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The following article appeared in Left Business Observer #74, October 1996. It retains its copyright and may not be reprinted or redistributed in any form - print, electronic, facsimile, anything - without the permission of LBO.


1.75 cheers for Ralph

After every exercise in Clinton-bashing that's appeared in this newsletter, we hear from readers who say something like, "Who do you want, Dole?" This happens even when the argument made is that Clinton in many ways not the lesser evil, because he can get away with things - passing NAFTA, repealing welfare, destroying 100,000 units of public housing, and privatizing Social Security - that a Republican might not be able to pull off.

So what is to be done on November 5? The purest thing to do would be to stay home, or vote for some estimable but doomed minor party candidate. But that may be too pure an approach. Voters in at least 22 states will have a chance to pull a lever for a candidate who is doomed but hardly obscure - Ralph Nader. There's a lot to be said for that choice, though not without very substantial reservations.

Nader's positives are obvious enough. He's very smart, serious, and principled. His twin themes, the hypertrophy of corporate power and the monetary perversion of democracy, are indisputably the core themes of any broad "progressive" mobilization. The populist right has made hay with them while liberals have been foolishly inventing apologies for Clinton. (There's no more absurd example of that than the latest one: re-electing Clinton is the only hope for "fixing" the welfare bill, as if he weren't responsible for the damn thing in the first place.) Nader sounds those themes without Buchanan's racism and xenophobia - which is probably why Buchanan got TV time, and Nader can't; it's always safer for our rulers to channel class anger into bigotry. Th