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June 16, 2002

Defending Nader (?!!)

Geez- my lefty Nader apologist friends would find it hilarious that I am being criticized for being insufficiently critical of the Greens, but here are a few comments (full posts here):

jw wrote: I've got a problem with this meeting...After all, we've been told time and again that the *proof* that the Dems=Republicans is that they often work together in common cause...[Greens] rationalize that their candidate is pure...somehow, magically, they believe that their candidates will never be accountable for their record or face hard choices or be held accountable for the very real practicalities of actually getting and staying elected.

and Kevin Raybpould said: 1)Norquist is the VRWC...2)Why is he willing to work with Republicans, but not Democrats?

Now, MaxSpeak has some comments on this that he may be surprised that I agree with in response, but let me add some of my own.

Allying wih conservatives on issues that you happen to agree upon-- Nader and libertarians opposing corporate welfare, Nader and cultural conservatives denouncing commercialization in schools-- is very different from weany Democrats endorsing rightwing initatives like the 1996 welfare bill or endorsing the deprivations of civil liberties in last fall's "Anti-terrorism act." You (and I) may excuse such compromises as weakness in the face of fears for reelection, but that is very separate from cross-party coalitions based on principle. Nader, for good or ill, says what he means, and means what he says, with no compromise.

But there was more good to the meeting than building bridges-- Nader was not so subtly trying to blow up the bridges connecting corporate types and other parts of the conservative movement. The "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" is not much of a conspiracy, since it happens out in the open, and it is an often strained coalition between corporate money and grassroots cultural conservative and liberty-loving individualists. Nader walked into the den of corporate lions and suggested that the cultural sheep sheer their corporate paymasters. "Wedge" issues is the phrase for ideas and campaigns that divide ones opponents and create disunity there, a key goal in the Sun Tzu view of war as targetting opposing coalitions as the first step before you ever go into battle. Nader has always had great skill in finding the soft underbelly of opposing coalitions to push through change in the government. I wish other progressives were as good at it as Nader often has been.

There are strong reasons to condemn Nader's Presidential campaign as a wrong-headed destructive strategy that ignores the real partisan differences between the two major parties. I don't need to trash Nader's good legislative work to trash his electoral judgement.

Posted by Nathan at June 16, 2002 11:16 AM

Comments

"But there was more good to the meeting than building bridges-- Nader was not so subtly trying to blow up the bridges connecting corporate types and other parts of the conservative movement. The "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" is not much of a conspiracy, since it happens out in the open, and it is an often strained coalition between corporate money and grassroots cultural conservative and liberty-loving individualists."

The 'Libertarian' wing of the GOP is interested in nothing save favorable ideas relating to taxation. The so-called Libertarian wing of the GOP shares none of the real Libertarian thought(such as less gvt, less for the Military Industrial Complex, less involvement in the War on Drugs, etc). The erastz Libertarian wing has been strangely silent about the erosion of civil liberties since 911, a condition that would set a real Libertarian into fits of apoplexy.


Mrs Shaffley paid lip service to ralphie's little rant. Think she's gonna sever the ties to the corporate supporters of the 'think tanks' that pay for her very reason to exist? Think again.


ralphie did his little spiel, it's his gig and that's what he does. Now he can get back to more important matters like the quality of nba refs, and once the participants in the meeting quit laughing, they can get back to what they do so well. They'll pay him as little mind as they pay the ACLU, but isn't it nice that they are open to allowing their views?


This compassionate conservativism is really catching on.

Posted by: jw at June 16, 2002 04:47 PM

Just to be clear, I do not think that condemning Nader's tactics is the same as condemning Nader's legislative works or the Green party ideals.

You might have a point about Nader's attempting to blow up bridges, but I think its a bit of a reach. The people that Nader spoke to are not opposed to corporate welfare, as a rule. The kinds of tax policies that Norquist and his cohorts advocate a subtle form of corporate welfare, something Nader surely knows. Whether or not the VRWC is a conspiracy, no one can doubt its effectiveness, or its single-mindedness

At any rate, this appears to be more of the "make it worse" tactic. Nader appears to be trying to destroy the existing political coalitions and cobble together a new one with him at its head. I do not think he has a prayer of success. The fundamentalists are not going to work with a progressive coalition as long as their corporate partners stand back and allow them to dictate the social aspects of public policy. However, he does have a good chance of splintering and marginalizing the progressive end of the Democratic Party. I just don't see how Nader's course is going to help the progressive cause.

My criticism is based on tactics, not a dislike for Nader. I think Nader is right on a lot of issues, and is adopting a track that is almost certain to harm the progressive cause.

Sorry for the length, but I am obviously not good at expressing myself succinctly.

Posted by: Kevin Raybould at June 17, 2002 12:29 PM

I don't know how effective Nader's meeting was or will be (although he has had success in the past in allying with libertarian groups like Cato against corporate welfare), but my point is that I just didn't see any harm in the meeting, unlike folks like Alterman who attacked it. I've been scorching against Nader and the Greens for his Presidential run, but I don't think shots at him on these kinds of outreach, which he has done his whole career, will convince many Greens of their misguided support for him electorally.

Posted by: Nathan at June 18, 2002 11:32 AM

Nathan:

Fair enough. Some of us - and I am guilty of this too - have gotten so use to Nader planning his moves to weaken the Democratic party that we judge all his political actions through that prism. That is sloppy thinking, and should be challenged.

Frankly, though, Norquist is such a detestable character that I think some distaste will rub off on anyone who chooses to meet with him.

Posted by: Kevin Raybould at June 18, 2002 08:47 PM

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