PrefaceAbout a week and a half ago I spoke with my good friend and fellow Kent State University Alumni, Ryan deBiase about my discontent concerning the 2008 Presidential Election. Since the beginning of the election I have supported Ralph Nader as an independent candidate for President. I was introduced to Ralph Nader one night about two years ago when I heard him on CSPAN around 2 a.m. talking about fiscal responsibility, consumer rights, and corporate crime. My background in politics has up until four years ago been aligned with the conservative right, but since that time I have become dissatisfied with two party politics and the behavior of politicians in America. About the time I saw Nader on CSPAN, I knew I was looking for someone with a different message. The next afternoon I asked my co-worker at Borders, Mr. William Hannam (recently William B. Hannam, PhD.) if he knew anything about Nader. He said he did, and though Bill is a staunch Democrat, he encouraged me to check him out. I did, and I’ve been hooked ever since on Ralph Nader’s Progressive Political Agenda.
I knew Ryan to be a recently converted Ralph Nader supporter, and I could imagine that he was feeling the same sense of futility in Nader’s chances for election that I was. I also knew that we had both done fairly little this campaign season to promote Nader outside of our group of friends and colleagues. The gist of what I proposed to Ryan was that we might not be able to make up for lost time, but perhaps we could still let our voice be heard; if we put our opinions out right before the election (let’s say, 3 days before) it would give people something to think about, some information to aid in their perspective, before they went to the voter’s booth. This is how these essays were born.
We have both added multiple resources, including video and links to other internet sites to put our views into context. While these essays may not be entirely comprehensive (is that even possible?), I know that we have both put them together because we have followed a corridor of logic that has led us to these conclusions. We ask you to read these essays with an open mind. If you finish them and find that they include important truths, as we feel they do, we encourage you to look further into these issues. Most importantly we ask that you make a voting choice this year by which your conscious may abide.
Ralph Nader and the 2008 Election:
An Essay from a Perplexed VoterNot long ago I had a spirited discussion with a colleague at the University where I work and am a graduate student. Knowing of my dislike of the two party system and my support of Ralph Nader, he asked me why I would support someone who wasn’t even on the ballot. I reminded him that Nader is on the ballot in 45 states for the 2008 election and is a legitimate “write-in” candidate in the other five. He conceded on that point but went on to say that Ralph Nader must be doing something wrong because no one knows about his campaign. My question was, wrong for whom? What I meant was, wrong for the American People or wrong for the politicians and the powerful corporations that control them?
Essay by Charles Parsons
If you want to stop reading this because you have a negative reaction to the idea that American politicians are under the influence of corporations here is some data I think you ought to consider: these statistics available on Open Secrets.org. (Open Secrets is a research group that has been the Center for Responsive Politics and has been based out of Washington D.C. for 25 years)
Please note that $3,265,099 from global financial services firm Morgan Stanley is almost as much as Ralph Nader has collected from private contributions. And, need I remind you, the contribution from Morgan Stanley is only a fraction of what corporations give directly and indirectly to the two parties.
Now that we can all acknowledge that corporations contribute to political parties we can move on to the truth of my friend’s statement—if Nader is so good, how come no one knows about him? This can be tied to two not indirectly connected situations: A “media blackout” of Nader’s campaign and the exclusion of Ralph Nader (and other third party candidates) from the National Debates.
When did I first realize that there was a “media blackout” concerning the Nader campaign? It must have been about four months ago, shortly after I made my first contribution to the campaign (150 dollars. I know, it isn’t much compared to Citi Group’s $4,000,000 donated to the two major parties.) I was searching one of my favorite resources for news, The New York Times Online—Their political page was up in full force, so instead of taking the time to search through every article on the page, I used the “find” option on my browser and typed in “Nader”: 0 documents found. I was surprised. Then I remembered that The New York Times is a liberal leaning publication and more than likely affiliates itself with the democratic party (Here’s some of the contributions from the employees at New York Times Company around 1999. I do realize that these aren’t “corporate contributions” but they do show that the people who work for this particular corporation have a vested interest in the Democratic party. http://www.campaignmoney.com/new_york_times.asp ).
