Nader vs Bush and Gore

Who is Ralph Nader? What does he stand for? Why should I vote for him?

Ralph Nader gained his reputation as a consumer advocate after publishing the book, Unsafe at Any Speed, which exposed the Corvair automobile. Since then, he has campaigned against corporate power, most recently as the Green Party's presidential nominee in both 1996 and the year 2000 (though he is not and has never been a member of the Green Party).

In 1996, he ran for President, not to win, but to "raise issues" that the candidates did not address (i.e. campaign finance reform, corporate power issues, etc). What is the difference between then and now? As Nader put it, "Last election I was standing. This time, I'm running."

Nader stands for:

That's why you should vote for Ralph Nader in the coming election.

But isn't Nader taking votes from Al Gore? Isn't a vote for Nader a vote for Bush?

Even if this is true, so what? THERE IS NO PRINCIPLED, FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EITHER PARTY! They both get their money from big corporations, both support the wars in Iraq and Kosovo, both support an increase in military spending, both support for the profit health care system which has deprived 44 million Americans of it, both support cutting social programs, both support the missile defense system, both are against gay rights, both are pro-life and both support the racist death penalty. Need I say more?

A vote for Nader is a vote for Nader. As the American socialist Eugene Debs put it, "I'd rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don't want and get it." A vote for Nader is a vote against the two party system and the philosophy of "lesser evilism" which has strangled the left for the past 30 years!

But if I vote for Nader, then Bush will appoint the Supreme Court judges and women will lose th right to choose!

Bush is obviously pro-life. Gore, on the other hand, likes to pose as an ally of women who supports a woman's right to choose. However, Gore's senate voting record says otherwise: he has 27 pro-life votes and 5 pro-choice votes. This is what prompted the New York Times to remark, "Mr. Gore has compiled a more-than-respectable record with the National Right to Life Committee in the House." So Gore is plainly not a pro-choice candidate.

In addition, one must remember how a woman's right to choose was won in the first place. Was a democrat, an ally of women, sitting in office? Was it handed down from on high?

No. HELL NO! Nixon, the arch right-winger who thought the Democratic Party was getting orders from Hanoi (that's why he ordered the Watergate break in), was sitting as President. He was far from being a pro-choice President, yet he picked judges who later bit the hand that fed them.

So how did women win the right to choose?

They fought for it! The Supreme Court denied women the right to choose consistently for over 100 years! What changed the Court's mind? There was a movement on the ground, demanding abortion rights. That is the only way women won the right to choose, and that's the only way to keep it.

The Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education struck down the Jim Crowe segregation laws, in the context of a growing Civil Rights movement. The Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that women had the right to choose, in the context of a movement for women's liberation. In 1972, the Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty on the grounds that it was racist, in the context of the Black Power movement. When the movement subsided, the Court reversed its decision, and the death penalty was reinstated.

Justices do shift their opinions while they are on the court. Harry Blackmun was appointed by Nixon, yet he wrote the majority opinion in the Roe decision. He finished his career with a consistent liberal voting record. Nixon's attempt to stack the court with arch right-wingers failed, in the context of various movements that fought for their rights and won. That's the example we need to look to today whenever womens' rights or affirmative action are attacked, by courts or by right wing bigots and fanatics.

Clinton-Gore: 8 Years of Broken Promises - Do We Really Want 4 More?

When Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992, he promised America universal health care in order to cover the 35 million who couldn't afford it. Today, that number has gone up to 44 million. What happened?

In reality, Clinton's plan amounted to what some called the "insurance company protection act" because it relied so heavily on big insurance companies of the infamous managed health care system. When small insurance companies mounted an attack via the Republican party, the Democrats lined up with the White House. In the end, Clinton's plan, which was shoddy at best, wasn't defeated - it was compromised again and again, piece by piece, until nothing was left of it.

Clinton likes to claim that he defended Medicare and Medicaid. But it agreed with the GOP in the Balanced Budget Agreement (BBA) in 1997 in cutting back "entitlements" like Medicare and Medicaid! Between 2000 and 2005 BBA will impose more than twice the $112 billion in Medicare cuts the Congressional Office predicted. These measures account for the first ever annual decline in Medicare spending in 1999. As a result, between 1997 and 1998, the number of sick and elderly receiveing Medicare-financed home health care services fell by 45%, with 600,000 fewer people receiving care!! The BBA also contains spending "caps" on "discretionary" programs from home heating assistance to legal services could result in cuts from 15% to 20% in the next eight years alone. Under the BBA, Clinton and Gore stabbed the sick in the elderly in their backs while claiming to defend them! To add insult to injury (injury that will go unmended thanks to the cuts), the GOP-Clinton-Gore agreement lays the ground work for moving the Medicare system from a system of guaranteed care to a vouchers system. Vouchers to pay for insurance, if you can afford it. They are reintroducing the free market approach to social problems - the very same market which these programs were supposed to protect people from.

Not only do they ensure bleak the elderly and sick, lie about defending them, but they also manage to find money for insurance companies in the process. Now that is what I call, the Clinton legacy.

Labor backed Clinton in 1992 on the promise that he'd fight for minimum wage raises and sign anti-scab legislation.

