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Pariah or Prophet?

Posted on Feb 26, 2007
Ralph Nader
AP Photo / Charles Dharapak

Ralph Nader is interviewed in New York City’s Madison Square Garden before the second day of the 2004 Republican National Convention.

By Chris Hedges

I can’t imagine why Ralph Nader would run again.  He has been branded as an egomaniac, blacklisted by the media, plunged into debt by a Democratic Party machine that challenged his ballot access petitions and locked him out of the presidential debates. Most of his friends and supporters have abandoned him, and he is almost universally reviled for throwing the 2000 election to George W. Bush. 

I can’t imagine why he would want to go through this one more time.  But when Nader hinted in San Francisco that he might run if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton became the Democratic Party nominee, I knew I would be working for his campaign if he indeed entered the race.  He understands that American democracy has become a consumer fraud and that if we do not do battle with the corporations that, in the name of globalization, are cannibalizing the country for profit, our democratic state is doomed.

I spent the last two years reporting and writing “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.”  The rise of the Christian right—the most dangerous mass movement in American history—can be traced directly to the corporate rape of America.  This movement, which calls for the eradication of real and imagined enemies, all branded as “satanic,” at home and abroad, is an expression of rage.  This rage rises out of the deep distortions and dislocations that have beset tens of millions of Americans shunted aside in the new global marketplace.  The massive flight of manufacturing and professional jobs overseas, the ruthless slashing of state and federal assistance and the rise of an unchecked American oligarchy have plunged many Americans into deep economic and personal despair.  They have turned, because of this despair, to “Christian” demagogues who promise magic, miracles, angels, the gospel of prosperity and a fantastic Christian utopia.  And the Republicans and the Democrats are equally culpable for this assault.

There are only two solutions left.  We must organize to fight the corporate state, to redirect our national wealth and resources to fund a massive antipoverty campaign and curb the cycle of perpetual war that enriches the military-industrial complex and by extension the two political parties that dominate Washington, or we must accept an inevitable Christo-fascism backed by these corporations.  Don’t expect glib Democratic politicians such as John Edwards, Sen. Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama to address these issues.  They are, as Nader understands, hostage to corporate money.

Nader, perhaps better than anyone else, has grasped the long, disastrous rise of the corporate state.

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He and his small army of activists helped write citizen legislation in the 1960s and 1970s that gave us, among many bills, the Clean Air Act, the Mine and Health Safety Act and the Freedom of Information Act.  He worked with and was courted by sympathetic Democrats.  Presidential candidate George McGovern saw him as a potential running mate, but Nader refused to be enticed directly into the political arena.  He was a skilled Washington insider, one of the greatest idealists within the democratic system.

But the corporations grew tired of Nader’s activism.  They mounted a well-oiled campaign to destroy him.  These early attempts were clumsy and amateurish, such as General Motor’s use of private detectives to try to dig up dirt on his private life; they found none. The campaign was exposed and led to a public apology by GM.  Nader was awarded $425,000 in damages, which he used to fund citizen action groups.

Lewis Powell, who was the general counsel to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and would later be appointed to the Supreme Court, wrote a memo in August 1971 that expressed corporate concerns.  “The single most effective antagonist of American business is Ralph Nader,” the memo read, “a legend in his own time and an idol to millions of Americans. ... There should be no hesitation to attack [Nader and others].”

Corporations poured hundreds of millions into the assault.  They set up pseudo-think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, which invented bogus disciplines including cost-benefit and risk-management analysis, all geared to change the debate from health, labor and safety issues to the rising cost of big government.  They ran sophisticated ad campaigns to beguile voters.  These corporations wrenched apart, through lavish campaign donations and intensive and shady lobbying, the ties between Nader’s public interest groups and his supporters in the Democratic Party.  Washington, by the time they were done, was besieged with 25,000 corporate lobbyists and 9,000 corporate action committees.

When Ronald Reagan, the corporate pitch man, swept into office he set out to dismantle some 30 governmental regulations, most put into place by Nader and his allies, all of which curbed the abuse of corporations.  The Reagan White House worked to gut 20 years of Nader legislation.  And, once a fixture on Capital Hill, Nader became a pariah. 

Nader, however, did not give up.  He turned to local community organizing, assisting grass-roots campaigns around the country such the one to remove benzene, known to cause cancer, from paint in GM car plants.  But by the time Bill Clinton and Al Gore took office the corporate state was ascendant.  Nader and his citizen committees were frozen out by Democrats as well as Republicans.  Clinton and Gore never met with him.

“We tried every way to get the Democrats to pick up on issues that really commanded the felt concerns and daily life of millions of Americans,” Nader says in the new documentary about his life, “An Unreasonable Man,” “but these were issues that corporations didn’t want attention paid to, and so when people say why did you do this in 2000, I say I’m a 20-year veteran of pursuing the folly of the least worse between the two parties.”

The Clinton administration pushed through NAFTA, gutted welfare, gave up on universal healthcare, deregulated the communications industry and abolished federal aid to families with dependent children.  It further empowered the growing corporate state and exacerbated the despair that has fueled its allies in the Christian right.

“For 20 years,” Nader says in the film, “we saw the doors closing on us in Washington, on our citizen groups and a lot of other citizen groups, and what are we here for?  To improve the country.  We couldn’t get congressional hearings, even with the Democrats in charge.”

There is a fascinating rage—and rage is the right word—expressed by many on the left in this fine film about Nader.  Todd Gitlin, Eric Alterman and Michael Moore, along with a host of former Nader’s Raiders, spit out venomous insults toward Nader, a man they profess to have once admired, the most common charge being that Nader is a victim of his oversized ego. 

This anger is the anger of the betrayed.  But they were not betrayed by Nader.  They betrayed themselves.  They allowed themselves to buy into the facile argument of “the least worse” and ignore the deeper, subterranean assault on our democracy that Nader has always addressed. 

It was an incompetent, corporatized Democratic Party, along with the orchestrated fraud by the Republican Party, that threw the 2000 election to Bush, not Ralph Nader.  Nader received only 2.7 percent of the vote in 2000 and got less than one-half of 1 percent in 2004.  All of the third-party candidates who ran in 2000 in Florida—there were about half a dozen of them—got more votes than the 537-vote difference between Bush and Gore.  Why not go after the other third-party candidates?  And what about the 10 million Democrats who voted in 2000 for Bush?  What about Gore, whose campaign was so timid and empty—he never mentioned global warming—that he could not carry his home state of Tennessee?  And what about the 2004 cartoon-like candidate, John Kerry, who got up like a Boy Scout and told us he was reporting for duty and would bring us “victory” in Iraq?

Nader argues that there are few—he never said no—differences between the Democrats and the Republicans.  And during the first four years of the Bush administration the Democrats proved him right.  They authorized the war in Iraq.  They stood by as Bush stacked the judiciary with “Christian” ideologues.  They let Bush, in violation of the Constitution, pump hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into faith-based organizations that discriminate based on belief and sexual orientation and openly proselytize. They stood by as American children got fleeced by No Child Left Behind.  Democrats did not protest when federal agencies began to propagate “Christian” pseudo-science about creationism, reproductive rights and homosexuality.  And the Democrats let Bush further dismantle regulatory agencies, strip American citizens of constitutional rights under the Patriot Act and other draconian legislation, and thrust impoverished Americans aside through the corporate-sponsored bankruptcy bill.  It is a stunning record.
 
Bush is the worst president in American history.  If Gore, or Kerry, had the spine to take him on, to challenge corporate welfare, corporate crime, the hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate bailouts and issues such as labor law reform, if either had actually stood up to these corporate behemoths on behalf of the working and middle class, rather than mutter thought-terminating clichés about American greatness, he could have won with a landslide.  But Gore and Kerry did not dare to piss off their corporate paymasters.

There are a few former associates in the film who argue that Nader is tarnishing his legacy, and by extension their own legacy.  But Nader’s legacy is undiminished.  He fights his wars against corporate greed with a remarkable consistency.  He knows our democratic state is being hijacked by the same corporate interests that sold us unsafe automobiles and dangerous and shoddy products.  This is a battle not for some unachievable ideal but to save our democracy.

“I don’t care about my personal legacy,” Nader says in the film.  “I care about how much justice is advanced in America and in our world day after day.  I’m willing to sacrifice whatever ‘reputation’ in the cause of that effort.  What is my legacy?  Are they going to turn around and rip out seat belts out of cars, air bags out of cars?”

These corporations, and their enraged and manipulated followers in the Christian right, tens of millions of them, if left unchecked will propel us into despotism.  The corporate state has rigged our system, hollowed out our political process and steadily stripped citizens of constitutional rights, federal and state protection and assistance.  This may be the twilight of American democracy.  And it is better to stand up and fight, even in vain, than not to fight at all.

Chris Hedges’ latest book is “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.”

For more Truthdig columns by Chris Hedges, click here.


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By Fingal, February 26, 2008 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

“‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ (Edmund Burke)

GO, RALPH !!!”

Well, voting for Ralph Nader isnt exactly doing nothing, but however fantastic it makes you feel, it has very little further effect.  Remarkably like what they used to call “the solitary vice.”

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By Fingal, February 26, 2008 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

“This is precisely the attitude (or should I say “mindset”) that has gotten us into this mess of deciding between 2 evils.  The fact is that a majority of voters agree with Ralph Nader on every issue [Go ahead and do the research…you might EVEN want to check out Mr. Nader’s website, too!]; but they, like you, have bought into this DOOMSDAY tactic that the corporate Democrats have been using (to no apparent effect) for the past 30-odd years:[...]”

So you think that always voting for the candidate that conforms exactly to your views but will gain zero power as a result of the election, that this will improve things by, uh, what chain of consequences?  If you keep on voting for Ralph 0.002% Nader, this is going to lead to *what* glorious outcome?

Are you telling me that you believe that constantly having Ralph Nader lose election after election is going to bother the duopolistic establishment so much that after a few decades? centuries? they will say, “OK, OK, we give!!  We’ll give you anything!!  We’ll stop kowtowing to bankers, we’ll stop riding the military-industrial gravy train, just please, Ralph, have mercy on us and don’t run!! AAARRRGGHH!!”

“I say, forget about how wicked the other candidate is.  We CAN and we WILL survive another Republican administration.  We’ve already survived 7+ years of the meanest and most incompetent Republican this country has ever seen;....”

Actually, sport, some of us *haven’t* survived.  Is that completely lost on you, or are such things as a few thousand killed on 9/11, or a few thousand more Americans and a few hundred thousand Iraqis in that fiasco, are these things just trivialities that the Vanguard of the Glorious Revolution must ignore?

“This is a rut that we will NEVER get out of as long as people keep voting their fears, rather than their consciences.”

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard this before, the attempt to talk down so you appear to have a clue when you in fact don’t see the situation that’s staring you in the face.  The dichotomy you outline is empty verbiage that refers to nothing that’s going on right now.  If you don’t by now fear the effect of another Rethuglican administration, you’re either a happy-face moron, or you’re doing All Right Jack and don’t give a royal damn about all the people who have been and would be screwed over by that outcome, as long as you, the pure one, voted for Saint Ralph.

Do you find this unfair?  Then tell me, by what chain of events is Ralph Nader’s presence on the ballot going to cause the corporate bastards in the DLC to change even a punctuation mark in their plans?  Go ahead, show me your keen political acumen.  Because otherwise, conscience, Schmoncience, you’re voting your vanity.

F.

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By JimD, February 26, 2008 at 11:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

GO, RALPH !!!

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By JHill, February 25, 2008 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fingal writes:

>>>
What effect do you think that will have?  Since he’s not going to get elected, and since there’s not even a snowball’s chance that anyone in the DLC will pay any attention to him at all, what do you think this will accomplish?  The people who run the demographics and the polling numbers have decided that if they change their platform to gain the votes of people with your take on the issues, they’ll lose a greater number of voters who strenuously disagree with you.
>>>>>

This is precisely the attitude (or should I say “mindset”) that has gotten us into this mess of deciding between 2 evils.  The fact is that a majority of voters agree with Ralph Nader on every issue [Go ahead and do the research…you might EVEN want to check out Mr. Nader’s website, too!]; but they, like you, have bought into this DOOMSDAY tactic that the corporate Democrats have been using (to no apparent effect) for the past 30-odd years:

“If you think OUR candidate is bad….look at the other candidate!”