However, while the New York Times may be a fairly autonomous organization, many of America’s media outlets are conglomerates of corporations. These conglomerates range from Time Warner, to Viacom, to radio’s Clear Channel. This means that the media outlets, the “free press” in America, is under the control of BIG business (and let’s be fair, public broadcasting has done their fair share of ignoring Ralph Nader’s campaign, as well). But, if this is a conspiracy, you say, why target Ralph Nader? Why wouldn’t BIG business want his campaign covered? Why wouldn’t they want to allow Ralph’s voice to be heard by the millions of people who watch the Today Show, or the CBS Evening News? Why wouldn’t they want Ralph’s campaign to be headline news on the cover page of USA Today?
One easy conclusion to make is that Ralph Nader isn’t using corporate money to fund his campaign. If you remember in the primary election Sen. John Edwards ran his campaign without corporate money (look where it got him) and cited the need to keep the interests of BIG business out of politics. So, does BIG business have more invested in McCain and Obama? Most definitely. Do they want it to be a two player race? Most definitely (look again at those contribution lists—you’ll see that nearly all the corporations donate to more than just one party).
There is one other HUGE reason, as BIG as BIG business: Ralph Nader has meant trouble for BIG business ever since he earned a law degree. The public service of Ralph Nader can be traced back to an article that he wrote for The Nation in 1959 called "The Safe Car You Can't Buy." This was also when Nader started to draw the ire of the corporate elite, or the “ownership class” (I think it’s safe to say, if you’re reading this, that you fall into those who work, not those who own.) Ralph Nader created real “change” in the auto industry and has since stood out against nuclear power, air and water pollution, and for corporate accountability—among many other things.
So, it’s safe to say that “THEY” don’t want Ralph’s voice to be heard. This video posted to Ralph Nader’s YouTube Stations (Let’s not confuse the Media’s “Blackout” of Nader’s campaign with the idea that Nader isn’t trying – YouTube is after all “Broadcast Yourself”.) on October 13 gives Ralph a chance to outline the situation (You have to watch this, he talks about Triumph: The Insult Comic Dog): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlKw0HSs5PQ
“Theater of the Absurd,” Ralph says. “You might as well play the part.”
And this brings me to what I feel is the next absurdity involving how Ralph Nader and his campaign have been treated in this election year. If you have spoken to me about this election, at all, you have probably heard me say, “But why won’t they let Ralph Nader debate?” Most people have responded by saying that “THEY” can’t just let anyone debate—don’t percentages of popularity go into that? And then I ask people if they understand who runs the Commission on Presidential Debates—former chairpersons of the Republican and the Democratic parties. I ask them if they created the rule of polling percentage points needed to debate since Ross Perot ran in 1992 (that excluded even Perot from debates in 1996). Being in the debate is not about being on the ballot—remember Nader is on the ballot in 45 states—to be in the debate you have to be on the side of BIG business: 1) so you can get enough exposure through national media to raise the voter knowledge of issues and candidacy and 2) so they know that you have their interests in mind.
And corporations DO have their grubby hands all over the debate (I’m not talking just commercials here). Here is the list of BIG Businesses that were involved in the 2008 debates.
- Anheuser-Busch Companies
- BBH New York
- The Howard G. Buffet Foundation
- Sheldon S. Cohen, Esq.
