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Web Letter

No other respondent to this article has seen fit to mention the elephant in the room, so allow me: had Ralph Nader conducted himself in a different manner in 2000, George Bush would be an obscure former politician, and we'd be looking at the last days of the Gore administration--with all of the various things that would not have happened being self-evident. No economic collapse. No abandonment of civil liberties. And no loss of blood, treasure and honor in the sands of Babylon.

Had Nader shown even the slightest awareness of the consequences of his actions, that might have served to mitigate this.But self-awareness has never been his strong suit; instead, he has chosen to armor himself in self-righteousness and arrogance. And so the man who might have been remembered for his myriad contributions to American society will instead be marked in the history books as the proximate cause for the catastrophe that has been the last eight years. If the consequences were not so tragic, one might even sympathize.

Neil Quarterman

Atlanta, GA

Oct 28 2008 - 1:48pm

Web Letter

Thank you, Mr. Greider, for reminding me again of the value of well, values. Were it not for your stirring piece on Mr. Nader, and a few others from time to time here, I'd wonder what possible value The Nation was offering to progressives.

Aren't there outlets enough singing the praises of the centrist corporatists from the Republican and Democratic party? Isn't the whole of the mainstream media cheerleading for the status quo, sometimes dressed in red, sometimes wearing blue?

Our memories are getting shorter all the time. Reading the letters and replies to your refreshing comments about Mr. Nader, you'd think people here can't recall the "conservative presidency" of Bill Clinton.

My own dilemma involves choosing between Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader, who both have the true audacity to hope for a just future.

Mark Deneen

Eureka, CA

Oct 28 2008 - 10:33am

Web Letter

Very nice article. We must all work to keep the progressive movement alive and these two parties in check.

It is true, if there is a Democratic sweep this year, there will be no more excuses, we will finally see their true colors, and if they renege we third-party voters will be a force to reckon with in 2012.

Thanks to Ralph Nader and all his good works, many which I found on CSPAN and You Tube, to inspire more and more people to come together and get active, to learn and help restore the damage that has been done to our Constitution by these two parties and band together to put and keep the heat on both the Democrats and Republicans for rolling over and selling the people out and for their vast corruption.

When there are so few statesmen left in our nation, Ralph Nader has been a shining example for all Americans to emulate and look up to.

Thank you, Ralph.

He has my vote and commitment to help restore our democratic republic and work to make it better.

Let’s all hope the Democrats--both big d and little d--will work hard to do the same.

erin brooks

Chicago, IL

Oct 27 2008 - 11:40pm

Web Letter

First, a factual correction: Michael Whitehead, in his letter, claims that Nader "dropped the Green Party like a bad habit after the 2000 election." This is false. In fact, Nader toured extensively on behalf of the Green Party after that election, attending more than forty fundraisers in more than a dozen states to raise money and support for the Green Party. It was the Greens who distanced themselves from Nader as they evolved into a left appendage of the Democrats, running a phony "safe states" presidential campaign in 2004 that openly supported Kerry. Nader, who was determined to run a fully independent campaign, sought the Green nomination that year but was rebuffed by the cowering Greens, who instead nominated the obscure and inept David Cobb so as not to compete effectively with Kerry.

As for narcissism and megalomania--as if the likes of Obama and McCain are egoless saints! At least Nader is motivated by a desire to press truly principled, progressive political issues that both Obama and McCain disdian (Medicare for all, cutting military spending to fund social needs, public funding of elections, living-wage bill, carbon tax, etc.) instead of the same old test-marketed, focus-group pap ("change," "straight talk," "will you buy this bridge?" etc.) that embroiders the same old reactionary and chauvinist foreign and domestic policies, year after year, whether labeled "Democrat" or "Republican"---I mean, what difference does it make whether the Iraq war was initiated by Bush or funded (repeatedly) by Congressional Democrats (including Obama)? Whether opposition to single-payer healthcare or union-organizing rights comes from a donkey or an elephant? Whether corporate globalization and deindustrialization (WTO/NAFTA) is peddled by a Democratic snake-oil salesman (Clinton) or a Republican one (Bush)? Whether an arch-reactionary like Scalia was proposed by a Republican (Bush I) or confirmed 98-0 by a Democratic-controlled Senate? Whether pushing nuclear power and opposing a carbon tax is the only energy-policy choice on both the Repub and Demo menus? To contend that these Democratic twins of the Republicans are bulwarks against fascism is bitter joke indeed.

