October 30, 2000
"Saints, I see the world is mad.
Being a "legal alien" -- this is how a permanent resident of the United States is labeled in the mumbo-jumbo legalese of the Republicrat bureaucracy -- I cannot vote. So, in my Martian capacity I'm left with playing the old spectator sport, that of observing the two major candidates, for whom I have little respect and even less interest, battle over the crumbs of power. Which team will lead the American Corpocracy for the next four years has more to do with who will get the corner office than any substantive issue where the substance thereof has long been excerpted altogether or agreed upon in the boardrooms of the major world corporations. In other words, this has been and remains a pretty soporific campaign. Two baby-boomers childishly battling over the coveted toys. Who will do more of the same thing as ever before? Pundits deliberate at length the pros and cons of the two packages, more concerned with their own status and complicity than with the consequences of one result or the other -- have you followed the exchanges between Paul Gigot of The Wall Street Journal and the syndicated columnist Mark Shields on PBS's Newshour, moderated by the paternalistic Jim Lehrer? And why would it be otherwise? They all are the prime recipients of the American bounties, whatever the result. The few, the proud, the elite... In my friend Frank Wycoff's words, "six of one, half a dozen of the other," it makes no difference.
Frank has long been convinced that Al Gore will prevail. He also thinks that Hillary will win the senate seat to be vacated by the Senior Senator of New York, Patrick Moynihan, and that the Dow will be back to 12,000 by December 31 (he does not mention the year though). He also assured me that the Yankees would sweep the Subway Series in four games... It took five. Possibly feeling that his confidence was ever so slightly wavering -- "Gore wins, though closer than previous predictions," I suggested that perhaps the time had come to put some money on the table... His answer: "You've got it, all my Bush tax savings dollars." No doubt, I'll die a rich man!
As said, "six of one, half a dozen of the other..." Makes it painfully hard for an alien observer to remain motivated, does it not?
But things started to change a week or two ago when the guard dogs of the Citadel were unleashed by their masters and began their vociferous barking and biting at the ankles of Ralph Nader, the candidate of the Green Party.
Not that a subterraneous campaign of smear had not been there all along. But it was just that, subterranean. One could hear or read here and there about Nader's millions, Nader's "hidden luxury" house -- he who is known to have lived modestly for his entire career, renting a small apartment in Washington D.C., owning no car as he went year after year after corporate interests on behalf of hapless consumers. For many months, mostly during the primaries, Nader was essentially ignored by the political apparatus. Al Gore would not even refer to, or pronounce his name in public. But the insidious references to his wealth, or his Lebanese heritage, were a constant reminder of what Milo Clark once wrote: "[As long as you stay under the radar screen you have little to fear.] Mostly, dissidents are easy to ignore up to a point. Cross that point and bingo, there are many ways short of repressive force to blunt and close down. Character assassination and credit demolition are perfected arts." Ignored in the spring, Nader was put on notice by no less than The New York Times in a June editorial that the time had come to cease and desist. He had had his 15 minutes of fame, to repeat Ross Perot's famous metaphor, and it was time to go home and stop his "self-indulgent crusade." He was not in the same league as the two heavyweight guys. On the eve of the conventions, Officialdom was convinced that Nader would fold his tent and bid a gracious goodbye to the gallery.
He did not do so, and the Citadel got annoyed. The guard dogs began howling. In a long and guttural lament, they let it be known that Ralph Nader had always been a good soldier, that he deserved accolades and honorary diplomas for his decades of valuable work as a consumer advocate. Surely, he would understand that pursuing his quest was fruitless. The time had come to get back into the catch-all fold of the democratic party where he would be warmly welcomed, like the Rev. Jesse Jackson in time past. "We'll give you a medal, we'll praise your accomplishments," said the howling. "Just don't be a spoiler," the lament went on in a gradually higher pitch. The dogs were barking loudly but still they were kept on a leash. "Don't be arrogant (another tool of the character assassination panoply), go back to your room." The pitch was getting more strident week after week.
