Guest Editorial: Review of Nader Film a Partisan Attack

by Chris Kavanagh on March 16, 2007

I appreciate and respect my friend and former colleague on the Berkeley Rent Board, Paul Hogarth, as an uncompromising Democratic Party partisan and advocate. Paul has devoted many years of his life to building and supporting local Democratic Party candidates and organizations in the Bay Area. I commend him for his passion and political partisanship.

So it comes as no surprise that Paul’s hostile reaction to the new Ralph Nader documentary film “An Unreasonable Man” displays Paul’s strong Democratic Party partisanship. Nader, a former two-time Green Party presidential candidate, is relentlessly vilified in Paul’s March 13 review.

As Nader himself caustically remarks in the film—speaking of both the Democratic and Republican parties—the United States is controlled by an “elected two-party dictatorship” that has managed to effectively shut out third party voices and voter options for decades.

Unlike Europe and other world regions, US third parties are denied free media air time—or even access to media—and are unable to match the tens of millions of campaign contribution dollars supplied by corporations and special interests to both the Democratic and Republican parties.

The good news is that this untenable situation is gradually changing: the national Green Party, for example, has achieved solid electoral successes—there are currently 224 elected Green Party officials at all government levels across 22 states—-since the party’s founding in 1990. This Green Party’s progress continues to accelerate despite Democratic Party efforts over the years to legally strangle and/or hinder the Green Party’s electoral access and viability.

In his review—“attack” might be a better word—-of “An Unreasonable Man,” Paul left out several inconvenient facts and statistics cited in the film that pertain to the Democratic Party’s repeated complaint against Nader that he allegedly “spoiled” Al Gore’s unsuccessful 2000 presidential campaign effort.

Perhaps the most inconvenient truth—to borrow Al Gore’s documentary film title—-cited by “An Unreasonable Man” is that 10 million registered Democratic Party members nationwide voted for George Bush in 2000. Meanwhile, approximately half a million Florida Democrats—I repeat, half a million Florida Democrats!—also voted for Bush.

Another inconvenient fact left out of Paul’s review is that half a dozen other Florida third party presidential candidates—ie Socialist Workers Party, Reform Party, Libertarian Party, etc—-each recieved enough votes separately to tip the Florida election to Bush, roughly 500 votes.

Where is the Democratic Party’s outrage at the Florida Socialist Workers Party’s “spoiler” role?

The more important question Democratic Party partisans should be asking themselves about the 2000 Florida election is why Al Gore did not aggressively seek to challenge the Bush campaign’s post-election legal tactics, or why Al Gore did not win his own home state of Tennessee (failing to win one’s own home state in a presidential election is historically unprecendented).

Finally, in the aftermath of Nader’s 1996 and 2000 Green Party presidential campaigns, another critical question that Democratic Party partisans should confront themselves with is the following: if the national Democratic Party was so concerned about Nader’s candidacy and the number of potential votes he might recieve, why did the Democratic Party refuse to approach Nader and negotiate an electoral alliance or pact on issues that both parties could agree upon?

Why didnt Al Gore (in 2000) or John Kerry (in 2004) offer Nader the federal Enviromental Protection Agency post in exchange for Nader’s tacit support or endorsement? At the minimum, a mutal electoral agreement could have been negotiated benefitting both parties leading up to the election.

Arrogantly, the Democratic Party refused to even consider such a political option. Unfortunately, Democratic Party partisans still have their heads in the sand when Ralph Nader’s name is mentioned.

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