On February 22nd, Ralph Nader announced that he would run for U.S. president via an independent bid requiring 1.5 million petition signatures to get on the November 2004 ballot. Immediately the ayatollahs of the two-party system slammed Nader with slogans about how a "vote for Nader is a vote for Bush."
In 2000, Nader ran as a Green Party candidate and won 2.7% of the vote. Many of those would not have voted at all if not for Nader, but polling data suggests that Nader cost Democratic Party nominee Al Gore the electoral votes of Florida and New Hampshire, and thus the presidency. MIM accepts that as fact, but we oppose the ayatollahs defending the indefensible two-party system anyway. We're sure the ayatollahs will name us "communists for Bush."
For his part, Nader says that the same polls show that his candidacy helps Democrats running for Congress. If he were not running and offering an alternative, some voters would stay home, but once they show up and vote for Nader they also vote for Democrats in the Congress. That is also factually true, given the nature of the mushy liberals and liberal-radicals.
Finally, no one has pointed out that it is possible to consider Nader as specifically opposing Bush among the bourgeois candidates available by serving as an insurance policy. In this day of Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky or worse, no one can guarantee that John Kerry or John Edwards would not implode between the time of winning the Democratic nomination and the election in November. The two-party system is just one scandal away from giving Bush a lock on the presidency.
Ross Perot showed that it is not impossible for an independent to win when polls showed the public disgusted with both Bush and Clinton before Perot himself imploded in the 1992 campaign. Of course, Perot had a billion dollars that Nader does not, so Nader's chances rest on dual candidate implosions.
Neither party tolerable
In announcing his run, Nader said, "'Washington is corporate-occupied territory, and the two parties are ferociously competing to see who's going to go to the White House and take orders from their corporate paymasters.'"(1) Truer words have not been spoken, but MIM still disagrees with Nader, for among other reasons his protectionist economic views about keeping jobs in Amerika, which he recently aired on a television talk show with Bill Maher.(2) The international proletariat as a global class has no interest in whether jobs are in Amerika or elsewhere. We should not promote people like Ralph Nader, Patrick Buchanan, Ross Perot, John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich who whip up public opinion and call for government action against the non-Amerikan proletariat. World War I and World War II happened because such views became popular in Europe.
The one with the catchy Amerika-first slogan lately is Kucinich campaigning in the Democratic primaries with "Buy American or bye-bye America!" He came in second in Hawaii after John Kerry. Kucinich's slogan shows that he has bought into capitalist competition and sees nothing wrong with stoking up nationalism as part of that system. That's why we at MIM insist we are for a global minimum wage, global child labor regulations and global environmental protection. The alternative is the kind of hostility toward other countries we see with Kucinich.
In any case, the Nader campaign this year raises the whole question of the two-party system. If there were two parties both opposed to exploitation, then a two-party system would be no threat to the dictatorship of the proletariat--though campaigns where there are too many candidates for too few jobs inevitably promote opportunist grand-standing, an evil in its own right from the standpoint of publicizing truth. In fact, neither party in the United $tates is tolerable and hence the two-party system is not sacred.
Voters should decide whether they can really tolerate the Democratic Party after its leaders showed so freshly what war-mongers they are. Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman and Gephardt all voted for the Iraq war. They also issued ridiculous statements on Al-Qaeda and weapons of mass destruction since proven false. These men with official titles of power proved unable to do anything constructive with the truth if they perceived it at all--and this is no small lesson on why politicians are not a substitute for movements. For us at MIM, the war and colonialism questions are not just small issues about equivalent with whether the government should intervene in steroid use in professional sports--though it remains to be seen which "issue" will drive more petty-bourgeois voters in 2004.
The two-party system encourages people to think that nothing is intolerable. War itself is seen as secondary to the sanctity of the two-party system and that is wrong.
Then there are those who say that the Democrats know better than how they vote in Congress--for the Patriot Act and for the war's intensification in Iraq. These Pollyannas consider it wisdom to mince words for political purposes and support politicians who also waffle at best. Not surprisingly, such "moderates" foregoing the work of movements to indulge lazy self-satisfaction with professional politicians pave the way for a race to the bottom--a vicious cycle of reaction.
Yet, even this whole issue raised by self-flattering lazy "moderates" is a big diversion. No Democrat can really claim to oppose any Republican for the simple reason that the two-party system is dedicated to alternating power. If not George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Perle today, then the two-party system guarantees them or their like later. That's just what happened: Rumsfeld served under President Ford. Then came Carter. Eventually it was Bush Jr. and Rumsfeld was back in charge again.
It's not enough to say that the Confederate flag fans and anti-Darwin activists of the Republican Party are not Democrats. The question is whether it is OK to alternate power with such people. If you think so, welcome to the Republocrat Party. If not, then identify yourself as a revolutionary leader, because politicians have no power to change the reality of the Republocrat Party.
Democrats not serious
The Boston Globe is screaming at Ralph Nader and typifies the whole problem of the two-party system's ayatollahs. Opposing Nader just before and after he announced his intentions, the Globe ran editorials and letters opposing Nader's campaign and one letter supporting it with a line intimating that the writer is Republican.(3) Yet, Massachusetts and Boston in particular are proof that Democrats are not really opposed to Bush or Republicans generally.
Ever since Massachusetts voted for Democrat George McGovern in 1972, Massachusetts has stood out as Democratic Party territory. Every single member of the Massachusetts delegation to the U.S. Congress is a Democrat. That means Democrats are majority voters of every district of Massachusetts. The Democrats run the legislature and override the governor if the petty-bourgeoisie elects a Republican--and the only reason the petty-bourgeoisie elects a Republican in Massachusetts is to attack inevitable corruption, sometimes out of reflexive fear of the one-party state.
The simple truth is that if Massachusetts Democrats would split in half, with one half forming what used to be Nader's Green Party and the other half staying Democrats, the two halves of the Democratic Party would each have more votes than the Republican Party, which might fade into oblivion. That is how to hate Republicans in practice. Instead of alternating power in the governor's mansion with a Mormon opposed to gay marriage such as Mitt Romney, the Democrats could alternate power with Greens.
Instead of contending with a Republican for mayor or Congress races, Democrats in Massachusetts could contend with Greens and alternate power with them. In no small part thanks to two-party system dogma, the Democrats choose not to alternate power with Greens and so places like Democrat-dominated Massachusetts and San Francisco prove that no Democrat is really opposed to Bush. The reason for that is that Massachusetts Democrats like Democrats elsewhere prefer Republicans to Greens. They prefer Bush to Nader or Romney to Jill Stein [Green Party candidate for governor]. That's the bottom line and until the Democrats in the one-party states and cities split in two, they have no business claiming they have removed people like Bush from power. That's why a vote for Gore is a vote for Bush--as inevitably as scandal and corruption. That's to leave aside the whole issue of the substance of what the Greens are saying and look only at an analysis of power and who is sharing it and treating it as legitimate.
The Democrats are busy "building bridges" to the Howard Dean faction and Greens to keep them in the fold for November 2004. If they were serious, the Massachusetts Democrats would have deliberately split themselves in half and made a deal with the Greens to alternate power with them instead of Republicans--and they would have done it a long time ago.
At MIM, we realize that the imperialist country petty-bourgeoisie is going to try Ralph Naders and Greens before it tries Maoism. We hope to contribute to the public's understanding of political power as it exists and cut through the Democratic rhetoric about opposing Bush. Power for change does not come by taking a few seconds to vote and months of time adjusting to the ideology of "moderation." Power for change comes from obtaining the truth and spreading it.