This is no way for a nominally free and democratic citizenry to pick a President.  It’s not only cynical and disempowering….it’s shortsighted and, frankly, stupid!

If you want to keep wasting your vote, go ahead…but it’s a damned shame that so many working-class and middle-class citizens have to pay for your faint-heartedness. 

I say, forget about how wicked the other candidate is.  We CAN and we WILL survive another Republican administration.  We’ve already survived 7+ years of the meanest and most incompetent Republican this country has ever seen; but it makes no sense to survive an evil Republican and then resign ourselves to voting for a “Lesser Evil” Democrat four years down the road.  This is a rut that we will NEVER get out of as long as people keep voting their fears, rather than their consciences.

I’ll accept the fact that some voters genuinely believe that Clinton or Obama is the best candidate imaginable; but it galls me no end when people vote for one of them because s/he is marginally better than whomever the Republicans put up.  Why not the best?  Does America not deserve a candidate who is his or her own person—“unbought and unbossed” by corporate interests whose furthest concern is what’s good for the American People.

If you truly believe that what’s best for General Motors or Exxon or Prudential Insurance or Squib or Haliburton is what’s best for the American people, vote for a corporate Democrat who shares that view…or, better yet, vote for a Republican.  But, if you have ANY hope of a better, healthier, more equitable and more just America in the future; stop settling for “Lesser Evils” in Washington, and stop settling for a “choice” between only 2 political parties.  Stop enabling abusers…whether they call themselves Democrats or Republicans.

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By David R. Wilbur, Esq., February 25, 2008 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris;
    I am generally an admirer of yours, but your logic is flawed on this argument. The fact that Gore and Kerry ran terrible campaigns, and some have even said, deserved to loose, does not change the mathematical facts of the 2000 election.
    I am a civil rights attorney and you and I could discuss ad infinitum how lousy the Dems’ candidates have been for the last very long period of time. We would probably agree on a lot.
    However, with the Florida official results it is simply not credible to ignore the numbers: 1) Exit Polls= Nader voters would have been Gore voters over Bush 2:1; 2) The tally which I will always believed was rigged, showed Gore lost by < 1000 votes, while Nader received > 95,000.
    I think you are confusing the temptation that some may have followed to blame Nader for Gore’s lackluster showing. I for one never blamed Nader for that. But as far as the counting of the votes, had Nader not been on the ticket in Florida, Gore’s margin of victory would most probably have been too great for the Republicans to play with the results and declare Bush the winner.

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By Fingal, February 25, 2008 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

I have been a lifelong democrat, however I have voted for Nader in the last two elections and will be giving him my vote again this election.

What effect do you think that will have?  Since he’s not going to get elected, and since there’s not even a snowball’s chance that anyone in the DLC will pay any attention to him at all, what do you think this will accomplish?  The people who run the demographics and the polling numbers have decided that if they change their platform to gain the votes of people with your take on the issues, they’ll lose a greater number of voters who strenuously disagree with you.

If you don’t care who wins, if you see no difference between Clinton or Obama on the one hand and McCain on the other, then you are of course free to waste your vote, or stay home.  But if for just one moment you could stop jerking yourself off about how pure and righeous you are to remain aloof from any concern about the real-world consequences of your vote, you might start hearing the screams of all the people who wouldn’t have died if President Gore had paid the kind of attention to Al Qaeda that President Clinton did, or all the Iraqis who’d still have been alive because the same President Gore didn’t start the most disastrous war in the history of this country, if not the world.

Or maybe not—in which case, what the hell, go ahead and vote your vanity.

F.

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By cemmcs, February 25, 2008 at 7:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Right on! I am sick and tired of people slamming Nadar.

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By cyrena, February 25, 2008 at 12:02 am Link to this comment

•  “He understands that American democracy has become a consumer fraud and that if we do not do battle with the corporations that, in the name of globalization, are cannibalizing the country for profit, our democratic state is doomed.”

What Chris doesn’t get, is that this is ONLY ‘part’ of the whole, and that the rest of us DO understand this. He ignores the rest. He ignores that while the necon mob is in fact using the term of the misunderstood concept of ‘globalization’ to cannibalize our country for profit, the components and outcomes of globalization are in fact VERY REAL, and we can’t flippin’ just put the whole thing back in the box, and pretend like it never happened!!!

Obviously, Ralph Nader doesn’t get that either. These guys….both good guys, are stuck. They see the problems, and they see SOME of the reasons for the problems, but at the end of the day, they don’t make the right connections to the new dots, because the dots have moved.

In other words, OLD parts, (ideas) will not work in a NEW machine, at least not without some retrofitting. I don’t know why they won’t get this. It doesn’t mean that there is nothing salvageable from the old basics, but things are different now, and even if we WANTED to go back to a fossilized model, we can’t!! It’s like trying to use old airway/route charts to navigate from point A to point B. 30 Years ago, one might have IMAGINED that there could someday be a 1000-mile high skyscraper in the midst of the path, but now, there actually IS one. Ya need some updated charts guys.

•  “Nader, perhaps better than anyone else, has grasped the long, disastrous rise of the corporate state.”

Here we go again. I agree with nearly everything Chis says, about HOW we got to this point, with the Christian Right fascists/evangelicals, and the connection to the corporate state. He’s right about Nader being aware of this from way back, but absolutely no more so than Dennis Kucinich, and we see how he was marginalized and dismissed, without resources to continue the campaign.

Now Nadar thinks he’s somehow going to fair much better? I wouldn’t flippin’ count on it,when so many democrats are just finally figuring out how stupid they’ve been.  (didn’t Chris say that 10 billion democrats voted for Bush the first time?)

•  “Nader argues that there are few—he never said no—differences between the Democrats and the Republicans.”

And, he is right, except of course, he’s not even considering differences WITHIN the parties themselves, and he has no concept of the fluid nature of politics, or the fact that things change, even while they appear to remain the same.

Example, there are minor differences between the ideologies of Hillary Clinton and John McCain. On the larger issues, and specifically in respect to the corporate monster that is Nader’s fundamental argument, that are THE SAME.  Hillary is simply the Repug wing of the Democratic party, and these are mostly the same Dems that have been in Congress, and kowtowed to the Dick Bush machine.

Barack Obama is NOT of that same ilk. Has he used funds from this machine to put forward a new message, and a new ideology? Yeah, I suspect that he has. Dennis didn’t, and Nader says he hasn’t and won’t. Great. That’s why he never won before, and that’s why Dennis had to close shop, and that’s why Nader won’t win this time either.

So, Obama got a flu shot, with the hope of surviving a big hit from the virus, should he be exposed…at least to stay well enough to win the job, and then do it.  For Hillary, it’s already chronic, considering that the virus is the corporatism that Nader has spent his life rallying against.  Nader has remained immune, but impotent. He hasn’t been able to keep everybody else from getting it, so he should just move out of the way, and let somebody else try.

I agree with Scheer. But, real time reason doesn’t always prevail. That’s why Nader is at it again.

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By Shane, February 24, 2008 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have been a lifelong democrat, however I have voted for Nader in the last two elections and will be giving him my vote again this election.

These democrats running are in bed with corporations just as much as the republicans, don’t listen to what they say, look at their record, it speaks for them!

Thank you for running again Nader and keep up the good fight!

Anyone who listens to the republican spin machine that is doing its best to destroy Nader, needs to do some reading or if your too lazy at least watch “an unreasonable man”.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
-George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)

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By roger, July 14, 2007 at 8:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I voted for Nader in 96 and 2000. And after 2000, I became disgusted with him. It became evident that Nader had no interest in the Green party per se, or in using his prestige to help make it a movement. In 2002-2003, the Green party was the natural venue out of which a serious anti-war movement could have grown. Didn’t happen. Just narcissism and collapse.

Really, Hedges doesn’t answer a basic question: what is running for president supposed to mean? Why is it better than, say, organizing non-violent resistance to the corporate state, as was being effected after Seattle in 99? The whole point, I thought, of the 2000 run was not to make a little point about Democrats or Republicans, but to kickstart a movement about power, the environment, and changing the treadmill of production in this country. I was wrong. It was about, uh, well, I’m not sure now. It certainly wasn’t about a movement. It wasn’t even about making the Greens a viable party - Nader treated the Green party like Conrad Black treated his media empire - with complete contempt. If you have seen the Green leadership doing anything at all about the war culture and the war profiteering and the, well, war during the last five to six years, definitely report it. It is like a rare bird citing. I could care less if Nader runs or not, but for those looking to change this country, Nader is a dead end for sure.

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By Fingal, April 22, 2007 at 10:58 pm Link to this comment

#65408 by Ernest Canning
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
Instand run-off voting is a great idea that will never be realized as long as the corporatists control the Democratic Party.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Well, really, as long as those who have succeeded under the existing rules are making the rules, the rules won’t change much.  A source of institutional inertia which *can* be a good thing, though in this case it comes pretty close to being a fatal flaw.

The place to focus, it seems to me, isn’t on the Evil Corporatists so much as on the alienated and disaffected people.  Which at the Federal level is pretty much a closed feedback loop.  The people are alienated and disaffected, so they don’t engage with the system, so the system never hears from them.  Meanwhile, the system *definitely* hears from Money, and Money definitely has a point of view.

Turning the Federal Gov’t around will be like turning around a huge oil tanker, it won’t be quick.  It might be good to start agitating at the local l

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By cann4ing, April 20, 2007 at 8:09 pm Link to this comment

re comment #64322 by Fingal.  Instand run-off voting is a great idea that will never be realized as long as the corporatists control the Democratic Party.  There is no question but that the middle and working classes of this country were betrayed when Bill Clinton accepted and pushed through the neoliberal Reagan/Bush/Thatcher agenda of NAFTA and the WTO, which opened the door to the outsourcing of America’s manufacturing base in search of cheap foreign labor while what was left of American labor has been increasingly Wal-Mart-ized.

But, unless and until there really is instant run-off voting, a third party strategy is an exercise in futility.  If the goal is meaningful change, the first step had been and remains the task of recapturing the Democratic party for its real base—the working and middle classes.  The answer at this moment is not Mr. Nader.  It is Mr. Kucinich.

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By Fingal, April 20, 2007 at 11:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

#64322 by Joe Hill: Rather than throw up our hands and accept the current election mechanisms, why not FIX what’s wrong?  Instant Run-Off Voting and Proportional Representation would solve the problem of ‘lesser evilism’.  Given that the USA is still considered to be a democratic republic, why should We The People put up with parties and candidates who offer us only a narrow choice between “Horrendous” and “Well—Not Quite So Bad”?

======================

You articulate the problem well, but what is your strategy? 

If you want to get something done, I agree it’s not sufficient to just go out and pull one lever or another every two or four years (or punch this or that chad, etc.).

But there’s a logical link missing between that and the idea that we need to go out and vote for a candidate who can’t possibly win but who *can* siphon off enough votes to make the election close enough to be stolen by the Fear, War, and Jaysus party.  The way I see it, that doesn’t get us a millimeter closer to any result that *I* want.

If the Democratic Party is not doing what you want it to, start organizing in *your* town, at *your* school board, in *your* state house to *make* the party do what We The People want.  With a handle like Joe Hill, you should be familiar with this.  It’s boring and burdensome, and it’s not glamorous.  You don’t get to be a Rock Star or a White Knight, or one of his/her groupies.  But the approach has a track record of success, from early labor organizing to the more recent rise of the right wing in the last 30 years.

Getting all mad at the Meanies in charge of the Democratic Party, throwing a tantrum and voting for Someone Else is ultimately like holding your breath until you turn blue.  Except that unlike your real parents, the buttheads at the DLC don’t give a rat’s ass if you give yourself brain damage.

-F

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By Joe Hill, April 16, 2007 at 7:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

>>>
...But they know that doing that is completely useless, because it will translate into splitting the vote away from the person they dislike least, and towards the one they like least, among those with any chance of being elected.
>>>>

Rather than throw up our hands and accept the current election mechanisms, why not FIX what’s wrong?  Instant Run-Off Voting and Proportional Representation would solve the problem of ‘lesser evilism’.  Given that the USA is still considered to be a democratic republic, why should We The People put up with parties and candidates who offer us only a narrow choice between “Horrendous” and “Well—Not Quite So Bad”?

As long as we continue to ‘enable’ the Democratic Party’s pooh-bahs by voting loyally—albeit unenthusiastically—for whatever they serve up, we will continue to be dis-empowered…as much by our own fears as by sinister partisan forces.  I’m alarmed by the numbers of people who have surrendered their dreams of electing candidates who are much more competent, more honest, more honorable, and more intelligent than the ‘lesser evil’ the schizophrenic ‘Democratic’ Party keeps offering up for our approval.

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By Fingal, April 15, 2007 at 5:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: #64227 by Ernest Canning, I think Kucinich would make a good president.  I think a number of the Dems would, actually (though I’m baffled by Hillary Clinton’s appeal).  I think Edwards would be fine.  I’m a little unsure about Obama, because while he is extremely articulate and agile, says things that make sense and actually *mean* something, and can utterly rivet an audience, I fear he might be subject to seduction by Centrist silliness.  Maybe I’m wrong about that; I hope so.

For a change, we have candidates.  What we need is a complete transformation of the Democratic party by ideas like those expressed here, the way the Rethuglican party has been transformed by the Straussian damn-the-poor crowd and their led-by-the-nose religious zealots.

Another thing I’d point out, also in response to Chris, is that the place to start this transformation isn’t at the top of the party.  This has failed over and over, and will continue to fail.  You can’t just come in from nowhere and try to take the top spot, because the party’s immune system will reject you.  The Rethuglican party was transformed starting at the school board and dogcatcher level, and we’ll have to do the same.

A third (I think) point is that while there are a number of reasons Gore lost in 2000, and I’m quite happy to rail against the idiocy of the Bob Schrum don’t-offend-anyone strategy, that doesn’t excuse someone who *intended* to hurt the Democratic effort, as Nader clearly did.  It’s true that Democrats have gotten too dependent on the corporate teat, having cut loose from the labor constituency (which has been disempowered since the early 70’s, and is another Big Topic). I agree w/Nader’s perception here.  But that’s not to say that there is no difference between Dems and ‘Thugs, especially the current crowd (which are *not* your father’s Republicans).  There is absolutely no way Gore would have been on board with this wholesale effort to roll back the 20th century, if not the Enlightenment, that’s been pushed hard by the current regime.

Given their historic association with the labor movement, and with the concerns of the common people, the Democrats ought to be naturally receptive to the interests Nader represents.  Naturally, someone in Nader’s position would be angry with Democratic rejection, because dammit, *they* ought to know better!  I think this also explains why a lot of Nader’s former supporters are so angry with Nader: he ought to know better than to assert there’s no difference, especially now, after six years of what almost looks like Buckaroo Banzai’s depiction of Pure Evil from the Eighth Dimension.

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By cann4ing, April 15, 2007 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Re comment #64189 by Fingal.  To an extent, I agree with you.  Looking for a third party candidate, at this point, is an exercise in futility.  It is also unnecessary when there is a “real” Democrat—one who sides with the vast majority of the electorate—the middle and working classes—in the global class war.  His name is Dennis Kucinich.

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By Fingal, April 15, 2007 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment
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Voting for the person you like most, even though you know that doing so will empower the one you like least, isn’t an expression of conscience, it’s an expression of vanity.

The reason we have candidates nobody is all that enthusiastic about comes from the way this system was defined back in 1789.  In particular, the provision that if you don’t *win* the election, you get zero power from it.

Ross Perot got a significant fraction of the vote in 1992, and if that had given him any power, he could have determined whether Clinton or Bush took office by forming a coalition government with one or the other of them.  But no, he didn’t get the most votes, so he just lost, and gained *no* power. 

Under this system, the coalitions must be formed *before* the election, not after.  And this means compromise candidates.  And this means that a large fraction of the population doesn’t bother to vote, because most people don’t want to vote for a compromise, that want to vote for what they actually want.  But they know that doing that is completely useless, because it will translate into splitting the vote away from the person they dislike least, and towards the one they like least, among those with any chance of being elected. 

If a real three-way race ever really developed, that would be different, but it never does.

So while I agree that both parties are corrupt, a Quixotic Nader campaign is nothing but masturbatory.

-F.

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By RoyNYC, March 20, 2007 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment
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All true except whty is Nader more angry at Hilary than Geroge W?  I don’t love the democrats but 4more hyears of Republican FASCISM and I’m leaving the US period.

Capitalism is the route of all evil. I’m glad Chris Hedges figured it out. The Democrats are hardly to blame for the rotten path America is on.  Nader should support a viable (any one will do) Democrat or shut up!  He already gave an election to W which makes him a war criminal in my book.

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By tanmack, March 17, 2007 at 7:43 pm Link to this comment
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You have totally said it, brother.  Talk about misplaced anger!  If Gore and the Democratic party had not abandoned the progressives, unions, working stiffs to mimic the Right and to flee liberalism for their newfound “center”....Gore refused to campaign; instead he pandered for the presidency.  He repudiated his base, he repudiated Clinton, feigning moral values, only to discover he had one uninspired and confused glob of voters who’d vote for him out of fear for Bush.  The day Gore and the Democratic Party stand up and takes responsibility for their bungling will be the day Nader can retire.

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By Susie, March 9, 2007 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment
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Chris Hedges has published the very best description of Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians: see “A Gaza Diary” in Harper’s Magazine, and “Israel’s Barrier to Peace.”  Mr. Hedges exposes AIPAC’s lies; now we should all demand that our representatives cease doing the bidding of AIPAC and that they defend U.S. interests and values instead.

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By Concrete man, March 5, 2007 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment
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Hedges writes that he wrote a report on the Christian Right fascists. Fine, what about a report about how AIPAC controls US foreign policy, and the Christian Right? He sounds like the typical Zionist dupe that does the Lobby’s bidding for it.

The myth that Nader cost Gore the election in 2000 is such a patent fraud that anyone that can’t see through it doesn’t deserve their country, a democracy, a life, or anything else.

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By Dave-el, March 4, 2007 at 6:40 pm Link to this comment
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I would like to thank Mr. Hedges for publishing my responce even though I did not directly reply to his article. So in that regards. No, I do not think Nader would be the one. I think that to middle America he appears as a demagogue in his own right. I’m from the Cleveland area and I can’t imagine anyone with more experience than Kucinich. He should run. He at least got in the debates and embarassed the crap out of the rest of them. But I think he should stay in the House and use his expertise to force them to get real.
At least one person TAO Walker mentioned my blurb. It doesn’t appear I was understood. We are no longer ON the curve. As I pointed out we have gone full circle and returned to the status of a colony. Ruled from above(and)abroad. Our wealth being sucked out. Stop saying “the corporations"and start saying, The Duponts,Astors,Wineburgs,Mellons,etc.Who are the majority stockholders?? Not the fricking board. The Kristian right swung things with a grass roots movement everywhere they could. Where is our grassroots movement? Start by registering independant. Find out how they did it. We don’t just need a president we need to take the whole government back.  And stop the lament already. There’s no time. They taught you to hate the government. Washington said it’s the glue that holds us together. We have found the government and it is us.

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By Joe Hill, March 4, 2007 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment
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Thanks, Chris Hedges, for trying to explain to the dim-witted why they are forever making fools of themselves.  It’s obvious that the DNC/DLC smear machine has succeeded in scaring the bejeeezus out of the lock-step ‘Democratic’ Party supporters.  It took considerable bullying and a whole lot of character assassination to take down one of the few people who actually believe in a progressive alternative to the well-worn ‘Road to Ruin’ that both major parties have forced timid voters to accept.

No wonder half the eligible voters don’t bother to vote when the ONLY prospect is more of the business-as-usual policies approved by the interests which own both corporate parties.  The Founders of this nation (who dared to risk life and limb in what often seemed a ‘lost cause’) must be rolling in their graves over what has become of their heirs. 

Where they were willing to risk EVERYTHING in the cause of freedom, their heirs are afraid to risk what they even admit is a ‘lesser evil’ regime, rather than face the prospect of 8 long years of fascist rule.  They wouldn’t dare to take the risk of voting their hearts and hopes….and we STILL got stuck with 8 years of Bush….but the fact is we HAVE survived him, and the sky hasn’t quite fallen.

Now, once again, the erstwhile ‘Party of the People’ is poised to nominate a presidential candidate who voted for the war, for the Patriot Act, for all manner of oppressive trade agreements, and AGAINST the interests of The People they once claimed to support.  Looks like the Republicans are right—The Democratic Party are a bunch of wimps!

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By J Royce, March 2, 2007 at 5:24 am Link to this comment
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The Dem apologists have blighted the fate of the Dem Party by continuing to claim that the quacking yellow ducks waddling around the floor of Congress are actually ... eagles.

And so America is stuck on stupid, held hostage to those with their eyes hard shut.

The reasoning of Nader-haters is the same as Right-wing “conservative” Republicans: if you like the conclusion, the argument MUST be correct. In this case, Nader was offered up as a scapegoat, and Dem activists took it and won’t let go.

I have worked to elect Dems before and since Nader, but I am finally being driven out of the party. Not so much for the endless vitriol against Nader and those who saw this disaster early, or even for the sneering insults of would-be allies.

No, the final reason for losing faith with the Dems is that they are not smart enough. It has been the constant strain of blaming Nader instead of demanding representation that shows the Dems haven’t got what it takes.

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By Outraged, March 1, 2007 at 10:09 pm Link to this comment
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I like Nader, in fact I’ve always liked Nader. I just don’t think he’d end up an accomplished president.  I think he’d be excellent as the new vice, think of Nader as the “new” Darth, only this one would be after all the corps.  Yep, I could go for that!

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By Dr. Doo, February 28, 2007 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment
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I don’t know where all the people are getting the false assumption that if Gore was president, it would have been better off.  Don’t forget he is one of the biggest Islamophobes in the democratic party, and to have Lieberman would have meant not the neocons feeding the office agendas, but having the neocon right in the office.

Gore could come out and talk about being against going into Iraq, but he is out of office and either didn’t have to respond to his paymasters or could oppose Bush just to speak against the opposite party (like all the democrat pundits all saying one thing against Bush, while its members in congress going along with Bush).  All you have to see is his record as VP and senator and see his pro-war stance in a host of situations, including Iraq War I. 

His record on the environment was no better, especially when he has to pay back his paymaster.  His actions during his time as VP includes wholesale old forest cutting by enlisting the alliance of environmentalist and then double crossing them at the end, allowing the building of hazardous waste incinerator near an elementary school soon after going into office, opposite of what he said during campaigning, allowed the destruction of wetlands in Florida for the sake of the sugar barons, relaxing a ban on cancer causing food additives that’s been in effect since Eisenhower, opening of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge at the same time dropping a ban on selling Alaskan oil abroad.  The list could go on and on, but I would stop here.

So the patriotic thing to do is not have Nader stand behind Gore or any of the other Islamophobe democrats, but for them to all stand behind Nader, so we could have true progress in this country.

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By Terry Sloth, February 28, 2007 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment
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“This rage rises out of the deep distortions and dislocations that have beset tens of millions of Americans shunted aside in the new global marketplace.  The massive flight of manufacturing and professional jobs overseas, the ruthless slashing of state and federal assistance and the rise of an unchecked American oligarchy have plunged many Americans into deep economic and personal despair.” 

Yes, this along with the immigration issue explains the discontent among the working-class Republican base.  They despise globalization and all that it represents, they look at their decimated towns that no longer manufacture a thing, they see abandoned buildings that were previously mom and pop businesses; they watch silently as illegal aliens obtain their good paying construction jobs; they apprehensively notice houses being foreclosed all around them,  their anxiety mounts because they can’t afford healthcare; they hope their son or daughter will survive in Iraq; and they regret with all their heart that they ever voted for Bush. 

