The main cover story of the Feb. 26 issue of The Stranger, an alternative weekly in Seattle with a circulation of 92,000, viciously attacked Ralph Nader’s campaign for president and specifically Socialist Alternative’s role in helping launch the campaign. The Seattle Weekly also carried a cover story against Nader that mentioned Socialist Alternative. The Stranger and the Seattle Weekly both rejected our request to write an op-ed response, only allowing us to write letters to the editor. You can read their articles, our responses, and other letters protesting their attacks below.
Our initiative to launch local Nader campaigns was also covered in Seattle by the local Fox News, KCTS TV, NPR, and KIRO radio. The Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Harvard Crimson also quoted Socialist Alternative members
This media coverage provided us a platform for explaining our position, raised our profile, and demonstrated the impact our campaign is having.
Dear Socialist Alternative & Ralph Nader supporters,
You may have seen the main cover story of last week’s issue of The Stranger called, “Ralph Nader is a Megalomaniacal asswipe.” If you haven’t, you can read it at http://www.thestranger.com/2004-02-26/index.html
The article viciously attacks supporters of Nader’s presidential campaign and specifically Socialist Alternative, which launched a UW Students for Nader campaign and is now organizing a rally for Nader to speak at in Seattle tentatively on Monday, April 5 at noon.
Democratic Party leaders and the corporate media, including the liberal “alternative” media, have been reduced to writing these types of hysterical rants insulting Ralph Nader’s and his supporters’ personalities, which only shows that they cannot rationally address his concrete ideas.
The Stranger Editor, Dan Savage, rejected Socialist Alternative’s request to write a full response to their one-sided, red-baiting tirade. Instead he offered us space for only a 500-word letter, and even though we submitted our reply under that word limit, The Stranger still shortened it and deleted some important points. Below is our unedited version.
I highly encourage people to read our full statement at http://www.SocialistAlternative.org/nader/ that makes a clear, strong case for supporting the Nader campaign.
The Seattle Weekly also published 2 articles last week criticizing Nader’s campaign, one from a former Green Party organizer who briefly criticized Socialist Alternative’s role in the 2000 Seattle Nader campaign, which you can read at http://www.seattleweekly.com/features/0408/040225_news_nader.php
Below is our response to that as well.
Finally, below you can also read other letters The Stranger refused to publish in their papers.
Sandeep Kaushik’s Feb. 26 “Bush/Nader 2004” article is a desperate, “faith-based” defense of the Democratic Party. Rather than seriously address the political reasons for Ralph Nader’s insurgent presidential campaign against Corporate America’s two parties, Kaushik hurls personal abuse and insults at Nader supporters, along with a good dose of red-baiting.
Of course, we would love to see Bush and his right-wing, corporate agenda defeated. Unfortunately, John Kerry and the Democrats offer no real alternative to Bush. Over his 20 years in the Senate, Kerry has proven he is a reliable defender of big-business interests. Kerry voted for many of Bush’s policies – the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, the “war on terror,” and “No Child Left Behind,” to name a few.
In response to Republican attacks, he has bragged of his support for Clinton’s destruction of welfare. Kerry opposes same-sex marriage rights and firmly supported “free-trade” deals such as NAFTA and the WTO. A Kerry White House would continue the occupation of Iraq, possibly even sending in more U.S. troops to crush the Iraqi insurgency.
Completely disregarding these facts, Kaushik makes the incredible comment that “These days, John Kerry is Howard Dean without the Scream.” But, as Sandeep would say, it’s “deeply misguided” (to say the least!) to take Kerry and the Democrats’ election year promises seriously. The fact is, John Kerry is a complete fraud. His recent conversion to populism and “fighting special interests” is nothing more than campaign camouflage.
What has the decades-long strategy of supporting the “lesser-evil” Democrats gotten us? An environmental catastrophe, the world’s highest prison population, and sanctions that killed 1 million Iraqis. Here in Washington, Democratic Governor Locke gave away $3.2 billion to Boeing, while slashing funds for unemployment benefits, education, and healthcare.
Nader is challenging the war in Iraq and exposing the Republicans and Democrats for taking hundreds of millions of dollars from big corporations, while ignoring the concerns of ordinary people. He is campaigning for public works programs to create millions of jobs, a universal single-payer healthcare system, same-sex marriage rights, and repealing Bush’s Patriot Act.
