USA: Ralph Nader's No Pat Robertson
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.
- 106 Money & Politics