In office, he twisted all kind of arms to get NAFTA passed while he didn't lift a finger to save the anti-scab bill from a Republican filibuster. By pushing the minimum wage raises through Congress, he shored up his labor support. On the other hand, he used the 1926 Railway Labor Act to outlaw an American Airlines pilots' strike. "Everyone understands that [American Airlines CEO] Bob Crandall's latest coup is getting Bill Clinton to side with management over labor", wrote the Wall St. Journal.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was reinvented to stress "partnership" and "voluntary" compliance with safety regulations. As a result, OSHA inspections fell to their lowest ever, and the precentage against corporations that OSHA dismissed is at its highest since the organization was created in 1973. As a result, how many people died because of faulty Firestone tires?

As if labor's teeth weren't kicked in enough, Gore, as the official in charge of the administration's "reinventing government" (see: "reinventing" OSHA) program slashed the federal workforce by 377,000 jobs, or 17%!! On top of that, when the administration backed the China Trade deal the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations the main union in the U.S.) was adamant in opposing it. Guess who won that one? And guess who the AFL-CIO still backs?

Clinton promised a Freedom of Choice Act which would guarantee a woman's right to choose in the Constitution. After he was elected, he never mentioned it again. He promised to fight for gay rights. When he was elected, he instituted the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy which has resulted in anti-gay witch-hunting and even anti-gay murders.

Clinton also said he would fight for civil rights for minorities. Instead he abandoned them with his "mend not end" (i.e. "reinventing"), referring to his stance on affirmative action. He put strict limits on the appeals death row inmate can have, and established arbitrary time limits on these appeals, affecting people like Gary Graham and Mumia Abu-Jamal. He also attacked the poor, especially poor blacks and Latinos, by getting "tough on crime". He wrote the 1994 Omnibus Crime Control Act, which put 100,000 cops on the street (fuelling shootings like Amadou Diallo's) and spent, or rather "invested", $10 billion in the construction of new prisons. As a result, the U.S. prison population doubled to 2 million; it has only 5% of the worlds' population but it has 25% of the worlds' prison population; the number of executions jumped to the highest in four decades!

The above mentioned crime bill also allows the government to be prosecuted for raising money for organizations the government considers "terrorist." Hundred of legal immigrants have been rounded up and deported because of petty crimes committed years ago. As in Third World dictatorships (many of them sponsored by the U.S., ironically) suspects can be arrested, charged and convicted on the grounds of "secret" (see: forced) testimony that the defendant's lawyer can't challenge.

Clearly, Clinton has not defended civil rights for any minorities. The only minority he has defended are the rich.

the Politics of the "Lesser Evil"

The left, from the Civil Rights movement to the labor unions consider the democrats as the "lesser of two evils". As shown above, the "lesser of two evils" is still an evil.

Malcom X observed, "If you put the democrats first, the democrats will put you last", reffering to the fact that the democrats were just as racist as the republicans who both presided over the Jim Crow system in the South, and the black ghettos in the North without a second thought. The democrats say to the left, "Hey, who else are you going to vote for? The Republicans?!?", so they take the left's votes and slide to the right in order to broaden their base. The problem with this is that they sacrafice their principles (what little they ever had) and break their promises to appease the more right wing section that supports their party - and they can get away with this because the left doesn't have an alternative. Liberals in Hell support Satan over Beelzebub; after all, think of the Supreme Court!

As Nader himself put it, "If you're vote is taken for granted, you've been taken". He is exactly right. Now that the left does have an alternative, Ralph Nader, its time to take a stand. Its time to send a message to the rich, the corporations and the powerful that we aren't going to stand for their policies or their spineless politicians anymore! We want some whose going to fight for us, someone who isn't getting campaign contributions from insurance companies and talking about universal health care! We want Ralph Nader!

Why Socialists Should Support Nader

Nader isn't by any means a socialist, so why should socialists support Nader?

Because Nader is part of something larger; namely the new radicalization that has occured starting with Seattle. Nader is an electoral representation of the class anger that has surfaced in this country; trade-unionists and young activists fought cops in the streets of Seattle over a three letter organization that a month or two ago no one had heard of; massive protests against the IMF and World Bank and their free-market austerity plans; the protests against Corporate Greed in L.A. and against poverty in the richest country in the world. All these protests have raised class issues, issues of poverty, starvation wages, privatization, cuts in health care and education and so on. Nader is an electoral representation of this, he stands for:
Many of these are explicity class issues. This is the first time in a long time that the interests of the working class are being represented by someone other than the capitalists' candidates (democrats and republicans).

Socialists stand for the self-emancipation of the working class. Anything that helps the working class to fight for its own class interests, anything to help it from being a class in itself to a class for itself, anything that helps the working class realize its political independence from capitalist parties like the democrats and republicans, we must support. But does Nader meet that criterion?

YES! Nader's candidacy is raising issues that ordinary working class people would benefit from; he is a political force that can break many people from the democrats to the left, which is the first step in forming a mass workers' party in the country.

Fighting to get Nader in the debates, canvasing neighborhoods to talk about Nader, etc gives us as socialists an unprecented opening. We can say "Hey, who you gonna vote for? Why is that?" But we can also follow up by saying, "I'm a socialist, and I support Nader because... But I also think workers should run society on the basis of human need, and not profit, from the bottom up. That's the only way we're really going to get rid of bad wages, lack of health care, etc. That's why I'm a socialist, and you should be too!"