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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Chomsky vs. Nader vs. Kerry vs. Bush

A live debate between Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader -- two of the left wing's more prominent thinkers -- is a progressive's wet dream, but we'll have to settle here for the written word.

On Tuesday, Chomsky posted an entry on his blog titled, "Replying to Nader." The post addresses several comments made by Nader in an Oct. 4 interview with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman.

In the middle of the lengthy interview, Goodman asks Nader about a Sept. 14 petition signed by Chomsky and dozens of other progressives who supported Nader in 20002, including Barbara Ehrenreich, Howard Zinn and Ben Cohen. The petition says:

"We, the undersigned, were selected by Ralph Nader to be members of his 113-person national "Nader 2000 Citizens Committee." This year, we urge support for Kerry/Edwards in all swing states, even while we strongly disagree with Kerry's policies on Iraq and other issues. For people seeking progressive social change in the United States, removing George W. Bush from office should be the top priority in the 2004 presidential election. Progressive votes for John Kerry in swing states may prove decisive in attaining this vital goal."
When Goodman asked Nader about this, he said: "Well, it's a total loss of nerve. I mean, first of all, they didn't ask anything of Kerry. They said to the voters in the close states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, they said, vote for Kerry, quote, even though we strongly disagree with Kerry on the war and other issues, end quote. Well, when you don't demand anything of Kerry, he gets worse."

Chomsky was asked about this on his blog on Oct. 12. Among other things, he said:
"It’s important to keep the Bush crew from having another four years in power, even more important now than it was 4 years ago. That entails `tactical voting,' meaning against Bush in swing states. But other than that, the statement says nothing about supporting Nader, the Greens, or any other political organization. That wasn’t the point of that very brief and narrow statement, and if it had gone on, participants might have expressed various ideas about safe states and elections other than the presidential election—which are crucial."
Personally, I'm voting for Kerry and hope all progressives do as well. As publisher of MOON Magazine here in Gainesville, I endorsed Nader in 2000 because I wanted the Green Party to become a viable third party, and getting at least 5 percent of the vote meant federal funding for the party in the next election cycle.

This year there is no such impetus, because Nader is running as an independent. Also, Bush has proven to be a miserable failure and a threat to our existence as a species, so it is important to remove Bush and his cabal from power so we can begin working on real change. Kerry is not perfect, but we all know George W. Bush, and Kerry's no Dubya.

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