So millions of Americans are now looking for a charismatic “electable” candidate, who will honestly represent the interests of the working-class and not the global elite when addressing issues such as globalization,  immigration, energy independence, and ending the Iraq War—-has anyone seen such a candidate; please let us know.

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By Ernest Canning, February 28, 2007 at 5:22 pm Link to this comment
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This is not a comment submitted for publication.  I am curious as to why my previous comment, which was directed at whether Nader should register and run as a Democrat was not included in your published comments?

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By Domenico, February 28, 2007 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment
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Interesting, to say the least. My head is spinning & I didn’t have time to read the entire article nor most of the responses. I am 73 years old & figured before I got through all that I would be long dead.

I like Nadar, I truly do. I think those who believe he functions as a “spoiler” are out of their wits. But then I believe most people are out of their wits.

I believe Dennis Kucinich is the ONLY politician that believes what he says, means what he says, and is not driven by greed. I can quite understand why he clings to the Dem Party because he has been a successful pol in that party and it represented (or pretended to respresent) his values. I would trust him without question: In the first place, I not only believe that he is completely decent, moral and honest, I also believe that he is many many many shades brighter than the next brightest bulb in the chandelier, and is the very best of the best. That includes ALL of them. (Even Bill, and I love Bill.)

I would consider a Kucinich/ Nadar ticket to mean that I had died and gone to Valhalla. Where Warriors retire & where maybe I would have a fighting chance. I’d settle for the obverse, though, if I had to do so…as in Nadar/Kucinich.
Good enough for me! Yeah, fat chance!

Our “Founding Fathers” as people are fond of calling them, knew quite well that we humans are greedy and that we become hooked on power once we get a taste of it…Hence our Constitution. They fought like hell, did those Father guys, to get their various points of view included in that document. But in our own time we have seen that “Goddamn piece of paper” (as Bush called it), made hash of, as though it were simply a dish of boiled potatoes left overlong in the cooler. Turning a bit moldy, don’t you think? Let’s add some oil and onion and maybe a bit of green pepper and see if we can’t get something more tasty…something rather more to our liking, don’t you know?

Well, now having written all this I think I shall not send it. Perhaps to Kucinich. I wish I had money to contribute to his campaign but I am entirely broke.

But I think I shall save this & send it, because I have become so scared lately that I am afraid to answer the ‘phone…It’s awful what poverty and being entirely alone does to a person.

But now I am uncertain as to how to go about sending this to DK…

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By TAO Walker, February 28, 2007 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
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Dave-el (#55893) certainly has a handle on America’s soon-to-be terminal national pathology.  He is considerably behind the curve, however, in his assessment of how far it has progressed.  The dying American republic’s constitutional framework has already been destroyed.  Its subject/citizenry are not even as high on the pyramid scheme “food-chain” as colon-ized serfs would be.  They are rather mere consumer units in a meant-to-be worldwide feedlot….in a word, livestock.

Corporations are indeed “things.”  They are non-living entities that have acquired, thanks to their “deluded” human “servants,” hard-wired nervous systems, virtual immunity from legal restraint, privately-owned and heavily-armed security forces, near total control of most of the necessities of daily life, and a kind of self-perpetuating capability that would be, in any actual living organism, effective immortality.

Corporations were set up specifically to further the predatory aims of what an earlier generation called “the money power.”  They have been terribly successful.  If Dave-el and others really mean not to “sit idly by” as the institutionalized degradation of the domesticated peoples reaches its intended end-state of global permanency, they’ll need to come up with something a lot more drastic than well-mannered attempts to persuade a few fellow captives, who happen to be temporarily a bit more comfortably confined, that something must be done to rein-in the Walmartians and other robotic ravagers.

Only substantial voluntary material sacrifices, on a massive scale, can deprive this integrated machinery of the “cash flow” that oils its gears….and without which it must grind to a halt.  Those sacrifices will have to be made almost entirely by people in the over-developed “first-world.”  The rest of us already have pretty much nothing to lose.

Does Dave-el see that as even remotely possible?  How about the even tougher task of giving-up the widespread Western belief in “individualism,” and all the stupifying attitudinal baggage that goes along with it?  This may be way too much to expect of people who have invested their entire lives in the construction and maintenance of their own private “personalities,” those cheap imitation plastic substitutes civilization imposes in-place of lifetime organic membership in the whole, healthy, human social arrangement that is our natural birthright.

There’s no help to be had here from the co-opted denizens of corporate boardrooms, or from the now wholly-owned subsidiary that was, perhaps briefly, government of, by, and for “the people.”  Your only help is in your essential human nature, which is another way of saying it is in each other….your families, friends, and neighbors….where you live….right now.

HokaHey!

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By Nick Scotto, February 28, 2007 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment
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I hope Ralph runs in 2008! We need an alternative to the swill that we have to choose from now.

2 days after the Nov 7 election, I changed from a long time Democrat to Independent because I was sickened how Pelosi and Dean were going out of their way to say that “impeachment is off the table”. How dare they!! 

It only took them 2 days to forget that they are supposed to do what WE want to do and not the other way around!

I will NEVER vote Democratic again unless they impeach these evil SOB’s in the White House and open a new, real investigation into 9/11.

Please watch the Google video: 9/11 Press for Truth

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By Al Feldzamen, February 28, 2007 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment
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In the early 1070s, before I quit to become a physician,  I was the production head at Britannica FIlms, then the country’s leading educational film company, distributing largely to middle and high schools. What better subject to teach than consumer awareness? So off I went to Washington, to gain the collaboration of Ralph Nader.

At the time, my company was essentially run as a non-profit, because our owner, former Senator Bill Benton, also owned the vastly larger and extraordinarily profitable Encyclopaedia Britannica company, so ours could essentially be managed as a benefit to education.

I tried to explain this to the good Mr. Nader, offering him standard royalties, etc. on his participation, but he refused. He wanted more.  I raised our offer. No good. I raised it again.  Again, not good enough. Finally, I had to give up. His greed seemed to know no bounds.

Not for nothing is the movie about him, AN UNREASONABLE MAN, reviewed 1/31/07, so titled. Not for nothing was he such a spoiler in 2000. Not for nothing has he amassed a substantial personal fortune, over $4 million, at last count several years ago.

Dr. A. N. Feldzamen
3 Arrowood Lane
Ithaca, New York 14850-9793
607-257-8080
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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By Apple, February 28, 2007 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment
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Been a fan of Ralph Nader since the 70s and I was pleased to give him my vote. It would have been a more decent world. Don’t understand why Democrats aren’t mad at the Democrats who voted for Bush.  That seems to me to be a more direct abandonment of the party as Bush could actually win.  Don’t know if he ever did, though.  Perhaps Ralph’s words will finally be appreciated when more and more people realize that they are nothing more than inventory for large corporations.

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By Kestrel, February 28, 2007 at 10:38 am Link to this comment
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I was fortunate enough to be sitting in the UCLA Auditorium when Ralph Nader gave his acceptance speech for the Green Party nomination in 1996. He enthralled us all with an 1 1/2-hour treatise on how this country has been systematically plundered by corporations since the late 19th Century. He took a complex tale and proposed a simple solution—the end of legal protection of corporations as citizens under U.S. legal code. This one action would reverse the century-long trend of the concentration of power to the wealthy.

This is why Ralph was running then, and this is why we need to implore him to run again. With the power of You Tube and direct media, Ralph can get this message to the people over the heads of the corporate media who deligitimize such a threatening candidate.

I seriously doubt that anyone who cares about this country and who heard his speech from start to finish would do anything but rush out and vote for Ralph. This lifelong registered Democrat did!

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By Michael T, February 28, 2007 at 9:30 am Link to this comment
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Chris Hedges is exactly the kind of believer that this hardcore atheist appreciates!

Yeah, the Dems have fallen into the besotting gaze of corporate cash…greed, glorious greed rules all (mainstream parties)....

We’re beginning to see it happen here in Canada, where the gov is stacking judicial appointment committees with police officers and those who share the party leader’s ideology - he even said so in parliament…it’s too bad because in many ways I am very conservative, but the current crop in both canada and usa are no longer true conservatives but neoliberals and crazy believers who feel no compunction about imposing their beliefs upon everyone else using the power of the state….

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By Dave-el, February 28, 2007 at 8:17 am Link to this comment
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Begin at the beginning
The definition of a democratic form of government is one designed to restrain the rich and powerful from consuming the poor and weak and to prevent the ignorant and vain from rising up and destroying everything.
Conservatism is a government by a heriditary aristocracy.
The first political party in U.S. history to be called conservative is the New York Conservative Party created in 1962. Their purpose and intent was to take over the Republican Party and to destroy the laws restraining the rich and powerful so they could aggrandize unto themselves the accumulated wealth of the American People. Little if any attention is given to this organization. Some of the founding members are still alive,and there are new ones. This is the original tumor that has spread like a cancer.
R.Reagan may have been their first acceptable spokeperson,I believe he like millions of Americans,was duped. However,if you recall this was also the time when the Republican Party experienced a large turnover. Many senators and reps were replaced by so called conservatives who began to dismantle or weaken not just Nader’s legislation, but all the progressive legislation going back to at least the 1890;s. At the same time Paul Volker appears as the head of the Federal Reserve and cranked the prime interest rates up to the vicinity of 15%. The massive transfer of wealth had begun.
It is time for the American People to stop talking in terms of liberals and conservatives. This was designed from the beginning to divide. Never use either word! Instead try thinking in terms and use the word.RESPONSIBLE! The next thing is to register as an independant.NOW,TODAY.
Stop yammering about corporations. In spite of legal terminology they are things not people. People own them. Find out who are the majority stockholders. Write them and tell them we fear they have been deluded. We are also the producers who,in what was once an agreeable partnership, made them wealthy and created the highest standard of living known to man.  We are not content to sit idly by while their servants dismantle the means of production, destroy the laws, and turn us into a colony.

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By Jackie T. Gabel, February 28, 2007 at 12:55 am Link to this comment
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...strongest article I’ve yet read by Hedges - he knows by now the desperation of the situation - one question only persists:

Why in Hell, does not the left close ranks on the 911 issue and grasp the treason at the heart of it to take these bastards down? Pretty soon, there’ll be literally nothing to loose and we’ll be asking why we didn’t seize the day when we had a chance. It’s worse than you think, the chips are coming — a unique one, for each and every one of us. http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/january2007/290107rockefellergoal.htm

Support 911Truth - End War Of Terror

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By sanford, February 27, 2007 at 10:13 pm Link to this comment
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Haven’t finished reading the column or all the comments, but I have yet to read an explanation how Nader lost the election for Gore.  I am assuming that he got a lot of votes in Florida that might have gone to Gore.  That might have been the case.  However, Gore did not even win his own state of Tennesse. That would have given him enough eletoral votes.

Having said that and I am sure some others have said so in the comments section, Gore did win the majority of votes.  I think it is time to get rid of the electoral college.

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By toc, February 27, 2007 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment
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Why would anyone vote for anyone OTHER than Nader? Why did Gore and Kerry sap away votes from the candidate whose platform represented the real aspirations of Democratic voters?

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By Polly Ester, February 27, 2007 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment
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Our two party system has evolved into a teratogenetic political system, which is so malformed that you can’t determine if you are looking at an elephant or a jackass—-two species merging to form one ideology, a clever chameleon giving an illusion of two distinct creatures; but displaying only slight cosmetic variations and NO real choice.

Multi-national corporations and the military-industrial complex, entwine their tentacles around the neck of the “jackass” and the “elephant,”  so that if unacceptable polices emerge from this beast, their tentacles quickly tighten causing political suffocation.

“It was an incompetent, corporatized Democratic Party, along with the orchestrated fraud by the Republican Party, that threw the 2000 election to Bush, not Ralph Nader.  Nader received only 2.7 percent of the vote in 2000 and got less than one-half of 1 percent in 2004.”

