rn> reader dialog re: Nader, elections, movement


Richard Moore

From: "Brian Hill" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: rn> The U.S. Presidential race
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2000 07:58:35 -0700

Has anyone said that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush,
and that both are good because (1) a vote for Nader will
begin the third party process, and (2) by Bush getting in
the contradictions of corruption will be heightened which
will get liberals off their asses?


From: "Jeff & Diana Jewell" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Cc: [list suppressed]
Subject: RE: rn> The U.S. Presidential race
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2000 09:40:02 -0700

Dear rn:

Richard, I like your argument, especially about houses of
straw and big bad wolf.  Here in Canada, we now have the
Amrican style two-horse race, with big money supporting both
so it doesn't matter who wins--Big Money laughs, while the
spin doctors create a big soap opera for the media and the
bamboozled citizens to chew on.

As for "strategic voting", if you vote for the lesser of two
evils, you're still voting for evil.

That's why my husband, Jeff, and I have declared our
candidacy for the Canadian Action Party


which has come out to abrogate the NAFTA and Free Trade
treaties (the wolf!) and keep our laws strong to protect our
citizens.  Of course, we have no money (our message isn't
what Big Money would back!) so we run a shoe-string
campaign, urging people to vote for what they want, not for
the "two evils". A large popular vote for CAP or Greens will
send a message to Parliament/Congress for the "winners" that
they don't have as much support as they'd like to believe,
and that's a powerful message, until we get electoral/ballot
reform that will make things more fair.

Diana Jewell
North Vancouver, BC

Date:   Wed, 25 Oct 2000 12:55:42 -0300 (ADT)
From:   Daniel Haran <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: rn> The U.S. Presidential race

Dear Richard,

25 Oct 2000, rkm wrote:
    I haven't even considered voting for the past six years or
    so, but if I did Nader would be the only possible choice.
    But what we really need is a movement not a candidate.

Seems to me Nader's one of the best things that's happened
to American social movements in the last 20 years. He's
built up a number of important institutions, including
PIRGs, that were influential in radicalizing me. If I
remember correctly, some of those same institutions were
instrumental in the planning for Seattle's N30.

Instead of a "but" could you rather critique Nader for the
way he is trying to build a movement? Is he building up the
Green Party into a viable vehicle for change or merely
mouthing off? How can activists use his name-recognition to
keep building? Your insights into these questions would be
much appreciated.

I'm not in the US, though if I were I too would have to vote
for Nader. I've tried convincing Canadian anti-sanctions
activists with relatives in the US to call them and ask them
to vote for Nader... He's the only one who doesn't support
their current genocide against Iraqis.

Sincerely, Daniel


Dear Daniel,

I certainly don't think Nader is 'merely mouthing off'.  He
is a sincere and dedicated activist who has accomplished
more than any one person could ever hope for.  And I think
his political campaign is a very good thing.  He's getting a
radical perspective out to thousands of people, encouraging
them to think in terms of real change outside the
mainstream spectrum.  He's providing a focus for radical
energy, an opportunity for his supporters to collaborate
toward an objective and gain experience that will be useful
as the movement develops further.  Nader is clearly 'part of
the solution' and not 'part of the problem'.

Now let's set Nader aside for a moment and consider the
broader picture.  We currently live under a very powerful,
very centralized, and very well-organized global regime.  In
fact there are several regimes - economic, political, and
ideological - which are intertwined and mutually

   The first thing we must recognize, in my view, is that the
current regime cannot be reformed - it needs to be replaced
by a fundamentally different system. You cannot have an
economy based on capitalist principles and then expect it to
behave other than it does.  Nor can you have a competitive /
factional political system and expect it to escape capture
by elite interests.  Nor can you turn public communications
over to private corporations and expect to have an informed

   The second thing to recognize is that replacing the current
regime - regardless of what we seek to replace it with -
will be a monumental political project.  This regime is the
result of 10,000 years' evolution of hierarchical systems,
and overcoming it will be the most revolutionary event that
has occurred since agriculture was invented.


What kind of movment can succeed under these conditions?  I
think there are some definite things we can say in answer to
this question.

