Chris Hedges on Ralph Nader

Chris Hedges, author of “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” has written an essay on Ralph Nader, subject of the new documentary “An Unreasonable Man”. He addresses the 2000 election for which some still blame Nader for somehow “spoiling” and causing Bush to become president:

There is a fascinating rage””and rage is the right word””expressed by many on the left in this fine film about Nader. Todd Gitlin, Eric Alterman and Michael Moore, along with a host of former Nader’s Raiders, spit out venomous insults toward Nader, a man they profess to have once admired, the most common charge being that Nader is a victim of his oversized ego.

This anger is the anger of the betrayed. But they were not betrayed by Nader. They betrayed themselves. They allowed themselves to buy into the facile argument of “the least worse” and ignore the deeper, subterranean assault on our democracy that Nader has always addressed.

It was an incompetent, corporatized Democratic Party, along with the orchestrated fraud by the Republican Party, that threw the 2000 election to Bush, not Ralph Nader. Nader received only 2.7 percent of the vote in 2000 and got less than one-half of 1 percent in 2004. All of the third-party candidates who ran in 2000 in Florida””there were about half a dozen of them””got more votes than the 537-vote difference between Bush and Gore. Why not go after the other third-party candidates? And what about the 10 million Democrats who voted in 2000 for Bush? What about Gore, whose campaign was so timid and empty””he never mentioned global warming””that he could not carry his home state of Tennessee? And what about the 2004 cartoon-like candidate, John Kerry, who got up like a Boy Scout and told us he was reporting for duty and would bring us “victory” in Iraq?

Interesting to hear what people have to say about it now that that race is behind us and the emotions can somewhat more easily be put aside. Interesting also how people who see nothing to like in the media-favorite Democrats (the ones selected for us to pay attention to) can more calmly assess the candidacy of any third party or independent candidate.

But I remain wary of the fickle “Left”: I see no end to the self-defeating argument of a “viable” candidate; I remember them championing a corporate Democrat just three years ago; I wonder why the big marches against the war aren’t scheduled to conflict with campaigning; I miss the strident demand for all representatives to do everything in their power to end the war in Iraq, bring the troops and corporations home, and discontinue US incursions into Iran (which, Seymour Hirsch says have already begun).

You can hear Hedges’ argument about the Christian right””what Hedges calls “the most dangerous mass movement in American history”””and its links to corporate America in his recent interview on Democracy Now! (audio, video, transcript). Also there you can see a recent interview with Ralph Nader and Henriette Mantel, one of the two filmmakers behind “An Unreasonable Man” (audio, video, transcript).