So given the nature of our two-headed political beast, is it physically possible for it to further morph into a functioning three headed species?

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By joseph paquette, February 27, 2007 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How about taking advantage of this internet and
expose the money changers. Full disclosure of
the Kissinger clients in the middle east, as he
has been an advisor to Bush. How about full disclosure of the Bush owned corp, The Carlyle Group that no one seems to want to mention..let’s have
full disclosure of all the Dubai money attachments
in both parties??

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By NathanHale, February 27, 2007 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment
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There was a time when the Democratic party espoused the very same principles that Nader demonstrates, worker rights, environmental quality
consumer protection, election finance reform, etc.

It is truely sad and shameful that he was excluded from the debate…...pussies.

I would vote for either Democratic or Republican candidate who would appoint Nader to AG or EPA head and give him some teeth. 

Time we get out of Iraq and some of the other 800+ military bases worldwide and redistibute the wealth into domestic infrastructure.

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By Bert, February 27, 2007 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment
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Ralph’s got some pretty good ideas, whether you vote for him or not is up to you, but the idea is to hear the man out, hear what he’s got to say.
Some of the stuff he’s talked about have been kind of controversial, but right on a lot of counts, in my view, he’s pretty smart, and a smart man tries to listen to people like that, as you just might stand to learn something. One of the hazards of trying to keep an open mind is that people will try to throw a lot of crap in it,
but I don’t think hearing what Nader’s got to present is a mistake. I try not to buy anything that anyone says, unconditionally, and the points he’s made about cars and other things in the past are on the mark, as far as I can tell. I would consider voting for him, but I’d like to see his complete platform before doing so.

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By Matias, February 27, 2007 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment
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The difference between Republicans and Democrats is the difference between which dress you want to put on your pig. The Dims are slightly slicker in their “presentation”, and they can read, but otherwise, it’s the same old pig. The Repignicans are in a way more admirable in their psychopathy, in that they never waver from their unnending nihilism. They’re out to turn the world into whatever mad nightmare is workable politically this week, while the Dims simply waffle and worry about their image and electability.

It’s time to vote for someone that doesn’t make you want to fill a barfbag. Ralph’s a bit on the ripe side in terms of age, but his morality isn’t in question…which is unique in the world of poly-dicks. I can no longer vote for the one who makes my projectile vomit less voluminous. I will vote for who I think represents my beliefs…and there’s not one Re’pig or De’pig that applies. The world is going to hell anyway, so why not go there with a clear conscience. And…the Constitution exists now only for soundbites, so it’s all just an exercise in futility anyway. Democracy? Ya…right. Gimme a break.

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By Ed, February 27, 2007 at 11:55 am Link to this comment
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Nader didn’t give Bush the presidency. U.S. voters gave Bush the presidency twice. Just the fact that Bush can garner fifty million popular votes tells me how callous and ignorant Americans are. This administration has insured the demise of American influence and is taking the nation to ruin. Our leaders and the people who helped put them there are laughing all the way to the bank.

If Nader runs, I’ll vote for him. His priorities parallel mine.

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By Hank Fur, February 27, 2007 at 11:20 am Link to this comment
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My, what pathetic standards. You would rather vote and support someone who has killed millions of innocent people because the other guy maybe (or maybe not) killed more. Look to Latin America for some backbone. Stop complaining about Democrats having no backbone when you don’t seem to have one either.

When Al Gore ran for president he said nothing about global warming. The League of Conservation Voters gave him a 64% lifetime rating for his environmental votes. What’s that a D? Some environmentalist!

David Brower, past president of Sierra Club, cast the last vote of his lifetime for Ralph Nader because he realized that Gore was in the pockets of polluting corporations. And Gore was a nuclear power proponent. But now, after writing a book (he has tons of money to make that rather easy), people have forgotten Gore’s real legacy: The DLC, corporate agenda, free trade, the hell with the poor, the hell with the environment, the hell with innocent Iraqi people.

Al Gore and Bill Clinton sabotaged the Kyoto Protocol. They said it didn’t ask enough of the developing nations and asked too much from the U$ (yeah, right.) Thanks Al. Lots of folks just love you, but not the ones who stood up and walked out on the meetings. Clinton and Gore blamed Congress but they never used their bully pulpit and just let it slide. Do you all REMEMBER that one? (i.e, Bill and Al were just pretending. Haven’t you noticed this characteristic of the 2-party politicians?)

Al Gore helped shove NAFTA through Congress. NAFTA is responsible for endless death and hardship for millions of struggling people all over the globe. The irony is that NAFTA contributes substantially to global warming. Did Gore tell you this inconvenient fact? Why does he keep it from you?

Al Gore said the Telecommunicatins Act of 1996 was good for America. He and Clinton worked very hard to get that one passed. It was hugely maligned by progressives at the time (do you REMEMBER?) It freed up big media corporations to get bigger and now they are even more powerful and are better able to control American thought. Thanks Al, it’s working.

Talk to the peasants of Columbia who get their homes sprayed with poisons because of Clinton/Gore’s “War on Drugs.”  Thousands have died as a result of this ugly policy.

Al Gore helped Clinton kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children by means of cruel sanctions. Read Noam Chomsky’s most recent writings on Iraq/US relations.

Do you want to play the game of who killed the most? It was a toss up a year or so ago. But I’m old fashion, I’ll vote everytime for the one who hasn’t killed anyone, silly me. Ya gotta prove that you can kill millions of people before you’re taken seriously by the Democratic Party, and I’m amazed that any serious person can think the Democrats will lead us to where we need to go. I think Nader can and would if given half a chance. Lessor of two evils mentality will undo our Democracy. Good Cop/Bad Cop will fool the electorate and hegemony will move forward. You don’t think this isn’t part of the strategy for the gullible classes? Both parties collude. Get it?

Run, Ralph, run!

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By James X, February 27, 2007 at 10:52 am Link to this comment
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Thank you Chris for defending Ralph. He carried the only message of historical relevance, the other two put on a dog and pony show. Three things took the election from Gore: the media, who gave Bush a pass on everything and made Gore pay for everything; the state of Florida, which rigged, purged and butterflied the results; and the Supreme Court, which overruled the state court (Ah! state’s rights).
I’d love to be in a room of a dozen of these people who still blame Nader with such vehemence. Though I harbor a desire to slap their silly faces, I never respond physically unless attacked phisically.

I’d like to ask them why, Bush’s dirty ways being in evidence since the Carolinas, their Donks have so overwhelmingly backed him every step of the way and even now are pussyfooting both in congress and already on the campaign trail.
I’d like to discuss “EGO” a little, and that loathsome term “un-electable” used by these soothsayers. So it’s not just the DLC/RNC folks who are triangulating, the voters are too! A perfect self generating feedback system. (Gibbon gently chuckles in his grave) Nevermind principle, it’s “electability”, said the Kerryites in the American Church during the Dem caucus in ‘04.

I have a long list of questions for that room, but I’ll pass till I get there. And since I live in Paris it won’t be anytime soon.

Suffice it to say that the two horses out of the gates first and in the lead of a brand new dog and pony show make me hope that Nader will run. I like his ego, if Gore hadn’t had such a problem with his, he wouldn’t have been such an easy target.

More power to you Mr. Hedges !

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By Alejandro, February 27, 2007 at 10:28 am Link to this comment
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WOW! I went back and re-read your articale Mr. Hedges and I am more convinced then ever that, even if Mr. Nader could garner up a really far-feched victory and was elected President of the United States. He would be the only Lame Duck President from the time he took the oath of office in the history of our great country. That Sir would be a disservice and a tragic set back for all of us that care about our childrens future. The public good would be better served by his support of a progressive candidate such as Al Gore. Finally, a cabinate post is where he belongs. (in my humble opinion)

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By oregoncharles, February 27, 2007 at 9:37 am Link to this comment
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Thank you, Chris Hedges, for a wonderful article correcting the injustice done Ralph Nader.  I think he is wrong on one point:  Nader still has far more friends out there than Hedges sees.  Only the political class and the punditocracy have turned against him.

And, once again:  the article doesn’t mention Kucinich because, good as he is personally, he insists on running within the Democratic Party.  As he already learned, the Party has its own immune system against people who might interfere with its money-grubbing.  On the whole, the Democrats are Honest Politicians:  they stay bought.  As a result, Kucinich is little more than a stalking-horse for the right-winger the Party eventually nominates, drawing progressives into a trap.  I’m not accusing him; he may really think he has a chance.  He is, after all, “spiritual.”

But as Nader has long pointed out, the only hope is to go outside the sold-out party machinery.  From there, he can at least get people’s attention, if only by punishing the party for nominating losers.

& I speak as a Green who wasted his vote in ‘04 - on John Kerry.  We now have proof of the final reason for not supporting right-wing Dems:  they lose.  Or they don’t win by enough, like Gore.  Personally, I don’t think Kerry and the Democratic Party had the slightest intention of winning in ‘04.  If they had, they would have defended the vote in Ohio, as they had promised.  Only the Greens and Libertarians did that, and we didn’t have the clout or the budget to make it stick.

So thanks again, Mr. Hedges, for once again rubbing our noses in the hard, cruel world.  We needed that - some of us.

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By Larry Anklam, February 27, 2007 at 9:33 am Link to this comment
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If not: Ron Paul (Rep.) or Dennis Kucinich (Dem.), I will certainly vote for Ralph again. Everone else is owned by ISRAEL!

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By brian badberry, February 27, 2007 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
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In retrospect-my votes or nader in this all too-red state of Idaho were meaningless except that they may have sent a message to both parties that I, for onre wasn’t buying their same old-same old bullshit anymore. The electoral college( which should be abolished) prevets the formation of a viable third party. Al) presidential eectionsl progressive citizens should push for diect(i.e. popular vote -based) elections- which would require a constitional samendment. We need it, but I doubt if we’ll ever get it.

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By ms_xeno, February 27, 2007 at 7:02 am Link to this comment
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Good column, Chris.  Very on-target, though it seems as usual the detractors haven’t read one word of the piece they claim to be commenting on.  At this point, anyone who thinks the DP are not complicit and knowing players in this “fascist empire” is deluding him or herself.

Of all the harebrained Nader-bashers, my favorites are the ones who invoke the “closet Republican” acusation.  Nader has never hidden his beliefs in policies that do, in fact, appeal to ground-level, secular Republicans: Such as improved oversight of the corporate boards that see to investments.  It also makes me laugh that the bashers crow with pride about how they have groups like “Republicans For Kerry” on their side even as they howl with fury at Nader to taking GOP money.  Please.  There are tons of former would-be revolutionaries out there who have wholeheartedly embraced Republican values at their worst.  They are loved in the Right-wing media and worshipped by their fans.  They are also exceedingly prosperous and kowtowed to frequently by liberals and even Progressives. (DLC)  If Nader had wanted to go that route, it would certainly have been easy and profitable.  Yet he did not.  The party that beats on him routinely for walking away from them miss the point: Nader did not move at all.  They did.  All he did was acknowledge that they betrayed their own principles for a buck.  They spew vitriol because they can’t endure that knowledge.  Guys like Gitlin and Alterman wanted to coast to some lucrative gig on Gore’s coattails, and they hate Nader for pissing in their punchbowl.  Too bad, Boys.  You helped grow this shit and now you’re waist-deep in it, just like the rest of us.

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By walt, February 27, 2007 at 6:46 am Link to this comment
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I will tell you my Ralph Nader story. It was around the time he announced his 2000 candidacy and he was appearing on a sensible talk show like Charlie Rose’s. I was enthralled by his perspective on the politics of the time. Clinton had just brought Democratic Party stock to an all-time low and the Republicans had more or less decided on GW Bush. What Nader spoke about were his reasons were for running. I wish I had a transcript so I will paraphrase what I recall. Nader said (more or less) “I am running for the people without health care, the people who have lost their standard of living due to their jobs being moved off shore, the people who have lost the protection of O.S.H.A., the people whose property has been devalued and whose health has been damaged by environmental pollution, the planet left unprotected by a crippled E.P.A. ... etc.”