- EDS, an HP Company
- International Bottled Water Association
- The Kovler Fund
- YWCA USA
About this corruption in the debate process, Baltimore-based journalist Bill Mesler writes, “In many respects, the political conventions have become the last bastion of soft-money, the unlimited contributions from special interests that were ostensibly banned by the Federal Election Campaign Act, better known as McCain/Feingold. While huge, unlimited donations directly to political parties are no longer legal, the conventions are still cash cows for big special interests looking to influence legislators. RNC chief counsel Michael Toner recently told the Los Angeles Times, the Republican National Convention’s “unprecedented number of corporate gatherings” is taking up the slack of “activity that used to be done by political parties.” ("Corporate Donations to Republican Convention to Reach $160 Million." http://www.corpwatch.org/)
Not allowing Ralph Nader to debate is keeping important issues off the table. And they’ve been keeping them off the table since Nader made his first attempt to run for the Presidency in 1996. In one of the most shuddering examples of keeping Nader out of the public eye watch this portion of the movie “An Unreasonable Man” (2006):
Now this video raises a fallacious argument that Democrats have used since the 2000 election. Democrats have blamed Ralph Nader as a spoiler, citing that if everyone who voted for Nader had voted for Al Gore in Florida (and who’s to say that they would have? They voted FOR Nader, after all) that Gore would have won the election. Let’s not forget that there were several other parties in Florida that polled at or near the 3000 some votes that Gore needed to beat Bush in Florida. Let’s not forget other problems that Gore had during the 2000 election, like not carrying his home state of Tennessee nor carrying Arkansas, the home state of one of the most popular Presidents in recent history, Bill Clinton. But this becomes an either/or situation, and an uncomfortable either/or situation if you support one of the two parties: How can Ralph Nader be such a factor that he can change an election entirely while at the same time be such little of a factor that he cannot be included in the debates? You can’t have it both ways!
I would toss this in with the argument that a vote for Nader is a vote for McCain? Perhaps in our present day political climate this is true. Maybe you can’t vote for the person who represents the way you think without hurting the candidate that thinks kinda like the way you think…
Wait. I thought this was a democracy? Where in the constitution does it state that “Thou shalt have only two political parties!” We are the only country in the world who claims to be a “democracy” which has a strict “two party” system (ex. Britain has three main parties, and they have many other parties which hold seats in their House of Commons -- http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/members/parties.cfm). That’s right. In other “democratic” countries they let other parties debate. Why do I have to live in a country where the vote that I cast is for one person but counts for someone else? Why can’t a vote for Nader just be a vote for Nader? Since Nader didn’t get into the debates it is easy to see that he will not be the victor in this November’s election, but because he doesn’t have a fair chance in our present electoral system is enough of a reason for reformation. But the two party system doesn’t want reformation, they want the two-party system. And BIG businesses wants the two party system because that’s easier to control then 5, 10, 15 parties. Don’t cover Nader in the press, don’t let Nader in the debates: that’s the truth.
Maybe you’re thinking, as my friend was thinking, Why should Obama or McCain want to debate Nader? I think this is a good question and one that Obama should have thought about before he said that he would debate anyone. See video:
So, maybe pointing out that Obama said he would debate “anybody” doesn’t directly answer why Obama or McCain should want to debate Nader. I guess, my best answer is that they don’t have anything to gain but they have everything to lose. So they won’t, they don’t want to, you can’t make them.
One of the most obvious reasons that the Republican and Democratic parties don’t want Ralph Nader to debate is because they don’t want to discuss certain issues. Earlier this year, I posted an election tool promoted by PBS (http://www.wviz.org/index.php/wviz/election/) to help people decide which candidate correlated the closest with their opinion on the issues facing our country in this election. While I still feel that this can be a helpful tool, the answer can be misleading if you factor in issues that aren’t covered in the survey.
Here are the issues listed in the survey:
- Do you support the government directly buying distressed mortgages from home borrowers and lenders?
- What is your opinion on the war in Iraq?
- What changes would you propose to the war policy in Afghanistan?
- What is your position on immigration in the United States?
- What do you think should be done -- if anything -- in the wake of the near collapse of companies specializing in subprime mortgages, and the foreclosures of homes?
- Do you believe the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts should be made permanent?
- Please select the comment that most closely matches your view on education (K-12)
- Do you favor the concept of privatization of Social Security to any degree?
- Do you generally favor or oppose the concept of universal health care in America? That is, require people to have health insurance and provide a mechanism for meeting the requirement.
- The SCHIP program is designed to subsidize health coverage for families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. Recent debate in Congress centered around a proposal to increase spending to expand the program. Do you favor or oppose the proposed expansion?
- Do you support or oppose legalized abortion in the United States?
- Do you support federal assistance for the production of ethanol and/or biofuel as an alternative to oil?
- Do you favor or oppose the use of the death penalty for certain crimes?
- What are your views on firearm regulation?
- Do you favor or oppose federal regulation of greenhouse gases?
