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Why Ralph Nader Should Run for President in 2008
*** Sign the DraftNader.org online petition! ***
Statement from the Twin Cities Branches of Socialist Alternative
Within the next few months, the Democratic and Republican nominees for president will be decided. Regardless of who wins, the two major presidential candidates will both support continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan indefinitely, the expansion of the military by 90,000 more troops, the disastrous for-profit healthcare system, and a host of other policies that benefit Corporate America at the expense of the majority of the population.
A year ago the Democrats were voted into power in Congress on a wave of mass anger in U.S. society at the war in Iraq, economic polarization, and the policies of the Bush administration. However, the Democrats have quickly betrayed their electoral base on every major issue. The Democratic Congress has handed over hundreds of billions more dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has an approval rating of 20 percent – lower than Bush!
None of the major Democratic presidential candidates – Clinton, Obama, and Edwards – promise to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of their first term – in 2013. In an election awash in corporate cash – 2008 will be the first $1 billion election in U.S. history – the top Democrats have received millions of dollars more in big business donations than their Republican counterparts. While 48 million Americans lack healthcare, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, is the leading recipient of money from the for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical companies. In July, Fortune magazine, one of the leading mouthpieces of the rich elite, even ran a cover story titled, “Business Loves Hillary!”
Neither party’s candidate will give voice to the millions of Americans fed up with the war in Iraq, the lack of affordable housing, health care and good-paying jobs, the mass poverty, under-funded education system, the racist criminal injustice system, and environmental devastation at the hands of corporate polluters. A USA Today/Gallup poll from July 20 showed that 58% think that a third party is needed and that both the Democrats and the Republicans do an inadequate job representing the American people. A record number of voters (25%) are registered as independents. These facts show that millions of Americans are disillusioned by the two major parties, and that many would be responsive to an anti-war, anti-corporate voice in the 2008 elections, independent of the big business-dominated two party system.
Socialist Alternative in the Twin Cities calls on Ralph Nader to run for president again in 2008 to provide a voice to the millions outraged at the brutal war in Iraq and corporate domination of our society. For tens of millions of Americans, Nader’s name remains synonymous with an independent, left-wing challenge to the Democrats and Republicans. He is a reference point who immediately brings to mind the key question facing workers and youth in the U.S. – is it justified, strategic and possible to break from the two-party system and run independent candidates against big business and their two parties? Or should we continue to support the politics of “lesser-evilism,” which means limiting ourselves to what is acceptable to Corporate America?
In 2000 and 2004, Nader’s campaigns for president reached millions with radical demands, including:
• A universal single-payer healthcare system
• Full withdrawal of U.S. troops and personnel from Iraq
• A $10/hour minimum wage
• An expansion of workers’ rights and repealing the Taft-Hartley Act
• Public works programs to create millions of jobs and end unemployment
• A progressive tax system that makes big business and the rich pay
• Rigorous environmental protection and a sustainable energy policy
• Repealing the Patriot Act
• Same-sex marriage rights
• Abolition of the death penalty
• An end to the failed war on drugs
Nader is not a socialist, instead wrongly believing that the major social problems we face can be solved through greater regulations on business. Nevertheless, his presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004 were extremely important developments because they popularized the idea of building a left-wing alternative to the two-party corporate stranglehold over U.S. politics. We campaigned for a Nader vote, but on an independent, socialist basis (see links below for our previous material on Nader).
Socialist Alternative believes the antiwar movement, the labor movement, and other social struggles can effectively challenge the two corporate parties if they unite and use their powerful resources to build a new mass party of working people that fights for our interests in the streets, the workplaces, and the electoral arena. We have criticized Nader for not using the authority he built up to clearly call for the formation of such a new political party. In 2004 we also made clear our opposition to Nader taking the ballot line of the right-wing, anti-immigrant Reform Party in several states. If Nader does run, it should be on a clear, principled, and left-wing basis.
However, if Nader does not run, it will likely be a setback to challenging the Democrats and Republicans and preparing the basis for a mass left-wing, working class political alternative in this country. Owing to his prominence in 2000 and 2004 and his many years of consumer activism, Nader has become a household name and a symbol of resistance to the corporate domination of politics. More than any other foreseeable left independent candidate in 2008, a Nader campaign has the potential to reach the largest number of workers and youth and get the largest vote.
This is important, because the larger the campaign and vote for a left independent in 2008, the greater the confidence ordinary working people will have in our ability to build a powerful, lasting political challenge to corporate rule. It is precisely the fear of this development that explains the uniquely vitriolic, well-funded attack campaigns directed at Nader by apologists for the Democratic Party.
In reality, it is a mistake that Nader has not declared he is running already. This would have allowed activists to be out campaigning against the Democrats and Republicans and channeling support into an independent left-wing alternative, rather than allowing a lot of anti-war, anti-establishment sentiment to get sucked into the campaign of right-wing libertarian Ron Paul or left-wing Democrats like Dennis Kucinich. Despite Kucinich putting forward a platform essentially similar to Nader’s, he ultimately acts as a vehicle to channel progressives back into the corporate-dominated Democratic Party.
We also welcome the declaration by former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney that she has broken from the Democrats and is seeking the Green Party’s nomination for president. McKinney has been outspoken against the occupation of Iraq, calling for “troops home now,” and is a leading critic of Bush and Congress’s attacks on civil liberties. With her base in the working class African American neighborhoods of Atlanta, McKinney has fought against racist and anti-worker policies and championed the fight to rebuild New Orleans in working peoples’ interests. Her program of far-reaching reforms within capitalism is fundamentally similar to Naders.’
While McKinney is much less well-known, if Nader fails to run in 2008 the McKinney campaign will likely be the strongest independent antiwar, anti-corporate electoral challenge for the White House. We feel that a united Nader-McKinney ticket in 2008 would be the strongest challenge to the two-party system and be a pole of attraction for millions fed up with the two parties of war and big business.
Nader has said that he will decide soon whether or not to run for president, depending on the number of activists he feels will get involved in actively building his campaign. We urge everyone who agrees that Nader should run to show your support by signing the Draft Nader petition at www.draftnader.org.
Previous Socialist Alternative Material on Nader:
2004 Statement: Support Nader’s Campaign for President: It’s Time to Break From the Two-Party System
Review of An Unreasonable Man: New Documentary About Ralph Nader
Assessing the Nader Challenge in 2004 – Was It Worth Voting for Kerry After All? http://www.socialistalternative.org/news/printerfriendly/148.html
Learning from Nader’s Mistakes – We Need a Workers’ Party http://www.socialistalternative.org/news/article10.php?id=147
The Nader Factor in the 2000 Elections: http://socialistalternative.org/oldjustice/justice22/3.html
Growing Cracks in the Two-Party System http://www.socialistalternative.org/news/article10.php?id=151