US: Building the strongest Left Challenge

Nader, McKinney, and the Greens

Socialist Alternative welcomes Ralph Nader’s decision to run for President in 2008 as a challenge to the two big business parties. With the stock market teetering on the brink of disaster and home foreclosures reaching record highs, working people need real solutions, not the empty promises of the Democratic and Republican parties. Nader’s campaign can be used to break people from the two-headed corporate warmongering monster that rules our country.

As recession sets in, the energies of many people will go into getting a Democrat elected. These are many of the same people that are fed up with the war, sick of budget cuts, and disgusted by corporate greed. Electing a Democrat will not achieve the change that people want. Instead, energy should be spent on strengthening resistance to the war and corporate domination through building protests, pickets, and educational events about the ills of capitalism. Just building movements isn’t enough, though; those movements need real political representation, and the Democrats would rather wreck social change than represent it.

Nader’s campaign can give antiwar activists, trade unionists, and young people an opportunity to argue against the failed strategy of voting Democrat. Debates should be organized throughout the country in which activists expose the Democratic Party for what it is: a graveyard for social movements and an enemy of workers, youth, and people of color.

Nader has picked as his running mate Matt Gonzalez, a Green Party leader and former head of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Gonzalez knows first-hand the dirty tricks of even the “left” of the Democratic Party, which teamed up with Republicans to defeat Gonzalez’s campaign for mayor. While Socialist Alternative respects Matt Gonzalez, we felt that the strongest possible campaign would have occurred if Ralph Nader teamed up with Cynthia McKinney as his vice presidential candidate. McKinney is a former Georgia congresswoman and current presidential candidate in the Green primaries.

Many Green Party leaders are still tied to the Democrats and see themselves as a pressure group on the donkey’s party. What we need instead is a clear break from both mainstream parties as a step towards political independence of working people. Many left Greens are supporting Nader’s bid and see the dead-end of giving backhanded support to corporate politicians. They need to take up a fight within their party to break from the “Demo-Greens” rather than abstain from the battle for real political independence.

The mistakes of Nader’s campaigns in the past should be learnt and avoided this time around. The campaign needs democratic decision-making in order to strengthen the input and ties of the activists. Nader shouldn’t accept the ballot lines of right-populist formations like he did in a few states with the Reform Party and the Independence Party in 2004.

The corporate agenda in the coming years will include severe attacks as they try to make working people pay for the crisis that they created. They will take away our healthcare, drive us from our homes, and drive down our wages.

Working people, not just in Iraq but here as well, are engaged in a war. There is a one-sided war against our living standards, a war against our free time, a war to keep us afraid, a war against our environment, and a war to keep us divided. The super-rich corporations are waging this war, and they are the same corporations that support Obama, Clinton, and McCain. It is about time we started really fighting back with everything we have.

We have the power to disrupt business as usual in the streets, the campuses, and the workplaces. We have the power to disrupt their corporate parties by building the strongest possible protest vote against war, racism, sexism, and poverty. A vote for Ralph Nader can be one way to send a clear message to the mainstream candidates: your rhetoric doesn’t fool us, and we deserve better.

We Need a Party of Working People

The Democrats and Republicans both serve the interests of big business.

Their pockets are lined with donations from lobbyists and ultra-rich campaign contributors. These big corporations profit from our misery. They waged a disastrous war to try to make more money, and they don’t pay their fair share of taxes, forcing working people to pay the bills for inadequate social services.

The labor movement gives millions of dollars and thousands of organizers to the Democrats, and what do working people get in return? More war, more budget cuts, and more “free trade” agreements that create a race to the bottom in worldwide living standards.

Corporate America has two parties; we need our own. We need a party with thousands of activists that doesn’t just organize for elections, but also organizes actions to win victories. A successful struggle can motivate more people to get active for social change, and those new activists can play a role in strengthening our movement. Conferences and rallies around the country should be organized to link up labor activists, community organizers, antiwar protesters, and socialists to run working-class candidates and build the fight against corporate domination and for human needs. Cindy Sheehan’s campaign in California can be looked to for inspiration. This can be a step towards a new party of working people in this country. A strong protest vote for Ralph Nader for President could help to strengthen this process.

A new party of working people would need to have democratic decision-making about campaigns, programs, and methods. It would need to be open to socialists and radical organizers, and it would need to engage in a living struggle to attract new people to the battle against corporate greed. Socialist Alternative would argue for any new party to have a democratic socialist program in order to defeat the bosses once and for all.

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