It’s a nearly forgotten yet proven fact that in the 2000 presidential race, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader openly expressed a preference for George W. Bush in the White House over Al Gore.
It should be no surprise, then, that the Greens’ current presidential and VP candidates, Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, have begun expressing their preference for a Donald Trump victory. Last week on C-SPAN, Stein said:
On the issue of war… it is actually Hillary’s policies which are much scarier than Donald Trump, who does not want to go to war with Russia. He wants to seek modes of working together, which is the route that we need to follow.
On Thursday, Stein and Baraka tweeted their new claims that Trump is a man of peace, with Stein retweeting her running mate’s comments.
The Pilger piece they tweeted says:
Donald Trump is… a maverick. He says the invasion of Iraq was a crime; he doesn’t want to go to war with Russia and China. The danger to the rest of us is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton.
The Greens’ Republican preference is madness but faithfully adheres to Nader’s description of the Green plan to assist Republican candidates in order to heighten public anger and desire for revolt. In that light, they must see Donald Trump as a dream come true.
If you’re skeptical that these new statements can’t possibly mean that’s the Green goal, it’s crucial to understand the history of the 2000 campaign between Bush and Gore; every voter should.
The third-party landscape in 2016
But first, let’s the set the stage for what’s coming in November.
The Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, a former Republican governor (as is his running mate), has won an appearance on all fifty states’ ballots. Jill Stein will be on 44. Another Republican, Evan McMullin, will be on 12 ballots as an independent alternative to Trump. None, as we all now know, achieved the polling threshold required to appear in official presidential debates.
The conventional wisdom is that Johnson draws away votes fairly equally from both parties, while Stein primarily draws from Democrats, though anything could happen. The nonpartisan Campus Election Engagement Project states:
… Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s positions are far closer to Clinton’s, especially on domestic issues, than either of them are to Trump…
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson holds more divergent positions and therefore will have a more unpredictable impact on the election results. His positions tend to be closer to Trump’s than to Clinton’s on most issues, like cutting taxes and cutting or eliminating environmental and consumer protection laws. And Libertarians generally draw votes from Republicans. But Johnson’s positions on issues like marijuana legalization and his anti-interventionist policies also draw Democrats…
Johnson has been polling 6%-8%. Voters of his in close states could defeat either Clinton or Trump. By voting Third Party, they leave this decision to others, risking the election of the candidate they most vehemently oppose.
2%-4% of voters favor Stein in recent polls. Given the closeness of this race, by voting for Stein they could make it more likely for Trump to become President.
Now let’s take a closer look at the role of the Greens, now and in 2000.
Nader repeatedly said he preferred Bush to Gore in the White House
In 2000, besides Nader heading the Green ticket, the other significant third party contender was Pat Buchanan, who had twice failed in winning the Republican nomination and was now running on Ross Perot‘s Reform Party ticket. While Republicans worried about Buchanan, Democrats fretted about the Greens.
Before the election, Nader told Outside Magazine:
When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: “Bush… If you want the parties to diverge from one another, have Bush win.”
He also said this to a Rolling Stone reporter who asked, “Since you’re planning to raise $5 million and run hard this year, does that mean you would not have a problem providing the margin of defeat for Gore?”
“I would not — not at all,” Nader answered. “I’d rather have a provocateur than an anesthetizer in the White House. “
This was a line Nader was to repeat several times:
… 12 former colleagues asked Nader to reevaluate his strategy of lumping together Democrats and Republicans.
“It is now clear that you might well give the White House to Bush,” the former colleagues wrote in a statement published Friday. “As a result, you would set back significantly the social progress to which you have devoted your entire, astonishing career… It is time for you once again to step aside in the best interest of your nation.”
The letter was signed “Former Nader Raiders,” the name used by those who worked with Nader from 1969 to 1984…
After lambasting Gore as part of a do-nothing Clinton administration, Nader said: “If it were a choice between a provocateur and an ‘anesthetizer,’ I’d rather have a provocateur. It would mobilize us.”
