Man who ran Nader's campaign in Florida & supports Sanders says Dems are lost cause
Sen. Bernie Sanders inspired a huge amount of independent supporters in a way no one, maybe even the supporters themselves, thought likely; he got them enthusiastically involved in the Democratic primary. These are people who likely never identified as Democrats before the Sanders campaign started, and who might not after his campaign ends.
Despite former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all but securing the nomination, and even Sanders himself admitting on C-Span that he won't be the Democratic nominee, the Sanders campaign continues. Sanders has indicated that he would vote for Clinton in November, but has yet to officially endorse her.
The big questions now are: How much of that Sanders support will transfer to Clinton in the general election? What if too many of those independent-minded voters are drawn to the Libertarian or Green Party or other third party candidate? What if they don't show up to the polls at all, seeing no candidate worth voting for? Could any or all of those possibilities cost Clinton election and hand Donald Trump the White House? Could Bernie voters end up being the dreaded 'spoiler' for Clinton?
To get an inside perspective on these questions, I spoke to an enthusiastic Bernie supporter who is not a Democrat and who knows something about getting slapped with that "spoiler" label in a presidential election. His name is Alan Kobrin, and he ran Ralph Nader's campaign in 2000 in Florida. He was the Nader campaign's state coordinator, and he says he was the only full-time person working on the Nader campaign in the state.
Many, many people believe that the votes Nader got in Florida in 2000 cost Al Gore the state, and in turn, gave George W. Bush the White House.
Should Sanders work hard to get his supporters to support Hillary?
Absolutely not. Not even minimally. In fact, he probably is doing it more than I even like right now.
I believe, just as I did with Nader, what he [Sanders] was doing was bringing substantive issues to the electorate in America. Exactly what the two corporate parties of the duopoly do not want to happen in America. They don't want people thinking, knowing, discussing real issues that affect them, or becoming empowered. Everything is set up for people to become less empowered, every four years. Hillary, as far as I can tell, her campaign and the people backing her, tried to silence and hide Sanders and his issues. That alone is a reason not to back somebody, I feel.
Between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who would be worse for America from his point of view?
There are differences for sure [between Clinton and Trump] and they are big differences, but that's not the question. If you have someone holding you up with a gun and they were holding you up with a switchblade, what are you going to say, which would you rather have happened to you? I don't see it as relevant. I believe both are destructive ideas about how our democracy could or should work, if there's going to be any. And I believe, personally believe, that Hillary has a greater chance to effect negative changes than does Trump. Partially because he has no experience and he will have a huge opposition if he should get in, but that's not my issue with Trump. The point is that she will do, like Obama, get in and do all kinds of stuff and Democrats will click their heels and not say boo no matter what she does. That, to me, is dangerous for the country. Especially given all the things that Sanders was able to resonate with the people about, making the nation a fairer system for all of us.
To me, there's not even any doubt that she could do far more damage. I'm not saying Trump couldn't do some crazy things, because he's a nutcase. But my God, Bernie Sanders, how many times did he talk about, in this country, the wealthiest nation on Earth, we don't have health care, we don't have child care? He went down this list ... In this country we should have to choose between these two untrustworthy negative people, who have negative track records? My God, especially Hillary doing everything to diminish the existence of Bernie Sanders, like the way they attacked Nader and the Greens back then [in 2000]. They used every rule they could so they wouldn't be heard.
I think Clinton's danger to the nation is her very tight association with the oligarchy, people in the banks, people in the war industry, because of her position as secretary of state, stuff she had done in the past, the number of people who have contributed both nationally and foreign nationals who contributed to the Clinton Foundation, etc. Her links are hidden. Those people who are behind Hillary and, you know, her coronation and everything, I don't think they realize who this person is.
Does he think the Sanders campaign's effort to change the Democratic Party will work?
Well you're talking to somebody who does not believe that changing the Democratic Party for the better is even something that should be attempted, because the only thing you do trying, is waste another decade or more of time, of election after lost election after lost election. Because I don't believe it is possible to make a positive change within the Democratic Party; they're gone, they're lost; they should be broken forever.
Hillary, to me, represents the other side of things. At this point, not only our society but the whole planet is under attack and people aren't doing anything to improve it. The corporate agenda is not going to help any of that stuff, so the world is in great danger at this moment. And as time goes by, if you keep electing Hillarys we're not going to solve the problems. We're not even going to look at the problems. I think if you're going to try, for example, to reform the Democratic Party, if you're going to spend a lot of time and energy and funds and sweat equity and everything else trying to argue with people who are going to fight you every step of the way. It makes much more sense to take all of that rhetoric and all of that energy and all those good ideas and visions and put them into something positive, that stands on its own two feet, that represents what you want to achieve and you're not fighting the inside.
That agenda should be kept alive. The Democratic Party will smash, kill, destroy that agenda within their party every way they can, and America needs that agenda. It needs people participating, people being paid for what they do, for the work they do, people getting proper education, people getting proper health care.
If Sanders does not pull off a miracle in Philly by swiping the nomination because of the DNC platform rejections of seriously important issues, I am backing Dr. Jill Stein's Plan B
Any regrets about the Nader campaign in 2000?
Oh yes I do have a regret. I have a regret that Ralph Nader was not allowed to appear in public at any of the Democratic-Republican televised debates and he was threatened with arrest in Boston for just being there.
So yeah, my regret is that the people of America did not get even to hear what he had to say about the situation in the country. Which probably would have prevented George Bush from becoming president.
And therefore, President Nader?
No, I don't think so, necessarily. The fact is he would have brought in other issues about U.S. foreign policy, he would have brought up a lot of the issues that Bernie Sanders brought up.
And he would have taken away votes from Bush?
And that would have awakened people away from that, exactly. Even Al Gore has said this, Nader's presence, Al Gore denies the spoiler effect, and has said that Nader brought out people who not have come out to vote otherwise, and many of them voted down ticket for the Democrats.
Note: When asked about the label of 'spoiler' attached to the Nader 2000 campaign, Alan points to this list to dispute that label.