Ralph Nader is once again providing an antidote to Democratic Party lesser-evilism. Many on the left have been swept up in the mass media induced Obama-mania, going so far as to call the Obama campaign a "movement". As Glen Ford of Black Agenda Radio explains succinctly: "The Obama campaign is not a movement - it's a parade." The Nader campaign, by contrast, is assisting the development of a mass movement by inserting left wing ideas and solutions into the mainstream discussion.
Reacting to the right-wing shift of the Democrats in recent decades, Nader has moved beyond his traditional role as the nation's premier citizen-reformer. While stepping into electoral politics, he has not abandoned his traditional stance as a maverick. For example, when running on the Green Party ticket in 1996 and 2000 he never actually joined the party. In 2004, when the Green Party lost it's nerve under pressure from the Democrats and the "Anybody But Bush" mentality, Nader lost the Green Party nomination but forged ahead as an Independent. In 2008, Nader is again running as an Independent and has withdrawn his name even from consideration as a Green Party candidate.
Nader's independence cuts both ways. He has faced off against corporate power for over 40 years and continues to do so today. Since his run in 2004 he has come under criticism for his lack of party building or leaving behind much organization. It's certainly true that Nader is not a party animal. On the other hand he has never been adverse to other organizations building under the shadow of his campaigns, the Green Party being the most obvious case in point. Whether any new organization develops from Nader's 2008 run remains to be seen. But even if nothing formal takes shape, radical supporters can involve themselves and network for the future.
While electoral campaigns like Nader's can never be the primary stage of struggle against this corrupt undemocratic system, the Nader campaign can help expose the emptiness of Democratic Party rhetoric and aid in the building of a real opposition. It would be unwise for activists of various stripes to completely abandon their efforts outside the electoral arena during this long drawn out electoral season, support for Nader will greatly assist in the rebuilding of the left. Any support for the pro-war, corporate controlled Democrats will have an effect that is just the opposite.
Today -100: March 24, 1918: Of big guns and Wobblies
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