Sunday, May 11, 2008

Wish You Were Here: Nader Speaks in San Francisco

The truly inspiring political speech has become increasingly difficult to come by. Millions were moved in the 60's by a plethora of activists who challenged people to wake up and become active in their roles as citizens in democracy. But sadly the heyday of empowering speeches has come and gone. Today we have few who can draw a large crowd and even fewer politicians that can draw crowds wearing anything but three-piece executive suits. Sure Barack Obama has many flocking to stadiums to see and hear him speak, has them enraptured with his "post-partisan" rhetoric of change, ecstatic as he promises the dawning of a new day in Washington. Yet I have noticed from the beginning of his camaign that there is a conspicuous lack of substance in Obama's message, that below all the feel-good rhetoric is policy, and that Mr. Obama's policy is based on a perspective and ideology that portends a continuation of militarism, corporatism, and bad government(ism). If history is any judge, it is assured that we will reap what we sow, or, in other words, if we support messianic orators with no progressive policy agenda to speak of, the next president will not work on the peoples behalf. And if the president we vote for is promising a continuation of failed policy, guess what we will get? Lets just say Iraq war veterans will be returning in 2050 - after their 100th tour of duty - to a country without a viable healthcare system.
Well fortunately there are other presidential contenders drawing crowds. Tonight I was lucky enough to get to attend a speech by the only candidate in the race running on no-brainer policies supported by the majority of Americans. What I discovered from this night listening to Ralph Nader - among others - speak at The Roxie theatre in San Francisco, was that talking about issues that matter is so much more inspiring than hearing the same old empty promises of mainstream politicians. Not only inspiring, it was educational. By the time Mr. Nader was half-way done with his speech, there was no way that one could possibly comprehend voting for one of the democrats.
It was not only the die-hards that were moved by Ralph's impassioned arguments for an involved citizenry and real democracy in the U.S. My mom, who I brought along with me for mothers day, conceded while we were walking in to the venue that she liked Nader but "she was going to vote for Obama." By the end of the night she had donated $100 dollars to his campaign and was wondering aloud how anyone could possibly vote for Obama or Hillary, or Nancy Pelosi for that matter, after hearing Nader speak. I think this is a testament to the power of Nader's candidacy. I think that anyone with an open mind, with the best intentions of this country at heart, and willing to listen to Nader, will think hard about voting for anyone else.
Politics has been made into a dirty word as of late, and it is a real tragedy. The cynicism rampant in this country both depresses and makes the possibility of a better future seem ever more elusive. We may not change the world, but to me, just making an effort is enough; making an effort is fulfilling. The first step is to work to hold people (Democrats) accountable, something clearly articulated by Ralph Nader, Matt Gonzalez, and, hopeful Nancy Pelosi replacement, Cindy Sheehan. I hope all my readers will take it upon themselves to learn why bringing accountability to Washington is of the utmost importance, and why voting for Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez may be our best hope of accomplishing it.

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