Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation since 1995, has penned a piece lauding the rise of the Liberal Democrats in the U.K. as healthy for politics in Great Britain, and that they are “lucky” to have Nick Clegg as the voice of the party (he was a Nation staffer years ago). Her support for third-party politics in Britain is dripping with hypocrisy; the magazine has long attacked or ignored third-party and independents in the United States like the Green Party, even going so far as to write an open letter to Ralph Nader not to run in 2004.
Back then, Vanden Heuvel’s Nation wrote (and it’s signed “The Editors” so I assume it was partly her)
For the good of the country, the many causes you’ve championed and for your own good name–don’t run for President this year.
Apparently since it’s the U.K. she’s changed her tune, because
What gets less attention than Clegg’s telegenic savvy is how the Lib Dems’ surging prominence is healthy for British politics. The inclusion of a credible third-party candidate in national televised debates has shifted the campaign’s dynamic and pushed Brown and Cameron to be more “radical” — a term that has positive connotations in hidebound Britain right now. Perhaps even more importantly, by proposing alternative ideas often excluded from campaigns and debates, Clegg and party have made not-ready-for-prime-time ideas quite appealing! And because many Lib Dem policies are to the left of Labour’s, it has moved the Labour Party to do some smart and left repositioning.
The Nation can apparently champion the cause of third-party politics, especially left-wing third-party politics (though the Lib Dems are very centrist on some issues) as long as it doesn’t affect their cherished Democratic Party in the United States. In fact, I wonder what they would be saying if the Lib Dem vote were “cutting into” Labour more than the Tories, which is what polls have it doing now? Perhaps they would still have the temerity to write pieces like that, which says essentially what Green Party activists and Nader have been saying for decades – inclusion of other candidates and voices is a healthy thing, and will force a sea change in the way politics are conducted in this country if taken seriously. It’s still a difficult piece to read and take seriously, Ms. Vanden Heuvel.
Nader’s response to their odious 2004 article is a good place to end, as he says it eloquently to their piece “Don’t Run”
Long ago the The Nation stood steadfastly for more voices and choices inside the electoral arenas, which today are more dominated than ever by the two-party duopoly trending toward one-party districts:
The Nation wants badly to defeat the selected President Bush but thinks there is only one pathway to doing so. This approach excludes a second front of voters against the regime, which could raise fresh subjects, motivating language and the vulnerabilities of corporate scandals and blocked reforms that the Democrats are too cautious, too indentured to their paymasters to launch–but are free to adopt if they see these succeed:
The Nation has rarely been a hostage to prevailing dogma and electoral straitjackets. Its pages have articulated many “minorities of one” over its wondrous tenure and has watched many of its viewpoints today become the commonplace of tomorrow.
I have not known The Nation to so walk away from those engaging in a difficult struggle it champions on the merits, in a climate of conventional groupthink–much less with a precipitous prognosis of a distant outcome governed by a multitude of variables. Discussions and critiques from a distance, after all, are a dime a dozen in an election year. O apotheosis of the exercise of dissent inside and outside the electoral commons since 1865: