Saturday, July 12, 2003

The Nader Factor, 2004
The last two weeks have been pretty interesting. First, the USA Today did a piece on consumer advocate Ralph Nader tinkering with the idea of his fourth run at the presidency ["Nader considering another try at White House in 2004"].
"It is quite clear that the Democrats are incapable of defending our country against the Bush marauders,” Nader, 69, says. “They have been unwilling to go all out to stop the destructive tax cuts for the wealthy. They have been soft on corporate crime. They have gone along in almost every issue except judicial appointments. They have cowered, surrendered or divided themselves.”
Then, a few days later, as reported in the New York Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and other newspapers ["Nader Urging Democrats to Back Kucinich in '04 Primaries"], Nader upped the ante, making things a whole lot clearer.
Excepting Cleveland's Kucinich, and at times former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, he faulted the Democratic field for not attacking President Bush with gusto on the Iraqi war and corporate scandals, such as the Enron bankruptcy. Unlike some of his rivals, Kucinich "says publicly what he believes privately," Nader said at a breakfast meeting with reporters. "At this point, I am urging Democrats to vote for him in the primary."
In the article, Nader said he has been approached by Kucinich, Sen. John Edwards, and Sen. John Kerry about primary support. Nader forgot to mention that Rep. Richard Gephardt approached him right after the 2000 race and has not treated him like a pariah – as other democrats have.
The key now is what happens next? Maybe it is time for Gov. Howard Dean to approach Nader and talk – seriously. The greens could help Dean win the nomination but it will take a lot of convincing. Dean’s surge has been pretty impressive. He raked in over $7.5 million in the last quarter of contribution reporting, overwhelming every one of the Washington-based candidates. The campaign noted that a lot of the money has come from people who have never made contributions before, although how they actually know this is a question all its on. Kucinich has also impressed on the stump – especially in Iowa where he has turned a nowhere campaign into a small grassroots movement.
Of course the experts, especially those in the Media Industrial Complex - like always, have been completely oblivious to what is going on with at the grassroots. Strangely, or not so strangely, since these are troubling times, the safe Washington candidates are being ignored by democrats and independents. Look at Gephardt’s campaign – an effort that should be in play but seems to be going nowhere. Unfortunately, he has nowhere to go, unlike most of them. Look at the dreadfully conservative Sen. Joe Lieberman - Al Gore's running mate in 2000 - who is already being tickled by suggestions he end his campaign ["Primary cash flows and cures"].
If by some miracle Dean [or Kucinich] is the democratic nominee, the greens will have a serious quandary on their hands. However, this possibility seems slim at best despite the surging. In the end, the Washington establishment, the Democratic Leadership Council, the “super delegates,” etc., will coalesce around an “electable” candidate – Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman – and the reform movement once again will be washed away like the ocean washes away writing in the sand – and Nader and the greens will be desperately needed.