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Ralph Nader Was Right About Barack Obama

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Posted on Mar 1, 2010
AP / Chris Carlson

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

A shift to the Green Party, McKinney and Nader, along with genuine grass-roots movements, will not be a quick fix. It will require years in the wilderness. We will again be told by the Democrats that the least-worse candidate they select for office is better than the Republican troll trotted out as an alternative. We will be bombarded with slick commercials about hope and change and spoken to in a cloying feel-your-pain language. We will be made afraid. But if we again acquiesce we will be reduced to sad and pathetic footnotes in our accelerating transformation from a democracy to a totalitarian corporate state. Isolation and ridicule—ask Nader or McKinney—is the cost of defying power, speaking truth and building movements. Anger at injustice, as Martin Luther King wrote, is the political expression of love. And it is vital that this anger become our own. We have historical precedents to fall back upon. 

“Here in the United States, at the beginning of the twentieth century, before there was a Soviet Union to spoil it, you see, socialism had a good name,” the late historian and activist Howard Zinn said in a lecture a year ago at Binghamton University. “Millions of people in the United States read socialist newspapers. They elected socialist members of Congress and socialist members of state legislatures. You know, there were like fourteen socialist chapters in Oklahoma. Really. I mean, you know, socialism—who stood for socialism? Eugene Debs, Helen Keller, Emma Goldman, Clarence Darrow, Jack London, Upton Sinclair. Yeah, socialism had a good name. It needs to be restored.”

Social change does not come through voting. It is delivered through activism, organizing and mobilization that empower groups to confront the hegemony of the corporate state and the power elite. The longer socialism is identified with the corporatist policies of the Democratic Party, the longer we allow the right wing to tag Obama as a socialist, the more absurd and ineffectual we become. The right-wing mantra of “Obama the socialist,” repeated a few days ago to a room full of Georgia Republicans, by Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. speaker of the House, is discrediting socialism itself. Gingrich, who looks set to run for president, called Obama the “most radical president” the country had seen in decades. “By any standard of government control of the economy, he is a socialist,” Gingrich said. If only the critique were true.

The hypocrisy and ineptitude of the Democrats become, in the eyes of the wider public, the hypocrisy and ineptitude of the liberal class. We can continue to tie our own hands and bind our own feet or we can break free, endure the inevitable opprobrium, and fight back. This means refusing to support the Democrats. It means undertaking the laborious work of building a viable socialist movement. It is the only alternative left to save our embattled open society. We can begin by sending a message to the Green Party, McKinney and Nader. Let them know they are no longer alone.

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By truedigger3, March 1, 2010 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges wrote:
“It means undertaking the laborious work of building a viable socialist movement”.
____________________________________________________

Although I agree with most of whatHedges has wrote, I find the above quote is ill advised. Any mention of socialism and socialists, scare and turn off a lot of people after decades of 24/7 brain washing.
In my humble opinion, why not call for something similar to Rosevelt’s New Deal which restored faith in government, severly curtailed the influence of the banks and big business, inacted very progressive taxation laws, won WW2 and ushered in decades of prosperity and an expanding prosperous middle class.
Hemoraging of jobs through offshoring and out sourcing have to stop and gradually reversed and NAFTA and WTO have to be repealed or renegotiated.
Don’t blame me, I voted for Cynthia Mckinney and will never vote for a Democrat or a Republican in the future.

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By balkas, March 1, 2010 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

I am glad to hear CH calling on people to vote for the second [or third, if u like] party.

A second party might initially campaign for just a few issues: a good health care, end to wars of aggression,right to be informed-educated.

We need to convince people that sybaritic class of life wld never give up their vastly priveleged position as things stand now and stood at the latest since priestly kings of sumer and god kings of akkad, the neighbors of sumer.

Some people had known this for millennia; however, this vital knowledge has always been kept away from peasants as it wld endager the power and plush life styles of the ‘nobility’.tnx

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By km0591, March 1, 2010 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

The problem is that any individual or group seeking political power in the current system must somehow become a dutiful part of the system in order to do so.  Obama and the Democrats were no different in their assumption of power in 2008. 

The true dissident voices, such as Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader, are marginalized and have been completely ineffective in spite of their efforts to work within the system.  To gain real power, those seeking power must not in any way threaten substantially the disastrous status quo.  If they do, they are quickly dismissed by the MSM and face insurmountable obstacles within the current system to obtain any influence.  They become like the lone voice of Cindy Sheehan living in a tent outside the halls of power treated as a screwball by our press, our economic, and our governmental systems.

Our political system is like any system.  As long as it has the internal mechanisms to self correct, it can be diverted from a disastrous course.  The problem now is that such an internal mechanism is just not there.  When you are speeding to a cliff, there comes a point where braking will not help.  To make it even worse, our political system is like a 2010 Toyota.

Sorry to say this, but nothing will change until the current political, economic, and governing system goes over the cliff and becomes unraveled.

In the Republican Party, it will start with major fractures between the authoritarian, neoconservative, militarist elements and the atavistic libertarians.  The Democratic Party that placed all its chips on St. Barack will be fractured in two between those courtiers who remain loyal to him and those who feel betrayed by him.

