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For several weeks, Ralph Nader’s campaign website homepage featured a document called “An Open Letter to John Pearce and Kathy Cramer of” We wrote a careful reply to the letter and recently asked that in the spirit of openness, they post it as prominently as the posted the attack on the creators of our campaign. We have had no response. So here, in their entireties, we post both the Open Letter from Nader’s site and our “Open Response.” We urge a careful reading of both letters.

An Open Letter to John Pearce & Kathy Cramer of

Dear Mr. Pearce and Ms. Cramer:

(1) Your Flash map of the USA and the 2000 presidential election's electoral vote allocation is spiffy, but inaccurate. How about showing smiling photos of Harry Browne (the Libertarian Party candidate), and Patrick Buchanan, and then flipping the states of Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin over to George W. Bush? That would be a more accurate presentation, since without the help of Browne & Buchanan, Al Gore wouldn't have won those states (most Libertarians and Libertarian Party supporters are from conservative backgrounds, and their votes traditionally come from people who would otherwise vote Republican, particularly in rural and western states). In that scenario, Florida wouldn't have made any difference, so you can leave that where it is. In fact, the likely 2004 Libertarian candidate, Gary Nolan, is far better known than the obscure Harry Browne, since he used to have a nationally syndicated radio talk show, so it's likely that this year the Libertarian Party will play an even stronger role in the election outcome.

But not one Democratic pollster, pundit, or analyst that I'm aware of has bothered to thank Gary Nolan for running this year, or poor old Harry Browne for spoiling the 2000 election for George W. Bush, or Pat Buchanan, for that matter. That's not very nice.

Oh, and none of you have ever thanked Ross Perot for (according to exit polls) putting Bill Clinton in the White House in 1992, either. I think Democratic activists have some thank-you notes to write. I mean, it's okay for all of those guys to run, but not Ralph Nader.

(2) Have you read Nader's book, "Crashing The Party?" And I mean really read it, not just leafed through it. Can you refute any of the detailed criticisms he made of the Clinton/Gore administration and the national Democratic Party? If not, then what are you doing about them, besides ignoring them so you can focus on telling people not to vote for Nader?

(3) What plan, if any, have you implemented to help elect Democrats to the House and Senate this year? Or will having a Democratic president in and of itself solve the country's problems and push a progressive agenda forward, since it's most likely the House and Senate will remain in Republican control whether or not Nader were in the presidential race?

Oh wait, I'm forgetting that the voters Nader brought to the polls in Washington and Michigan in 2000 helped put Maria Cantwell and Debbie Stabenow in the Senate. And Bill Luther into the House from Minnesota's 6th district, with help from a Constitution Party candidate who took thousands of votes away from his Republican opponent. You guys must have forgotten about them, too. Two years later, the Democrats were helped once again when Tim Johnson narrowly won re-election to his Senate seat from South Dakota by less than a thousand votes, thanks to a Libertarian candidate who earned over 3,000.

That's a lot of thank-you notes, folks. If you want to hammer away at the so-called "spoiler" issue, you should realize that it works both ways. Is it okay for Libertarian and Constitution candidates take votes away from Republicans? I thought so. You know, it's pretty sad when the Constitution, Libertarian, and (yes) Green parties are more productive at electing Democrats to Congress then some Democrats are.

(4) Nader spent his time from November 2000 to January 2004 creating new consumer and citizen empowerment organizations (Citizen Works, Democracy Rising, the D.C. Library Renaissance Project, among others), organizing demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns on a wide range of social justice issues, meeting with elected officials, and leading the progressive fight against, among other things, corporate crime, the FCC debacle, statehood for the District of Columbia (which is, by the way, mentioned in the Democratic Party national platform), fighting the shrinking budgets in major municipalities around the country for public libraries and other essential services, and other social justice issues about which the Democratic National Committee was essentially silent.

Nader -- not Al Gore or anyone else in the Democratic Party power structure -- became the "go-to guy" once again in lecture halls and on all the major cable news talk shows on the subject of corporate corruption and fraud. In many cases he was labelled simply "consumer advocate," not "ex-presidential candidate," as if the 2000 campaign had never happened. I thought his "legacy" had been destroyed. After all, that's what you folks had been telling us over and over.

Over the last couple of years, I've attended several events at which Nader spoke, and presidential politics was secondary at all of them. These were events attended by a diverse mix of people who support Nader politically and people who oppose him. But everyone at these events had their consciousness raised about grassroots issues that no national figure in either major party will even bother discussing -- forget about taking the lead in terms of solutions. Hint, hint.

