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Greens Concerned with Nader's Southern Strategy

Wednesday, April 28th, 2004

Greens Concerned with Nader's Southern Strategy

Green Party leadership in Georgia are expressing concerns about the Southern Strategy of their 2000 Presidential nominee who in 2004 has said that he would again run for President, although this time as an independent. "Ralph Nader's campaign, presumably in an effort to attract support from across the political spectrum, seems to be abandoning his natural base and pursuing some questionable alliances," said Badili Jones, co-chair of the Georgia Green Party, citing his overtures to the post-Buchannan Reform Party.

Although still saying he is running to create political options, Nader's campaign strategy has engendered concerns from Greens who wonder what sort of options might be left in place after the November 2nd General Election. "I like Nader, but his organizing strategy is bankrupt," said James Jones, former co-chair of the Green Party of Fulton County who until recently was one of the lead organizers of the Georgia Draft Nader Committee which sought to draft Ralph Nader to the Green Party ticket. "To abandon building an organization for a campaign around a single individual is ludicrous. We need a long term investment from our candidates which will match that of our Party."

"Perhaps most troubling is Nader's alliance with the name, Populist Party," said Denice Traina, Co-Chair and Press Secretary of the Georgia Green Party. The Nader campaign has sought to form a new Populist Party in those states where ballot access as a political party is easier than for an independent. In Georgia, the modern Populist Party was until recently organized to defend Southern Heritage. "If he needs a political party to facilitate his ballot access, surely he could find one that doesn't carry such racist baggage. Only four years ago, he said he was running to build a justice loving Party called the Green Party. I wonder what he could possibly be thinking."

It was the Nixon Campaign in 1968 which first coined the phrase, Southern Strategy to describe their efforts to appeal to Southern white men with campaign themes about "law and order", getting "welfare bums" off public assistance and opposition to Court ordered busing for the purpose of desegregating public schools. Since then Democrats and Republicans have competed with each other to distance themselves from the concerns of African, Latino, Native and Asian Americans in their racist appeals to the white vote. Examples include:

-- Nixon's center-right "silent majority",

-- Carter's 1976 remarks about "ethnic purity" and "black intrusion",

-- Al Gore campaigning for the 1988 Democrat nomination by invoking the image of Willie Horton - a tactic which Lee Atwater and the Bush campaign ran with all the way to the White House, or

-- Clinton's attacks on Sister Souljah and his coded references to"ending welfare as we know it".

"Manning Marable wrote'The New Right discourse strove to protect white privilege and power by pretending that racial inequality no longer existed.' and both the Democrats and the Republicans have adopted these tactics in their cynical appeals for votes," said Badili Jones. "We expect more of a candidate who would ask us for our endorsement and support."


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