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We deserve better than the Democrats

January 30, 2004 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,
Howard Dean is setting a land-speed record for selling out his supporters. There is no question that the Dean campaign has energized thousands of young activists who oppose war and want to get Bush out of office, come hell or high water.

There is also no question that Dean does not deserve their enthusiasm or effort. SW has done a great job exposing Dean's views on war, Israel, the death penalty, civil liberties, etc. for what they are--Republican Lite at best.

Now after his spectacular collapse in Iowa, Dean himself just told USA Today that he is "going back to my centrist roots." I think Dean is going into a free fall because he is, at heart, a dim politico who is completely misidentifying what attracted people to him in the first place.

An important question for us is what will happen to the thousands who have looked to Dean as an alternative. Certainly a large swath will break toward whichever Democratic suit gets the nomination--probably the patrician cadaver otherwise known as John Kerry.

But others will be angered and disoriented. They might just go home and lock the door--or they can be drawn in to a national third party run to the left of the Democrats. That's why, more than ever, a 2004 Ralph Nader campaign is so important.

But Nader can't just run a vanity campaign. I think he needs to run as the candidate who opposes the brutal occupations of the U.S. and its allies: that means Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. Currently he is muddled at best on these questions--and it is even unclear if he is going to run.

I certainly hope he does. Such a campaign could connect with a real sentiment in the U.S. that is going completely--and consciously--untapped by the parties of big business and war. Those of us who oppose U.S. military adventures around the globe deserve, and should demand, a candidate worth voting for in 2004.

Dave Zirin, Prince George's County, Md.

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