Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign has been dogged with image problems.First comes the news that about 10 percent of the supporters of Nader who gave $250 or more to his campaign also are big funders of the Republican Party. Not exactly news. Nader received significant contributions from die-hard Republicans in 2000.Next is Nader’s flirtation with Lenora Fulani, who twice ran for president as the New Alliance Party candidate. He spoke at “Choosing an Independent President 2004 Campaign,” convened in New Hampshire by her organization, the Committee for a Unified Independent Party. Fulani is a follower of psychologist Fred Newman, a cult leader who founded what is known as the “social therapy movement.” Nader is cozying up to Fulani, who has endorsed his candidacy, because she heads a national organization with experience gaining third-party ballot status. Chip Berlet, of Political Research Associates, a Boston-based group that studies antidemocratic groups, says that control of this apparatus allowed Fulani and Newman to become major players in the Reform Party in 2000 when Pat Buchanan headed the ticket.According to Berlet, the Nader-Fulani-Buchanan axis is not that unusual:Nader has had an ongoing relationship with Buchanan for many years. What you have here is the left-right coalition to smash the corrupt regime that is built around right-wing populist rhetoric—a strategy that was devastatingly bad when it was adopted by some socialists in Germany in the ‘20s. You would hope that real progressives would make this mistake only once.Now, Nader failed to collect 1,000 signatures at an Oregon rally that would have put him on the ballot immediately. Only 741 people showed up. So he and his supporters have decided to take a longer route, collecting 15,000 signatures over a three-month period rather than 1,000 in a single gathering.Not to say that things aren’t going well for the campaign. Polls show that Nader is supported by 3 to 7 percent of voters, more than enough to act the spoiler.Not so, says Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese. “Nader will be taking votes from both parties,” he told the Moonie-owned Washington Times. “The Reform Party supported Bush in 2000 and they had been urging Ralph to run before he announced.” In other words, the Reform Party is still supporting Bush.
Joel Bleifuss, a former director of the Peace Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the editor & publisher of In These Times, where he has worked since October 1986.