I saw Ralph Nader

Yesterday, I went to a Ralph Nader speech: Communist, socialist, and independent parties were abound. What follows are my notes, for the most part unedited, that I took during the event. The place is crowded, bustling with excitement and energy. A reverend makes a passionate introduction; “there is no middle class, just haves and have nots.” He seems somewhat sensationalist, brings up Luther King Jr. A Musician – Nelly Makai? Comedian. She performs a satirical song about feminism and Sarah Palin.  Next up was Gonzales (Nader’s running mate): speaking about general reform questions (Obama promises). He tells us, don’t lower expectations. We don’t need superheroes to solve problems. To paraphrase him:

People advocating two party systems — why pretend we have anything but a two party system? Third party make a difference even if it’s not immediate (slavery abolition, women’s suffrage). On Pelosi, “there will be no blank checks.” Yet, here we, doing just the opposite and in more than one case. Curiously, Obama and McCain have supported increased spending on Iraq war. (Obama has voted with republican votes for major issues on regulation, tax breaks to oil companies- 4.3 billion to oil and 2 billion to nuclear). He wants to fix voting system. If we continue to vote two party, we are in effect advocating to the parties that we support their system and don’t want it changed. Perpetuate those who are against voting reform.

I can’t help but feel this is making more sense than every speech by Obama, Biden and McCain. Gonzales alone so far has been logical, clear and articulate.

Nader takes the stage. He calls us “voters of conscience.” In fact, he lists three kinds of voters: default (whoever is running for your party), strategic (lesser of two evils)and conscience. Abraham Lincoln was a third party candidate (republican) who had a profound impact. Nader has been to 50 states, believing that you don’t just visit states that are contested- you reach out to everyone as much as you can. He calls this a two-party system,

“Freedom is participation in power. We should never confuse personal freedom with civic freedom. We have a lot of personal freedom, but we have lost a great deal of civic freedoms.”

On the bailout, he discusses how it is not true socialism. Instead, he alluded it to “jumping ship into a golden life boat.” Democrats willingly participated. Once again – taxation without representation. Are we really being represented through this bailout? Or does it merely give us bandages, when real medicine is needed?  Nader speaks about exclusion from race. The two parties have become businesses and exclude competition. If you do not vote third party, you are complacent with the corporate democrats and republicans, in a system that is on a downward spiral.

Fascism is when government is controlled by corporate power. This is what has happened. No regulation; business should not be given constitutional rights. They are not human beings.

No regulation was put into the bill- so much for helping the middle class. Nader offers an alternative tax. Internet transaction tax? Fraction of it would pay for bailout alone. Speculator tax.(wiki that)

These are systemic failures, not a few bad apples. Regulators have failed piece by piece. Community projects, run by the people, are the way of the future (Bottom up, not all top down). Nader proposal: amnesty to drug offenders, put corrupt bankers/business men in jail, put money towards infrastructure and community building. Two biggest sources of deficit: military budget, and corporate subsidies. Obama or McCain have not talked on these issues. What won the debates? Military spending, corporate subsidies won. We have lost. I am beginning to wonder why someone who is so clear and direct with his political knowledge, has been utterly ignored by the media, or stigmatized as “fringe.”

1/3 of our population are poor. Middle class is barely existent. Why do these politicians not address them directly? 1/3 of American work force is on a Walmart payroll. Neither candidate of the two parties have adressed this. They are funded by and a part of the problem.

He asks us, are we going to fight them or enable them? There is no such thing as “inaction” in politics.

Nader was nothing of the “fringe” outsider the media had portrayed him to be, which only goes to show the utter lack of real information relayed to us by CNN, FOX, or NBC.

He mentioned that the general population does agree with many of his points, but the corporate-political juggernaught is very aware of this and have chosen not to cover the campaign.

One of the things I would have liked to hear was an answer to the middle way argument, or choosing the lesser of two evils. What if they were the best way to see steps towards change? Or is there no real promise of change from either Obama or McCain? Is there a possibility that Obama will enable reform?

No matter what that answer may be, we need reform desparately. Our system is broken, and unless something radically new, creative and challenging, real societal medicine, occurs, we are only going to fall further. We need to cure the sickness, not alleviate symptoms. Are we ready for that?


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