An Open Letter: Eight Questions for Ralph Nader
Now that you’ve now announced your intention to run as an independent for President this year, and as someone who supported your efforts in 1996 and 2000 and who was open to the possibility of your being the Green Party’s Presidential candidate until about two months ago, I have a number of questions:
1) You have said repeatedly that you are running to
contribute to the movement to get Bush out of office. Yet you have opposed the position of many Greens that our Presidential candidate should concentrate campaign resources in the 35 or 40 states where it is virtually certain that either Bush or the Democrat is going to win. Have you changed your mind or do you intend, for example, to actively campaign this fall in likely battleground states like Florida, Oregon, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania?
2) If you have not changed your mind, how do you square
your stated desire to help get Bush out of office with that approach?
3) You and those close to you have been saying for at
least two months, and you said again today on Meet the Press, that one of your priority constituencies for outreach will be, in your words, “conservative and liberal Republicans, who are becoming furious with George W. Bush’s policies, such as massive deficits, publicized corporate crimes, subsidies and pornography, civil liberties encroachments, sovereignty-suppressing trade agreements and outsourcing.” Your nephew, Tarek Milleron, in a widely-publicized column last month, counterposed what he called, “the small world of progressive politics” to your “ability to connect with audiences across the ideological spectrum.” And I have yet to see, in anything you have said or are quoted as saying, that you intend to reach out to communities of color, the lesbian and gay community, the women’s movement or other important progressive constituencies. Can you please explain what looks to me like a politically problematic approach that you are taking?
4) I was glad to see that, when pushed by Tim Russert,
you came out in support of marriage equality. Prior to this I have seen no evidence that you are raising issues like affirmative action, immigrant rights, reparations, marriage equality or reproductive rights. Why have you apparently not done so up to now, and do you plan to do so in the future?
5) Many Green Party activists, including many who have
been supporters of you for a long time, have been disappointed by your unwillingness to participate in that democratic political party’s internal process of caucuses, primaries, conventions, polls and debates leading toward choosing a candidate. You took this position despite your long record of advocating democratic reforms within the body politic. You did so even though, after you announced just before Christmas that “I am withdraw[ing] my name from consideration as a potential nominee for the Green Party presidential ticket in 2004,” you have been encouraging Greens in various states to organize draft Nader efforts.
Your actions seem to many Greens to be very problematic.
Given that the Green Party, though still small, is the only national, progressive, electorally-successful political alternative to the corporate-dominated parties, do you no longer believe that it is important to build this organization as an internally democratic, independent political vehicle?
6) When you ran for office in 1996 you said, in a KQED (Bay
Area) TV interview, referring to why you were running, “It’s not some guy on a horse with this heavy applause and people drift away, never to be heard from again, but the self-reliant belief by people as citizen volunteers who are going to build a new progressive political party, like the Green Party, so that never again will tweedle dum, tweedle dee Republicans and Democrats say to millions of Americans they have nowhere to go other than to stay home or vote for the bad over the worst.” Given this statement, don’t you see problems with political movements built around and heavily influenced by a single individual personality?
7) There are no blocs of voters within the Democratic
Party who are currently considering leaving that party to form something more progressive. To the best of my knowledge, there are no progressive political organizations or movements which have been urging you to run as an independent. On the other hand you have been connected in recent months with people and organizations that used to be part of the Ross Perot/Pat Buchanan/John Hagelin/Fred Newman Reform Party effort. Are you planning on working closely with these political forces in your independent campaign?
8) Finally, there is the issue of what comes out of your
campaign. I am sure you do not intend to run this campaign and then ride quietly into the sunset. I also am aware that, following the 2000 Green Party Presidential campaign and continuing up to last year, there were significant criticisms from a number of Green Party activists about how you had interacted and were continuing to interact with the Green Party. Given that you are running as an independent, and given that, as a result, the Green Party will have even less ability to impact upon how you run your campaign, could you please explain what your vision is of what will be built that lasts following your campaign and your role in it?