Sunday, June 8, 2008
Why Ralph Nader is necessary
Okay, I'll admit that I've been seduced by the power of Barack Obama's speeches. By the promise of his messages of hope and change. By his charismatic ability to lift people up and attract them to the polls.
I don't think his ambition to create a better America, together, is insincere.
But he isn't perfect. And he is a politician. And he could use improvement.
I hope he has the good sense to sit down with Ralph Nader. I hope he has the integrity to allow Ralph Nader to be part of the national debate.
Last night I went to hear Ralph Nader speak at a fundraising meeting in Middletown. There's no question about how he inspires - with the truth - as ugly as it can be.
Ralph Nader will tell you what's still wrong with this country - corporate power and politicking, disastrous foreign policymaking, lack of sense in environmental rulings, a broken health-care system, an exclusionary two-party system, and a citizenry who unfortunately seems willing to accept the worst in our leaders, without question.
And he'll suggest ways we could make it better.
Nader spoke, and accepted questions and comments, for nearly two hours. He is brilliant in his command of the facts of government, politics and history. He is scathing in his criticism of the current administration, which he calls "criminal" and of our president, who he suggests is a "messianic warrior."
He spoke with a passion which demonstrated his frustration with the facts of life in America. He railed against our leaders, political and corporate. He excoriated judges who have given undue power to corporate giants while stripping power from individuals. He lambasted John McCain for his bellicose cheerleading of an immoral war. And he scolded Obama for caving to the hawkish lobbyists of AIPAC, claiming that the majority of Jews in Israel and America want peace and a two-party solution, while the extremists are willing to balkanize the Palestinians behind a countrywide wall.
At lunch yesterday, I told some co-workers that I was going to rush back from Vermont to Connecticut to hear Ralph speak. They laughed at the prospect. But it's no laughing matter. Ralph Nader has been made a joke by those who are unwilling to think about the truth of what he says.
Ralph Nader is essential to America. He reminds us, despite our unwillingness to think on about it, that America could be a much better place, that we as individuals are not powerless, that our leaders serve us, and not the other way around. He makes us confront what we are unwilling to confront, that corporations have no limit in their commercial thirst, except those limits which we place upon them; that we all deserve the kind of health care and education that other countries provide their citizens; that an individual, with determination can change the world.
Nader quoted an ancient Chinese proverb that summed up his message - "To know, and not to do is not to know."
He knows he will not win the Presidential election, but Ralph Nader deserves to be on the ballot in every state. He deserves the right to debate John McCain and Barack Obama (and they would both be better candidates for the debate). He deserves respect for suggesting that our two-party system is a travesty.
I went to the speech last night because I consider Ralph Nader to be a living American hero. I went to the meeting intending to vote for Barack Obama in the presidential election. As Nader suggested, I will be a smart tactical voter and not tell you who I will vote for. But know this, Ralph Nader may have changed my mind.
(Photos by Pearse Pinch)