A vote for Nader is NOT a vote for Bush – it’s a vote for radical change. Ralph Nader is not a “spoiler”. It’s Bush and Kerry who have already spoiled way too many lives.
In a classic attempt at red-baiting, Kaushik tries to make an issue out of the fact that our organization, Socialist Alternative, is supporting the Nader campaign, making us out to be “fringe” lunatics fighting for “an end to the rule of profit” and “a socialist society to meet the needs of all.”
In the richest country in the world, where 43 million people lack healthcare and 9 million are unemployed, and internationally, where 3 billion people struggle to survive on less than $2/day, is it so crazy to think we need an alternative to the global capitalist system, a system based on human need instead of corporate greed?
National Organizer, Socialist Alternative
Former Green Party organizer Trevor Griffey’s Feb. 25 article, “The Knock on Nader,” completely underestimates the historic impact of Nader’s 2000 campaign for president. He dismisses the Seattle campaign, writing, “A Trotskyite group calling itself Socialist Alternative started its own Nader campaign, outside the Greens, as a means of promoting themselves. Months went by with grassroots enthusiasm for Nader spinning its wheels in senseless bickering, ineffective speculation, and uncoordinated activism.”
Socialist Alternative proposed in writing in the spring of 2000 that Greens, socialists, and any progressive groups and individuals come together to establish a united, democratic Seattle Nader coalition. After urging Green Party Coordinating Council members to meet with Socialist Alternative representatives in person, which they finally did, the Green Party rejected our proposal even though socialists were offering to campaign for the Greens’ own candidate. The Greens left Socialist Alternative little option but to launch the Seattle Nader Coalition, not “as a means of promoting ourselves,” but to build the strongest challenge to the two corporate parties.
The Nader campaign did not spin “its wheels in senseless bickering.” The Nader Coalition organized a caravan led by a flatbed truck with music and a microphone distributing Nader leaflets in many neighborhoods. We worked alongside Greens to distribute tons of Nader signs and promote Nader’s three Seattle rallies, one of which was 10,000-strong.
Of course, any political party will promote what they see as effective solutions to society’s problems during a campaign, but that natural aspect of politics shouldn’t stop groups from working together for an immediate common goal.
Founding Member, 2000 Seattle Nader Coalition
Secretary, Seattle Socialist Alternative
Sandeep’s cover editorial on Nader muddies everything. He calls the Democrats he wants you to support “craven wussbags.” The Democrat he voted for (Gore) he calls “execrable.”
Three cheers (and facts) Sandeep! 1. Gore won. 2. Democrats were unwilling to fight for the Presidency. 3. Your vote was abandoned by your party. Sandeep, not Nader supporters, is, in his words, “a rat in a maze.” A Democratic maze.
As despicable as Bush is, Kerry and Edwards have adopted his war, his Patriot Act, and Clinton’s NAFTA. There is only one way out. We must, however painful, build a counterweight to the Demublicans. Nader said: “Our democracy is a marketplace,” hence not a democracy. In fact, we must build a counterweight to the politics based on profit.
“Goofball Seattle” tried to show Sandeep the way out of the maze. We “protest lovers” stopped the forward march of an undemocratic, unelected (Democratic supported) WTO, and the world of “rationality-avoiding” protesters delayed the overwhelmingly Democrat-supported invasion of Iraq by six months. What is Sandeep going to accomplish working for Kerry? Kerry voted for everything Bush wanted.
As we speak a terrorist coup with bipartisan U.S. support is taking place in Haiti, yet all over South and Central America “protest-loving” people are risking their lives to build movements and alternative economics. They have nearly stopped the neo-liberal economic policies of Bush and Kerry on their continent. We’ll do it here too, despite your frantic editorial.
I have been deeply disheartened by reading the article “Bush/Nader 2004” by Sandeep Kaushik in the last issue of your paper. One of the biggest problems I have, and I have a lot, is how one of your so-called “credible” writers has taken to the same rhetoric put out by the Democratic Party, that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 election. Nader did no such thing. Sandeep obviously has forgotten, like many reporters, that under Jeb Bush’s orders over 5,000 registered voters in the state of Florida were denied their rights. In a disgusting display of force, these LEGAL voters were cordoned off by the local police departments, once again showing the lack of desire to hear from a minority class, which these people are.