… in the past Nader has said that a Bush victory could have an oddly beneficial effect for the Green movement… Bush, Nader has said, could be the same kind of “provocateur” if elected.
If you thought the Green Party goal was (and is) to push Democrats to the left, you’re sadly mistaken… Nader was clear he sought to destroy them, by using the GOP to worsen the nation’s problems so citizens would look to the Greens to save them:
… a group of a dozen former “Nader’s Raiders,” who asserted that their former mentor had broken a promise not to campaign in states where he could hurt Gore and begged him to reconsider doing so.
… Nader has made it perfectly clear that his campaign isn’t about trying to pull the Democrats back to the left. Rather, his strategy is the Leninist one of “heightening the contradictions.” It’s not just that Nader is willing to take a chance of being personally responsible for electing Bush. It’s that he’s actively trying to elect Bush because he thinks that social conditions in American need to get worse before they can better.
Nader often makes this “the worse, the better” point on the stump in relation to Republicans and the environment… Nader understands that his movement thrives on misery.
Nader told Tim Russert on Meet The Press that “it didn’t matter who was in the White House,” but then, incredibly, suggested Bush would be better for the environment than Al Gore, and that a Bush win would be considered success for the Greens:
RUSSERT: Would it bother you that if you did so well in California, Oregon, Washington state, along the West Coast, that Al Gore lost the election?
NADER: No, not at all… There may be a cold shower for four years that would help the Democratic Party… It doesn’t matter who is in the White House.
RUSSERT: … Would [Al Gore] not be better on [environmental and consumer] issues than George W. Bush?
NADER: On corporate power issues, apart from the rhetoric, no… regulatory agencies under Clinton/Gore are as bad or worse than under Reagan/Bush…
RUSSERT: So if you wake up in November of 2000 and the Green Party has gotten 5 percent of the vote, but Al Gore has lost and George W. Bush is the next president, you’ll consider the day a success?
NADER: The Green Party will get more than 5 percent of the vote… We’ll have a more competitive, robust effort, and I’d like to, along with Pat Buchanan, get on these presidential debates…
The Greens intentionally targeted swing states to shift votes from Gore to Bush
Nader’s closest advisor and nephew Tarek Milleronconfirmedthis was the Green Party’s goal:
Although Milleron argued that environmentalists and other activists would find fundraising easier under Bush, he acknowledged that a Bush presidency would be worse for poor and working-class people, for blacks, for most Americans… But when I suggested that Nader could gain substantial influence in a Democratic administration by focusing his campaign on the 40 safe states and encouraging his supporters elsewhere to vote Gore, Milleron leaned coolly toward me with extra steel in his voice and body. He did not disagree. He simply said, “We’re not going to do that.”
“Why not?” I said.
With just a flicker of smile, he answered, “Because we want to punish the Democrats, we want to hurt them, wound them.”
There was a long silence and the conversation was over. Milleron’s words are so remarkable they bear repeating: Ralph Nader ran so he could hurt, wound, and punish the Democrats. His primary goal was not raising issues, much less building the Green Party. He actively wanted Gore to lose.
Not only was Nader not avoiding swing states, he was, in fact, targeting them.
Nader spent the final days of the Bush-Gore election campaigning in Florida, knowing it was pivotal for Gore.
The GOP was grateful, running TV ads showing Nader attacking Gore.
Nothing but slogans from Stein and Nader when asked ‘Why are Greens willing to help Republicans?!’
The similarities between Nader and Stein are remarkable and run deep. They share an identical approach when asked about their strategy’s impact on real lives, using contemptuous non-answers composed of “made-for-television nonsequiturs.” With Nader:
“If asked about being a spoiler, he’d invariably reply, ‘You can’t spoil a system that’s spoiled to the core.'” Chait concludes: “Not since Steve Forbes has a presidential candidate turned aside unwanted queries so robotically. Nader’s one-liners were pure, made-for-television nonsequiturs, all refusing to engage on any substantive level the fact that his candidacy might prove a decisive factor in Bush’s election.”