But Nader would not understand. Then the Citadel unleashed the dogs, everywhere, all over the sacred land. Ralph Nader had crossed the Rubicon, the point of no return. What had slowly emerged as a smear campaign became an all-out confrontation. From a benign reformer, Nader was suddenly and vehemently portrayed as a demagogue, a cynic, an obtuse individual whose "wrecking-ball candidacy looks like ego run amok" (New York Times editorial, October 26, 2000). No more co-optation, no more honey, no more accolades, Ralph Nader has turned into a no-good egotist destroyer, a malicious and unprincipled character, bent to defeat poor Al Gore.
The conventional wisdom spread by the guard dogs is the image of a spoiler. Nader, on his own, is going to defeat Al Gore. "A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush," shouts the liberal apparatus. What of the environment, ask environmental groups? What of the freedom of choice, the right to abortion, disingenuously cries Kate Michelman, the head of NARAL (The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League)? What of campaign finance reform, laments Paul Wellstone, the ever-so-liberal senator from Minnesota? What of the Supreme Court, intones the liberal-liberal Anthony Lewis of The New York Times? All issues to which, we are lead to believe, the two parties offer as stark a choice as ever. The sin for which Ralph Nader is being crucified daily in the main media appears to amount to those four issues: Environment, campaign finance reform, Supreme Court, and reproductive rights. And on those four issues, Mr. Nader dares to contend that there is no or very little difference between Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore's positions. A crime of lese-majesty, to say the least.
Now, on all other issues, you'd have to look really hard to find any substantive difference. Both Bush and Gore are globalists. Both are unilateralists whenever convenient. Both are for the death penalty. Both want more money for the military. Both want better education. Both want to save social security and Medicare. Both will wage war at a moment's notice (Quiz: What is the last administration that did not wage war, not once?). Anyway, the list of twin-speak, bespeak, and the like is long and not worth rehashing here.
Again and again, we are left with those four issues. Let's make a quick review of each:
Campaign finance reform: You mean, Gore is in favor of such a reform, really? As much as President Clinton has ever been for the past eight years, I suppose... That's reassuring! Only Anthony Lewis or Senator Wellstone could affirm this with a straight face. Is this a prank, or what?
Environment: Gore invented it, no doubt. But, let's put it this way: Is the environment in better shape now than it was eight years ago? How many more cars are on the road, and, among them, how many gas-guzzling SUVs? Gore's rhetoric hardly matches the reality on the ground. So you are left with the slogan: "It would have been worse without Clinton-Gore and it will be worse with Bush." Meantime, the degradation of our environment keeps ticking.
Supreme Court: Only in America could we find someone who would argue that the court ever had some kind of liberal leaning. In its 200 and some years of existence this has been the most reactionary court in history. The composition of the court has never really changed much one way or another. Even the hailed Roe v. Wade case was decided across party lines. Actually, the case was decided by a majority of justices appointed by Republican administrations. Five of the seven justices had been nominated by a Republican president: Associate Justice Blackmun (Nixon), A.J. Brennan (Eisenhower), A.J. Powell (Nixon), A.J. Stewart (Eisenhower) and Chief Justice Burger (Nixon). The other two were A.J. Marshall T. (Johnson) and A.J. Douglas (Roosevelt). The two dissenting voices were A.J. Rehnquist (Nixon) and A.J. White B. (Kennedy). Yet, for almost 20 years, since I landed on the American shore, I have listened to the same threat every four years. This is one of the biggest mouthfuls of baloney repetitively goose-fed to the American people.
Now, Kate Michelman is an eloquent speaker who makes her quadrennial rounds through the networks and the press antechambers, delivering her message of freedom of choice. But when 86 percent of all the counties in the USA have no doctors or facilities that allow a woman to receive a safe abortion procedure, even in the first trimester of her pregnancy, how can we honestly talk about freedom of choice in America? There are times when one could wish to see Roe v. Wade overturned, indeed. Because, notwithstanding the emotional distress to millions of human beings, both men and women (but particularly women), it would awaken people who have blindly put their faith in a judicial and political system that time and again has betrayed them. The bottom line is that neither Gore nor Bush cares less about Roe v. Wade. The decision, in all practicalities, has already been emasculated.
One is left with some sense of confusion. We are indeed witnessing the advent of a one party system in America, where Bush and Gore are the bicephalous heirs. Coca Cola vs. Pepsi Cola. So why is Ralph Nader being pilloried when none of the rationale advanced for such a pitiful character assassination holds any water?
