Progressives Deeply Divided Over Nader

Progressives Deeply Divided Over Nader

The chance that Ralph Nader’s candidacy for president may lead
to a victory for George W. Bush has driven a wedge into the
progressive community, including many here in the Utne
office. Admittedly, much of our coverage of the
presidential race has had a decidedly pro-Nader slant. Yet some
very thoughtful and passionate radicals, people whose opinions I
respect, feel that the damage that a Bush presidency could wreak on
the environment, human rights, reproductive rights, the Supreme
Court, and a host of other issues, is too big a price to pay for
the uncertain promise of building a Green party movement. While I
don’t necessarily agree, they raise some very important points
which you may want to consider as you decide how to cast your own
vote next Tuesday.

For example, in an October 30 article on
titled ‘Unsafe in any state,’ long-time progressive activist and
author Todd Gitlin argues that ‘[t]he outcome [of a Bush
presidency] might well be … catastrophic — and not only for the
next four years. Just as much of the ground lost to Reagan in the
1980s has never been regained — repeat, never: not in 20 years,
not on labor policy, not on the environment, not on income and
wealth inequality, not on support for military goons in the poor
countries — the ground to be lost by a Republican victory is
likely to stay lost.’

The Nation, a publication whose staff is as divided
on the Nader question as Utne Reader’s, promotes a pragmatic
approach. In an editorial in their November 6 issue, the magazine’s
editors argue that ‘the practical priority of keeping the Bush
squad from winning power takes precedence, while we also urge that,
if possible, progressives help Nader score a blow to the status
quo.’ They suggest ‘following the logic of Texas columnist Molly
Ivins. Her rule: Vote with your heart where you can, and vote with
your head where you must.’ If you live in a state where a vote for
Nader could swing the electoral balance to Bush, says Ivins, find a
Gore supporter in a state where Bush or Gore holds a commanding
lead, and swap your votes. As we mentioned in yesterday’s edition
of the Web Watch, several websites have appeared in the last
week which are helping to facilitate this ingenious strategy,
including and

Nader, meanwhile, has steadfastly defended his candidacy in the
face of an onslaught from liberal critics, including 12 former
‘Nader Raiders’ who have urged him and running mate Winona LaDuke
to step aside and endorse Gore, writes Jennifer Bleyer on For more information on the
Nader/LaDuke campaign, and on Nader’s answers to critics’ calls,
visit the official campaign website at
— Leif Utne

Unsafe in any state, Todd Gitlin, (Oct. 30)
The election and beyond, The Editors,
The Nation (Nov. 6)
Nader responds to onslaught from liberal
, Jennifer Bleyer, (Oct.
30) (official campaign

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