Look for more chaos and developing political and economic instability as the country becomes more and more ungovernable.  Where this will all end up is anyone’s guess. 

It is not going to be good.

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By DL, March 1, 2010 at 8:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well said Mr. Hedges. I took a break from my usual 3rd party candidate vote to vote for Obama because I thought he created a positive movement behind him that might be influential. Alas, he turned his back on that movement, so I am back to voting for people who more authentically reflect my views. I always thought the hostility toward Ralph Nadar and other 3rd party candidates was unfair and undemocratic. Why should the two corporate parties be the only ones allowed in? I never felt that he lost the election for Al Gore, though many disagree. He had a right to be in the mix. Is this a democracy or not?? (I know, Not. But isn’t that the goal?) Nadar and McKinney, their running mates and the other Green candidates before McKinney are brave people to have hung in there among all the hostility, humiliation and discrediting. Their visions are on the mark. I’d like to see what they have to say taken more seriously, even if election to high office is not yet forthcoming. Why do we shut reasonable people out? I know why people already in power do, why corporations do; but why us, the regular people who decide what is best for us and suffer so under the policies of the rich and “powerful?”

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By ritamary, March 1, 2010 at 8:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All you had to do was investigate Obama’s history in Illinois to understand him. Product of the Chicago Democratic machine, protege of Tony Rezko, opponent of the Iraq War in a speech nobody has a recording of that was never reported by the local media at the time it was made…

You Obots failed miserably to do your homework during the primaries. You really knew nothing about him but like the good sheeple you are, you blindly supported him. And anyone who dared to ask questions about Obama you immediately branded a racist.

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By Bubba, March 1, 2010 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

Chris: “We are, even more than Glenn Beck or tea party protesters, responsible for the gusts fanning the flames of right-wing revolt because we have failed to articulate a credible alternative.”

Goddammit, it’s not a failure to articulate: it’s that you — speak for yourself, white man — and the rest of the left don’t HAVE a credible alternative TO articulate.  If you did, you’d have no problem articulating it at all.  None.  The easiest thing to articulate in a country speeding to hell in a hand basket is a credible alternative.  Problem is, you don’t have one. 

It starts with economics.  Without that, you can pretty much kiss the rest away.  If the best you have to offer is tweaks for capitalism, you’re screwed.  And that’s all you’ve got. 

Well, it doesn’t stop there.  No.  This is all the more pathetic because a credible, alternative economic was articulated lucidly, exhaustively, in plain and simple language over a hundred years ago by Henry George.  His first book, Progress and Poverty, was the second-bestselling book in America in the nineteenth century; second only to the Bible.  His economics immediately began to gain popularity.  The sky was the limit.  What happened? 

Well, how about getting off your stuck-with-no-answers ass and finding out? 

Progress and Poverty, right there on the Web, ready for free downloading.  You haven’t read it.  Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney haven’t read it.  Why should I, or anyone else, take you or “the left” seriously while you continue to bask in your ignorance?  Eh?  Answer that, why dontcha?

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Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, March 1, 2010 at 7:30 am Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man, March 1 at 10:27 am #
Ouroborus, - “exactly how does Hedges not understand
how the world turns?”
=================================
Really? Fail!

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By ndv, March 1, 2010 at 7:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The illegal wars and occupations, the largest transference of wealth upward in American history and the egregious assault on civil liberties, all begun under George W. Bush, raise only a flicker of tepid protest from liberals when propagated by the Democrats.”
I am no longer surprised by the Obama defenders who now embrace Bush policies because Obama has endorsed them and made them his own.

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By kerryrose, March 1, 2010 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

I have become a fed-up Democrat.  I am ready to support Nader, and prays that he runs for president instead of in Connecticut.

Democrats desperately need a third party now since the Democratic party has failed us, and become as beholden to corporate interests as the Republicans.

Sign me up!

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By Vic Anderson, March 1, 2010 at 6:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Socialism brung US! So, it’s Green To GO!! (And to hijack London, “DOWN WITH
THE DEM URANIUM HEELS”)!!!

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By SoTexGuy, March 1, 2010 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

If I had no other reason to get in front of the computer early on a Monday I would do so only to get my dose of Chris Hedges. Bravo.

About the recent terrorist in Austin (filled his plane with gasoline and flew it into a building full of people).. That man had a lot to say. Some of what he wrote resonated with an anxious public and especially the parts Mr. Hedges chose to repeat here.

I am sympathetic to much of that man’s story.. and that’s how I interpreted much of it, as a story. The cameo appearance of the urban legend cat-food eating elderly widow especially brought out the critic in me.

Yet it seems his personal and financial problems were maybe as much a result of his own actions and decisions as anything in the tax code. The information he gave about his business plans and associations could be interpreted to mean he set out to game the Tax code as a plan from the start. It didn’t work and that was his main beef.

Lots of people have trouble with the IRS.. that man made a career out of it.. Then he gave up in a way that made himself a hero to some people. Maybe he came out on top after all?

Adios.

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By Go Right Young Man, March 1, 2010 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

Ouroborus, - “exactly how does Hedges not understand how the world turns?”