But you get the idea--any one who cares about truly progressive policies and ideas is an egomaniac, whereas amoral cynics who sell themselves to the highest bidders so they can shill for the bipartisan agenda of the big corporations from the Oval Office are self-effacing angels.

Wotta world!

Van Mungo

Queens, New York

Oct 27 2008 - 3:44pm

Web Letter

"Liberals" are lazy and delusional! I'm sad that Ralph Nader has been forced to say that he failed, because he has not and his message is alive and well. He has clearly succeeded when people put the entire responsiblity of awakening civic participation at his door! He already told us we had to do it--did he have to do it for us too?

I heard the Greens dropped Nader, but why dwell on the past when there's so much work to do now and in the future?

Liberals need the old "charismatic figure," even though our consciousness must evolve toward self-empowerment if we are to survive. This is the whole point of the localization movement, which, contrary to a letter I read here, is doing quite well. I don't know if Nader is responsible, but the Green Party continues to run candidates on the local level and some win, some lose.

Aside from being "Green" or otherwise, we've got to get away from charismatic figures and brand names and fake economies (finance, etc) and get down to being responsible for our own lives and happiness on a real level. That means participation on a more direct level in local life, not getting high on the ludicrous national electoral and economic high jinks.

Liberal is no longer a respectable title because these are people who think that if they wear a brand name (by voting and other fetishistic acts such as chanting candidates' names) like "Democrat" or "Obama" they've done their part. (Yes, I perform these fetishistic acts too,but I try to see it for what it is, plus there's always the hope that my statistic will express how I feel to some analyst.)

This is the Super Bowl mentality and they deserve the entertainment, and gouging, and upset stomach they're going to get from all the junk food, because that's all you get at the Super Bowl.

What change can you expect when the Dems/Obama already went back on their promise of public campaign financing, "compromised" on wiretapping, and committed countless other telling gestures against progress, integrity, justice, and civil liberties? It's hilarious reading about the danger that he's a radical, cuz this dude is beige in his policies.

Why would I vote for a platform that doesn't represent me? I'm not anti-Semitic but I certainly don't "love Israel," as all four of the McCain-Obama show have fallen over themselves to say they do. I don't support the massive redistribution of wealth from bottom to top that the "liberals" have achieved through their support of the Democrats (who were in cahoots with the Republicans, behind closed doors). I also don't support the "bailout," hahaha.

Actually, another message I take from Nader is that most Americans want the same basic things (the things we were taught to want: equality and fairness for all, etc) yet the two major parties do everything they can to sabotage those goals. "Joe Six-pack" is a worker and wants equal rights and economic justice for workers but is hoodwinked into deciding between McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden, two sides of the same corporate coin.

Anyway, a roundabout way of saying that Ralph Nader continues to succeed at teaching people to learn for themselves and act for themselves. It's delusional to think that true change can come from just playing politics MTV- or Grand Theft Auto-style, with the mainstream.

Wake up, liberals! And do your part instead of whining that Ralph Nader hasn't done it for you!

Liz Tang

Monterey Park, CA

Oct 27 2008 - 2:54pm

Web Letter

William Greider: give me a fucking break! this article is fucking idiotic. Can you imagine the shithole we'll be in if Obama loses to McCain/Palin because some small percentage of the many selfish and self-satisfied assholes in this country vote with a feeling of vain superiority as they try to convince themselves that one can actually vote from "outside" the system, or from some "higher" position, and once again drain off their votes to this completely self-centered asshole (if not right wing operative??) Argh!!!!