The list wasn’t long, but it was concise. The man who had challenged the auto industry and given rise to the consumer protection movement was ready to turn his focus on government. It was a beautiful thing.

In the latter days of the campaign, it became clear that he would not secure consideration for the Presidency, but he was still a force to be reckoned with. He had the power to barter his support with the Democratic candidate and affect the platform in ways that would have moved the Democratic party back to its traditıonal roots – looking out for the working person, minorities, the disenfranchised. But he didn’t. He ran instead. Like to hear it or not, he elected George W Bush.

Was Nader egotistical, or merely stubborn? Was he a spoiler or an idealist? You can spring to his defense or condemn him, but the net result is in his decision he ignored the fate of “the same people without health care, etc.. ... and we were soon to learn bitterly, the Army Reserves, National Guard and their famıilies and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.”

He is someone who intentionally sacrificed the worst off among us. I felt it was an appaling act of narcisssism by Nader and his followers ... but not one (sadly) without historic precedent.

Nader in an interview that same year said that the nation must put itself in the hands of an elitist class (people like him). He definitely used the word “elitist class” and definitely implied that there was a class of people who knew better than the rest of us. Again consulting my meager knowledge of history, I was reminded of the Marxist concept of a “Vanguard Party” – a proxy group standing in for democratic participation run by intellectuals and elitists. And we all know how that turned out.

So who would I / will I vote for? The one that has the best chance of reaching out to independents and Republicans, as well as Democrats. The one with the best chance of steering the Democratic Party back to its traditional roots. The one most responsive to political pressure from morally valid constituencies. I frankly don’t care if it is Clinton, or Edwards, or Obama, or someone else, who will come riding in at the last minute. As long as they can win (!) and pull America back from the moral abyss of the Right. And as long as they can be held to the fire by active Democrats, who are disciplined and orgranized enough to do so. It’s not that hard. The Republicans did it.

When Chris Hedges says “it is better to stand up and fight, even in vain, than not to fight at all” it sounds commendable but feels like morality in the abstact. Despite all the rest of the commendable moral abstractions cited in this piece and considering the + or – percentage points by which elections have been determined of late, I have to consider a vote for Nader a moral outrage.

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By Chris Florky, February 27, 2007 at 6:38 am Link to this comment
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Although I agree with Chris Hedge’s comments about most Democrats being co-opted by the corporate moguls, I still don’t think that Ralph Nader is the answer. Why not Dennis Kucinich? I’d like to hear Chris Hedge’s comments on this man, who is by far - in my mind, the most spiritually minded (not dogmatically religious minded) candidate out there! He doesn’t appear to have ‘an agenda’, nor ties to the various corporations.

He also has a different vision than most,i.e, a Department of Peace instead of the Defense Department. It gives a whole new and different energy to communications and relationships throughout the world.

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By Mark Sherman, February 27, 2007 at 6:04 am Link to this comment
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A great article that points out again that corporate money controls both parties.  I’m a bit surprised that Kucinich doesn’t even get a mention as one major party candidate whose stated positions and actions while in elected office are pro we the people.

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By TAO Walker, February 27, 2007 at 1:05 am Link to this comment
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If a dose of Ralph Nader could work on what ails the comatose and cancer-ridden American republic, Chris Hedges’ prescription here might offer some realistic hope of at least some temporary remission….if not really any prospect at all of an actual cure and recovery.  If, however, as is already dead-certain from where us native Turtle Islanders stand, the fatal flaws in America’s national character have exposed “the last best hope….” to disorders of mind, body, and spirit soon to prove terminal, those who would like to tell their great grandchildren the story of the cleansing cataclysm right this minute hard upon us had best look elsewhere than the thoroughly corrupted political system, for a way through it.

The corporate leviathan has acquired a mass and momentum only the laws of Nature can arrest.  No mere U.S. President can prevent the Walmartians and their kind from super-sizing their footprints all over the face of the Earth, as their rampage progresses to its inevitable dead-end.  A “public” aroused sufficiently to the scope of its peril to actually make voluntarily the huge material and psycho-emotional sacrifices necessary to stop the machinery of global anihilation in its tracks is as much the stuff of pipe-dreams as is a techno-fix for global warming or a miracle-working messiah who’ll have a cure for institutionalized insanity.

What the domesticated peoples need, to end ten thousand years of captivity and degradation, is nowhere to be found outside their own essential human nature.  Ironically, our tormentors have always known this.  Which is why they’ve spent so much of their own dwindling vitality trying to both disrupt and suppress the organic function of humanity within the living body of Earth, to destroy the organic form of humanity necessary to the integrity of its function, and to prevent awareness of that form and function among their captive populations….not to mention the great lengths they’ve gone to in a vain attempt to wipe-out us free wild natural human beings.

Nothing made available within its increasingly suffocating confines by civilization itself can help the inmates out of that death-trap.  Their only hope, and help, is in one another.  Our tame brothers and sisters, subject for five hundred generations to induced immaturity, must grow-up….must overcome the lethal handicap of their artificial “individuality” to recover their natural immunity to the fear-mongered machinations of their tormentors.

As for this hell of a mess that’s been made in our Living Room….the only way out of that is to clean it up.

HokaHey!

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By rabblerowzer, February 27, 2007 at 1:01 am Link to this comment
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I was sorry to see Vilsack drop out. As in the past, the Rabid Right slime machine (the MSM) will build up and then knock off each succeeding Democratic front runner until they get down to the one Republicans think they can beat. As the field narrows, opportunities for lesser know candidates will emerge, and as happened in the past, the last Democrat left standing will win the nomination. Even those with little funding.

All Democratic candidates should remember what happened to Gary Hart and resolve to fight the slime machine to the bitter end. A majority of Americans still respect honesty and courage. Crooks and liars can only win if you allow them to.

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By AG, February 27, 2007 at 12:40 am Link to this comment
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Nader in 2008.

I will not be defined by others who say my vote for Nader is a vote for the republican party. That is utter nonsense, and the longer they believe it, the longer the country will be caught in this mess.

It’s not just that democrats are the lesser of two evils, it is that they stand for principles and actions that I don’t support. NAFTA, health care, and ultimately, supporting the Iraq War.

How could Nader in 2000 know that our country was heading down the wrong track, and Gore be ignorant of it? Why didn’t Gore even carry his own state? How could he allow the Florida count to stand and not challenge it? Whether your head is 12 inches or 2 inches under water, neither is acceptable, but the democrats want you to vote for them because they will only hold your head 2 inches under water.

“I’d rather vote for what I want and not get it than vote for what I don’t want, and get it.” - Eugene Debs

Unrepentant Nader Voter

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By toophat, February 26, 2007 at 11:54 pm Link to this comment
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Indeed, Chris is on the ball with his observation about Mr. Nader.  Ralph Nader is the only one looking out for us.  Keeping his sharp tongue for the CAPITALISTA. They are capitalist with fascists tendencies.  This evolution of capitalist in democracy to Capitalista will take us back to days of Mousollini. We know how that story ended.

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By Dennis D, February 26, 2007 at 7:18 pm Link to this comment
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Chris - I want to thank you for this article. I never felt as if I’ve had to justify my voting for Nader in the past and will not in the future should he decide to run again. Our two party system is nothing more than an illusion.  There’s no such thing as the lesser of two evils when both parties are evil. They both follow the Golden Rule - He who has the gold rules, period.
Anyone willing to stand up to the dictatorship we are presently under will always have my vote. Anyone that votes for either the Republicrats or Demicans is just confirming the definition of insanity.

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By Polly Ester, February 26, 2007 at 7:18 pm Link to this comment
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”We must organize to fight the corporate state, to redirect our national wealth and resources to fund a massive antipoverty campaign and curb the cycle of perpetual war that enriches the military-industrial complex and by extension the two political parties that dominate Washington, or we must accept an inevitable Christo-fascism backed by these corporations.”

A two party system evolved into a teratogenetic political system, which is so malformed that you can’t determine if you are looking at an elephant or a jackass—-two species merging to form one ideology, a clever chameleon giving an illusion of two distinct creatures; displaying only slight cosmetic variations, thus creating the illusion of choice.

Multi-national corporations and the military-industrial complex, entwine their tentacles around the neck of both the jackass and the elephant, when unacceptable polices emerge from this beast, the tentacles quickly tighten causing political suffocation.

“It was an incompetent, corporatized Democratic Party, along with the orchestrated fraud by the Republican Party, that threw the 2000 election to Bush, not Ralph Nader.  Nader received only 2.7 percent of the vote in 2000 and got less than one-half of 1 percent in 2004.”

So given the nature of this two-headed creature, is it physically possible for it to morph into a three headed beast?

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By Mad As Hell, February 26, 2007 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment
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“Mad as hell said “Still Nader stayed in the race.  And we KNOW that had even 10% of the people who voted for him had voted for Gore in Florida, 3200 American service men and women would still be alive, and 650,000 Iraqis would still be alive.  And tens of thousands of the injured would not be hurt.”

-Did Ralph Nader force the Democrats to authorize the use of force against Iraq? ”—Jeremy.

Jeremy asks an excellent question and, of course, the answer is no, Nader didn’t.  The problem is that a number of people had the power in their hands to stop George Bush at various points in his rise to catastrophe.

But as THOSE Democrats cannot excuse their votes by saying “Hey! Don’t blame US—Ralph Nader should have pulled out so Gore was elected” neither can Nader evade HIS responsibility either.  He had it in his PERSONAL power to affect the course of the election, and KNEW that his actions would bring a proto-fascist to power. He KNEW this, KNEW Al Gore for all his flaws was NOT a proto-fascist yet did not act to prevent Bush from “winning”.

Nor does the fact that Gore lost Tennessee either absolve Nader of responsibility.  Sure, the BIGGEST responsibility falls on Al Gore, but that STILL doesn’t absolve Nader for NOT taking an action that he knew could stop Bush.

And he and his apologists REFUSE to accept responsibility for HIS actions, instead tossing out red herrings of OTHER factors that led to Bush’s election.

Like Buchanan cost Bush 4 states…Sorry—that’s HIS responsibility that he must acknowledge—he also (and I do NOT blame Buchanan for this) inadvertently drew 3000 votes in one district that even HE claimed must surely have been miscounted.

I have NO idea where other folks got the idea that Clinton caused 500,000 deaths in Iraq.  That’s simply a nonsensical number.

The Naderites simply refuse to believe that it’s better to be under believers in Democracy and Freedom, no matter how inept and corrupt they may be than to live under out and out tyranny.

Under tyranny, they won’t be able to “vote their conscience”. They will be TOTALLY silenced—FORCIBLY! Why don’t they understand that?

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By Quy Tran, February 26, 2007 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment
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A man with thousand faces !

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By Ernest Canning, February 26, 2007 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment
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There are times in your life when you hear something profound and it sticks with you.  For me, the year was 1969.  I had just returned from Vietnam.  The professor in my college freshman history class commented, “If the American right can be criticized for its absolute insensitivity to the human condition, the American left can always be criticized for its inability to count.”

    While no progressive can argue with Mr. Nader’s willingness to directly confront the corporate global project, one has to question the wisdom of his tactic of repeatedly running as a Green or as an independent—a tactic that guarantees within the conglomerated media that he will be excluded from the debates.

    If Mr. Nader truly wants to make a difference he should recognize what Dennis Kucinich so clearly understands—that the Green Party/Nader critique is more appropriately directed at the cabal of corporatists who have sold out rank and file Democrats in favor of the corporate global project.  As Jeff Faux so poignantly notes in “The Global Class War” it was Bill Clinton who betrayed the working men and women of this country, pushing Reagan/Bush neoliberal agenda with the fast track adoption of NAFTA and the WTO.

    Because so many progressive Americans are registered as Democrats, Mr. Nader needs to understand that it is essential that progressives first recapture the Democratic Party—a party which should truly be a Party of the People—before a serious effort can be made to recapture America for the vast majority of Americans. 

    There are two ways that Mr. Nader could make a difference.  The first would be to openly endorse Dennis Kucinich.

