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Creek Running North
July 18, 2004
From a truly odd interview of Ralph Nader by Pat Buchanan: "I am also against feticide. If doctors think it is a fetus, that should be banned. It is a medical decision."
I dislike Kerry. When he's at his best, Nader's criticisms of Kerry are spot-on. While I think the folks who downplay the difference between Kerry and Bush are being disingenuous, I also fear that a Kerry win will be taken as a victory that's far more extensive. Liberals will let down their guards, and the destruction of the world will proceed apace. The bar has been lowered, and policies that would have seemed frighteningly reactionary five years ago will be taken as good news by comparison. It happened when Clinton won, and by focusing all our outrage at Bush rather than the people he works for, we ensure it'll happen again. Nader's right about that, and his message ought to be spread wide.
But I'm beginning to think that Nader himself is completely nuts.
Take the quoted statement above, which if accurately rendered by the American Conservative shows that Ralph has neither given an iota of critical thought to the signature cultural divide issue of our time, nor learned anything about the current thinking on the biology involved.
Or take his recent demand that the Congressional Black Caucus apologize for Mel Watt's calling him an "arrogant white man," thus proving Watt's point more thoroughly than Watt ever could have.
The biggest red flag for me (and I don't mean to cast aspersions on red flags in general) is Ralph's saying that his independent candidacy is intended to build a movement of the disaffected for social change. We've heard this line before, if I'm not mistaken: one person proposes that a progressive, humanitarian movement shall be embodied within the confines of his epidermis.
In my admittedly limited experience, such movements are usually dealt serious harm by advocates whose first priority is self-promotion. This harm is often fleeting and rather benign, and I'd provide an example but I've already used my quota of criticizing Julia Butterfly for the year. Sometimes, however, the self-promoter leads his followers along a path that ends in Cultural Revolutions, Great Leap Forward famines, and piles of bodies in the Guianan rainforest.
The good news is that the most devastatingly destructive ego-driven leaders are charismatic. Thus Ralph poses little long-term threat to his followers. Still, it's distressing to see smart folks drinking his KoolAid.
Posted by Chris Clarke at July 18, 2004 09:52 AM
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Excellent points all, Chris. The most pertinent for me is the fact that a Kerry win will not change much. However, I would never vote for Nader. I think the only hope for a real change in direction will come from progressive insisting that the Democratic Party stand for real policies instead of the increasingly squishy center. I'm not hopeful about that, frankly, because both major parties are pretty much bought, and courage is a trait rarely seen in Washington.Posted by: beth at July 20, 2004 05:43 AM
Yes. I am so, so glad that the Green leadership decided to give Nader a pass this year (though why they're bothering fielding a presidential candidate this year escapes me). "Delusional" is rapidly becoming my adjective of choice for him.
I do worry about the future of leftish politics should Kerry win (the alternative is of course far worse), especially since the whole meme of Kerry/Edwards/Dean = extreme liberal seems to have legs and I can't imagine it not being beat to death by the Dems' opponents. Kucinich, or Winona LaDuke (or even, gah, Sharpton), is far more in line with my politics, yet by the scale being applied relative to the mainstream Democrats, he is so far to the left as to be on another planet. (See this depressing graphic -- click on the 2004 primary link.)
*sigh*Posted by: Rana at July 23, 2004 03:55 PM
As much as it pains me to admit it (You know how I feel about Nader and third parties, Chris), your post is depressingly on target.
I wouldn't underestimate Nader's charisma, though. I saw him at a rally in Miami shortly before the 2000 election and he was rather compelling.
Oh, and the politicalcompass.org link is a little scary. The Veep candidate is to the right of Lieberman??? *shudders*Posted by: Christopher Rieder at July 26, 2004 11:02 AM