Although Nader’s decision to run as an independent candidate in the 2004 presidential election could negatively affect the Green Party’s chances this election year, the organization is confident its members and political network will still be strong without him.

Ben Manski, co-president of the National Green Party and a second year UW law student, said while he would not vote for Nader if he ran as an independent, he supports what Nader stands for and believes it would be good for both Nader and the Greens to have Nader as the Green Party candidate, which has not yet been ruled out.

“[T]here would be lowered expectations for a candidate who is not Nader,” he said. “Nader is a household name. He is a historical figure…It is conceivable that there could be negative consequences if he ran as an independent.”

But Manski said while Nader running as an independent would have drawbacks, the Green Party was in a strong position even without him.

“We’re much more energized than last time. The membership has doubled and the candidates in office have doubled. The Green Party has grown enormously. We made a great deal of progress and are in a good position to run a lesser-known candidate than in 2000,” Manski said.

Ald. Brenda Konkel, District 2, who is also a Green Party member, said while the Green Party may do fine without Nader, Nader may find the fall campaign difficult without the Greens.

“I think for his sake it will be a difficult thing not to run as a Green. I just don’t know how he will build that base of support without the Green Party,” Konkel said.

Konkel said Nader might possibly be nominated by the Greens, but thought it was unlikely. Even without Nader, their political base has grown to such an extent since the last election that they could do well regardless.

“The Green Party is more energized than it was four years ago, at least at the local level,” she said. “What [it] does that’s most important to me is its grassroots work at the local level.”

Ralph Nader’s recent decision to run for president has been greeted with an outcry of criticism from Democrats who believe his campaign will benefit Republicans.

Manski, however, defended Nader’s decision, saying candidates like Nader could not work within the Democratic Party.
“The Democratic presidential primary is the graveyard of progressive politics. Kucinich and [Al] Sharpton were never given the time of day,” he said.

Pointing the finger at the Democratic establishment, Manski argued that they never have and never will support progressive candidates.

“The Democratic Party hierarchy has shown they will not nominate a progressive candidate,” Manski said. “Saying that Kerry is the most progressive senator in Congress is laughable, as any Wisconsinite knows.”

Don Eggert, co-chair of students for Kerry, disagreed, arguing that Kerry’s record shows that he has always supported the views of liberals and that Nader’s presence undercuts what the Greens work toward.

“John Kerry has defended the liberal position his entire career,” he said. “Nader has made his entire career living outside the system and throwing rocks at it. If he really wanted to change politics, he would run for Congress and work inside the system,” he said.