Nader’s empty sloganeering can be heard in Stein, as in this exchange last week with Mehdi Hasan of Al-Jazeera America:
HASAN: Do you agree, Jill Stein, with Noam Chomsky, that if you’re in a swing state like Pennsylvania, where you are now, that could determine the next election result, you should vote for Hillary as a progressive in order to stop the lesser of two evils, the very right-wing — some would say far right-wing — candidate Donald Trump? Surely that’s a no-brainer?
STEIN: It will be horrific if Trump wins, but I am not at all reassured by the policies of Hillary Clinton… Democracy needs an affirmative agenda…
HASAN: OK, but one of them is going to be the next president. Most Americans are going to choose between those two people, and if they were to ask you, “Jill Stein, I’m in a swing state, I’m worried about Donald Trump, like Noam Chomsky, should I vote for Hillary Clinton to stop Trump?” What is your advice to that voter?
STEIN: You should vote for our future…
A strange and toxic myth: ‘No real difference between Democrats and Republicans’
It’s an odd schizophrenia of the Greens, this idea that “the parties are the same, but it’s better if the GOP gets in.” Nader’s stock line when insisting there was no significant difference between the two major parties was calling them twins named “Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum.” The claim is breathtakingly oblivious to the reality of the impact on actual human lives beyond the Greens’ ivory tower.
Black Lives Matters campaigners should take note of this deeply foreshadowing assessment of Nader’s 2000 irrationality and standpoint of privilege:
… to argue that there is no significant difference between the two candidates on racial matters is to argue that blacks, Latinos and others are the victims of a grand hoax to which white leftists are somehow immune… Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. explained that while “some of us are making decisions from the perspective of philosophy and the luxury of our comfortableness…there are other members of our coalition, who are not here, who have everything at stake.” To take one small example of the issues in question, California State Senator Tom Hayden observes that a Gore presidency could lead to effective Justice Department measures to curb crimes committed on a systematic basis by law enforcement officers, while George W. Bush has complained of the Justice Department’s “overaggressive” police brutality investigations. This is, notes Hayden, “the kind of difference you just can’t responsibly forget.”
In short, angry about police brutality and racial injustice? Thank the Greens for Bush.
Stein shares Nader’s bizarre view of the parties’ supposed sameness. As she said at a 2013 Green Party event in Florida:
We’ve gotta… recognize that the difference between the lesser and greater evil is really window dressing. It’s window dressing. There may be some differences — this isn’t to say there are none — but those differences are not big enough to save your life, to save your job, to save the climate, to save our food system, to save our colleges and our local schools and our housing. They absolutely agree on the devastation that’s being heaped on all those areas.
That last line, though. Could it be more ludicrous, not to mention grossly insulting, to the conservation community? In Stein’s mind, since major environmental groups support Clinton and not Stein, they too must agree on the glories of climate devastation. One must wonder if Stein’s fondness for Trump comes from a shared distaste for nuance.
Meanwhile back on Planet Earth, the difference between the parties on the environment is dramatic and widening. The League of Conservation Voters’ National Environmental Scorecard tells the story, starkly and inarguably, on climate, air, water, toxics, energy, drilling, transportation, forests, and oceans. It shows House Republican pro-environmental votes have been steadily dropping from 22% in the 1990s to today’s abysmal 5%. Among Congressional party leaders, Democratic senators average 98 percent on pro-environmental votes while Republicans are at 9%; in the House, it’s 86% to 6%.
Donald Trump would be the only world leader who denies climate science. “Window dressing,” indeed.
When will Greens take responsibility for Bush’s Iraq war and environmental devastation?
The philosophy of the Greens then and now is to refuse responsibility for the consequences of their actions on the environment, the people, and wildlife. When Jill Stein tweets about a “damning” report on endangered bees, she fails to acknowledge it’s a damning indictment of her own party. She takes no responsibility for her party giving us the man who gutted the Endangered Species Act and fought pesticide regulations. More incredibly, she’s now openly lending support to the man who vows to end the EPA completely.