- Do you support a $50 billion expansion of the G.I. Bill to pay college tuition at a public university and other expenses for soldiers who have served 3 years since Sept. 11, 2001?
Looking back over the debates, these issues have been discussed in some way. I would argue that most often the answers have been unsatisfying. For example, if the moderator asked about “greenhouse gases” either candidate was likely to respond, “This is a place where I agree with my opponent; greenhouse gases need to be regulated.” But how? No solutions provided.
Ralph Nader is willing to talk about a very reasonable solution, a solution that will help the working and middle class: “Adopt a Carbon Pollution Tax.” While a tax will not eliminate pollution, it will put pressure on polluters, financial pressure (the only pressure I think they understand), to find alternative forms of energy. By association, harnessing alternative energy, non-polluting forms of energy, will help to stop pollution.
There several other issues, important to me as a voter, that the two parties aren’t willing to discuss. Here is the quick list:
Even if you can say that you stand with John McCain or Barack Obama on a great deal of the issues presented in the PBS poll, doesn’t it concern you that there are other important issues facing our country that aren’t even being discussed by the two parties? If you have nothing to hide, why won’t you debate? Why change the rules to get into the debates?
If John McCain or Barack Obama would discuss these issues, and one or both of them would give answers to these issues that satisfied me, I would be more inclined to vote for them.
But then my friend pointed out that these candidates play a political game: “They are talking to thousands of people, they have to appeal to as many people as possible.” But is it too much to ask that people running for public office address all the issues facing the public? They work for us, after all. It is our tax dollars, ahem… it is our tax dollars that pay their salaries. Why can’t a politician speak to issues I’m interested in?
And then my friend asks me, why doesn’t Ralph Nader and these “Third Party” candidates band together and form their own debates? I told him that just that day, October 16 (the day after the last “Presidential” debate), I had listened on the radio to a debate between Barack Obama, John McCain, Ralph Nader, and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney—with questions and responses from Obama and McCain spliced together from the “National Debate”. This four-way debate was put together by Democracy Now! and was broadcast on the New Mexico NPR affiliate. But then I asked him, who listened to that? Not the so-called “thousands” of people that candidates supposedly “have” to speak to. No, just little ole’ me (and to be fair, a handful of other people who are interested in other issues than those being discussed in our defunct mainstream politics.)
Here is the video link to the third party debates in Cleveland:
My good friend, and fellow contributor to this discussion on the 2008 election, Ryan deBiase, went to the recent third party debate at the Cleveland Club. This is what he has to say about it, “The debate I went to last night was the most informed, articulate, substantive discussion on the state of the country since this whole election began.”
I asked him if he thought that the third party candidates would have wilted under the pressure of the bright lights of the national debate. He said, “You’re joking, right?”
He’s right. The third party candidates would provide a broader perspective for the American public. They would be able to contend in the discussion of what “change” really means.
And that leads me to my final point in this essay: a conversation I had with someone recently about this whole "change" rhetoric--and why I believed that Ralph Nader would actually "change" things. I said, look at Ralph's track record -- listed a handful of things, starting with Unsafe At Any Speed -- and then I flipped the question. He said that he just "felt" that Obama would "change" things. Facts or Emotions people? Facts or Emotions? So I asked him, what in Obama's track record made him think that Obama would "change" anything? Then I mentioned that B. Clinton built his first campaign around "change" and look what change he gave us: NAFTA, WTO, obscene welfare reform, and a revitalized interest in perhaps the worst thing to gauge intelligence -- Standardized Testing in Schools and approved deregulation of our financial institutions (see financial crisis).
In the last “Presidential Debate” McCain challenged Obama's track record for change, and I am sad to say that Obama on that three key issues stood with his party and with the corporations that support it. Not with the American people.
On three key issues -- energy, health insurance, corporate crime -- Obama stood with the corporations against the interests of the American people.
I voted for tort reform, Obama said.
Brave of you Barack Obama.
You stood with the National Association of Manufacturers against injured people.
I support clean coal technology, Obama said.
