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Is Nader really a break from the Democrats?

March 5, 2004 | Page 8

Dear Socialist Worker,
SW is right to criticize the parade of Democratic Party officials and their hangers-on for their condemnation of Ralph Nader and his decision to throw his hat in the 2004 election. ("A challenge to the politics of 'lesser evilism,'" February 27). The man who would be the Democratic Party nominee for president, John Kerry, has failed on the most important political questions of the day.

Clearly, the Democrats do not deserve our votes. The question is, does Ralph Nader? A central criterion for socialist endorsement of a presidential candidate in the U.S. should be whether or not the campaign is a legitimate break from the Democratic Party. I don't know if that can be conclusively said about Nader's run.

Nader heaped criticism on the Democrats and the political process in this country when he officially launched his candidacy on Meet the Press and referred to the Democrats and Republicans as a "duopoly." Yet the next day at a press conference, he hardly sounded like he was leading the charge to build a real third party.

Instead, Nader talked about helping Democrats recapture the House of Representatives in "key swing districts." At one point in his speech, he said, "We mean to initiate a liberation movement for the Democratic Party."

This is to say nothing of the fact that just last January, Nader endorsed Democrat Dennis Kucinich for president and, one day after declaring his candidacy, encouraged Democrats still voting in the primaries to vote for Kucinich. This is hardly a formula for "developing a genuine political alternative outside of the Democratic Party," as Socialist Worker last week seemed to indicate Nader's campaign could represent.

Nader claims, "This is a campaign that strives to displace the present corporate regime of the Bush administration." He went on to reassure Democrats that his role in this campaign will be to attack Bush in ways that Democrats can't or won't.

His remarks leave open the real possibility that he will throw his support to whichever Democrat wins the nomination. Nader's current run seems to me to raise many more questions than answers, and SW needs to weigh all of them before throwing its weight behind a Nader campaign.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Chicago

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