The answer to this largely unasked question can be found in the same October 26 editorial of The New York Times. Buried in the editorial is this sibylline sentence: "We would regard Mr. Nader's willful prankishness as a disservice to the electorate no matter whose campaign he was hurting" (underline added). And then a longer proposition: "In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal he [Nader] seemed almost excited by the idea that a Gore defeat could lead to a 'progressive convulsion' -- a leftward shift among Democrats away from the Clinton administration's centrist policies. Yet anyone who has followed the course of progressive politics over the last quarter-century knows that such a shift is a formula for defeat because it does not reflect the mood of those voters inclined to support moderate or liberal candidates. The spectrum has shifted, and Mr. Nader cannot jerk it back by demolishing Democratic chances."
These two excerpts are quite telling. "No matter whose campaign he was hurting" simply demonstrates, loudly and clearly, that the opposition to Nader has nothing to do with the "spoiler" syndrome. It has nothing to do with the Gore candidacy. The New York Times guard dogs would still oppose Nader if his actions were hurting the Bush campaign, which they do in some characteristics. Nader's campaign is actually a threat to the status quo of the bicephal uniparty of our corpocracy. And the second excerpt proves this point. The liberal New York Times is about the center, which is after all what liberals are all about: The heart on the left, the head on the right, and the wallet in the middle...
In truth, Nader scares the Citadel like hell scares a good Christian. He is not about reform. He does not talk to reformists. He does not address the concerns of the liberals. They vote democrat or republican and then keep whining about too much military, not enough education and all. But they keep voting for the same people whose policies they criticize over and over. Liberals are conservative. Liberals are moderate. They're synonymous with following the money trail, especially when it reaches their pocketbooks. Ralph Nader is full of disdain for them. He has ignored them again and again, to the outrage of those odorless, tasteless, savorless do-gooder old Volvo-Democrats and their Republican counterparts (the Tom Campbell type).
Ralph Nader is not about reform, he is about change. The people for whom his words resonate are neither moderate nor liberal. Many of them are young, disenfranchised and idealistic. Idealism does not belong to the vocabulary of The New York Times and of the liberals. They are young; they have never voted; they refuse the choice between Charib and Schylla. They are the young people who have been beaten up in Seattle, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and wherever one tries to demonstrate and faces Star Wars police financed by the liberals and their republican counterparts. They are the majority of Nader's followers. And the remaining Naderites are pretty much divided among disaffected democrats, republicans and independents who, were it not for Nader, would stay home on November 7.
Ralph Nader threatens the establishment; an establishment that is scared by the possibility of him reaching the five percent threshold and thus launching a fundamental movement of change that would become eventually uncontrollable by the guard dogs, those lackeys of the bicephal power structure. That is why a barrage of live ammunition is going his direction. He is a menace to the Citadel. And as such he will be defeated at whatever cost by people who are totally closed in their minds and hearts. To quote Milo Clark again: "Closed people leading closed organizations wrap themselves in fears. Being out to get enemies, they need to create enemies to get. Having created enemies, they then fear those enemies. Closed people leading closed organizations close themselves ever tighter into a raging paranoia -- always fully justified to themselves, however specious, even silly-appearing to others."
And the liberals will keep whining, their wallets filled to the brim.
Note: Example of an insidious character attack of Nader on the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy:
Nader's actual quotes:
"In this conflict you cannot take sides and be an honest broker. The U.S. is taking sides," Nader said at a press conference in Washington.
"You cannot be a friend of the Israelis in this conflict without being a friend of the Palestinians. You cannot be a friend of the Palestinians without being a friend of the Israelis."
"The military superiority of the Israeli forces is staggeringly greater than the Palestinians rock throwers ... most of the death and injuries have occurred in the Palestinian territories."
Comments from AFP:
Nader said that he supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
Nader -- the son of a Lebanese immigrant -- also criticized "the devastating economics sanctions on the people of Iraq, including 5000 children who are dying every month."
(source: AFP - "Ralph Nader blasts US support of Israel" - October 26, 2000)
There is more to come. Rest assured, the destruction of Ralph Nader is a bet that even my friend Frank Wycoff will not challenge.
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Politics Of Fear And Politics Of Hope - by Rick Rozoff
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