Friday, November 07, 2008

Ralph Nader's Political Career, R.I.P.

Good lord has Ralph Nader become an annoying jack-ass... and I say that as someone who supported him in 1996 and 2000 and who has long admired his work on behalf of consumer rights and democratic reform.

Check this out: Here he is making a complete fool of himself on election night, asking whether Obama will be "an Uncle Tom" for corporate interests at the very moment our nation elected its first black president. What a putz. Hell, even Shep Smith of Faux News understands how lame-ass Nader's comments were...

Tim Goodman, over at The San Francisco Chronicle website, skewers Nader's performance on election night. In part, he writes, Nader is "A character without a filter between his head and his mouth and the willingness to say just about anything while being completely oblivious to the fallout." Goodman continues, "As to Nader supporters parsing what he said and what he meant with the 'Uncle Tom' comment, let's not waste a lot of time and ranting comments on whether that's an offensive term or not. Why not field test it yourself? Go to a bar (around midnight, shall we say?) filled only with African Americans. Use the term 'Uncle Tom' any way you'd like and see how that works out for you." Finally, he reminds us, too, that this is not the first dumb racial thing Nader has said about Obama. Recall that earlier in the campaign he accused Obama of "talking white." Again, what a dumb-ass.

No wonder most progressive/lefties abandoned Nader after 2000. His campaign had no meaningful grassroots support this year and achieved only .5% of the vote. Because Nader's presidential runs are now about him, personally, and not attached to a viable third party, they play no role in building alternative progressive institutions, let alone a "movement." Sad.

Moreover, any viable progressive/left movement in the U.S. must be multi-racial. Do you think the guy in the above video could possibly form or lead such a multi-racial movement? Of course not.

It is sad to see Nader tarnish his legacy these last few years... but that is what happens when you allow yourself to confuse your own ego with "the movement."

Ralph, your electoral career has now officially ended...


  1. He actually didn't call Obama an Uncle Tom, so you're wrong there, and misquoting. He posed a provocative question.

    To equate the response of some random white kid walking into a bar full of African Americans and using the term "Uncle Tom any way you'd like," with Nader's question is bogus. Because "any way you like it" is a ridiculous notion here: Nader used it to pose an important question, and this hypothetical scenario is unrealistic, and has undertones of stereotype-generalizations that far surpass Nader's comment in their offensiveness. How would the white kid use it? How would the bar attendees react? What the hell is Tim Goodman saying anyway?

    It's so great to see Fox News achieving success at getting progressives to discredit one from their own ranks. It's almost like you've plagiarized the views of America's most reactionary news commentary here. Great job.

    Yes, a viable movement needs to be multi-racial, but it also shouldn't warp into a movement of "diversity that doesn't mean anything," to quote Angela Davis. And I don't see Nader leading that movement, but are you saying the President of the United States will? Lead a progressive movement? Seriously? And when did the leaders of the movement take on more importance than the people behind them?

    It really is unfortunate that I've been the only person besides yourself participating in these important dialogues of ours here. Talk about obscurity. It's so "sad" and maybe we're just "fool(s)," but I suppose we'll just push on considering the size of our "egos."

  2. Charles, it is fairly pathetic to read you try to justify Nader's lame-ass racial comments. It makes you seem like a long line of other white lefties who excuse, minimize or otherwise try to skirt racial issues. You clearly have no clue about the magnitude of Obama's win in the context of our nation's racial history.

    So, you clearly think Obama is "diversity that means nothing." Nice of you to be the decider. Millions and millions of people flatly disagree with you. I'm with the people on this one, not the Nader Vanguard, who apparently knows better than everyone else...

    Yeah, Fox sucks. No argument there. Sure, they called him on his quote and wanted to put him on the spot, but it was deserved. If John McCain would have used the Uncle Tom line, he would have been attacked, too, and rightly so. In the end, it was Nader's own quote and Smith did give him the chance to respond and he just made it worse, really, by showing absolutely no understanding of what was happening on Tuesday night.

    I think you'll find a variety of progressive/lefties share my view on this little episode.

    By the way, Angela Davis supported Obama. I spoke with her directly about this subject when we brought her to Lincoln a month or so back. So, I guess she thought his "diversity" "meant something."

    That is my point, there is no movement associated with Ralph Nader, or within a hundred yards of him or his campaign. It was a foolish strategic choice (and a waste of your time) to support him this year.
    It is as simple as that.

    Now, you rather waste time arguing with me about Nader's failed campaign, which is now in the past, than move forward and try build on the public outpouring of support for Obama to forward the progressive movement you and I both would like to see.

    Finally, while few post comments here, about 120 or so people a day visit the blog, so some are no doubt lurking and reading, to be sure... as always, if they choose to participate in our back-and-forth, they are certainly welcome!

    Take care, Charles. I look forward to seeing what you, Nader and the other True Believers build from whatever it is you think you all accomplished in this election. I'm gonna hold you and Ralph to that, so get to work! (smile)

  3. I don't think you read correctly: I didn't say the movement behind Obama was meaningless in terms of racial unity. I said a movement should not be, and there is a danger looming if we turn our heads away from his actions as soon-to-be President, simply because of the historical importance of his election. I understand perfectly clear what his election means, I also see a lot of what it doesn't. So I'm focusing on that.

    And you still are misquoting Nader in your piece. He did not call Obama an "Uncle Tom," so I recommend making that correction. And maybe saying something about his statement about the 100 million poor blacks, Latinos and whites he wants to see Obama working for.

    This is my last response here on anything campaign related.

  4. I second that emotion to end this circular argument...

    Take care and let me know when you and the other Naderites get that movement together, or that third party up and running. What will it be called? The Nadercrats? (smile)

    Hang tough, Charles, and keep fighting the good fight. I appreciate your zeal...