Nader's Raiders For Gore

An argument that has begun to gain momentum in recent days is that Ralph Nader's candidacy is going to ensure that George W. Bush enters the White House. And that because of this, and because Nader and Gore share more points of agreement than do Nader and Bush, some are arguing that Nader supporters should consider backing Gore, or that Nader himself should consider dropping out of the race. Some even argue that Nader should endorse Gore in the last week of the election.

An interesting aspect in all of this is that several former Nader supporters have begun to voice this argument publicly.

Even a website Nader's Raiders For Gore has been launched to take the case to cyberspace. Below is the open letter written to Ralph Nader by his former supporters in support of Al Gore.

Do you think they have a point?

Let us know.

Dear Ralph:

For 35 years, you have stood for the principle that only informed and active citizens can ensure the strength and integrity of our democracy. The hundreds of idealistic young people you brought to Washington - whom the press dubbed "Nader's Raiders" - became the vanguard of these "public citizens." Using skills from law, medicine, economics, and other professions, our mission was to dig hard for facts and speak truth to power.

You uniquely personified the idealism and integrity of this effort and are the public trustee of our ongoing legacy. In this context, we ask you to review the facts and premise of your campaign for the Presidency. To ask voters to support your candidacy on the basis that there are no major differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties is a serious misstatement of fact. No Nader Report would support that assertion.

There are major differences between the parties on the environment, social security policy, health care reform, tax policy, and reproductive rights, to name just a few. The next President will make over 5000 Executive Branch political appointments. Mr. Bush's appointees, unlike Mr. Gore's, will much more likely oppose the full, active enforcement of environmental, consumer protection, and occupational health and safety laws which Nader's Raiders worked so hard to enact. Mr. Gore has a long and distinguished record of commitment to these goals. George W. Bush does not.

We are especially concerned about Bush's appointments to the Federal judiciary where so many of the battles over enforcement of these laws are decided. Please remember that President Nixon appointed Mr. Rehnquist to the Supreme Court 30 years ago and his conservative hand still grips American jurisprudence. Please consider that 48% of President Reagan's 379 federal judgeship appointees are still serving today and that George W. Bush, if elected, will have an immediate 64 vacancies to fill as early as January 21, 2001.

Bush judicial appointments likely to serve as long as 30 years will be far more likely to deny standing to consumer complaints, to deny or limit discovery, and to limit remedies to expose or rectify corporate errors and abuses. In addition to its influence in the Federal judiciary, the Republican Party currently controls both the House and the Senate.

If the White House also reverts to Republican control, the checks and balances against partisan extremism on environmental and consumer issues will be the weakest in 20 years. Executive branch enforcement of environmental and consumer laws and regulations may be passive. With full respect for you and profound concern over these looming threats to the Nader legacy, we ask you to reassess your candidacy.

The attached opinion polls now show that you are drawing between 3 and 8% of the total vote in each of nine states - Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin, a level of support which is equal to or more than the present differences in support for Al Gore and George Bush.

More importantly your candidacy has reduced Al Gore's support to between 42 to 45% since most of your likely voters would be in the Gore camp if you were not on the ballot.

In an early August fundraiser, in response to a direct request that you withdraw in light of the likely election train wreck you would cause you declined for three reasons.

First, you predicted that Pat Buchanan would reduce the Bush vote by a comparable number.

You were wrong.

Second, you said you would campaign only where your candidacy would not hurt Gore's ability to carry the state.

You now have broken that pledge to us as you have campaigned in Florida and Michigan among other states.

Third, you suggested that only "clairvoyance" could predict your impact on the race.

It no longer takes clairvoyance.

It is now clear that you might well give the White House to Bush.

As a result, you would set back significantly the social progress to which you have devoted your entire, astonishing career. You have sacrificed for the benefit of the common good your entire adult life, as we, your friends and colleagues, know well. There have been countless occasions where you stayed in the background when that helped achieve the maximum benefit for others.

It is time for you once again to step aside in the best interests of our nation. It would be a cruel irony indeed if your major legacy were to erase the victory from the candidate who most embodies your philosophy, Al Gore, and to give the Executive Branch to the party which has consistently resisted your progressive ideals.

We urge you to ask your supporters, as we do now, to honor your ideas and to vote for the man who is most likely to put them into action - Al Gore.


Former Nader Raiders

Thursday, October 26, 2000