Yesterday I cringed at the announcement that Ralph Nader is going to run for President as a third party candidate. Here we go again was my first thought. Whenever Mr. Nader runs for the presidency he steals votes from the Democratic candidate. Without any chance of actually winning the presidency Mr. Nader stole enough votes in Florida to keep Al Gore from taking that state in the 2000 presidential race. Had Mr. Nader stayed out of the political fray we all could be in an alternate reality where there is no war, the economy isn’t on the rocks, people aren’t losing their houses, Exxon/Mobile isn’t making a billion dollars a week, the national debt is still on a decline instead of getting ready to top nine trillion dollars, the dollar isn’t plummeting to a point where it has global worth equal to the peso, we wouldn’t have a Supreme Court that tells people the best way to fight racism is to pretend it doesn’t exist, people would have rebuilt their houses a long time ago in New Orleans and elsewhere on the gulf coast, global warming would get the attention it deserves, the Kyoto Accords would be honored by all the countries of the world, and the Untied States would not exist as some pariah of the civilized world. Thank you Mr. Nader!
I just got through listening to Ralph Nader on Talk of the Nation Monday afternoon. I had tuned into the show with preconceived notions filling my head of Mr. Nader being a spoiler and working to undermine the efforts of the Democratic Party in order to hand the presidency to the Republican nominee. The program just ended and those predetermined ideas of Mr. Nader are history. I have to admit that compared to any Democratic or Republican candidate that I have ever heard in my life Mr. Nader’s opinions and thinking most closely match my own.
I wished I had recorded the conversation and the calls the answers to all the calls that were coming in. Unfortunately, the conversation was over before I realized it. Mr. Nader is not running as a spoiler. Mr. Nader is running as a man who is truly concerned about the direction this country is going and the cozy, self serving relationship that powerful corporate interest have with the status quo political machine.
For example, Mr. Nader understands that expanding the Medicaid program that covers many senior citizens so that it covers everybody is the most efficient way to provide universal healthcare to the entire population. One caller called in asking why we would be interested in universal healthcare when people in Canada, which has universal healthcare, have to wait for months for medical services. People go to Canada for medicine and not for medical services. The caller went on to say that the United States has the best medical technology of any country in the world. Mr. Nader explained that nobody in Canada does from a lack of medical care. The medical technology that we enjoy isn’t available to everyone but just the people who are fortunate enough to afford, or to work for entities that can afford the best healthcare that money can buy. People in Canada wait for elective surgeries. People in Canada wait to get nose jobs and liposuction. Nobody waits until they’re dead to be approved for a cancer treatment.
I can’t stand the bow tied bamboozler Tucker Carlson. But Mr. Nader was on his show talking about the power needs of America and the need to take the nuclear option off the table because power producers want guarantees from the government on liabilities in the case of an accident. If these utilities were so serious about safety then why do they need guarantees? In typical American corporation fashion these companies will do the minimum necessary to meet safety standards in order to maximize profits. If my family and I were going to take a taxi ride but the taxi driver wanted guarantees that if he had a collision we wouldn’t hold him liable, chances are very good we’d look for another taxi. In an era of people advocating people taking personal responsibilities utility corporations want guarantees that no one would hold them personally responsible.
Corporations have deep pockets to buy politicians twenty five hours a day for three hundred sixty seven days out of the year. Running for office has become so expensive that people cannot do it without the help of corporate investments. At one point in American history, if you wanted to run for office, all you had to do was ask to have your name printed on the ballot. Now, with primaries and caucuses and federal campaigning laws and the like this animal has grown unwieldy and inflexible as the two party system has pretty much eliminated any outside competition. Mr. Nader is not running as a spoiler for anyone. In fact, Mr. Nader claims that the Democrats and the Republicans have spoiled the system in order to exclude anyone who doesn’t play by their rules from running for the presidency. No matter how many Green Party candidates or other independent parties make a stab at the presidency, more than likely it will be a Democrat or a Republican and regardless of which one you chose it pretty much is business as usual.
Mr. Nader expressed his disappointment with Mr. Gore for not fighting harder for the presidency that was rightfully his. Mr. Nader was disappointed that Mr. Gore didn’t do a better job of exposing George Bush’s history as the chief executive of Texas. People in Texas are much too rigid and inflexible to see the problems Mr. Bush left in his wake as Governor of that state. Houston became the most polluted city in America under Mr. Bush’s watch. Under Mr. Bush’s watch the Texas justice system developed into a machine that puts more people to death than in any other time in the state’s history. The man is reckless. And it is not Mr. Nader’s fault for Mr. Bush being in office.
I have to confess to a newfound appreciation for Ralph Nader. While I seriously doubt that if he could actually get the presidential nomination I have to confess that I wish Mr. Nader luck. No matter what candidate you pick he appears to have a genuine interest in helping people. He understands that poverty is best countered by providing jobs and educational opportunities for everyone. Corporate entities don’t make for good public citizens. Corporations are only looking out for their investors and their upper management. Unfortunately, the Republicans and the Democrats share that selfish characteristic. The American people be damned.