This is dangerous and idiotic thinking. Greider is still pushing this narcissistic and dangerous guy's message with words like "substance," "idealism" or "honest"!? If anyone has any real useful rage, any ideals, any political honesty, or any sense about them they will obviously work to defeat dangerous fascists (McCain/Palin) and then continue to struggle and work towards improvement in America during Obama's presidency.

Amy Sillman

Brooklyn, NY

Oct 27 2008 - 12:03am

Web Letter

I have a permanent Absentee ballot, and have already voted for Nader in the general election. I have often settled for less by voting for a straight Democratic ticket. It really didn't hit me until I voted for Clinton twice and got "free trade," which, in turn, parented the current, Bush economic mess. I voted for Nader because he has good nerves, and is not afraid to take on our economic overlords. He needs to run as a Democrat next time, so he can debate the rest of the candidates

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Oct 26 2008 - 11:07pm

Web Letter

Count me among the many former Nader supporters who are angry at Mr. Nader and won't lift a finger to help him ever again. Not for the reason that many will list, which is that his candidacy helps John McCain and Sarah Palin by taking votes and donations away from Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Mr. Nader complains that the anger in the country is not organized. After the 2000 election, he went on television and proclaimed, "The two parties after the election, they take a few days off, they relax, and then they turn themselves into money-raising machines for the duration. While the Green Party turns itself into a civic force." The implication was that Nader would help build the Green Party.

A good place to start turning the Green Party into a "civic force" would have been at the local and state level, where there is room to elect candidates in districts that have enough progressive voters (Nader's 2008 running mate, Matt Gonzalez, almost became mayor of San Francisco). But Ralph Nader never even registered as a member of the Green Party. Just a few years later, Nader's go-it-alone philosophy led him to break completely from the party and launch two successive campaigns that have nothing to do with organizing a political party or a civic force.

This year in California, Nader and Gonzalez are on the ballot as the candidates of the irrelevant and schizophrenic "Peace and Freedom Party," which in 2004 listed Leonard Peltier as its presidential candidate even though he's still in federal prison at Leavenworth. (Yes, I know this worked so well for Eugene Debs...)

With the hindsight of eight years, the crystal-clear truth is Ralph Nader has organized nothing. He has become just a crank. He often tells the truth about our nation's misgovernance, but he's still just a crank. He's just as much responsible for the disorganized anger as anyone!

And which is the greater betrayal: the Democrats' broken promises to defend the working class and oppose George W Bush's worst crimes, or Nader's broken promise to build the Green Party into a civic force?

Myles Sussman

San Francisco, CA

Oct 26 2008 - 8:49pm

Web Letter

I spent many years when my youngest was in public school in Winsted, Ralph's home town, along with other progressive/liberal minded parents, battling the Citizens Action Group supported by Ralph and Claire. We wanted better schools for our kids, they wanted tax cuts. It pleased them to seek grant money to repair a roof on a crumbling building owned by their foundation, but they howled when we wanted smaller classes and access to computer education--this was back in the 198os and early '90s. We were organizing hope, they were organizing anger--as we know from our national history, the latter is always easier. Not much has changed, except that most of those young families moved to towns with better educational opportunities. The old factory building used by their "community lawyer" and "community technologist" houses only the few Nader Foundation folks, not the center for small-business training promised. His is the politics of ego, intolerant of dissent, and not terribly popular with many long-time residents. It should surprise no one that he remains unable to recognize superior ability, capacity to lead in another player in the national arena.

Andrea Hitt

Winchester Center, Winsted, CT

Oct 26 2008 - 11:15am

Web Letter

"A lesser man might go crazy or get the message and give it up. Nader instead runs for president again, as he is doing this year, campaigning in fifty states and addressing crowds wherever he finds them, smaller crowds this time but still eager to feed on his idealism." I applaud Nader's consistency and drive. Where I fault him is his selfish refusal to do anything remotely resembling movement-building. He dropped the Green Party like a bad habit after the 2000 election for reasons best known to Nader, which I and others will never know.

In my humble opinion, Nader is a narcissist who prefers throwing stones and pointing fingers to the hard work of community-building and governing.

Michael Whitehead

Ann Arbor, MI

Oct 25 2008 - 3:53pm