doors of the televised Presidential debates.
this does happen, one can expect that the "Nobody But Kerry" crowd will
chastise such an invitation wholeheartedly-for they won't care to hear the
real deal about their beloved Bush slayer, John Kerry. The good liberals
will claim that including Nader would be far too much for our democracy to
With that said, a never before seen progressive loathing has set in across
the US, and it is split right in two. Faction Number One utterly detests
Nader, and anyone for that matter, who dares stand up to the Democratic
Party. If said person does raise a few qualms, they are typically labeled
as a manical egotist, or worse yet, a Republican plant. And then there is
progressive faction Number Two, which loathes not only Bush, but also the
broken system that continues to fail Americans year after year.
This group sees Bush not as the embodiment of all that is evil, but as a
product of a fractured democracy that's been on its last leg for too long.
Sure Nader's run could sift vital resources away from grassroots activism,
and waste it on the "lose-lose" electoral game. It is also true that
isn't beholden to any progressive ideology but his own. However, at least
we can conclude that Nader is not in the back pockets of the power elites
like Kerry and Bush.
Democracy is for everyone. And if liberals and progressives do decide to
hold their nose and pull the lever for John Kerry, they better be able to
consciously handle the ramifications of their pragmatic choice if
victorious. Here is a short list for which they'll need redemption:
* A continued US endorsement of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian
* A US supported occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
* A continued adherence to neoliberal policies throughout the free market
* An American health care system controlled and run by private
* An increase in the level of income disparity among rich and poor
in the US.
* And an almost exponential decline of the naturual environment and
endangered species of North America. And much much more.
It is true that Ralph Nader may not be the answer to all that ails us, but
he is at this moment the only Presidential candidate willing to challenge
the status quo we call American politics. A vote for John Kerry may
to a vote against a vile Bush administration, but it is also a vote cast
support of a degraded structure that continues to ignore the majority of
Perhaps the Green and Reform Parties are on to something, and their
of Nader's candidacy could be done more in protest than solidarity.
Regardless it would be wise for us to realize that Kerry is part of the
problem, not the solution.
Josh Frank is the author of an upcoming book, Left Out; How Liberals
Bush to be published by Common Courage Press in the fall. He welcomes
comments at firstname.lastname@example.org