Reed on Nader

John Halle john.halle at
Thu Aug 31 13:57:37 PDT 2000

As usual, a highly perceptive commentary from Mr. Reed, albeit one which inflicts a bit of discomfort on us Nader semi-enthusiasts.

Two points which Reed raises which merit further discussion:

1) On the question of whether the Greens "have the capacity to make good use of" the Federal Election Funds windfall should they get the %5, God knows his doubts have some basis. And if anyone wants to have their doubts reinforced, try attending a few Green party local meetings, as I have been doing. That being said, there are enough disciplined, serious, and committed folks who are connected with the party that there is basis for hope that some kind of effective organization can emerge. In particular, the increasing attraction of Nader for Labor is already having a salutary effect along these lines. For example, one of our Green candidates for State Rep here, Tim Cole, is the current Vice President of the State AFL, exactly the sort of no-nonsense guy the Greens need.

What should be discussed, and which I have failed to generate much interest in here, alas, is what strategy has the best chance of insuring that the wacko wing of the party is kept in check. One component of the strategy is to figure out what it would take to get folks who can actually think-e.g. LBO readers-to get active in the party and not just pull the lever for Ralph, with whatever level of enthusiasm. Tell me.

2) On the subject of enthusiasm, it is not clear to me what is served by the continual expressions of gloom. (Has Reed been keeping up with the "depression" thread, I wonder) In comparison to most of the third party or insurgent candidates Reed cites, Nader has a lot going for him. He has some measure of personal integrity, unlike Jackson, has a minimally progressive analysis of institutions power and its beholdness to concentrations of capital, unlike Anderson, he's no where near as weird as Henry Wallace, he has some degree of credility with the larger public and has had a track record of achieving results in Washington, unlike Commoner. Also, while there is a huge amount of denial on this point, I think there is a sense of real desperation among the public which is unprecedented from the standpoint of recent history. Whether this will be converted into a strong showing from Nader, no one, repeat, no one knows. So to say, as Reed does, that Nader is unlikely to achieve %5 is nothing more than a Rorschach phenomenon at this point in that it reveals more about the subjective state of the perceiver than any objective reality.


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