This is the Green trademark, as Eric Alterman of The Nation wrote in 2000:
How odd it is to note, therefore, that this nascent leftist movement has virtually no support among African-Americans, Latinos or Asian-Americans. It has no support among organized feminist groups, organized gay rights groups or mainstream environmental groups. To top it all off, it has no support in the national union movement…
Although Nader has said that he would not consciously work to elect Bush over Gore, “he is not keeping his pledges,” according to his onetime comrades in Nader’s Raiders for Gore. Nader has been campaigning aggressively in Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. If Gore loses even a few of those states, then Hello, President Bush. And if Bush does win, then Goodbye to so much of what Nader and his followers profess to cherish. Goodbye, for instance, to affirmative action, abortion rights, gun control, campaign finance reform, minimum-wage raises, environmental protection, consumer protection, class-action lawsuits, worker-safety legislation and just about everything else the government can do to help the neediest and most vulnerable among us…
If elected, [Al Gore] will arguably be the most environmentally sensitive and sophisticated politician ever to occupy the Oval Office… George Bush, it is safe to predict, would ignore those aspects of environmental protection that he did not reverse. The former oilman has one of the worst environmental records of any governor in the entire fifty states.
Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope wrote Nader an emotional letter in late October 2000:
… You have made clear that you will consider it a victory if the net result of your campaign is a Bush presidency. But what will your “cold shower” mean for real people and real places?
- What will it mean for tens of millions of asthmatic children when Bush applies to the nation the “voluntary” approach he’s using in Texas to clean up the air…. And what about his stated opposition to enforcing environmental standards against corporations?
- … What will it mean for Americans vulnerable to water pollution when Bush allows water quality standards to be degraded to meet the needs of paper mills and refineries as he has consistently done in Texas… And what if he eliminates federal financial support for both drinking water and water pollution, as his budget calls for…
- What will it mean for communities of color and poverty located near toxic waste sites, when Bush applies his Texas approach of lower standards and lower polluter liability to toxic waste clean-up?
- What will a Bush election mean to the Gwich’in people of the Arctic, when the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is turned over the oil companies and the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou herd on which they depend are destroyed and despoiled?
- What will it mean for the fishing families of the Pacific Northwest when Bush amends the Endangered Species Act to make extinction for the endangered salmon a legally acceptable option?…
- What will it mean for millions of rural Americans whose livelihood, health and communities are being destroyed by unregulated factory feeding operations, if Bush weakens the Clean Water Act? When he appoints Supreme Court justices who complete the task of shutting down access to federal courts for citizens trying to enforce environmental laws?
- What will it mean for the wildlife that depend upon our National Forests when Bush undoes the Clinton-Gore Administration reforms, reverses their roadless area protection policy, and restores the timber industry to the mastery of the forests…
- What will it mean for millions of people in Bangladesh and other low-lying countries when an American refusal to confront the problem of global warming unleashes the floods and typhoons of a rising ocean upon them?
I, and the overwhelming majority of the environmental movement in this country, genuinely believe that your strategy is flawed, dangerous and reckless… My hope is that by electing the best environmental President in American history, Al Gore, we can move forward. My fear is that you, blinded by your anger at flaws of the Clinton-Gore Administration, may be instrumental in electing the worst.
After the 2000 election, Nader was not only unapologetic for handing Bush the presidency, he soon announced he’d do it again in the 2002 midterms:
He is not coy about his motives. Just as he ran for president to punish Gore and the Democrats…, now he wants to knock off congressional Democrats who have committed the same sins. As he put it, “The Democrats are going to have to lose more elections. They didn’t get the message last time.”
Danny Goldberg reported in Tikkun that Nader told supporters he wouldn’t campaign late in swing states… Ronnie Dugger, the veteran journalist who nominated Nader at the Green convention, learned about Nader’s battleground-barnstorming strategy long after the election. “Why hasn’t Nader been building the Green Party for the last four years?… Nader was more interested in beating Gore than beating Bush.”