   First, the movement needs to develop a mature vision of a
new system, a new way of running the world.  There's been
good work in this area, particularly as regards a 'new
economics' - sustainability, enviornmentally-friendly
resource use, appropriate technologies, etc.  Our collective
understanding of a 'new politics', however, is far less
developed.  Most people are still thinking in terms of
election reform and third parties, while from what I've been
able to learn, competing political parties themselves are
part of the problem, not part of the solution.  In any case,
we are a long way from having a comprehensive, collective
vision of what we would replace the current system with, and
how that new system could be sustained politically and avoid 
eventual usurpation by some self-interested faction.

   Second, the movement needs to be very broad indeed.  You
don't overcome this kind of regime with some minority
splinter movement.  We need the kind of society-wide
consensus and commitment they had in Eastern Europe, when
they ousted the Soviet-era regimes - but we need a much
better vision of where we are heading than they had.

   Third, the movement needs to strategically canny. The
current regime has long experience in dealing with movements
- suppressing them, co-opting them, absorbing them, and
yielding temporarily to them when necessary - yet
underminging them in the end.

So far we have lots of beginings - smoldering movement
kindling - but we don't yet have a viable fire going.  When
we get to the energy level of the sixties, or the thirties
labor movment, or the turn-of-century Populists, then we'll
be on our way - but we'll need go still further than any of
those movements did, and avoid the various traps they all
eventually fell into.

If we interpret Nader's campaign as an attempt to stir up
movement energy - one more piece of kindling helping to get
a fire going - then it is a very positive thing.  If however
we seriously seek change through electoral politics, then we
are falling into the oldest trap in the book.  That path has
brought the final demise of every 'successful' Western
movement in the past - the others having succumbed long
before reaching that point.

And making too much of any particular leader can also be a
trap, and I'm sure Nader would agree with me here.  When a
leader inspires the action and creativity of the movement,
that is a great service. But if the movement looks too much
to a few leaders for direction, then we won't be building
the kind of civil-society processes that will be the basis
of a 'new politics'.

As regards 'new politics', I'm especially impressed by David
Korten's recent work, with his characterization of
'Capitalist Society' vs 'Civil Society'. (See his article on
our website, and his latest book, "The Post Corporate World,
Live After Capitalism").

Below is an interesting proposal from Michael Albert of ZNet
fame, entitiled "Why Not Create A Shadow Government?".  His
particular proposal may or may not be sound, but there are
some good ideas there in any case.  A 'shadow cabinet' and
'shadow policy platform' of some kind could provide a focus
to help develop the vision we need.  If Nader does not get
elected, then Michael suggests what seems to be a rather 
natural direction for Nader to consider for his next move.


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Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2000 19:03:20 -0700
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Subject: Why Not Create A Shadow Government?
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Why Not Create A Shadow Government?

By Michael Albert <www.zmag.org>

Soon, the presidential elections will be over. Without doubt
the new president, minutely different from the old
president, will be gearing to commit domestic and
international mayhem on behalf of his favored elite
constituencies. The unanswered question is what will Nader,
LaDuke, and the Greens do once the campaign is over? Having
rinspired large audiences all across the U.S., what's next?
Having built apparatuses in many states, what is to be done
with them?

I have a suggestion.  What if Nader and LaDuke were to
announce that they were establishing a shadow government?
They announce a set of cabinet members (secretary of state,
labor, etc.), a staff (press secretary, etc.), and a list of
senators across the country. They announce a web site that
includes not only the biographies of the shadow officials
and a statement by each regarding his or her aims and
priorities, but also forums for on-going discussion, a
sign-up mechanism to receive future communications, and an
extensive, compelling display of on-going shadow government
policy priorities and positions contrasted to those of the
actual government. Every week, starting with the
inauguration in January, the shadow government site could be
augmented with at least three types of material:

    1. Commentary on the shadow government's view of major U.S.
    government undertakings for the week, and what the shadow
    government would have done differently, and the estimated
    difference in impact between the shadow choices and those of
    2. Presentation of what the shadow government would have
    undertaken/initiated during the week, explaining why the
    Washington government is unlikely to embark on similar
    actions, and what the public gains would have been had the
    shadow government been able to pursue its aims.
    3. A summary contrasting the overall impact of the two
    governments for the week- plus a cumulative summary of major
    differences for the year to date.

