It’s time to get real
I cut my activist teeth on the progressive politics and contagious verve of Ralph Nader. But sadly, my icon has become the vehicle to help re-elect George W. Bush.
Nader’s campaign is the not-so-secret weapon of the Republican Party. Steve Wark, one of the state’s most effective right wing extremists, personally raised $30,000 to ensure Nader’s place on Nevada’s ballot. Nader has also accepted contributions from other conservative PAC donors, along with legal representation and ballot help from Republican consultants, lawyers, major donors and state parties. Altogether, Nader has received more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind contributions from GOP donors and consultants.
And when progressives thought it could not get any worse, we were shocked to learn that Ralph Nader has accepted thousands of dollars from funders of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a right-wing 527. According to United Progressives for Victory, www.upforvictory.com, five major donors who have given $13,500 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to air attack ads on John Kerry’s military service have also given Nader $8,000.
In 2000, Nader refused money from PACs, saying he would only take money from “real people.” Now it seems that he will take money from anyone. Even Nader’s running mate, Peter Camejo, said earlier this year that the campaign would reject contributions from individuals who oppose their platform. “I take no money from people who disagree with us. We’re not interested in that,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle ("GOP donors funding Nader,” July 9, 2004).
Throughout the 1980s, I worked closely with Nader’s Critical Mass Energy Project. They assisted Citizen Alert, the statewide grassroots environmental organization I headed up at the time, with research, lobbying, picketing and other organizing work. Ralph’s contributions to our efforts to stop nuclear testing and to fight Yucca Mountain were a huge boost to our efforts here in Nevada.
Ironically, his presence in our state today helps to undermine everything we as activists have worked so hard to support. By siphoning off even a fraction of votes, he is ensuring a Bush victory in November. With a Bush win, it’s Katie-Bar-the-Door time on renewed nuclear weapons testing, Yucca Mountain, the war, gay and lesbian issues, immigrant rights, choice and everything else progressives care deeply about.
Even Winona LaDuke, Nader’s running mate for the Green Party in 2000, has recently called on her supporters not to vote for Ralph Nader in 2004. If you are a Nader supporter, you have the power to make history. Please check out “We are the Swing State” at www.wearetheswingstate.com, an on-line association of Nader supporters who are banding together to vote for Kerry—and who have the power to make or break this election.