At the same time the Republican Party had brought in out-of-state supporters who caused near riots at any scene the re-count of votes took place, causing the count to be delayed, then finally ended prematurely by the Supreme Court. All the while this is happening Al Gore had already received 540,000 more votes than George W. Bush. Has one of your reporters forgotten to do his homework, or take notes on events as they happen? YES.
Nader was simply doing what he had and has the right to do, run for president.
Another area Sandeep might want to look is the difference between the two parties. Had he done his research he might learn how John Kerry has voted in favor of almost EVERYTHING GWB put before the senate.
Sean M. Morgen
I am outraged by the attacks launched against Nader voters in the last issue of The Stranger. The article “Bush/Nader 2004,” repeatedly describes votes for Nader as “wasted.” I voted for Nader in 2000 and intend to do it again in 2004. I know Nader will not win, but my vote is still not wasted. It is a protest vote. When I go to a protest, I am not “forcing” politicians to do anything, but I am registering popular sentiment and threatening to remove them from office if they do not listen up. Every person at the protest makes the message stronger. The same is true about a Nader vote, but much stronger because it openly threatens to throw the million dollar bums out.
A vote for Nader is a protest against the war in Iraq (voted for by Bush and Kerry). It is a protest against the Patriot Act (voted for by Bush and Kerry). It is a protest for universal healthcare, for taxing the rich not the poor, for a living wage, for an end to abusive corporate power, and for same-sex marriage rights (all opposed by Bush and Kerry). A vote for Bush or Kerry protests nothing. I am proud to announce that I will not be wasting my vote in 2004.
UW senior student, history major
Letter to the Editor:
Your Feb. 25 article “Ralph Nader Delusional at Any Speed” assumes that voting for Nader will only end up in another four years of Bush’s policies. Like all corporate media, this ignores the fact that four years of a Democrat wouldn’t be much different.
Democratic administrations started World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the War in Yugoslavia. Democrats dropped the atomic bomb on Japanese civilians twice. Clinton and Gore implemented the economic sanctions that murdered approximately 1 million Iraqis, half of them children.
Clinton and Gore helped pave the way for Bush?s Patriot Act and the post-9/11 secret detentions of 1,200 Arabs and Muslims with their 1996 “Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty” and “Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility” Acts. These laws allowed for suspects to be detained indefinitely, charged, and convicted on the grounds of secret testimony that the defendant’s lawyer cannot challenge. Clinton and Gore presided over the greatest transfer of wealth from workers to corporate bosses since the 1930s.
Kerry, the likely Democratic presidential candidate, criticizes the Patriot Act and talks about “holding Bush accountable” for the Iraq war. Yet he voted for the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, and Bush’s massive tax cuts for the rich, (tax breaks for people like himself – the richest man in Congress worth $550 million)!
Workers and young people should vote for Nader in 2004 to take a stand against another 100 years of wasting young people’s lives and our hard-earned tax-dollars in imperialist wars.
Founding Member of the 2000 Seattle Nader Coalition
To Sandeep Kaushik:
In “Bush / Nader 2004” from last week’s Stranger you argue that Nader cost Gore the election. This conclusion is totally wrong because it is based on the presupposition that Gore was some how entitled to Nader’s votes. You point to New Hampshire and Florida as the two close states where Nader could have tipped the balance. This is a total fraud. According to MSNBC exit polls in Florida, 1% of Republicans and 1% of Democrats voted for Nader, giving Bush a net gain of nothing. According to the same exit poll in New Hampshire, 1% of Democrats and 2% of Republicans voted for Nader. I am sure you can find other polls to contradict these numbers because Nader voters represent a small enough cross section of the population to make accurate exit polling impossible. However the fundamental point remains, no one is entitled to votes.
I, for example, intend to vote for Nader in 2004. This is not a vote taken away from Kerry, because I would never ever vote for him. He has publicly appealed to Massachusetts law makers to pass a constitutional amendment barring Gay Marriage. He let Bush attack our civil rights by voting in favor of the PATRIOT act, and now he is taking his own initiative to attack the human right to pursue happiness. I suggest you vote for Buchanan, because by your logic, “in 2004, there is no difference between voting for [Buchanan] and voting for [Kerry].”
