MoveOn, a Democratic Party front group, is said to have 2.5 million "members" (Don Hazen, "Taking It to the Streets," AlterNet, August 25, 2004). Supporters of the Democratic Party are duly impressed, but should we, leftists who seek to create a political party of the working class and our allies?
According to the latest Gallup survey of voters in Ohio, among the registered voters, Ralph Nader gets 5%, and among the likely voters, he gets 4% (David W. Moore, "Close Presidential Race in Ohio: Kerry 48%, Bush 46% among Likely Voters," Gallup.com, August 19, 2004). Nationwide, 3% of likely voters and 5% of registered voters say they support Nader/Camejo 2004 ("USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll Results," USA Today, August 23, 2004). It is safe to say that Nader/Camejo supporters in the USA, not counting non-citizens, number six millions or more this year (calculated conservatively based on the 2000 data of registered voters: "Registered Voter Turnout Improved in 2000 Presidential Election, Census Bureau Reports," February 27, 2004). That is a group larger than and to the left of the subscribers to MoveOn mailing lists.
Leftists ought to take interest in organizing six-million-strong Nader/Camejo supporters. Don't leave the task of organizing to the Nader/Camejo campaign.
After the 2000 election, some -- Greens and non-Greens -- grumbled that "Nader didn't organize the Nader voters." Nonsense. Nader's job is to serve as a figurehead, lending us his hard-earned national name recognition -- no more and no less. It is our job, i.e. the job of rank-and-file organizers, to make use of Nader's name to find and organize Nader supporters. For leftists, an electoral campaign like Nader/Camejo 2004 is a means, not an end in itself. Use the campaign as an occasion that allows us to go out and discover our allies who have not met us -- and one another -- yet. We should be building our own network -- a collection of lists of names and contact information -- of citizens and residents of the United States who are opposed to the rule of capitalist empire as a matter of principle, and there is no better way of doing so than asking people whether they support Nader/Camejo this year. And that's the network that we can use after November 2, 2004. To rebuild the movement against the occupations of Iraq and Palestine, and to organize core supporters of independent political action, i.e. political action by and for the working class and our allies, unbounded by the limits of acceptable speech and behavior dictated by the Democratic Party elite.