Nader and the Greens

Nader and the Greens

Nader is expected to announce this morning he is running as an independent.

From Howie Hawkins, Syracuse NY Green activist, via a Green listserv,

This is a brief report on Ralph Nader’s visit to Central New York, February 10. But to summarize political points of interest to Greens first:

Asked about the Green Party, Ralph said running as an independent was an “insurance factor.” He said with the Greens unclear about whether they really wanted to run, or to run all out, he couldn’t count on the Greens.

But he definitely seemed to want the Greens’ support and nomination. He asked me point blank afterwords if he thought the draft Nader movement in the Greens could be successful. I told him yes. He wants the Green nomination but he isn’t counting on it.

He spoke forthrightly to the reporter about the divisions in the Greens and expressed his concern that a “small clique,” referring to those pushing the safe states strategy, had undue influence in the Greens.

After the interview, he told me he was very concerned that this group was not only wrecking the Greens as an independent political force with their strategic deference to the Democrats, but also trying to dilute the platform, particularly on foreign and military policy issues.

Howie sums up the safe states strategy succintly in an article titled “Strategic Voting Is Strategic Suicide” saying “The minute the Greens stop campaigning where they might affect the outcome is the minute no one takes the Greens seriously.”

I completely agree. The safe states (and deliberately anti-Nader) strategy spearheaded in the Green Party by candidate David Cobb will do nothing but diminish the party, with its craven capitulation to the Democrats without getting anything in return. What’s worse, this “strategy” goes hand in hand with watering down Green values like opposition to war and invasion.

In a recent debate between Green candidates, Cobb wasn’t even opposed to the occupation of Iraq. Thankfully, Peter Camejo, a genuine progressive and fighter not a feeble imitation, was part of the debate.

As the discussion turned toward immigration and foreign policy, however, the table was torn in argument.

Cobb and Mesplay <another candidate> said they would support a phased withdrawal from Iraq, but the words “phased withdrawal” enraged Camejo.

“I would never use the term phased withdrawal,” he said, “our troops have no right to be there.”

Camejo’s voice continued to rise until he was shouting at his colleagues.

“I cannot support a candidate who will allow our troops in another country,” he said in his closing statement.

Camejo has been an activist since the 60’s. He speaks truth to power. So does Nader. This is what the Green Party needs in 2004. I hope they get it. If not, and especially if Nader runs as an independent, the Green Party may well belly-flop in 2004, then subsequently fade into obscurity.