Think politics and politcians are corrupt? Ralph Nader is your candidate.
Threatening to take away votes is the only language the party machines understand. The Party of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Lieberman is not my party.
Help the Democratic Party find its balls
Vote Ralph Nader for President
But a very reasonable objection will go: Democrats don't want the platform of Ralph Nader. If they did, they would have voted for someone like Dennis Kucinich or Mike Gravel in the primaries. You, Nader supporter, evidently hold these progressive values very nearly and dearly to your heart indeed.. but closer, I fear, than the majority of Americans do. And now you're in the position of second-guessing the voters and saying, "Well, you don't REALLY want a President Obama.. and the only reason you voted for him is because you're too much of a pussy to support those farther to the left.." And THAT is bigoted, conspiratorial and elitist. Now who's being anti-democratic?
Why Are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama the contenders? Is it really because their policy positions most closely mirror the will of the American people? Or isn't the picture that straightforward, as the Nader campaign will have to argue.
To what extent is the Democratic Party's having settled on Barack Obama a genuine reflection of where the party is at this point of time, and to what extent is it a product of political cowardice, representation of these candidates in the media, and the profound influence of money on the democratic process? Is the media a mirror or a molder of perceptions and values? But what gets you on the air? Money. And who has lots of money? Corporations and interest groups. So already we see a striking inequality in who gets air time and who doesn't. Now, certainly large numbers of individuals can have a profound effect, as they have in the Ron Paul and Barack Obama campaigns, but the whole "money as speech" concept still seems fundamentally corrupt if we want to say that everyone has an equal voice. It's immediately evident that rich and successful get "more speech" than everyone else. And those wealthy interests get to finance candidates and buy air time and all the rest.
Or does Nader represent the positions and values that the majority of democrats really do hold dear.. but are... afraid... to openly advocate? There's a great argument for this. The Republican machine had John Kerry trembling in his boots about being "unpatriotic." He had to half-ass his positions on Iraq and on a number of policy issues in order to appease the conservative attack machine. So he ended up all wishy-washy.. floating somewhere in limbo.. slightly more liberal than the Republicans.. but his campaign slogan may well have been "I'm not George Bush." That's why people voted for him. But he STILL lost because he came off as a phony and a flip-flopper. And he was. He should have been true to himself and stood up for what he knew was right.
Americans want an end to the war in Iraq. That's why the Congressional elections in 2006 were so comparatively dramatic. But under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Democrats have done little to end it.. afraid to cut off funding.. too afraid, again, that the Republicans will brand them as irresponsible and unpatriotic.
Most Americans seem to want universal single-payer healthcare. Why don't Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's plans call for this? Are they too afraid of the pharmaceutical and insurance companies? Are they too afraid of the Republican attack machine? What's the hold up?
Who will finally stand up and say enough is enough? Does the media deliberately ignore those candidates who challenge entrenched interests and paint the others as the "leading" candidates? Is that what happened to John Edwards? And Dennis. And Mike.
Or is this conspiracy theorizing? Is this the whine of the liberal extremist nerd unable to accept that his candidates' views are out-of-step with the (frustratingly stubborn) views of the American electorate as a whole?
Arguably, it's not that simple. And the millions of people disgusted with politics and politicians (many of whom, admittedly, have reasons for being disgusted with politics that are neither principled nor particularly intelligent) know it's not that simple.
At the end of the day, the candidacy of Ralph Nader will give voice to the millions of people who feel that there's something broken with current electoral system. It will give voice to those who are frustrated with the pace or the substance of the political "debate" we're going to hear all year.
It will be a movement which, if it garners significant support (which I sense it will not) , will force Barack Obama and Howard Dean to take notice.. and to think twice before drifting too far away from the liberal base.
That's where Ralph Nader's policy positions are - aren't they? Don't they reflect the views, attitudes, and favored policy positions of the liberal base? Then why don't Barack Obama's positions match?
Now, don't get me wrong. I hesitate to pick on Barack Obama. Although his positions have been frustratingly amorphous, he seems to be precisely the kind of blue-blooded person the Democratic Party should be tending towards.
But the base is large enough that if it were properly energized, it could elect someone like Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader. Why don't Democrats nominate the candidate they deserve? Enough bullshit. Enough half-assing. Enough going halfway for the sake of "electability." Electability is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have to believe. You have to have faith, if you will, that others will follow. The Democrats who are fuming at Ralph Nader are asking progressives to settle for second best. They're arguing, like a bad pimp, that the Democratic and Republican Parties are the only game in town.. and without them, you are nothing. So might as well get with the program and choose the lesser of two evils. The politics of "the lesser of two evils" doesn't work. Liberals need to wake up and realize that. If there's any year to assert your agenda full-force and go for the gold.. this is that year. On the heels of the dumbest, most awful President in American history.
A rebuttal will go: But you can't be so starry-eyed that you split the party and end up with the worst of all possible candidates. Be reasonable! This is why we have primaries! So we can settle on our best compromise candidate and then put our best foot forward in November - a unified front.
But that's the whole question. Are political primaries working the way they're supposed to? On the one hand, nobody forced anyone to go out and vote for Clinton or Obama or McCain. This is the choice of the American people. If you're going to preach Democracy, you have to accept that!
Or did they...? Was there a subtle kind of coercion and distillation that resulted in choices that were not entirely lucid? A stealthy, insidious kind of infiltration of the American consciousness, directing the resources of the major media networks toward this end.. inducing them under the spell of your treacherous demagoguery and sophistry.
Clever, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but not clever enough for this observer.
So which side are you on? If you choose to fume at Ralph Nader, then you are evidently satisfied with the mechanism and result of the political primary process. You ought to embrace your party's candidate in full and I don't want to hear you complaining about a choice between tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum come November. But if you sense that there's something askew in how it came down to the current slate of candidates, then I invite you to consider the candidacy of a third party like that of Ralph Nader.
I may "revise and extend my remarks" if the spirit moves me..