    For anyone who doubts that Mr. Kucinich is every bit as prepared to take on the corporate global project and the military-industrial complex, I would invite them to go to Kucinich.US and see for themselves.  This effort, even at Truthdig, to focus solely on those candidates whom the corporate media dubs as “viable” entails a poll-driven self-fulfilling prophesy that diverts us from supporting only those candidates who offer substance.

    Better still would be for Mr. Nader to immediately re-register as a Democrat and to declare his candidacy.  That way, there would be no way he could be excluded from the early primary debates.  The presence of both Mr. Nader and Mr. Kucinich at those debates would bolster the chances that the “message” would reach a large sector of the American People.

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By Argonaut, February 26, 2007 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment
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This is really simple. There were several reasons why Gore lost in 2000 and changing any one of them would have given him the win, saved 600,000 lives and trillions of dollars. Edwards did not campaign. Gore lost his own home state (?!). The Supremes sold out. Etc., etc. And Ralph Nader siphoned votes. *If* he is a smart and good as you would have us believe, he would understand that; hell, he would have understood it in 2000. So, for my money he is either stupid, delusional or ego-maniacal, and he ain’t stupid.

I put him up there with Pat Buchanan. Both of them can have excellent insights into our problems, but both of them come up with the wrong answers. In Pat’s case the answer for what ails us is lower taxes and getting rid of brown people. In Ralph’s case it’s Running for President. Lord, take me home. I’m ready.

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By reginald, February 26, 2007 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment
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I’ll always wonder why Nader never ran for Senate or Congress. Politicians usually work their way from there to “the top”. Nader could have done a lot of good as Senator or Congressman, just as Bernie Saunders has. Nader is an idealist I know, but a little common sense, like making a reputation as a legislator first before running for President, would make him a more intelligent idealist.

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By Kush K, February 26, 2007 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment
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Chris, you like Nader has brassy cajones.  The middle class needs to wake up.  The Democrats are not on the side of the middle class or the working class for that matter.  They are all sold out, bought by a system which compels reliance on money.  What is killing American democracy is this money dependence.  The Clintons and the OBama of this world know that. 

Although I agree with you Chris, I do not see anything worthwhile being organized for the people.  The duopoly masquerades as democracy and people are cheated every election cycle. 

Nader has the right vision.  The problem is that most middle and working class Americans are beguiled by the corporate media.  Is there anyway how the media can be free?  Internet is the best thing that has happened.  But how far is that going to take us?

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By Jeremy, February 26, 2007 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment
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WCG said “It IS about Nader’s ego. Otherwise, why wouldn’t he work within the Democratic Party? Why wouldn’t he seek to change from within what he sees as wrong?”

-Yeah, right, because that’s been working so well with Dennis Kucinich and company. Progressive democrats are continually mocked and ignored by the DLC and party leadership.


Mad as hell said “Still Nader stayed in the race.  And we KNOW that had even 10% of the people who voted for him had voted for Gore in Florida, 3200 American service men and women would still be alive, and 650,000 Iraqis would still be alive.  And tens of thousands of the injured would not be hurt.”

-Did Ralph Nader force the Democrats to authorize the use of force against Iraq?

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By Margaret Currey, February 26, 2007 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment
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It does not matter who runs, if the election system is corrupt than no matter who runs the Republicians will win, the money they have will corrupt any state.  We have Fla. and Ohio and there are probably other ways the corrupt the system, there is the way of keeping people from the polls there are the police presence as was the case in Fla.

People in the south were scared from voting, the state police go to the houses of people who are active in getting the vote.

Up north there was the jamming of the telephone number to keep people from taking elderly people to the polls.

This country should be encouraging people to vote instead it is the other way around.

Like a said does it matter who is running if the system is corrupt.

Margaret from Vancouver, Washington

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By fewkes, February 26, 2007 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment
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Chris,

Thanks for writing such a great column about Ralph Nadar.  I appreciate your insights.

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By Christopher Robin, February 26, 2007 at 2:48 pm Link to this comment
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“The New Democrats” = “Republicans” prior to 1980

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By Wyatt_Hertz, February 26, 2007 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment
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By their fruits:  For “the root of all evil”: the ‘greenest-thumbed’ White House in history—bar NONE.  Due: the Math…

Why don’t we ‘secular progressives’ start pushing facts like that in the suckered faces of these borne-again pro-‘life’ WARpharisees?

why don’t we ask the Bush War Cabinet to “recu$e”-themselves-for-LIFE—from any personal profit traceable to any war on their watch. YES or NO…

“EXPOSED” OR “DISCOVERED” “DELIBERATE” or “INADVERTANT”

—surrender on demand said profit to, say…“College Funds for Children of the Fallen”...create a little ‘tension’ ‘bout those ‘legally blind trust’ ‘robustly complex’ portfolia…(Remember how nervous Bush seemed in his response to the “conflict of interest” question in the Presidential Debate with Kerry?—“anybody want some wood”...)

how ‘bout Mr. Precedent (& Vice, on down, one by one) you Share Your Thoughts on the CONCEPT—we’ll let you ignore the fattening warfall of your “inheritance” for now:  just explain to us why you Over-indulged Chickenhawks should be allowed to have present and future donor-payback & proxy investment $pecial Force$ panning martial bloodstream for Gold…to even be obliquely situated years from now is repulsive…

IMAGINE the possible fallout if this question had been posed in this setting:

http://www.kyndmusic.com/2006/07/01/artist-general-warning-recusal-question-bad-for-bush/ ]


ARTIST GENERAL’S WARNING:
Stoploss: Soul America:
From THE
Most Chickenhawked War in U.S. History
http://www.symbolman.com/chickenhawks.html


REV. HOGTIE POTUS (COWBOY NOIR)

FROM PULPIT NONFICTION FOR A CHANGE:

A Moral Smackdown—Left of Center!

~On ‘Religical’ Lust to Dominate Superpower Democracy as compared to:

The Faithful Truth and Moral Beauty of the Amish (Quaint as Geneva Conventions?)

http://www.kyndmusic.com/2006/10/09/the-truth-moral-beauty-of-the-amish/#more-826

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By derrek farina, February 26, 2007 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment
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The United States of Amnesia - Gore Vidal.  Well put for how people so easily forget events in this country.  Ralph Nader, like him or hate him, wasn’t responsible for 8yrs of Bush.

We are.  We allowed this to happen.  The 2000 election was daylight robbery, but the fact that people believe it was Nader that stole crucial votes just goes to show.  That the USA is still in going strong.

The Supreme Court decided the election, such words as electoral fraud and massive rigging (words that are easily used when political pundits in the USA describe other 3rd world elections, but to my knowledge hasn’t been used here) decided the election. 

‘If Gore was in power, the Iraq war wouldn’t have happened.’ Most probably, but he and Clinton presided over those sanctions that we just as deadly.  The only difference was that American soldiers weren’t dying.  But Iraqi children were suffering and Iraqis were being bombed daily thanks to British and American warplanes.

The choice isn’t only between Republicans and Democrats.  Anyone that comes out w/ an agenda that resonates w/ the people should be given a fair chance.  The only way we the people can get money out of the equation is when we start voting not just for people who stand a chance, but for people who stand for the people and not just talk about it.

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By Enbie, February 26, 2007 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment
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Every great person who worked to truly change the system was hated in their own time.

As usual, anytime Nader’s name comes up the whiners come out in force to blame him for 2000. They can’t be bothered to read and think; they just want to whine and blame and call names.

We live in a corporate state – deciding which corporate puppet to elect president is your right and it’s also stupid.

I’ll vote for Nader every time he runs and if I’m alive 30 years from now, will happily tell anyone who will listen that I wasn’t afraid to vote for real change when others were determined to be the good slaves.

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By Humble Visitor, February 26, 2007 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment
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Nader is and always has been a spoiler. . . that’s all. He has known all his life that he didn’t stand even the remotest chance of being elected and yet this sad, burned-out old excuse for a crusader keeps TAKING MONEY FOR HIS CAMPAIGN FROM THE RNC and returning back to make sure the chances of wresting control from these maniacal megalomaniacs is once again destroyed while he and his pathetic little band of merry men traipse through the wreckage that they have once again created in the name of “green” or “righteous rebellion” against the “empire” that he so dilligently sucks up to so that THE RNC WILL CONTINUE TO FUND HIS CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE currently running for the Presidency so that they, the RNC, can make sure he siphons off enough votes to insure another “non-need” for a recount of the popular vote cause the rethuglican friends of nader get a “mandate” of less than 3% of the popular vote!!! Chris, I think your stuff is pretty damn good, all in all, but this pathetic symbiosis you have with nader needs to go by the wayside quick.
Ralph sold out years ago. He only does this shit now to keep his misguided little ego feeling good at everybody else’s expense. Don’t think so? LOOK AT THE LAST TWO ELECTIONS HE HELPED SABOTAGE!!!
Nuff said.

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By Erika McDonald, February 26, 2007 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment
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I agree with Chris Hedges. 

I would also like to tell all the Democratic Party hacks, once and for all: I DO NOT VOTE FOR DEMOCRATS, NEVER HAVE, AND NEVER WILL!!! 

How wrong people are when they assume Nader’s voters would otherwise vote for Dems.  Tsk. Tsk.  I voted for Nader in 1996 and 2000.  I voted for David Cobb in 2004.  What would I have done if these candidates were not on the ballot?  STAYED HOME!!!! 

I believe there is about 11 cents difference between the Reps and Dems, but that is not enough for me and the non-voting 50% of the population to go to the polls. 

How will Hillary even be different from BUSH?  She is open to invading Iran, and does NOT regret her vote in favor of the Iraq War. 

One more thing: I believe, with every fiber of my being, that Al Gore WOULD have invaded IRAQ!!  He and Clinton had already murdered 500,000 Iraqis with their deadly sanctions policy!

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By Christopher Welzenbach, February 26, 2007 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment
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I agree that the mainstream Democratic candidates are sellouts, not only to corporate money men, but to the Israeli lobby.  However, Nader has only proven his own inability to get elected.  Now that Mike Gravel has thrown his hat into the ring, I think there is a viable, non-corporate sponsored alternative to a Nader candidacy.

Chris Welzenbach

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By Don Knutsen, February 26, 2007 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment
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I find myself agreeing with Chris Hedges take on Ralph Nader and more the faults within the democratic party establishment that , together with a corrupt republican party stole the election in ‘2000 for the shrub. Its too easy for democrats to lay blame on Ralph Nader for their own apathy..and thats what its been for along time. I don’t remember seing an active, involved democratic party since the days of Nixon. It has been corporatized and usually resembles republica lite. Clinton, who ofcourse was much better equipped to be president then the current dolt, was far to subserviant to the corporate interests. We have not had an administraion, a democratic administration that represented the middle class for alon, long time now. As we watch the core of our country evaporate, isn’t it high time we start demanding something more from our elected representitives ? Nader is the lone wolf trying to point that out, he isn’t in it for ego or wealth. I think he is dismayed at the lack of awareness in the public still.

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By Donald Johnson, February 26, 2007 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment
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Nader is correct in his criticisms of the Democrats, but wrong in his solution.  That’s why the debate among leftists (I’m ignoring the centrist Democrats who are part of the problem) is so vicious.  The Nader-haters can’t bring themselves to admit that Nader is correct in most of what he says, though many of them say almost the same things so long as Nader’s name isn’t brought into the discussion. Nader-supporters can’t bring themselves to admit that Nader’s 2000 campaign helped Bush steal the election.

So, Mr. Hedges, assuming you read this, I think you’d be better off writing articles pointing out where Nader is correct.  This ought to keep you busy for quite a while.  But don’t support another Nader candidacy and don’t defend it, unless you can explain how it would actually accomplish something useful and not throw another election to a Republican.

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By Dave C., February 26, 2007 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment
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All who claim the US and the world would be in a better state had Gore won the presidency are correct.
Democrats are better at steering the helm of empire than Republicans. It really is that simple.
Why vote democrat and watch it all slowly unravel?
Vote republican and get it over with or vote for you conscious.
It’s as if Republicans are a shotgun blast to the head while the Democrats are a slow churning knife in the back of democracy. Take your pick. I choose Nader.
I’ll be helping him once again in 2008!

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By W., February 26, 2007 at 11:47 am Link to this comment
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Chris, I am a fan of your writing. I read your latest book and I found it to be enlightening and accurate (speaking as a former evangelical). It also scared the hell out of me. On this point, though, I think you are missing something. I admire Nader, but in this case, Nader lied. The difference between the parties may not be great, but it is significant. Just think of all the people who would still be alive now if Gore were president.

Maybe the answer is run-off elections. That way people like Nader could run and make a good showing but not end up helping someone like Bush. Let the Naders and Ross Perots and John Andersons have their say, but let the final election be between two candidates. No more spoilers.

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By PTCruiser, February 26, 2007 at 11:32 am Link to this comment
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Bravo!

It has long puzzled me why Democrats believe that folks like Ralph Nader owe them something when in fact it is people like Nader who have broadened and lengthened the legacy of the Democratic Party. Yes, George Bush was a disaster in the rough but many of us recognized this fact in 2000. This reality could not have escaped the attention of Al Gore and his staff and handlers.

Nader was not afraid to point out inconvenient truths about the Democrats and the Republicans and the Democrats will never forgive him for it.  Al Gore is a good and decent man but he did not deserve to be president because many of us believe that George Bush is not. We do not want to be taken for granted.

Senator Clinton is right. We can find another candidate to vote for if we do not care for her positions. Run, Ralph, run!

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By JUSTALK, February 26, 2007 at 11:17 am Link to this comment
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Chris, If Nader wants to do good, let him back Gore, the Republicans would support any other option.

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By Bob, February 26, 2007 at 10:32 am Link to this comment
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Thank you for asking why Mr. Nader takes all the blame for the 2000 election. It’s interesting to me that Nader affected the election in two states - Florida and New Hampshire, for a total of 29 electoral votes. Pat Buchanan, on the other hand, played a role in four states - Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin - where he polled more votes than the difference between Bush and Gore. In other words, without Buchanan, Gore would have lost these states as well, which, coincidentally, add up to 29 electoral votes.

What this says to me is that third parties, even when they have a small impact (in total number of votes) can change an election profoundly. What we need is more support for third parties, not less; simply accepting the two dominant parties “divine right” to run the show just deprives us of democracy, as Mr. Nader has said for more than 20 years.

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By Jurgen Rommel Vsych, February 26, 2007 at 10:21 am Link to this comment
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He who pays the piper calls the tune. Voters must “follow the money” and see what corporations are funding Hillary, Barack and John Edwards’s campaigns, and then not be shocked - simply shocked! - when their guy (or gal) can’t rock the boat when they’re in office.

Like James Ridgeway says in “An Unreasonable Man,” “The Democrats are the meanest bunch of mother f***ers.”

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By hegemony57, February 26, 2007 at 9:28 am Link to this comment
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Nader is right to speak his special brand of truth to power while democrats (spineless corrput whores according to Mad As Hell) make nice to corporations and play the venal nationalistic game almost as well as republicans do.

The question of when authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism and economic distress morph into fascism is worth thinking about.  IMHO we are moving towards that line by degrees and an adequate analysis (not to mention a prescription) does not seem to be coming from a neutered democratic party.

No matter his personal style or ego Nader’s voice is a critical one in these times.

And then there is the question about why dems can’t dems embrace him and his ideas by bringing them into the party.  Of course the answer is simple.  Dems are in thrall to the corporatists who have branded him beyond the pale.

Run RALPH run.

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By Chris, February 26, 2007 at 9:16 am Link to this comment
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Nadar has refused to accept any responsibility for his actions in 2000 (lesser of two evils!? wake up, how could Dem rule be compared with the giant GOP mess we are in now?).........simply stated that puts him a lot closer to Bush than anyone else.

He was a great advocate; now sadly a self-aggrandizing jackass who is past his sell-by date.

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By anchorite, February 26, 2007 at 8:49 am Link to this comment
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The wise violate sense and restrict imagination.

CORRUPTION

A hundred holes
A hundred Hells
I’d travel going tippy-toe
To find the hottest glowing heck
And plug it with your wretched neck

A thousand sores
A million cramps
Could never ever balance
Your greedy game of just desserts
And cumulation callous

You blind yourself
To better spread
Material seduction
You say you’re striving
For the best
Yet authorize aggression

As wreckage nears and common tears
Are building to a flood
A silent impropriety
Might stop you if it could

For now we labour while you dream
Up another crime
None would seek or dare to work for
Justice in our time

~Anchorite

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By James, February 26, 2007 at 8:19 am Link to this comment
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Amen to that.

Mr. Hedges, you have found yourself another loyal reader.

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By jeff chalk, February 26, 2007 at 8:07 am Link to this comment
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unfortunatly, you are correct. Up in Canada where I live we have a George Bush bum boy as Prime Minister. The corporate sector controls both the liberals and the conservatives. The manufacturing sector was gutted in the first Canada-US trade agreement.  We have a health care system under attack at provincial level where local gov’t's want to do as they please with the money that is earmarked for healthcare

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By Kim Viner, February 26, 2007 at 8:05 am Link to this comment
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Well, let us set aside the FL example and the one you didn’t mention; NH.  I believe a huge part of Nader’s problem is that he chose this battle at a most inopportune time.  Even if you accept your “least worst” arguement, the fact is that Nader chose the worst possible moment in electoral history to be the deciding factor in a U.S. presidential race.  Nader’s disruption of the “least worst” propostition in this case led to the worst presidency in American history yielding an unnecessary war; ruination of the enviromnment; and a tremendous and illegal aggrandizement of the power of the executive branch.  It will take a very long time to set it straight.  Moreover, when it became apparent to most of us that Mr. Nader’s continuned presence in the race would not accomplish his goals and lead to possible victory for Mr Bush, he refused to pullout of the race. Also unfortunate for Mr. Nader is that the longer this administration is in power the worse it makes Mr Nader look.  Rightly or wrongly, some of us will blame Mr Nader for it forever.

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By Alejandro, February 26, 2007 at 8:03 am Link to this comment
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I agree with every thing you write of Mr. Naders’ commitment. However, it is my opinion the he is un-electable and that the country would suffer the same result his candidicy had in 2000. My hope is that Mr. Nader and all progressives would get behind Al Gore, who is electable. Mr. Nader is a great American and patriot, to be sure and he would be most effective in a cabinet level possition. (In my humble opinion)

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By Hank Van den Berg, February 26, 2007 at 6:59 am Link to this comment
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We really do face a difficult decision: Do we go with the least evil of the two big parties or do we go with a party that really represents our interests and, thereby, put the worst of the two big parties back in power?  It all comes down to how confident we are that our ideas and understanding are accurate.  If we are convinced about what needs to be done, then we will not hesitate to vote our conscience and go with whatever party, big or small, represents our understanding of the world.  If we are not sure, we inevitably find ourselves falling back on the least evil of the potential winners in 2008.  Are there enough peopole who have learned enough and thought enough to have become convinced enough to work hard to bring about true change?  Figuring out what is right and then pursuing those convictions is never easy.

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By Kellina, February 26, 2007 at 6:51 am Link to this comment
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Go get ‘em, Chris. You did a great job of expressing what is happening to this country, with one exception. I’d say that, due to BushCo’s refusal to use the FISA court, that we already have a despotic country: Secret information is collected to blackmail any opposition.

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By John Lowell, February 26, 2007 at 6:28 am Link to this comment
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How it is that Chris Hedges so frequently manages to prescribe more-or-less properly after having diagnosed so sloppily boggles the mind. The whole cause and effect sequence he reports, economic victimization to religious fundamentalism to fascism seems more the analysis of a George Bush than a graduate of Harvard Divinity School. Might it be that some come to Evangelical faith entirely out of conviction? 

Now to see the connection of fundamentalist theology - specifically its pre-millenial dispensationalism - with a jingoistic Middle Eastern foreign policy is clear enough and to discern in it a certain parentalism would be entirely fair. But it is a distortion to see in Evangelicalism per se the seed of fascism. How are we to account for Amish or Menonnite pacifism, for example. What it would be more correct to say is that the present Evangelical leadership - the Falwell, Dobsons and Lands - have imported a God and country dimension into Evangelicalism that was entirely foreign to it as recently as 100 years ago. In those days dancing and movie going were of more concern to Evangelicals than were apologizing for West Bank settlements. The incipient fascism which Hedges sniffs out is of more recent vintage and is hardly the consequence of the economics of Evangelicalism’s adherents. It is derived more of an absurdly literalist echatology and the imposition of a pronounced psychological parentalism.

Now, as to the prescription: Ralph Nadar. Add to Nadar a properly grasped anthropology in all it’s implications and you’d have a decent candidate in my view. But given this antropological deficit and Nader is just one more Josef Mengele. At the moment, I’d rather Ron Paul if we really have to vote for someone.

John Lowell

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By WCG, February 26, 2007 at 6:23 am Link to this comment
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I suspect that Nader is really a closet Republican, knowing that every vote he can siphon away from the Democrats is a vote for right-wing extremists. Little difference between the parties? Yeah, right. So things wouldn’t be different today if Gore had been president instead of Bush? It didn’t matter to our country that Kerry lost the election? Pelosi hasn’t done any different in the House than her Republican predecessor? Dream on.

It IS about Nader’s ego. Otherwise, why wouldn’t he work within the Democratic Party? Why wouldn’t he seek to change from within what he sees as wrong? Look at the Christian right - they’re a minority even among Republicans, but they control the party because they’re organized and they VOTE. Some of them supported third party candidates in the past, but they saw they were just giving votes to the Democrats.

But no, Nader won’t be a small fish in a big pond. He likes being the spoiler. He may be in a very small pond indeed, but he’s a big fish there. So what if his actions help Republicans? Hate is just as good as love when you’ve got an ego to feed. Bottom line is that Nader doesn’t care about results, only that he’s considered “important.”

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By Mad As Hell, February 26, 2007 at 6:02 am Link to this comment
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Nader STILL doesn’t get it and he’s about the only one:

The Democrats may be spineless corrupt whores but the Republicans are out to create a fascist empire—ESPECIALLY the Republicans Nader helped get elected.

In France, Mitterand was DOOMED as the corrupt cluck he is—but when a neo-nazi was nominated by the other party, he won a landslide re-election.

Before the 2000 South Carolina primary, it’s true, it was hard to tell the difference between the parties.  Bush claimed “Compassionate Conservatism” and sounded like he was only a click or two to the right of Clinton. McCain was interesting but VERY Conservative.

Then the South Carolina primary happened, where Bush’s people called Republican voters and push-polled them asking if they would vote for McCain knowing he was father to an illegitimate Black child (rumor has it they used the “N” word).  They implied that McCain had cheated on his wife, rather than the truth: They had adopted a girl from Bengla-Desh. She probably IS “illegitimate” (is if innocent children could be that) and she’s as dark as any African-American.  But the POINT is that it showed us who George W. Bush REALLY is—a power-hungry monster who will do or say ANYTHING to smear an opponent, true or false.

Then there came the general election campaign and the lies got greater and greater and it became clear this man was solely in the grip of the fundamentalists and the corporations, both of whom wanted control and to silence ANY critics.

Still Nader stayed in the race.  And we KNOW that had even 10% of the people who voted for him had voted for Gore in Florida, 3200 American service men and women would still be alive, and 650,000 Iraqis would still be alive.  And tens of thousands of the injured would not be hurt.

I think if Nader had said, “Even though I had no way of knowing what would happen, in retrospect it is clear that Gore would have been far, far better for the nation and the world.  Had I known then what I know now….” then he would be forgiven.

But Nader refuses to accept ANY responsibility for the accension of the catastrophe named George W. Bush.  So he doesn’t deserve to be forgiven.

He doesn’t understand that his refusal to compromise WAS a compromise—it not only put the nation at a REAL risk of a fascist takeover, it threatens to throw the whole world into another global war.

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