I was struck by two emails that came my way a few days ago. One was an endorsement of John Kerry by Winona LaDuke. The other was a press release from the N.Y. Independence Party announcing that, this coming week, Ralph Nader will “campaign in the Black community with Independence Party leader and activist Dr. Lenora Fulani.”
Winona LaDuke, of course, was Ralph Nader’s Vice-Presidential running mate in both 1996 and 2000. Her endorsement of Kerry is in many ways a metaphor for Nader’s 2004 Presidential campaign. Large numbers of former Nader supporters, including the national Green Party of the United States, are not supporting him this time around. Some, like LaDuke, are supporting Kerry. Others are supporting David Cobb. Other Greens are focusing their efforts on local campaigns.
But Nader just keeps motoring along, accepting support from individual Greens, several socialist groups, disaffected Republicans, former Pat Buchanan backers in the Reform Party, state Republican parties (as in Michigan where they filed 35,000 signatures to get him on the ballot) and the Fred Newman/Lenora Fulani/Independence Party crowd. This latter group has, over the past 12 years, supported white, male, multi-millionaires and rightists like Ross Perot, Abe Hirschfield, Tom Golisano and Pat Buchanan in races for President and N.Y. Governor, as well as Nader this year.
Nader has shifted his focus as the 2004 campaign has evolved. At the beginning of it he was almost supportive of Kerry, going so far as to praise him as “Presidential” after meeting with him in the spring and then publicly advising him that he should choose John Edwards as his running mate. Now, because the Democrats have done everything they could to keep him off state ballots, he is saying there are no real differences between Bush and Kerry, spent the last week campaigning in battleground states and is prominently displaying “Spoiler” t-shirts for sale on his website.
I am so glad that the national Green Party had the common sense and political smarts to choose David Cobb as its Presidential nominee.
Cobb and his running mate, Patricia LaMarche, the only female Presidential or VP candidate among the parties or campaigns on the ballot in more than half the states, are not going to get the vote numbers of Nader/Camejo. The name recognition disparity is too great.
Neither will get very many votes; Nader is down around 1% in the polls, and Cobb is, unsurprisingly, much lower. But the Cobb-LaMarche campaign has done yeoman/yeowoman work this year to keep the Green Party together, in the public eye, and positively evolving despite all the tremendous difficulties.
As a result, with two weeks to go before the election, there is a realistic chance that we could emerge after November 2 with two victories: the removal of the Bushites from office, and the survival/growth of the Green Party as an increasingly more mature and broadly-based alternative to both the Democrats and Republicans.
Key to both of these objectives is the turning out of as many of the “sleeping giant” as possible, that 50% of the eligible electorate that doesn’t vote. Fortunately, there is concrete evidence via a major increase in voter registration in urban areas and among students and youth that some of these usual non-voters are planning to vote this year. We all need to do everything we can, publicly agitating until November 2, to reinforce this momentum.
One concrete way to do so, particularly among communities of color and progressive whites, is for local activists to connect with “Vote for Racial Justice Week,”
October 18-24th. Resources, including literature that can be downloaded, copied and distributed this week and until election day, is available at www.racismwatch.org.
Finally, it is encouraging to see the advance preparations being made both to defend the right to vote in areas like Florida where it is under attack (www.democracy2004.org), and to publicly demonstrate beginning on November 3 if there is obvious or likely voter fraud on election day. Three websites, www.ttww.org, www.beyondvoting.org and www.nov3.us, have information about networks that have been formed and actions that are being planned.
The independent progressive movement, in the broad sense of the term, is having a decided political impact this year. Whatever happens on November 2nd it is absolutely critical that we continue building upon this momentum. Whoever is elected on November 2nd, or selected later, the crises we are facing in this country are too great to allow our sadness over a Bush victory or our elation over a Kerry victory to stop us from moving ahead independent of both corporate parties afterwards. But for the next two weeks let’s personally give everything we can.
Let’s make history on November 2!