by Rosemarie Jackowski
February 26th, 2008
Democrats are once again experiencing Nader angst. In fact, many of them are suffering so much anxiety that they not only attack Nader, but also Nader supporters. The Democratic Party needs to be reminded that it is an election, not a coronation.
No one automatically deserves a vote simply because of Party affiliation. Hillary and Obama will get the votes of the Party faithful. Other voters will cast their ballots based on issues. On the issues, is any candidate better than Nader? No major party candidate even compares. That is why they have refused to allow Nader to debate.
The Democrats had their chance, and once again they blew it. They started out with Kucinich who called for the immediate withdrawal from Iraq — not only withdrawal across the Iraq border — but Kucinich called for bringing all troops home now. He also supported a Single Payer Health care system. That would save the lives of 18,000 U.S. citizens every year.
The Democrats also had Edwards who had promised to fight the wave of corporate crime — a major problem. Would there be war if the corporations did not profit from the killing?
Instead of voting for Kucinich or Edwards, the Party faithful cast their votes for candidates with a questionable history of support for peace, health care, and economic justice. This has created a vacuum of ideas. Nader is now filling that vacuum. The Democrats could have had it all — a peace candidate and an easy win against a weakened Republican candidate. Instead, they will again blame Nader, while refusing to accept the inevitable results of the votes of the Party faithful. They have ignored one of the most fundamental lessons of politics — you get what you vote for.
The Democrats have turned their backs on a large segment of the population — the anti-war groups. No self-respecting peace advocate can vote for either Democratic candidate. One candidate wants to increase the size of the military. The other stood by in silence while the Clinton administration was responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. Both Democratic candidates have foreign policy positions that are to the far right of Republican Ron Paul.
Nader is not only correct on issues of Foreign Policy, but he is also the world’s greatest consumer advocate. His candidacy is perfect timing. We are all consumers — consumers of war and peace, consumers of public utilities, consumers of agricultural products, the list could go on and on.
How’s NAFTA working for you? Have you read the fine print on your credit card statement recently? Are you happy with your public utility company — what about your cable company, your Internet provider? What about health care insurers who try to maximize profits by denying medical care to the seriously ill? What is the salary of the CEO of your health insurance company?
Lack of vigilant consumer protection has led to a culture of distrust. We live in a red tape jungle. Only Nader can bring about the necessary changes so that consumers can develop a sense of trust and confidence in the corporations that provide essential goods and services.
Ralph Nader has been a national treasure for decades. He has worked quietly — without publicity or fanfare — helping ordinary citizens. I first met him many years ago. The public utility had a plan to build a floating nuclear power plant off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Ralph came to Cape May. He met with the citizens. Because of his help, the floating power plant was not built.
Members of the Press have shown a lack of interest in, and knowledge of, the issues. Some TV interviewers are so uninformed that they avoid the real issues. Watching them is sometimes painful. The problem is not limited to FOX. Tim, Chris, and the others make me wish for a real journalist such as Helen Thomas.
Nader is not the only candidate who has been the victim here. Ron Paul and Mike Gravel have also been marginalized and disrespected. The voters are the ultimate victims. They never get to hear the platforms of all candidates. Cynthia McKinney has a powerful message that most voters have not heard. How about a Nader/McKinney team! Race, gender, and party affiliation barriers can be broken down with support for a Nader/McKinney candidacy.
The Democrats have a history of using unethical, strong-arm legal tactics to keep Nader off the ballots and out of the debates. Is there anything that they won’t try in order to silence an opposing candidate? Nader supporters will have to come up with a nation-wide network of Pro Bono lawyers to help with any assault from the Democrats. That’s not how democracy is supposed to work. Freedom of speech should not have to be purchased in a court room. Open the debates. Allow all candidates to be heard.
Nader’s announcement as a candidate has given an opportunity to demand the truth — but in the words of Jack Nicolson, maybe the voters “can’t stand the truth.”
Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont. Read other articles by Rosemarie.
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