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Kerry, Nader, Greens & The Circular Firing Squad

Kerry, Nader And The Greens Need To Kill The Circular Firing Squad

by Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis
August 16, 2004

It's time for the Kerry, Nader and Green campaigns to get locked in a room until they disarm the circular firing squad and focus on the real enemy, George W. Bush.

Especially in swing states like ours, the endless wrangling and rancor must stop. Every boring, suicidal attack harms our ability to beat Bush.

In light of his votes for war in Iraq, the Patriot Act and way too much else, it’s obvious President Kerry will be no messiah. But we doubt our democracy or our planet would survive four more years of Cheney-Rove-Bush.

So we may ask friends in safe states like Massachusetts and Hawaii to balance our Kerry votes here in Ohio with votes there for Ralph or for the Green Party candidate, David Cobb.

If Al Gore had met and worked with Nader in 2000 instead of attacking him, we might have been spared the horrors of these past four years. It’s inaccurate, unwise and self-destructive to continually blame Ralph for the Democrats’ “loss” when in fact Gore won the election. We are glad Kerry has had the good sense to meet with Ralph, and to refrain from attacking the Greens.

But the three camps need to make a pro-active peace. Now!

Pat Buchanan clearly cost Bush some key states in 2000. The Republicans haven’t spent the past four years screaming at him. But they did find a way to keep him from running in 2004.

Ralph has every right to run for president. Fighting to keep him off the ballot presumes the way to save democracy is to suppress it. It also presumes those who ultimately choose to vote for him are some sort of inanimate stolen property, wrongfully taken from the Democrats if only Ralph hadn't somehow brainwashed them into voting for him.


You can regret voting for Nader in 2000. But he was not responsible for the Democrats’ miserable campaign.

Among other things, Nader should have been included in the presidential debates. Instead he was physically ejected from the first Gore-Bush debate, which Gore proceeded to lose.

The Democrats won the popular vote by 500,000 votes, but sat on their hands and kept their mouths wide shut while the Republicans stole the presidency. Gore's catastrophic mis-handling of the Florida debacle and his silence after it were catastrophic, and ran directly counter to the kinds of campaigns Nader has run--- successfully---since 1963.

From the Liberty and Free Soil Parties through Lincoln’s Republicans, the Greenbackers, Populists, Socialists, Progressives, Dixiecrats, Peace and Freedom Parties, Peronista/Reform Party, and Buchananites, third parties have been part of American presidential campaigns more often than not.

Those who have accommodated and co-opted them rather than attacking them have been the ones to win the White House. Gore’s polls ran consistently higher when he adopted the pro-peace, environmental and social justice stands Nader and the Greens have demanded. Rather than attacking Nader now, Kerry’s Democrats should be adopting Green positions.

Nader ran in 1996, and in again in 2000. There is no mystery about what he or the Greens stand for. There’s no excuse for anybody---Nader, the Greens or the Democrats---to attack each other in 2004. We need a joint declaration of strategy from these three campaigns. We don’t need Karl Rove smirking at yet another mass leftist suicide.

Franklin Roosevelt, against whom the Socialist Norman Thomas ran four times, honored him in the Oval Office for being the principled gentleman he was. FDR’s victories were based in part on his co-option of key parts of the Socialist platforms, which Thomas graciously welcomed.

It’s a time-honored model. Kerry, Nader and the Greens could all win if they follow it. It’s unlikely democracy or our planet will survive if they don’t.



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