-

I could not have been more clear.  Perhaps a second look at my comments will answer your question.(?)

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By Anarcissie, March 1, 2010 at 6:22 am Link to this comment

usa—The problem is that Mr. O is not fixing anything.  He is basically maintaining his predecessor’s policies.  Only the talk and style have changed.

If I were in Mr. O’s shoes, though, I would have little motivation to change anything, since the Left (except for a few radicals) seems to be totally inert.  Where’s the big anti-war demonstration, for instance?

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By mike k, March 1, 2010 at 6:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The hardest three words for a person to say: “I was wrong”.  Those who voted for Obama now steadfastly close their eyes to his egregious betrayals, and continue to hope, hope, hope for the messiah to reveal his true identity.  They are so proud to have installed the first “black man” in the white house, that it is impossible to say the three magic words above, which alone would release them from the spell of their delusions about Obama.  Prior to the election I was the recipient of much good natured ridicule from my liberal friends for expressing my support for Nader.  They told themselves that after all I had always been a little quirky. In some ways I wish they had been right, but reality has proved otherwise. However, they are protected from this sobering knowledge by their self-congratulatory sleep. I, along with Chris Hedges, am afraid it may be too late for our fragile democracy when they wake up.

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By Go Right Young Man, March 1, 2010 at 6:16 am Link to this comment

Manchild - “It was and it did.”

-

You could not be more correct!  “New” conservatives are now in the White House acting and sounding like Bush and Frankencheney.

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By Ouroborus, March 1, 2010 at 6:06 am Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man, March 1 at 8:53 am
In light of his latest screed it could not be more
clear that Mr. Hedges completely fails to understand
how or why the world turns.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Whoa there young buffalo!
Your ignorance far exceeds your intelligence.
And history would not support you either.
Here on an anonymous blog, unsubstantiated pot shots
are easy; exactly how does Hedges not understand how
the world turns?
I’ll wait for your specific reply.

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By antimerikan, March 1, 2010 at 6:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@ usa, March 1 at 9:48 am #

yeah.. bush had eight years to get us to hate him, but if you hate obama now, it just saves time.

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By Go Right Young Man, March 1, 2010 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

Socrates,

You’ve peeked my interest.  What does a CIA Operative look like?  Would it apply to anyone who happens to notice how odd and wrong Mr. Hedges was when he spent several years claiming that Iraq, GITMO, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Patriot Act, enhanced interrogations, renditions and Domestic Surveillance were all obvious signs that a “Neo-Con fascist Cabal” hijacked the White House?

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By usa, March 1, 2010 at 5:48 am Link to this comment

George Bush Jr took 8 years to mess up this country. Almost everyone expect Obama to fix it in what a year, two years.  Impossible!!!!!!!!!!! “United we stand, divided we fall”

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By ardee, March 1, 2010 at 5:36 am Link to this comment

“Let us not forget that it was Mr. Hedges who, for several years, steadfastly claimed that Iraq, GITMO, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Patriot Act, enhanced interrogations and Domestic Surveillance, for example, were all sure signs that a “Neo-Con fascist Cabal” hijacked the White House. “

It was and it did.

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By ardee, March 1, 2010 at 5:34 am Link to this comment

Socrates, March 1 at 9:24 am #


Go Right Young Man sounds like a CIA asset


...................

You give this pedantic droning propagandist far,far too much credit.

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By Socrates, March 1, 2010 at 5:24 am Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man sounds like a CIA asset.

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By cltx09, March 1, 2010 at 5:05 am Link to this comment

America won’t have a “democracy” until it abandons it’s ridiculous two
party system, which in fact is a threesome in bed, the Dems, the Pubs and
Corporate America. American Democracy is both a myth and an illusion.

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By Ouroborus, March 1, 2010 at 5:03 am Link to this comment

Aren’t these the same conditions that presaged the rise
of Hitler’s party? And knowing this; why don’t “we”
act?
Therein lies the direction we will take. Time to get
out!

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, March 1, 2010 at 4:53 am Link to this comment

As usual Mr Hedges misses a learning opportunity.  In place of learning the difference between campaigning and governing Mr. Hedges, not unlike a petulant whining child, goes about denigrating everyone who does not see the world as he does.

Let us not forget that it was Mr. Hedges who, for several years, steadfastly claimed that Iraq, GITMO, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Patriot Act, enhanced interrogations and Domestic Surveillance, for example, were all sure signs that a “Neo-Con fascist Cabal” hijacked the White House. 

In light of his latest screed it could not be more clear that Mr. Hedges completely fails to understand how or why the world turns.

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By AnonymousWoman, March 1, 2010 at 4:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges, if McCain was President, the Great Depression II would be in affect. You and that loser Ralph Nader need to GET A LIFE!

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By ardee, March 1, 2010 at 4:16 am Link to this comment

“It is time to walk out on the Democrats. It is time to back alternative third-party candidates and grass-roots movements, no matter how marginal such support may be. If we do not take a stand soon we must prepare for the rise of a frightening protofascist movement, one that is already gaining huge ground among the permanently unemployed, a frightened middle class and frustrated low-wage workers. “

I could not agree more.

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