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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, April 25, 2003


The Nader Factor

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, April 25, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
A piece in Salon details Nader's consideration of running for President again in 2004. Was that the sound of jaws hitting the floor?

Nader, who many Democrats and progressives blame for tipping the last presidential election to Bush in key states like Florida (where Nader won 96,000 votes), has not yet announced his decision about 2004. But according to national Green Party officials, Nader probably will run. "I'm getting that sense," says Ben Manski, one of five national Green Party co-chairs. Juscha Robinson, a member of the party's presidential exploratory committee, agrees: "The co-chairs of the committee met with Ralph a couple weeks ago -- it was a very comfortable discussion. It does look like he's leaning in that direction."

Following Nader's lead, the Green Party is as bent on its scorched earth policy as ever:

Far from being chastened by the way life has turned out under Bush -- the U.S. launched on neo-imperial expansionism and a massive military buildup, civil liberties under wide assault, deficits soaring and government programs being slashed, and the influence of the Christian right being demonstrated in everything from judicial appointments to Pentagon prayer meetings -- many Green Party officials still cling to their line that there's little difference between Republicans and Democrats. "I've never been so disgusted in my life as seeing how the Democrats contributed to going to war in Iraq," says Medea Benjamin. "They simply capitulated, with the leadership telling the party that they should vote for Bush's war resolution to get the whole Iraq thing behind them. It was a repeat of the Florida debacle, where the Gore campaign refused to let their supporters take to the streets. They told Jesse to go home -- I was there, I was flabbergasted! They're not interested in activating people, they're interested in raising money."

Some even advocate running Greens against progressive Democrats, as the California Green Party is considering doing against Barbara Boxer in next year's Senate race.

Dean will be just as, if not more so, vulnerable to a Nader run in 2004 as Gore was. Even Dean's antiwar stance isn't enough - note that Barbara Boxer was the sole Senate vote against the authorization of force in Iraq. Yet she's a Green target anyway.

and yet, the article notes that there is a real opportunity here for the Democrats in drawing Green voters back to the fold to help defeat Bush. If only the Dems can learn to forgive:

Will Greens and progressive Democrats, sharing a mutual alarm about the state of the nation under George W. Bush, begin exploring a marriage of convenience in 2004 -- or as Dugger puts it, "a national emergency coalition"? Medea Benjamin does not expect to hear any such overtures from the Democrats, who continue to treat Greens "as if we didn't have the right to exercise our own minds" -- or in Robinson's words, simply as a "wayward constituency."

There is something self-defeating about the Democrats' refusal to open a dialogue with the Green Party. While some lower-level discussions between Greens and lefty Democrats have taken place, reconciliation has never become a priority of party leaders, who seem to have written off their left flank as irrelevant.
Without this initiative from progressive Democrats, warns Dugger, "It could all drift back to a bunch of disenchanted Greens and Ralph running again, and the makings of a major human tragedy. But if you could peel off a couple million Green voters and add them to the half-million advantage that Gore had over Bush, then you win the election."


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.