Give Nader a Chance

RECEIVED Tue., Aug. 3, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Thanks for Michael King's excellent piece on Ralph Nader's legal battle to get on the treacherous Texas ballot ["Nader Raiders Target Texas Ballot," News, July 30]. Correction: Mr. Nader filed 84,000 signatures (not 40,000).
   I want to respond to Texas Democratic Party official Mike Lavigne, who was quoted saying, "Ralph Nader has become nothing more than a shill for the Republicans."
   Independents across the country began our participation in this election by offering support to any of the Democratic primary candidates if they would address our concerns to minimize special interest influence on the policy-making process. In particular, Howard Dean began to reach out to independents. However, the Democratic "regulars" put the stop to the Dean movement. Enter American hero Ralph Nader. Now these same Democrats seek to destroy Mr. Nader’s campaign, and with it, the independent movement for political reform.
   In a letter to Terry McAuliffe, Independent activist of New York, Jackie Salit, recently wrote, "Independents are very familiar with the political tricks used against us whenever we step out of the box. In this instance, the Democratic Party – with your full throated endorsement – is conspiring to remove Nader from the ballot wherever possible, an obstruction of democracy that is unprecedented in a presidential election. When that obstruction is resisted – including by Republicans – your response is to tar and feather Nader and the independent movement with the charge that we have capitulated to right-wing corporate power. Rarely have I seen such a vivid example of the pot calling the kettle black."
   Mr. Nader has put his legacy on the line by daring to run in this election. He is giving us – the 35% independent plurality – a chance to hear a sincere opposition viewpoint in this election as the only anti-war, anti-special interest candidate. The courts will decide whether he will be on the Texas ballot. Let's not let the parties decide who will be heard. Sign the petition at www.letnaderdebate.org!
Linda Curtis
Independent Texans
   [Michael King responds: As I should have made clear, the 40,000 signatures cited by Nader campaign spokeswoman Debbie Russell referred to those submitted on Nader's behalf by Republican consultants in Michigan – Nader's own petitioners submitted approximately 5,400 of the 30,000 needed in that state. As stipulated by both parties in federal court last week, Nader's Texas campaign submitted somewhat fewer than the 64,076 valid signatures required for ballot access in Texas. As Linda Curtis well knows, describing Jackie Salit as an "independent activist" is rather like describing Rush Limbaugh as a "professional journalist." Salit is the spokeswoman for something called the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, the latest front-group of New York psychological huckster Fred Newman and his cultlike "social therapy" movement. That Nader's campaign is now relying heavily on GOP petitioners and repackaged Newmanites for core support does not speak well either for Nader or his campaign.]
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