Nader's groovy night out

By Carina Chocano

Published October 25, 2000 7:12AM (EDT)

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Carina Chocano's dissection of Nader's problem -- his icky supporters -- is spot-on accurate.

I attended one local Nader organizing meeting and never went to another, although I continued to flirt with the idea of voting for Nader until recently. About eight people showed up at this meeting in a bookstore coffee shop. One guy wore a Che Guevara T-shirt and asked for money so he could pay for his radical public-access TV show. He wanted to use the show as a platform to campaign for Nader. A woman kept babbling about how her husband left her and how she owned an abandoned farmhouse and we could all chip in money to renovate the farmhouse and use it as a campaign headquarters. There were the usual 55-year-old hippies sporting their well-practiced beatific smiles. The men had untrimmed beards and both sexes had stringy, center-parted hair. The local campaign organizer's home answering-machine message notified callers that she was probably home and screening the call, and to leave a message and she would call back if she felt like it. Everyone at the meeting was white.

They didn't want to recruit people and campaign by knocking on doors and staffing booths at festivals. The consensus was that if they recruited people to join the campaign, the meetings at the coffee shop would get unwieldy. Seriously. They said canvassing would be a waste of time.

And I concluded that hanging out with these unhygienic granola-munchers would be a waste of my time. When Greens get haircuts, put on nice shoes, brush their teeth, wear collared shirts and presentable trousers, stop invoking Che Guevara and cease prattling about hemp legalization, perhaps regular Americans will listen to them.

-- Holden Lewis

I was at the Ralph Nader rally in Oakland Saturday night and I saw precious few Birkenstocks. But then I wasn't looking for them, or for other sights to ridicule or demean. I did see quite a few folks with long hair -- hardly surprising these days. Are they the "hippies" your writer tells us comprised such a large part of the crowd? I saw a lot of old folks and a lot of young folks and a lot of middle-aged folks. Yes, most of them were white. (But 99 percent? Who counted?) That's hardly surprising either, given the traditional attachment of minority groups to the Democratic Party, and the dominance of whites historically in the environmental movement, from whence sprang the Green Party. That is bound to change in time, because the Greens aren't going away and their message is all-inclusive: We all live on this planet and we all have to pull together to save it from the global corporate takeover.

Cornel West never called Nader "Comrade" Nader. He did refer to him, twice by my count, as "a comrade." He also called him "a friend." Does that word have sinister overtones of Quakerism? He also called himself and Nader, and the rest of us "radical democrats." I don't know about everyone there, but I plead guilty to that charge. As for the folks peddling left-wing, even (gasp!) socialist publications outside, what were the Greens to do? Forbid their presence? Call the cops? Get real! We're about building a progressive party; we welcome all progressives.

The writer seemed somewhat sympathetic to the message, and reported it fairly, except for the wise-ass cracks. But I guess modern journalism wouldn't be complete without "hip" and "edgy" cynicism to set the tone.

-- Gary Craig

Wow. This article was out of sight! I mean, I haven't been taken back to the '60s like this, in a loooong time. The part it takes me back to is the mindless dorks who used to say stupid things about "unwashed hippies" with their weird clothes and long, stringy hair. Hey, man -- I'm glad things have changed. It's great that we don't stereotype people, and hide real, unique individuals behind stupid, hurtful generalizations and categories.

That's one of the things I don't miss about the '60s at all. It's good to see that we -- and Carina Chocano -- have gotten beyond that sort of thing.

Peace, baby.

-- Dan Raphael

When Nader speaks of political takeover by large corporations, Carina opines, "He's not wrong, of course."

Yes, he is wrong. Corporations don't vote, people do. It doesn't matter what corporations want, people can vote against all of it. Most people don't think Nader's issues are important. Don't blame it on corporate America.

-- John Shearer

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