Muslims For Nader/Camejo

A blog on the Nader/Camejo 2004 Presidential campaigen - exposing the racket of the two corporate parties - with a special focus on issues of concerns for Muslims. This blog is UNOFFICIAL and is NOT endorsed by the official Nader for 2004 presidential campaigen. Blog update daily and several times a day - come back often! Contact: muslimfornader@yahoo.com

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Nader's Raid!

Nader’s Raid
Todd Chretien
11-3-04

In 1859, John Brown intended to distribute the arsenal at Harpers Ferry to slaves and lead an armed abolitionist rebellion. Militarily, his raid was a failure and his band of activists were killed in battle or executed. Fredrick Douglass eulogized Brown saying,

“The true question is, Did John Brown draw his sword against slavery and thereby lose his life in vain? And to this I answer ten thousand times, No! No man fails, or can fail, who so grandly gives himself and all he has to a righteous cause. No man, who in his hour of extremest need, when on his way to meet an ignominious death, could so forget himself as to stop and kiss a little child, one of the hated race for whom he was about to die, could by any possibility fail.”

“Did John Brown fail? If John Brown did not end the war that ended slavery, he did at least begin the war that ended slavery. If we look over the dates, places and men for which this honor is claimed, we shall find that not Carolina, but Virginia, not Fort Sumter, but Harpers Ferry, and the arsenal, not Col. Anderson, but John Brown, began the war that ended American slavery and made this a free Republic. Until this blow was struck, the prospect for freedom was dim, shadowy and uncertain. The irrepressible conflict was one of words, votes and compromises.”

“When John Brown stretched forth his arm the sky was cleared. The time for compromises was gone – the armed hosts of freedom stood face to face over the chasm of a broken Union – and the clash of arms was at hand. “

Now, historical analogies should be treated skeptically, but Douglass’ words ought to frame our thinking about the results of this election and where we need to go from here.

Kerry threw the election to Bush by endorsing the occupation of Iraq, the Patriot Act, corporate tax breaks, the assault on abortion rights, bans on gay marriage and the death penalty. While Bush’s policies stoked anger against the administration, Kerry worked hard to defend those very actions. The ABB left’s theory was that Kerry was the thin blue line defending the world from Bush and therefore made no demands on him. Michael Moore led the way in slandering the Nader/Camejo campaign and did everything possible to quash the only well-known anti-war voice in the elections.

Nader told the ABBers that their uncritical support for Kerry would allow him to move to right, demoralize his base and that he would lose, just as Gore had done in 2000. He also argued that there was a tremendous opening to build a mass electoral campaign uniting the whole anti-war left in a full-on fight against the bi-partisan war parties. Unfortunately, Nader could only prove the case in the negative. That is, it is now painfully obvious that the ABBers were dead wrong, and that Nader was right about Kerry. However, the ABB wave was so powerful that it left the Nader/Camejo campaign relatively isolated and weak so it was not possible to really test the waters and see how many millions of people we could have gotten to vote against the war if even half of the well-known Nader supporters from 2000 had not gone over to Kerry. A good estimate perhaps would be Nader’s polling numbers from the spring, when he was around 5% in most polls. The roughly 500,000 votes Nader/Camejo got yesterday undoubtedly would have been nearly twice as high but for the fact that Nader was barred from the ballot in 15 states. But even this total shows that there is a base to work from.

We should look at the Nader/Camejo campaign as an electoral Harper’s Ferry, a raid on the two-party system. With all its faults, it lit up the corruption and rot at the heart of American democracy and it should give the left a yard stick with which to measure our future progress. There are two paths from which to choose now. Either we hang our heads and drift further away from the idea that we can ever challenge the two war parties for power, and we see our social movements as merely moral protests against things we can’t really hope to change. Or we redouble our efforts to study the fault lines in American history, mobilize our forces in the streets, the campuses and the picket lines, and build political organizations and parties that follow in the footsteps of the revolutionary Abolitionists. The Nader/Camejo campaign did not end the war against the corporate duopoly, but (hopefully) it did at least begin the war that will end it, and the racism, militarism and poverty that it defends so uncompromisingly. The choice is ours.

Todd Chretien was the California Field Coordinator for the Nader/Camejo campaign and is a frequent contributor to the International Socialist Review. He can be reached at ToddChretien@comcast.net