The site could also have sections relating to various
spheres of social life-the economy, politics, cultural
issues, family matters, foreign policy, and the ecology, for
example. There could be sections for each person in the
cabinet, for the president's staff and the senate. We could
also have new appointments for the Food and Drug
Administration and other regulatory agencies, as well as for
financial institutions, courts, and so on. We could have a
section for a state of the week speech, given by
Nader/LaDuke, with a press conference, and broadcast on
diverse independent radio stations as well as on the site.
There is really no limit to the creative things that could
be done.

The point of the project would be to demonstrate as
accessibly as we can the philosophical and policy
differences and their implications between the actual
administration and a Green-Nader-LaDuke administration.
Special events could also occur, such as a shadow
inauguration, shadow state of the nation address, shadow
press conferences broadcast over the site and to the press
directly, shadow Senate votes, shadow Supreme Court
appointments, shadow budget presentations and hearings, and
even shadow White House cultural events, etc.

The shadow government site could include audio speeches and
texts as well as on-going dialogue between shadow government
officials and the public in cumulative forum systems and
live chat sessions. This would educate the public on what
the U.S. government actually does, on what its impact is,
and especially on what an alternative progressive government
would have done were it in office. It would provide a record
on which Greens could run next time around. The site, press
conferences and public campaigns, demonstrations, teach-ins,
and other events would be a thorn in the side of elite
government and, more important, an educational resource and
organizing tool in the U.S. and probably around the world as

Does all this replace getting out and organizing? Of course
not. But the idea of a shadow government with shadow events,
policies, statements, and results so people can judge if
they want something far more radical than Washington offers,
has a democratic, participatory, and engaging aura about it.
The potential for developing in diverse directions is
obvious including public debates and teach-ins around the
shadow government material, and related challenges to the
real government, to media, and to other institutions.

What is the obstacle to doing this?  Well, the technology is
easy enough. There is effort and creativity required, a lot
of energy and ingenuity, but the project wouldn't cost much
in dollars. Since there is no dearth of good people to fill
the cabinet posts, presidential staff, courts, joint chiefs,
even the whole Senate -the only real difficulty in the way
is (a) will Nader and LaDuke do it, or, if not, can others
do it in their place?; and (b) getting along, coming to
agreements, and being okay about going with "x" when some
people prefer "y" or even "z."

Well, regarding these issues, isn't it about time the left
managed to generate enough coherence, at least about
short-term critique of events and immediate positive
program, to present a united face? Wouldn't this be an
invigorating and productive way to do it? There are lots of
procedures that could be used. Even the worst option would
probably be better than nothing: Nader appointing "from the
top" all the officials and having the kind of overarching
influence on choices that a real president does. It would be
much better still, of course, for various parts of the
undertaking to be overseen by appropriate grass-roots
organizations and projects interacting together
democratically and with relative autonomy in their own

In any event, the first step would be for Nader and LaDuke
to decide they want to do it, for them and various Greens to
choose a cabinet and other central appointments, and for the
new shadow cabinet and as many other appointed officials as
possible to together decide how to deal with each week's
critical postings and policy and other determinations.

Here are just a few appointment possibilities to give an
idea of what this shadow government might look like, though
there are thousands of combinations that anyone on the left
ought to be happy with.

Imagine, for example, Noam Chomsky as shadow Secretary of
State with Howard Zinn next-door heading up the shadow
Department of Defense. How about Elaine Bernard organizing
the shadow Department of Labor, along with Manning Marable
for the shadow Department of Housing and Urban Development?
What about Barbara Ehrenreich for the shadow Department of
Health and Human Services? How about putting Jim Hightower
back in the saddle in the shadow Department of Agriculture,
while having Juliet Shor chair the Federal Reserve, and
Robin Hahnel worker self-manage the Department of the

How about FAIR's Jannine Jackson as Press Secretary, and
ex-presidential Candidate and Head of the Center of
Constitutional Rights Ron Daniels revamping the Department
of Justice?

Just think of the shadow cultural events we could sponsor
when the White House hosts a staid hypocritical evening of
operatic-scale elitism with the president pontificating
stage right of the piano-and the shadow White House hosts at
the same time the most incredible of all parties.

Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
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