What were you folks, and Democratic activists in general, doing during that time besides organizing efforts to stop Nader from running for president again? I mean, at the very least, could you at least help Ralph get Anheuser-Busch and Phillip Morris out of the presidential debate business?

Dr. David Gaines
Ashburn, Va.

P.S. - One more thing (sorry!): please explain to me how (since there is no way on earth I will vote for John Kerry or anyone else with the letter "D" after his name in the general election), if I choose to vote for Ralph Nader in this safe Republican state of Virginia, this vote for Nader would really be, according to the prevailing logic in this country, a vote for Bush.

An Open Response to Dr. Gaines

Dear Dr. Gaines,

Thank you for your thoughtful, provocative “open letter” posted on Ralph Nader’s website regarding our campaign. In the spirit of openness, perhaps the site will do us the courtesy of also posting this, our “open response,” in a position as prominent as the home page location your letter has enjoyed for the past several weeks.

After complimenting the “spiffy” nature of our website – thank you very much – you spend much of your letter carefully noting the many conservative third-party candidates whose campaigns helped elect one Democrat after another, and you assert that we owe them great thanks. As you correctly point out, a solid case can be made that the third-party candidacies of Buchanan and Browne directly helped Gore carry some very close states in 2000, and similarly that Perot helped elect Bill Clinton, and that conservative third-party candidacies helped elect Bill Luther in Minnesota and Tim Johnson in South Dakota.

We are surprised that you raise this point, however, since it so emphatically and clearly supports what has, from the beginning, been the central argument of our RalphDontRun campaign: that in close and important elections, third-party candidacies – like that of Mr. Nader – directly support the election of those most hostile to their own agendas. In fact, this point is proven in every one of the examples you have noted so accurately. In 2004, it is precisely in this way that anyone who supports Mr. Nader’s issues undermines those issues by voting for him, and betrays them entirely by voting for him in critical swing states.

Your inadvertent support of our central argument results from your misunderstanding of our campaign. You rhetorically paraphrase our attitude as “it's okay for all of those guys to run, but not Ralph Nader.” We reply, emphatically, “Yes!” We love right-wing third-party candidacies. Despite Mr. Nader and others who have claimed we are infringing on his right to run, or accuse us of attempting to censor his ability to communicate, let us be clear: we in no way oppose third-party candidacies on principle, and celebrate Nader’s voice on the issues. We oppose progressive third-party candidacies in close elections on purely pragmatic grounds – that is, the obvious damage they can do to the progressive issues they supposedly support. There could be no more eloquent testimony on this point than the global catastrophe of the Bush presidency.

Even Mr. Nader’s varying rationales for his candidacies implicitly acknowledge this truth. In 2000 Mr. Nader used the “Tweedledum & Tweedledee” assertion – that there was no significant difference between the major parties – as the fundamental rationale for his campaign. That argument is today so obviously and profoundly false that even Mr. Nader has largely abandoned it, and for 2004 has adopted the intellectually inconceivable argument that his campaign will help beat Bush. Mr. Nader can’t have it both ways: There is either a reasoned preference between the viable candidates or there is not. If he honestly feels Bush should be defeated, Mr. Nader should urge his liberal, progressive and populist supporters to vote for Kerry, and ask for the votes only of the conservatives and Bush supporters whom Mr. Nader reports, without visible evidence, are now rallying to his cause.

The balance of your letter revolves around two major themes: the deficiencies of the Democrats and Mr. Nader’s recent good works for progressive causes. Given the imperatives of brevity, on the first point we’ll simply quote the comedian Dan Kaufman: “The only thing worse than the lesser of two evils… is the greater of two evils.” Despite Kerry’s limitations, Bush today is profoundly the greater evil. And on the issue of Nader’s accomplishments, again you inadvertently support our view: Nader’s greatest accomplishments, like those you list, have never resulted from third-party campaigns, but rather upon exposing truth and fighting for justice outside electoral politics. As your examples indicate, Mr. Nader is now the epitome of opposites -- how one can truly and deeply change America, and how through idealistic zealotry one can do it such great harm.

Dr. Gaines, throughout your letter, you repeatedly ask us to thank reactionary third-party candidates for helping elect Democrats in 2000 and previous elections. We apologize for our oversight, and hereby emphatically do so. But it is intellectually bankrupt, or an act of self-delusion, to think that George W. Bush owes Ralph Nader any less gratitude.

-John Pearce & Kathy Cramer





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