Why So Much Attention to Nader? Read Our Mission Statement
A number of people have published pieces complaining about how much attention the IMC sites have been giving to Nader. But a glance at our Mission Statement should make it obvious why Nader is getting so much attention. He's running a vigorous national campaign and he's addressing the issues the brought the IMCs into existence.
LA Independent Media Center Mission Statement:
The Independent media Center is a grassroots organization committed to using media production and distribution as a tool for promoting social and economic justice in Los Angeles County. It is our goal to give voice to those people under-represented in the mainstream media. We intend to illuminate and analyze local and global issues that are affected by the increasing corporate domination of American society and the subsequent erosion of democracy. We seek to generate alternatives to the current biases in the corporate media and to contribute to the development of an equitable and sustainable society.
Now, just because Nader DOES talk about (1) promoting social and economic justice, (2) giving voice to those people under-represented in the mainstream media, (3) local and global issues that are affected by the increasing corporate domination of American society and the subsequent erosion of democracy, (4) generating alternatives to the current biases in the corporate media, and (5) contributing to the development of an equitable and sustainable society does not mean he should get a free pass.
No one should be immune to criticism, and I'm personally responsible for getting the AhoraNow criticism of Nader on our site and featured on our front page. Whether I agree with it or not, it's undeniably a serious, well thought-out piece that was generated by people with decades of organizing experience and an impressive record of recent success (with the Bus Riders Union) that shows they have a grounding in what works in the present moment. Criticism and dialogue among those who are proving themselves by producing results is a vital part of what IMC needs to do in order to fulfill its mission.
This same reason helps explain why Nader is getting so much attention by IMCs & why there's nothing wrong with it. Like it or not, his campaign is moblizing and exciting people in numbers that are clearly significant. There are more Nader volunteers in one state than there are members of Black Block in the known universe. Numbers aren't everything, of course. But they are significant. Without numbers, we'd have never shut down the WTO.
Personally, I have a great deal of sympathy with those who criticize the white-dominated nature of the Greens. I spent some time working within the Green movement (it wasn't a party yet) in 1989 and 1990, following my involvement in the Jesse Jackson campaign in 1988. I eventually dropped out because of this very issue. This is still a significant problem.
But it's also true that Nader's VP running mate is Winona LaDuke, hardly a white male left-liberal. And its true that Manning Marable, Cornel West and Randall Robinson have publicly endorsed Nader. So the issue of racial inclusion and sensistivity in the Green Party is one that requires careful thought and specificity. Wholesale broadsides just won't wash, any more than knee-jerk defenses will.
What's true of the Green Party and the Nader campaign is true of the anti-corporate movement generally. That's one reason why our mission statement speaks of "local and global issues" -- it reflects the priorities of the D2K demonstrations, and the need to have our organizing reflect the connections we know to exist. This necessarily means a serious concern with racial diversity in our organizing, and learning whatever lessons need to be learned toward that end.
The Nader campaign is getting the attention it's getting for one simple reason: It's NEWS, news that fits the focus of our concerns as expressed in our mission statement. The fact that it embodies our shortcomings as well as our strengths makes it MORE newsworthy, not less, because we're not here just to be cheerleaders, but to help further the process of developing critical self-knowledge, learning from our mistakes, overcoming our shortcomings, and growing beyond our limitations.
There is no one correct strategy, no one true way that's beyond questioning. Every plan of action, every system of analysis has weaknesses as well as strengths. But if we conduct ourselves compassionately and intelligently, we can build *greater* strength from our differences, disagreements and diversity of backgrounds, views and approaches. If we don't conduct ourselves compassionately and intelligently, we'll simply do what's been done so many times before: waste most of our time and energy attacking one another, dragging each other--and ourselves--down to defeat.
We alone have the power to defeat our movement. No one else does. Not the cops, not the corporations, not the media, not the global elites, NO ONE has the power to defeat us except ourselves. The choice is ours. We don't have to agree with each other all the time. We don't have to stop criticizing each other. We simply have to respect each other, and keep our disagreements and criticisms in context as part of the struggle we're waging.