"political reform movements today are not what they were. The world has
changed. The energy and moral vigor of outsiders has now taken up residence
inside the Democratic Party. There, it is a force -- a recruiting channel, a
source of funds, a well of campaigners, a lobby, a debate center." “Nader’s dead end”, Todd Gitlin, Los Angeles Times, July 22,2007
At best, this article is a cursory plea against a third party; at worst, it
tries to deflect the potential impact of a Nader candidacy within or without
the Green Party. Certainly the points are there to criticize the Green Party. The Green Party has NOT defined its role in the American political system. It has NOT defined its vision for America, nor demonstrated consistency in the effort to implement it. This has undercut the potential role of the party in its campaigns. It further has left such a wide opening in the discussion concerning our vision that Dems can drive their "spoiler" truck through without any fear of dispute from much of the electorate. The Green Party has failed to internally develop the strategy and organization that can present an effective and defined opposition party. It has NOT as a party defined the reforms needed to prevent the next war for resources. It has NOT presented to the nation its agenda for energy transition. It has NOT defined the potential that has existed for such a reform movement and where its roots lie.
It is hardly Nader's fault that Greens are still disorganized and lack a common direction. Nader has to work with what he finds. His campaigns had to endure the anti-reformist machinations of the Democratic party "regulars". The reformers that Mr. Gitlin is so infatuated with within the Democratic Party were as loyal as a Daley Machine regular when it came down to repeating the Anybody But Bush mantra, and yet they still lost. It is a matter of REFORM that Nader ran as a third party candidate, so he could present the substantive challenge to open ballot access posed to current candidates under the current process. Todd seems to have missed how regular these third party efforts have become. In addition to the Green Party this year, we may also see Michael Bloomberg run for President and Unity '08 has sought to utilize experienced and professional campaign staffers in laying the groundwork for a Dem-Pub centrist Presidential effort. It is worth saying that there has also been a certain lack of professionalism in Nader's campaign support efforts in the past that the Dems certainly took advantage of. I would remind Todd that it has not been that long since Perot scored a significant 17% in the Presidential election.
Beyond that, in regards to who represents the struggle for reform within America, there has been NO effort by liberals and progressives to define any
reform movement goals nor has there been a serious effort to engage the Americn people in the debate. I have not heard anyone from MOVEON present a proposal to prevent the next war other the protestations regarding Iran. The fact is that Dems want Hillary to have that power and they are only seeking to change the faces. I have heard Gore present the case, but at present, he is more of an outsider when it comes to the environment than Nader is. His campaign is predicated NOT on reform but on public education.
Liberals and progressives are no longer defined in relation to a mass movement or movements. Neither are they the advocates or representatives for change. They are busy trying to put out the fires of the Republican Revolution with a Democratic Thermidor. They present no new scenario for the future. Instead, they are the generational left-overs that have not sought to establish new priorities in the political debate of our time.
Todd is hardly the one to define Nader's role for the future. That will come from a clearer analysis. Todd is not hedging his bets this time. He has played his role and now he calls out to all" "Its time for all good men to come to the aid of the
party". Don't look for reform though. If you want to stop war, it means more than just troop withdrawal. If you want to restore the ecological and
atmospheric systems, it means much more than anyone has presented. It can be
said that the NYC congestion tax of Mr. Bloomberg is a step that begins the movement in that direction, but even it lacks the punch unless presented as a national priority and is based on international cooperation. The big changes always hurt.
The web has indeed become a playground for "activists" but it remains an
enclosed one. No one goes to The Democratic Underground unless they are
already true believers. From there they are fed back into the Democratic
Party to resume their role in the assembly line spitting out rhetoric that Hillary will end the war, Hillary will end the war....Not exactly the essence of reform in there. The flight from the Dems to the Greens is indeed a two-way street that is constantly tested when Kucinich waves his hair-piece to the crowd or Gravel recalls the ole Vietnam war days like a veteran recalling old battles. this constant internal issue about independence in the Greens stems from its own lack of orientation regarding its future and its vision for the future.
The debate for reformists is not WHO to elect, but HOW to elect. The changes
needed are already transparent, but the political leadership is lacking. Like an old general who is still fighting the battles of the past war, liberals and progressives continue to lead a cavalry charge against the armoured division and still have no clue about what happened. New victories require a new vision. The Republicans demonstrated what a successful reform movement can achieve when it engages the American people. Not fascism, after all I am writing this article at no risk to my safety. But the Dems still want to get elected with a minimum risk of taking responsibility for real change if they get elected. If you don't advocate real change than there is no mandate to implement real change when you get elected. It may be safer for Democrats this way but it is not an agenda for reform.