Mr. Kaushik’s article about Mr. Nader’s presidential candidature is devoid of serious argument and vulgar in language; it is a disservice to the “Stop Nader” effort. Therefore, as a Nader supporter I would like to “thank you!”
I picture the situation like this: the multi-Billion-$ Democratic Party has cadre in every state house, town hall, corporate board room, major media outlet, the military, and even amongst the tops of the labor unions. Its messages instantly travel around the world and will be read by millions of people. Next to the Republicans the Democrats have undoubtedly the most powerful Party Machine this planet has ever seen! And here comes one earthling, an elderly retiree, Mr. Nader, he has no party, no machine, and little money. And our world’s most powerful party machine quivers and shakes in its foundations, spewing gal and venom! Out of fear of our hapless pensioner? I think it is rather more the prevailing anti-corporate sentiment that finds a voice in Mr. Nader, that gives rise to the Party Moguls’ fear. In reality, every vote for Nader is a step towards more anti-corporate candidates around the country and eventually (we hope) a political organization of workers, youth, immigrants, environmentalists, people of color, women, LBT people, wholly outside corporate control, indeed a nightmare for the Democrats and Republicans! For me, it is the reason I support Mr. Nader’s campaign.
To the Editor,
Mr. Kaushik’s recent smear piece on Nader (and his supporters) is a shining example of the type of pseudo-intellectual cowardice, dressed up as pragmatism, that would have us sit with cynical thumbs up our asses while progressive ideas are gutted from American politics.
With the knowledge that people will support them no matter what, there is nothing stopping the Democrats from drifting further to the right to get their slice of corporate cake. The strategy of lesser evilism may look pretty on the surface, but wipe away the paint and you’ve got a beast of a strategy characterized by perpetual capitulation. How far down does Mr. Kaushik intend us to follow the lesser evil?
Clearly, Nader is not going to win. However, politics does not start and end with the punch of a card. All of the rights that we possess today were won through struggle, not capitulation. My support for Nader has less to do with winning an election than with building a political environment in which people can take power back from the corporations that pull the strings now.
People say “any year but this one!” But when will there not be a “lesser evil?” On the other hand, Nader provides an opportunity that comparatively rare. As we saw in 2000, Nader does pose a threat to the monotonous two-party system. But that’s good.
Instead of pooh-poohing hippies and socialists, Mr. Kaushik should grow some balls and put his weight behind a strategy that can actually affect change.
A friend of mine brought me The Stranger, a paper unfamiliar to me in the military town of Tacoma. As a member of Socialist Alternative, I was surprised to see us referenced with the implied connotation of being bad company. Sandeep and I would probably agree on quite a few issues, possibly issues of universal healthcare, improved education, environmental issues, less corporate welfare, less warfare, etc. etc. A more pressing issue we might agree on would be defeating George W. Bush in the fall. Reelection of GWB would undoubtedly result in degradation to the quality of life in American capitalist society and possibly even threaten the survival of North American capitalism and other global economies to which we are entwined. However, US domestic and foreign policy is driven by the interests of a relatively small number of corporations, many being multinationals with neoliberal tendencies seeking out cheap labor markets with little or no environmental regulations to make the most bang for the buck. These corporations also provide the financial support needed to put people in power, including the president, and support other candidates who will be sympathetic to the interests of big business. Noam Chomsky summarized it well when he said, “There is one party in the US and that is the Business Party. It has two factions, the democrats and the republicans.”
I was sickened as we marched into war with Afghanistan, and then later Iraq. I, a single mother of five, knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because I did my homework. Why hadn’t our politicians done theirs?
Possibly, because there was something bigger to be gained from conquering Iraq outside national security and saving people from dictators. The conservatives I encountered insisted that WMD would be found over time, maybe buried in the sand, or hidden deep in a bunker. There were others who speculated that the WMD had been moved to another so called terrorist nation. After all, the radio pundits seemed to be the experts and “hate radio” had become the new medium for educating the masses. My party disappeared with a sickening display of Democrats and Republicans clapping hands like zombies while the war rhetoric spun fear across America.