So, Barack, you stood with the polluting coal industry against people who suffer the consequences. (I can say that more than one of my family members has been injured in West Virginia coal mines. My cousin is on permanent disability because he had to go into a hole in the ground to bring out materials that pollute our environment. We have a sun and we have the wind. We can put a man on the moon but we can’t invent the technology to harvest truly clean natural resources. That we haven’t made significant strides in these areas probably has nothing to do with corporations, right.)
When McCain accused Obama of supporting a single payer, Canadian style national health insurance system, Obama said he didn't.
And he doesn't.
Despite the fact that a majority of doctors, nurses and the American people want it.
On national health insurance, Obama stands with the insurance industry and against the American people who are demanding single payer.
Over 5,000 U.S. physicians have signed an open letter calling on the candidates for president and Congress "to stand up for the health of the American people and implement a nonprofit, single-payer national health insurance system." (Here's the ad that ran in the New Yorker magazine.)
Obama says no.
McCain says no.
You may be thinking that I’m attacking Barack Obama while not giving McCain his due. Hear this: there is nothing that says McCain is committed to change. 90% voter record for George W. Bush should be enough evidence to prove this.
I want change. I argue that this country seriously needs change. That’s why I have written this essay. I’m a bit ashamed that I waited to a week or so before the election to start writing this piece. I blame this partially on trying to learn how to act in the world of “civil disobedience” (up until four years ago I was a conservative Republican). I also have been worried about the response from my friends. But I felt compelled to write this essay. And, I have tried to write the most coherent essay possible. I feel I’ve done that. Now, my ideas about the 2008 elections are out, and it feels good.
I know that there are some of you who say that you don’t want to change things, that you like things the way they are. Fair enough. I know that many others of you are probably thinking that in an ideal world you would vote for Nader in 2008. I get that it is not an ideal world. I know that you probably view one of the two parties as being an evil juggernaut that must be stopped. I get that. But when you really look for a platform that backs the Constitution of the United States, if you look for a platform that presents real options for change to real issues, and if you look for a platform and a candidate that has in the past helped institute real “Change”, it is Ralph Nader not John McCain or Barack Obama that provides hope for our masses in America. The people have the votes in this country, not the corporations. Political parties, that are merely “concepts” in themselves do not hold any votes. The Republican Party cannot walk, it doesn’t have legs. Neither can the Democratic Party. There is no way that these “parties” can get to the election voting booths because they are immaterial concepts. They cannot vote. I am a person and I say “Democracy Now!” Not democracy in 20 years (or some other unspecified time) when it’s “safe” to have a democratic revolution (a revolution for the people, by the people) in this country. A vote for Nader does count. It raises awareness that the America is not satisfied with two party politics. It is a protest. Have a voice. Vote Nader/Gonzales 2008 (http://www.votenader.org/).
Nader/Gonzalez '08: Progressive Policies and a Reduced Military Budget
Essay by Ryan deBiase
I am happy to learn that Howard Zinn endorsed Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign. Zinn had drawn criticism earlier in this campaign season by saying he was voting for Barack Obama. My support of Mr. Nader stems largely from myself having read Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States over the summer. The work was eye opening, and I would consider it required reading for anyone who considers him or herself a Progressive. Among a wide swath of topics, the book taught me that a.) the wealth and power in this country are wielded by a select group of people; b.) this ownership class exercises its power in the interest of selfish capital gains; c.) the vast majority of overseas interventions (both military and economic) were/are unjust and have cost an untold number of innocent lives; d.) any positive change affected upon society comes by way of a Progressive or fringe party that challenges the repressive policies of the Establishment.
Recently, I was asked as to why I favored Ralph Nader in the current presidential election. I had for some time sought a candidate with a progressive environmental policy, one which would lessen our dependency on fossil fuels and impart strict regulations on industrial polluters. Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain offered any tangible plan for either of those concerns, but did reserve a special portion of their stump rhetoric for it (something about ‘clean coal’ and ‘safe nuclear,’ I think). Upon finishing A People’s History, I realized the injustice in our military interventions and how the defense industry has cheated us for far too long.
