On February 24, Ralph Nader declared he was running for President to challenge the corporate stranglehold over U.S. politics. Ordinary Americans have been shut out of their government by two major parties that, in varying degrees, have turned Washington into corporate-occupied territory, Nader said (USA Today, 3/5/08). Socialist Alternative is supporting Naders antiwar, pro-worker campaign, as we did in 2000 and 2004.
The 2008 election campaign has revealed the huge anger among workers and young people at eight years of George W. Bushs big-business, pro-war, right-wing policies, as well as the Bush-lite Democrats who have been complicit in Bushs crimes. Polls show over 70% of Americans think the country is heading in the wrong direction.
While Corporate America has made record profits, living standards are falling for working people. Our planet is hurtling toward an environmental catastrophe, yet the political establishment is twiddling its thumbs.
The majority of the country wants to see an end to the disastrous war in Iraq, but despite a voter rebellion in the 2006 elections the new Democratic Congress continues to fund the war.
Bush will leave office as one of the most hated presidents in American history. Yet the new Democratic-controlled Congress has managed to end up even more unpopular with only a 19% approval rating (NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 3/7-10/08).
Against this background, 58% think a third party is needed and that both Republicans and Democrats do an inadequate job representing the American people (USA Today/Gallup poll, 7/20/07).
Democratic candidate Barack Obama has tapped into this yearning for change, presenting himself as a challenger to the establishment. Obamas campaign has politicized millions of youth and workers, and generated a wave of enthusiasm. He has attracted the support of African Americans and many others who are understandably enthused by the prospect of electing the first black president.
But the unfortunate reality is that Obama will deeply disappoint and betray his supporters hopes. Despite his antiwar rhetoric, Obama has repeatedly voted in the Senate to fund Bushs war in Iraq.
And while Obama talks about lifting up the poor and working people, a closer look reveals that he is a thorough-going big-business candidate (see Does Obama Deserve Your Support?).
Not long ago, Democratic candidate John Edwards pointed out: We can say As long as we get Democrats in, everythings going to be OK. Its a lie. Its not the truth. Do you really believe if we replace a crowd of corporate Republicans with a crowd of corporate Democrats that anything meaningful is going to change?
However, Edwards short-lived campaign showed yet again the futility of challenging big business within the confines of the Democratic Party.
Time to Take a Stand!
That is why Socialist Alternative is supporting Ralph Naders campaign against the two parties of the status quo. His campaign will reach millions of people with a radical anti-corporate platform such as:
- Withdraw ALL U.S. troops from Iraq
- Establish a universal single-payer healthcare system
- Create millions of jobs through public works programs
- Slash the massive military budget
- Repeal the Patriot Act
- Abolish the death penalty
- End the failed, racist War on Drugs
- Expand workers rights and repeal the Taft-Hartley Act
- No to harmful nuclear power Invest in clean, renewable energy
As socialists, we have political disagreements with Nader, who mistakenly looks to reform capitalism. We aim to overturn this whole rotten capitalist system that breeds war, poverty, racism, sexism, and environmental destruction.
Nonetheless, Naders campaign will give a voice to an important minority of workers and youth who are searching for a left-wing alternative to the rotten right-wing consensus of corporate politics.
An indication of this was shown in a March 13-14 Zogby poll, which has Nader polling 5-6% in a race between McCain and either Clinton or Obama. Among voters under 30 and among independents, Nader polls between 12-15%.
While its likely that as the election gets closer Naders support will be squeezed, particularly if the race is close, these polls show the significant dissatisfaction with both parties and the openness to Nader that exists.
To build the most effective campaign and appeal to workers, youth, and the oppressed, Nader should use his campaign to support and actively build movements like the labor, antiwar, and immigrant rights movements. For example, we think Nader should publicly support the International Longshore and Warehouse Unions call for a strike on May 1 against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and use his campaign to actively help spread this marvelous initiative (see Strike Against the War). It is also important for Nader to clearly call for bringing the troops home now, papers for all undocumented immigrants, and more boldly campaign against racism and sexism.
All those who want to fight for real change should join us in building the Nader campaign and help us build a movement that continues to fight beyond November 4 to address the root causes of societys problems the global capitalist system. Join us in the fight to change the system!
For more on the 2008 Nader campaign, see: