I have no illusions about the chances of Ralph Nader winning this election. More likely than not he will loose - he probably won't even be allowed to debate the other candidates. But whether he wins or looses is really beside the point. Ralph Nader is running for other reasons.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
He is not running as a "spoiler". That argument made time and again by the Democrats in order to keep a system in which two parties dominate politics and nothing gets done is false. The truth is that Ralph Nader never lost the election for Gore or Kerry. The votes that went to Ralph were made by free individuals who have a right to choose who they would like as president. Gore and Kerry lost every vote they failed to get, including the millions upon millions of votes that were never cast by people fed up with a two-party dictatorship. The Democrats ought to be ashamed of the way they have tried to stifle democracy in this country by pushing third-party candidates off the ballot and out of the public eye.
Ralph Nader as well as every other third-party candidate has a right in a free democracy to run, and they must run if we are going to get the diversity of choices that the oldest democracy in the world deserves. Bill Clinton won both U.S. presidential elections with less than half of this country supporting him (43% the first time, 49% the second) because each time a "spoiler" fractured the Republican vote. But you didn't hear Democrats complaining then. As Matt Gonzalez, Nader's VP, points out, if the Democrats were so concerned with "spoilers" ruining elections, they and their Republican partners in crime would work hard to reform the voting system, taking such steps as introducing a ranked voting system, so that no candidate will win an election with less than 50% of the vote. But both parties refuse to do anything. They are content in divvying up districts, restricting choice, and taking advantage of vital voting blocks (liberals, progressives, social conservatives, Christian conservatives etc.).
I, for one, am tired of all this. I am tired of learning about inside deals, where the Democrats and Republicans connive to keep the system in which they thrive safe. I am tired of learning how Nancy Pelosi will come to agreements with then house majority leader Tom Delay to not investigate Republican ethical lapses if Delay will do the same for Democrats. This is called incestuous politics, and it stinks. I am also tired of two parties that continue each others failed foreign, economic, and social policies. The sad truth is that both parties, due to the tremendous amount of money at work in Washington, have one constituency: their major financial backers. Sure the Democrats might fix this bureau or tweak that regulation, but by in large they work to secure gains for a small subset of our population, consistently backing capital interests over the majority of people who make a living with their labor. That is why we have situations where the average worker pays 35% tax on their income, while a hedge fund manager, raking in millions of dollars of dubiously got income, pays a measly 15% tax. The Democrats #1 industry contributor is Wall Street, the ones who brought us a sub-prime crisis, housing bubble, rampant speculation etc. And guess who gives the Republicans the most money: Wall Street. You see how it goes.
So that is why I am supporting Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez. Their campaign is the best way to set up a structure that can be used to educate the public about the corporate Demo-Republican duopoly, electoral reform, progressive economic reform, real reform for our failed healthcare system, real environmental reform, and real education reform. His campaign gives us all a chance to participate in something we believe him, creates the foundations of a grassroots movement that is not built on airy-fairy pronouncements of "change" or "experience" but on a principled stand on issues. His campaign will hopefully shift the debate in this country from the completely corrupted talking points contrived by the Demo-Republicans, to a higher level, where solutions are more important than rhetoric, where securing human rights are our base motivation, and where setting our democracy free in the ways that our founding fathers envisioned is paramount.