Although the environment is still a grave concern of mine (it should be noted that Ralph Nader’s environmental policy is head and shoulders above McCain and Obama’s), my focus shifted more towards the military, as I believe a shift in that particular policy could affect the most positive change in this country and throughout the world. The topic also provides an example of an issue upon which Nader and his running mate Matt Gonzalez stand in complete contrast with the two major parties.
The defense budget has continued to climb since the end of World War II, though, at the time, the common enemy of the Soviet Union loomed large and acted as a driving force behind the military build-up. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, a huge opportunity presented itself to reallocate those funds for other programs, preferably social, and increase humanitarian aid abroad. Instead, the country kept its upward spending trend on weapons systems.
According to watchdog publication The Defense Monitor (http://www.cdi.org/program/index.cfm?programid=88z), the projected budget for the Department of Defense (DOD) in 2009 is $588.3 billion, which does not take into account the $70 billion extra required to fight two wars overseas. When additional expenditures are factored in, such as nuclear testing, homeland security, “defense related-activities,” veterans affairs, and interest, the total figure balloons to $847.5 billion. (“The Chaos in America's Vast Security Budget” – The Defense Monitor, Vol. XXXVII, No. 2) This figure, of course, is an estimate, a measly request from the DOD. It could, in all probability, climb even higher, as there is not much accountability when it comes to defense spending.
According to the Nader campaign (http://www.votenader.org/issues/military-budget/):
The proposed military budget represents 58 cents out of every dollar spent by the U.S. government on discretionary programs -- the items that Congress gets to vote up or down on an annual basis.
The Democrats and Republicans have been silent about this rapid escalation in military expenditures, despite many critical reports by the Government Accountability Office and Pentagon auditors.
In fact, they want to increase them.
Barack Obama, for example, has said that he wants to ‘bump up’ the military budget.
[The Obama campaign has] committed [itself] to increasing the armed forces by tens of thousands of troops.
John McCain would outdo them both.
Nader/Gonzalez advocates reducing the bloated, wasteful military budget to “a level needed to protect the country” and reallocating those funds for civil capital improvements.
In 2005, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) distributed a report card on the national infrastructure – categories such as aviation, bridges, drinking water, energy, and schools. As a whole, the U.S. scored a rating of ‘poor,’ with most categories decreasing since 2001. The ASCE’s estimated cost for upgrading these systems: $1.6 trillion.
According to Seymor Melman, an industrial engineering professor (now emeritus) from Columbia University, whose knowledge of U.S. industry is legendary: “Every manufacturing industry whose products are required for repairing and modernizing America’s infrastructure is left out by the federal government’s military plans.” (Nader, In Pursuit of Justice, 2003)
In his essay: “Seymour Melman, Overspending on the Military,” Mr. Nader adds that “previous studies have demonstrated that a million dollars in civilian investment creates more jobs than a million dollars in military weapons systems.”
State governments, year after year, look at fewer federal dollars and fall deeper into debt. Tolls and taxes continue to rise, while “necessities,” as Mr. Nader puts it, “are being cut – outlays. . .for schools, libraries, fire and police departments, sanitation departments, child welfare, health care, and services for elderly people. But there are hundreds of billions for Soviet-era weapons driven by the weapons corporations and their campaign cash for key members of congress who decide the distortions on your tax dollars.” (In Pursuit of Justice , 2003)
In November of 2007, Time magazine ran an article entitled, “Overspending on Yesterday’s War,” which briefly outlines requested defense programs by branch:
The Army wants $162 billion for a new fleet of ground vehicles known as the Future Combat Systems. And, not to be shortchanged, the Air Force wants $65 billion to build 184 of its F-22 fighters, designed to prevail in dogfights against Soviet aircraft. That's despite the fact that plane-on-plane aerial combat has followed the Soviet Union into the dustbin of history.
. . . President Bush has continued, with bipartisan congressional help, to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into obsolete weapons systems. At the same time, the U.S. has deployed inadequate numbers of troops on the ground, lacking basic body armor and vehicles designed to thwart roadside bombs. The wars of the future are not going to be fought tank-on-tank, sub-on-ship, or in glorious dogfights high in the sky. But so long as both parties see the Pentagon as a jobs program to build weapons for wars that will not happen, the nation will continue to bear the burden of politicians boosting military spending rather than retooling it for the 21st Century.
