Ralph Nader, Rocky Anderson, & Jill Stein
William Kaufman has an insightful article posted at Dissident Voice called “Ralph Nader, Rocky Anderson, and the Green Party: A Political Un-Love Story.”
The context of the article is Ralph Nader’s recent voice of support for Rocky Anderson’s Independent Presidential Campaign given Anderson’s centrist platform and Jill Stein’s solid progressive campaign. Some excerpts:
Although Nader claims that his backing falls short of a formal endorsement, the Anderson campaign isn’t echoing that semantic hair splitting. After the joint appearance, Rocky Anderson’s Facebook page was updated as follows: “At a press conference in Portland, Oregon today, Ralph Nader officially endorsed Rocky Anderson! It’s been a great day so far, now with everyone’s help let’s raise 10k in just 1 day! We can do it!”
Comparing Anderson to Stein:
On a host of other issues, Anderson lists noticeably to the right of Nader, despite praiseworthy planks such as raising the minimum wage to ten dollars per hour and slashing the Pentagon budget by 50 percent. On health care, while acknowledging the virtues of single-payer, Anderson also touts a variety of European multi-payer schemes that retain a role for private insurers. He does not expressly call for an outright repeal of WTO/NAFTA, the Patriot Act, or Taft-Hartley, demands that Nader has advanced prominently in all his campaigns. Nor does the solutions section of his website feature the specific demand for full public financing of elections, another of Nader’s key issues, (although Anderson has mentioned the idea in passing in a blog interview). Moreover, Anderson echoes the ideologues of the right in calling for a “balanced budget (or a surplus) except in times of war or major recession”—clearly a calculated appeal to conservative voters. Jill Stein, by contrast, converges with Nader on all the foregoing issues. And on it goes: the Anderson website’s “solutions” pages ladle on a thick glaze of leftish rhetoric that cannot conceal a paucity of programmatic specificity on many key progressive demands and a troubling penchant for pandering to the right.
The article then walks back through the history of Nader and the Green Party, focusing on the troubled 2004 election when the Green Party nominated David Cobb instead of Ralph Nader, and suggests that Nader is still resentful of that fact:
There is, however, a kernel of political substance lurking in Nader’s rancor about the party that once snubbed him. When I pointed out to Nader’s associate that Jill Stein was much closer to Ralph on the issues than Anderson is, the reply was, “Yeah, but given their [the Greens’] recent history, how do we know they’re serious about really remaining independent from the Democrats?”
The conclusion of the piece suggests that given the current political and social climate, Jill Stein and the Green Party are the best alternatives for the Left:
Given the widespread disillusionment with Obama among progressives and the unexpected flourishing of the Occupy movement, the 2012 election presents priceless opportunities for propagating a left message to an increasingly besieged electorate that is hungry for solutions. But what are the alternatives for the left? To dissipate and fragment its finite resources and energies among a half dozen socialist sects? To unify behind Rocky Anderson, who is spotty on program and still seemingly immured in the glad-handing, horse-trading ethos of the political establishment? Notwithstanding the Green Party’s history of organizational quirks, factional strife, and fitful irresolution in confronting the Democrats, it seems that the best opportunity to use electoral activism to complement Occupy is through Stein’s candidacy. Radical yet nonsectarian, her campaign is an all-out effort to build an independent progressive movement rather than an elaborate ploy to snare a Cabinet post or the rote ritual of a would-be socialist vanguard; in short, it’s the closest we can come, in spirit if not in size, to the Left Front in France or the Left Party of Germany.
The Greens seem at last to have gotten over their internal wars of the past decade, with the former Cobbites, now sorry about the fiasco of 2004, having joined with former Naderite Greens to back Stein; Nader, on the other hand, appears not to have gotten over or moved on, and may someday find himself sorry that he again spited the Greens, this time to back a candidate well to their—and his—right.
I encourage you to read the entire article at its source.