WHAT WE THINK
September 3, 2004 | Page 3
DID THE Democratic Party's attack dogs really make a television ad denouncing Ralph Nader for accepting money from known Republican donors--and pay for it with money from a known Republican donor?
The ad, produced by TheNaderFactor.com, represents a new low in the war on Nader's independent presidential campaign. It all but accuses Nader--after four decades of uncompromising opposition to corporate power and political corruption--of conspiring with Republicans to help George Bush back into the White House.
But it turns out the Nader bashers need to listen to that old saying about stones and glass houses.
TheNaderFactor.com is run by the National Progress Fund, which--according to reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service--received its largest donation from an individual from business executive Robert "Bobby" Savoie. Savoie is vice chairman of Apogen Technologies, a major contractor for several federal government departments and agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.
About a month before his $25,000 donation to the National Progress Fund, Savoie handed over $25,000 to...you guessed it...the Republican National Committee. A month before that, he gave $2,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. His wife, Lori, by happy coincidence, gave equal amounts to the same GOP groups on the same days.
According to the New York Times, TheNaderFactor.com's anti-Nader television ad cost $5,000 to produce and $20,000 to run a dozen times in New Mexico and Wisconsin at the end of August. Precisely the amount that Savoie gave to the Nader bashers--and to the Republican National Committee the month before.
Savoie is like many rich corporate executives with political connections. He keeps thousands flowing to both major parties, so that millions flow back to him, no matter who wins. But it speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of the Nader bashers that they will attack Nader for nothing more than what they've done themselves.
Millions of people understandably want to see George W. Bush thrown out of office--so they plan to vote for John Kerry, no matter how much they disagree with his Republican Lite campaign. But the Democratic Party--aided and abetted by progressives with a record of activism for peace and justice--is exploiting this "Anybody But Bush" sentiment as a justification for trying to silence a genuine left-wing alternative.
Nader and his running mate Peter Camejo are running a campaign that challenges not only Bush and the Republicans, but the other party of Corporate America and the Washington status quo--the Democratic Party, which has, in John Kerry, once again nominated a candidate who shares more in common with his GOP opponent than he differs. The Democrats learned in 2000 how powerful the Nader challenge could be--and they're out to squelch it today with an unprecedented operation to keep Nader from qualifying for the presidential ballot.
Sadly, the Democrats are getting away with this assault on democracy. They've kept the Nader-Camejo campaign from qualifying in key states like California, where the independent ticket would have drawn hundreds of thousands of votes. Nader had hoped to be on the ballot in all 50 states--on Election Day, his name may appear in only 25, or even fewer.
This is a disgrace in a country that claims to be the "greatest democracy in the world"--and the Democratic Party machine is to blame. But so are the progressive voices who have climbed on board the anti-Nader bandwagon.
There are legitimate reasons for the left to be critical of the Nader campaign. For example, Nader and Camejo both attended the right-wing Reform Party's convention last weekend. Their goal was to secure a spot on the ballot in seven states where the remnants of Ross Perot's party has access, but in the process, Nader has breathed new life into an organization of right-wingers that should have been left to die.
Yet progressives like columnist Norman Solomon and author Barbara Ehrenreich aren't attacking Nader for not building the strongest possible left-wing campaign. They've accepted the logic of the Anybody-But-Bush liberals that John Kerry has to win in November at all costs--even if that means slandering the only antiwar, pro-global justice, pro-worker presidential campaign in the election.
This does long-term damage to the left--when well-known progressives not only accept the need to vote for a pro-war candidate like Kerry, but mouth the Democratic establishment's slander and abuse of Nader for nothing more than daring to offer a left alternative. The Nader-Camejo campaign deserves our support--in its effort to get on the ballot in every state, and in the polling booths on Election Day.