This citation is not meant to suggest that Nader/Gonzalez support putting more troops on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan – or anywhere else for that matter. As it were, Nader/Gonzalez supports a six month timetable for complete withdrawal from both fields of combat, with increased humanitarian aid and U.N.-sponsored elections (http://www.votenader.org/issues/middle-east/). The quote from Time illustrates the extent to which our tax dollars are being mismanaged – designing, building, and implementing weapons that have no practical use.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his farewell address in 1961, warned against the unrestrained growth of military:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
It appears as though Ike’s fears have come true. Over half the national budget – half our hard-earned tax dollars – is being consumed by the military-industrial complex, as President Eisenhower so accurately described it.
Why should we leave our bridges crumbling here in order to bomb a bridge halfway around the world? Why should our children here die due to lack of care, so that our military can take innocent lives in some other nation? It is a lose/lose situation, an inane, unbalanced system that should be halted at all costs.
My views on the military fit quite nicely with that of Nader/Gonzalez. But the agreements run much deeper. Each of his policies (http://www.votenader.org/issues/) are hard to disagree with and it saddens me greatly that so little attention was paid to the Nader/Gonzalez campaign.
I fall in line with Mr. Parsons in my regret at expressing these beliefs so late in the game. We all know that Nader will not win this election. At no point did we ever expect him to. My support of Nader/Gonzalez is not grounded in the belief that they will take the White House (though that is an amazing thought). It goes back to point “d” in my introduction, things I learned from A People’s History. If any real change is ever to be affected in our society, it must emanate from a Progressive party.
We cannot leave it to the Establishment to correct itself. Look at where the free market has taken us (a divergence, I realize, but *ahem* $700 billion corporate bailout?). An informed public, in the interest of its own civic arousal, must hold the Establishment’s feet to the flames, as Mr. Nader has during his 40+ years of consumer advocacy. We must stand and exclaim that things are not all right as they are. As a society, we must continue upward; must continue progressing. To defer that right (which, increasingly, is becoming more of a privilege) to those in charge is to sell ourselves -- and our children and our children’s children -- short.
Appendix: List of Non-Profit Organizations Started by Ralph Nader
If there are any lingering concerns that Nader does not act on behalf of civic well-being, please refer to the following list of non-profits and watchdog organizations Mr. Nader helped get off the ground.
- Capitol Hill News Service
- Citizen Advocacy Center
- Citizens Utility Boards
- Congress Accountability Project
- Consumer Task Force For Automotive Issues
- Corporate Accountability Research Project
- Disability Rights Center
- Equal Justice Foundation
- Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights
- Georgia Legal Watch
- National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform
- National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest
- Pension Rights Center
- PROD (truck safety)
- Retired Professionals Action Group
- The Shafeek Nader Trust for the Community Interest
- 1969: Center for the Study of Responsive Law
- 1970s: Public Interest Research Groups
- 1970: Center for Auto Safety
- 1970: Connecticut Citizen Action Group
- 1971: Aviation Consumer Action Project
- 1972: Clean Water Action Project
- 1972: Center for Women's Policy Studies
- 1980: Multinational Monitor (magazine covering multinational corporations)
- 1982: Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
- 1982: Essential Information (encourage citizen activism and do investigative journalism)
- 1983: Telecommunications Research and Action Center
- 1983: National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest
- 1989: Princeton Project 55 (alumni public service)
- 1993: Appleseed Foundation (local change)
- 1994: Resource Consumption Alliance (conserve trees)
- 1995: Center for Insurance Research
- 1995: Consumer Project on Technology
- 1997?: Government Purchasing Project (encourage purchase of safe products)
- 1998: Center for Justice and Democracy
- 1998: Organization for Competitive Markets
- 1998: American Antitrust Institute (ensure fair competition)
- 1999?: Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest
- 1999?: Commercial Alert (protect family, community, and democracy from corporations)
- 2000: Congressional Accountability Project (fight corruption in Congress)
- 2001: Citizen Works (promote NGO cooperation, build grassroots support, and start new groups)
- 2001: Democracy Rising (hold rallies to educate and empower citizens)