Dissent became unpatriotic and if you were to question the reasoning behind the attacks, you were with the terrorists. With little to no regard for human life, we performed shock and awe on the enemy. The events leading up to this unconscionable act of aggression subsequently resulted in shock and awe at home for those able to sort out the lies. I cried for the families I never knew with the understanding that no matter how the pentagon justified experimenting with its new state of the art killing technology, there were people suffering the pain and loss brought on by death of a family member, friend, or neighbor… people like me just trying to get by day to day. The wrapped bloodied bodies of children laid out neatly in rows and the community processions of mourners depicted by foreign new agencies were rarely projected into our living rooms as the government moved to suppress news of civilian deaths while exaggerating its military successes. In order to get these images, you would have to find an alternative media source.
There was something unsettling about the ensuing censorship and one dimensional reporting that accompanied this sanctioned killing event and free thinking Americans swarmed to alternative media sources, many of them foreign news agencies. The BBC, al Jazeera, India Times, The Guardian, and the global Independent Media Centers, just to name a few, became popular venues for those seeking more than a one dimensional analysis of current events.
How could a global destabilizing policy of preemptive strike have been so blindly supported by leading US politicians? It was supported by both parties because it was necessary for the survival of capitalism and profitable for corporate America. And yes, unfortunately, corporate America does drive US foreign policy.
War is the necessary evil for the expansion of capitalism forging development of new technologies while creating slave economies that may later become consumer economies. Both the democrats and the republicans have their hands open to corporate payoffs; politicians are bought out while, increasingly, their constituents, especially those who do not have a voice, suffer the effects from the ever widening rift of poverty.
Most middle-class Americans would not support a government that uses their tax dollars to do terrorism abroad. That is why government needs to create and perpetuate illusions…. illusions that we are the best, most powerful nation in the world while our children go hungry, illusions that we love freedom while we curtail it, illusions that we are winning the war on terror while we blatantly do terrorism and ignore international law.
Most mothers know the basics of control. You give two options to secure your outcome while allowing the limited freedom of choice. Looking into my child’s closet at the worn out tennies and weathered sandals, I might ask, “Bridget, do you want to wear your blue shoes or your black shoes?” The outcome is predictable as long as I limit my options and either choice is actually fine with me.
The US knows that to limit our choices of political parties maintains stability and diffuses change. Outside candidates are unsettling as they may not share the same ideals as the two popular parties, probably more unsettling to the corporate giants might be a politician that can’t be bought out.
Nader has said that if his campaign does not seem winnable he will back out before November. The real trick for the privileged who actually control this nation is to make consumers believe there is really an ideological difference between the democrats and the republicans. GWB broke rank when he became a threat to corporate America and, thus, lost support from many of his own supporters. We need to realize we have other options beyond the two business parties if we really want to deflect corruption and instill change. Nader has a solid record for protecting consumers while not caving into corporate interests. Support Nader!
Nader “has Alzheimer’s”? His supporters are “deeply misguided”? Consider this FACT: Clinton was responsible for many more Iraqi deaths than Bush, Jr. or Sr. (or Saddam for that matter). The “UN” sanctions did not say Iraq could not import specified items, but that every Iraqi import contract was subject to Security Council approval. Over 1,000 such contracts were blocked, over 90% of those ONLY because of a U.S./British or (more frequently) a U.S.-only veto. That led to about a million Iraqi deaths and the resignation of two consecutive UN Humanitarian Program Coordinators – Denis Halliday in 1998 and Hans Von Sponek in 2000, who both denounced the U.S. But according to Madeleine Albright, “We think the price is worth it”?!
Agreed, Bush is horrible. But so was Clinton, who bombed Iraq in 1998 on a lie (“Saddam kicked out the inspectors”) and has endorsed Bush Jr.’s wars. As for Kerry, he said this on 10/9/02: “The threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real … It has been with us … since Saddam Hussein kicked out U.N. weapons inspectors at the end of 1998.”
Claiming there’s a difference between Democrats and Republicans is similar to claiming there was a difference between Nazis. After all, Nuremberg Laws author Wilhelm Stuckart argued the Holocaust, although “desirable”, was without legal justification and thus would make Jews martyrs.
If Nader doesn’t run, how DO I register my disgust with Democrats? Vote for them, then hope they’ll suddenly reject empire despite all evidence to the contrary (LBJ killing millions of Vietnamese, Carter arming Afghan Mujahedeen)? They’d ignore me, knowing the pressure was off them. Voting for a Democrat is to be a “good German”, to accept “kinder, gentler” genocide.