Nader upon Sanders


My poor old Lefty mailing lists are sad shadows of their former selves, Facebook and Twitter having devoured all, but one thing is clear: that to the last syllable of recorded time they will never be able to ignore a US presidential campaign, as they ought, no matter how tedious and inconsequential it may be; in fact, they will never be able to avoid being swamped by speculations, groundless assertions, labored Marxological comparisons with social democracy in the Weimar Republic, and so on.

Recently some mook on one of these lists passed along a link to a piece by Ralph Nader in the Washington Post. This was greeted by the chap who contributed it as an admission on Nader’s part that he, Nader, had been wrong to run a third-party campaign, and that Bernie was right not to.

Of course the piece says nothing of the kind, but people read what they want to read into what they read, as we all know.

Now I have always rather liked Nader, being convinced that he contributed a lot to the defeat of Vile Al Gore in, what was it, the Y2K election? Admittedly, we got Bush II instead, which was disagreeable. But still, it does one’s heart good to see justice done, however imperfectly, and whatever the cost. Fiat iustitia, ruat coelum! This response, I do believe, arises from our better nature, and though instrumentalists and pragmatists and lesser-evillists scorn it as ‘purist’ and ‘unrealistic’, I think we should cling to it. Chivalric, even Quixotic, feelings like this are what elevate us above the beasts that perish.

Or no, perhaps they don’t. Who knows anything about the inner life of the beasts that perish? The whales, as far as we are aware, don’t have primary elections. So they’re one up on us, to that extent. Scratch that about the beasts. Let’s say instead that an impulse to see justice done, a desire to do the Samson thing and pull down the foul reeking temple of Dagon around our ears even if we perish in the cataclysm, might conceivably elevate us to moral level of the beasts, and deliver us from our cowed, over-socialized human nature. Or, less misanthropically, elevate us to the status of human beings rather than mere citizens, programmed stooges moved here and there on the board by the skeletal dead hands of the Founding Fathers and their oligarchic Constitution.

Nader’s piece, linked to above, is actually worth a read. (When was the last time anybody could truthfully say this about anything in the Washington Post?) It’s all about the dirty ways in which the party duopoly maintains itself, and though we all knew about this, in a sense, a broad-brush sense, there are some interesting details which take one rather by surprise.

2 thoughts on “Nader upon Sanders

  1. The details Nader lists are enlightening. I do differ with his overall take in one crucial regard: Given the extent to which Sanders has pledged his support to the party, he is using the voice that the primary run affords him to default channel people to the “two-party tyranny” and prevent the challenge to the establishment that Nader claims the candidate is enabling.

    Now, of course, the biggest elephant in the piece is the implication that Sanders is not a hawk (whatever that is supposed to mean). I find it hard to swallow that a claimed anti-corporatist who’s been in the halls of that institution as long as he has is not aware of the utter corporatist nature of the war on terror. Still, only by fighting at the convention and then peeling away his support to run as an independent would he be challenging the duopoly.

  2. hard to believe in the revolution that won’t challenge the stranglehold of the clintonistas over the DNC. and that nader piece is interesting, but it contains the contradiction that, i think, make national electoral politics meaningless: the awfulness of the party name & machine…that you can’t get noticed without.

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