Nader… spent the last days of the campaign in swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and, especially, Florida, which… he visited five times all told… And in Florida, though Nader’s poll numbers dipped from 6 percent to 4 to his final 1.6, his 97,488 voters tipped the election.
Political scientists agree that the Green Party indeed gave the world President George W. Bush
Though any of many factors could have swung the race Gore’s way, political scientists agree on one factor: that without Nader, Gore would have been President. Pat Buchanan, they concluded, might just as easily have had a similar impact on Bush. Political scientists from Dartmouth and UCLA wrote:
We find that … Nader was a spoiler for Gore.
Just a few hundred votes separated Bush from Gore, yet Nader received nearly 100,000 votes. If even a small fraction of his voters had chosen Gore instead, the Democrats would have won the presidency… Gore probably would have won without Nader in the picture…
Tellingly, this study also found:
Only 1 in ten Nader voters say they wish they could change their vote after knowing how close the election was.
From Rutgers University in Political Science Quarterly:
If Nader had not been on the ballot, Gore would have carried Florida and all of the other close states easily, giving him a comfortable electoral total of at least 292.
The tragic legacy of the Green Party’s successful fight to stop Al Gore
The result of the Greens’ role in the 2000 debacle was tragedy for America and the world:
… with Gore as president, we would not have invaded Iraq, which has cost more than 3,795 American and over one million Iraqi lives, and undermined America’s reputation around the world. In addition, the scandals and misdeeds that have surrounded the Bush White House — the tax cuts for the rich, the rollback of environmental regulations, the attack on science on issues like stem cells and global warming, the overwhelming influence of the energy industrial complex, the evisceration of consumer and workplace safety laws, the failure to respond to the victims of Katrina, and the appointment of Supreme Court justices that created a majority that opposes reproductive choice, affirmative action, and workers rights — would not have occurred.
While Stein obsesses over imaginary questions about trace amounts of mercury in vaccines, what of her party’s role in allowing roughly fifty tons of mercury every year to be spewed into the atmosphere from power plants while Bush was undermining the Clean Air Act’s mercury rule throughout his term, and suppressing government scientists’ research on rising mercury levels in children and pregnant women to levels that impair IQ and motor skills? It seems she was too busy supporting fraudster Andrew Wakefield in his efforts to sow vaccine paranoia over a preservative for which there’s never been evidence of harm, as she just admitted this week:
I was part of a movement to remove mercury from vaccines. Incredibly, this public health win has been twisted to smear me as "anti-vaccine."
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) October 13, 2016
If there’s one issue the Greens surrendered moral high ground on more than any other, it’s climate change. In the years since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol climate treaty, which Bill Clinton endorsed, the Greens killed (by fighting to stop Al Gore), and Bush rejected:
- The West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have lost 5.5 trillion tons of ice…
- The five-year average surface global temperature for January to October has risen by nearly two-thirds of a degree Fahrenheit…
- The average glacier has lost about 39 feet…of ice thickness…
- … carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels climbed nearly 50 percent…
- The seas have risen nearly 2 1/2 inches… At its low point during the summer, the Arctic sea ice is on average 820,000 square miles smaller…
- The five deadliest heat waves of the past century… have come…
- The number of weather and climate disasters worldwide has increased 42 percent… Studies have shown that man-made climate change contributed in a number of recent weather disasters. Among those that climate scientists highlight as most significant: the 2003 European heat wave that killed 70,000 people…; Hurricane Sandy, worsened by sea level rise, which caused more than $67 billion in damage and claimed 159 lives; the 2010 Russian heat wave that left more than 55,000 dead; …Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 in the Philippines in 2013.
Will the Greens use their final weeks to target swing states as Nader did?
If a history is any guide, in these closing weeks of the election the Greens will not only fail to end campaigning in swing states, they will actually target them in an effort to peel away Clinton votes in favor of Trump.
Let’s hope that the Greens discover enough conscience to break from that history in this zero hour.