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Progressive (ought to) Love Ralph Nader

Let me be up front here: I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. So go ahead and blame me. In truth I’ve come to admire Al Gore and if the Gore of 2008 were running in 2000, well, I’d have had a more difficult choice. But at that time, Nader was the progressive voice – the only option – to choose from. It wasn’t even a hard decision.

In the years since I’ve watched Nader vilified – not from the Right but from the so-called “Left”. And this criticism is – it seems to me – short-sighted, narrow minded and ultimately reactionary. It does great damage to any progressive movement. And it plainly shows why need multi-parties and instant runoff elections.

Anyway, here we are in 2008, and Ralph is at again. And I won’t vote for him this time around. We’ve seen what an out-of-control right-wing party can do; it’s only the Bush Administration’s bungling and ineptitude that limited their damage, and they’ve done plenty of damage regardless. So I’ll vote for a Democrat because right now, the stakes are that high. But still, I’m damn glad Ralph’s running.

That’s because there is only one political and economic party in America, and that’s the Corporate Party. We need progressive voices to raise the issues that the corporate media and the corporate-backed Republican-Democrats just won’t.

Corporations have every right to exist and to make money – it’s what they’re supposed to do. They either earn profits or they die. So I’m not saying “smash the corporations”. I work for corporate America. I buy products from corporate America. I’m not a hypocrite.

But the point that “liberals” who attack Nader ignore or don’t understand is that relying on the Democratic party to function as the political counterbalance to corporate power is a waste of time. In truth, there is no national party to counter-balance corporate power. This is really not a difficult argument to make. American corporations wield a level of control over our society that rivals – and may even excel – any organized force in history.

That makes this a dangerous moment – after all, tyranny is not just for the history books, coming from Kings and the 18th century. It’s a constant threat. The founding fathers understood this and gave us a country that prides itself – rightly so – on a system of Checks and Balances. This forward-thinking philosophy should – on paper – limit the chance for a single branch of government to dominate the others. What the founding fathers didn’t count on is a situation where a single power is able to dominate ALL branches of government. And that’s what we have today, a corporate government.

The democrats throw rhetorical anti-corporate bones to progressives every four years and then go right on working for corporate interests after the elections are done. Just check out Hillary sounding like a Wobbly as she barnstorms Rhode Island, “blasting companies shamelessly turning their backs on Americans by shipping jobs overseas.” This isn’t just disingenuous. It’s dishonest. It was the Clinton administration that passed NAFTA, for crying out loud.

This is why Ralph Nader must run and hopefully even get into the debates, and this is why progressives need to stop whining about 2000 and start being more forward-thinking about the perils facing our democracy, or the dangerous state of the products we consume, the air we breath, the policies we pursue. Nader doesn’t have a chance to win the election. And no individual, no matter how brilliant, can be effective without political support from Congress, something a Ralph Nader would never have without some kind of Green Party revival. But Ralph needs to run because no one else will be bringing up progressive points.

Show me the Democrat who’s talking about Nader’s issues, nicely shown here, and highlighted below:

  • Adopt single payer national health insurance
  • Cut the huge, bloated, wasteful military budget
  • No to nuclear power, solar energy first
  • Aggressive crackdown on corporate crime
    and corporate welfare
  • Reverse U.S. policy in the Middle East
  • Impeach Bush/Cheney
  • Work to end corporate personhood

There are no other candidates talking about these subjects, period. As Alternet puts it, “Run Ralph Run! But I won’t vote for you.

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February 25, 2008   |  Filed Under Blog, Political   |    Permalink

1 comment

1 SystemsThinker { 02.25.08 at 11:51 pm }

You, like Nader on his own website, point out the issue he talks about that the other candidates don’t. But check out The Key Issue Suspiciously Missing from Ralph Nader’s “Table”. There is one issue where Nader doesn’t talk about it any more than them, and it’s pretty telling.

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