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USA: Ralph Nader's No Pat Robertson

by Gregory PalastLeft Labour Review (Britain)
November 8th, 2000

I cast the vote that dare not speak its name: so shoot me, I voted Nader. But my shame is not in electing George W. I'm more nagged by an unflattering parallel between Nader's campaign and the 1988 run for President by that Bible-banging, sticky-fingered televangelist Pat Robertson.

When Reverend Pat launched his campaign for the Republican nomination 12 years ago, he announced an extraordinary endorsement --- GOD had asked him to run. With the Supreme Being as his campaign strategist, I asked Robertson last year, "how did you lose?" Robertson grinned, and his reply was far more brilliant than anything I've heard from Nader this year. "I was called to RUN," Robertson said, "not WIN." Out of his losing campaign, Robertson reminded me that he built a mailing list of 10 million Presbyterian-hating zealots and a huge political organization, The Christian Coalition. This year, the Christain Coalition savaged John McCain and anointed Bush, proving it's power of veto in Republican party nominations.

Now that's real power. Robertson used his presidential campaign, not to get elected, but to build a MOVEMENT. That's what Nader promised too --- that his candidacy will build an on-going anti-corporate alliance to last beyond the November 7 election. But, like all the other hack politicians, Nader just didn't deliver.

Nader's become too cool, too loosey-goosey for the real job at hand. He had just a bit too much fun making fun of Big Business' toy boys, Gore and Bush, to bother with the tough work of building that permanent membership platform that today makes Robertson's phalanx such a holy terror. As to building a third party, Nader barely acknowledged the Greens until the campaign's end; he just rode their nomination like an electoral surfboard.

I don't get it. If I ever loved a man, it's Ralph. The guy has launched over a hundred organizations which have turned American politics on its head.

But my love for Nader dare not speak its name to those in the trenches --- African-Americans, union organizers, teacher's scared witless over Bush's plan to privatize schools --- who did not have the luxury of spending their vote on a protest ticket to nowhere.

For Americans who dissent from the New World Order, Nader's our Pied Piper. Now we have to ask Nader if he's chasing the rats out of US politics or just leading our children away into the forest of political oblivion.

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