Saturday, July 26, 2008

That Dreaded N-Word by Alison Ross

That Dreaded N-Word: Ralph Nader, Democracy’s Savior

Democrats, get ready to throw another one of your precious toddler-like tantrums. After all, Ralph Nader is running for president.

Now before you collapse onto the floor in spasmic screams, hammering your cute little fists onto the sticky linoleum, realize that VERY FEW people will actually vote for the guy. Of course, these very few that will vote for him are laudably clear-thinking, while the masses that do not vote for him are lamentably muddled in their thoughts.

Why such a smug tone, you might wonder? Why such explicit bile in my words?

Because someone like Ralph Nader is just what we need to radically renovate our political system, and yet people of all political persuasions are just so ill-informed (attributable to a self-constricting media as well as to willful mental torpor) that they will descend to selecting a corporate crook again.

I realize my haughty tone will repulse some people, and that’s okay. These are the people who don’t get it, and likely never will. Others will roll their eyes dismissively, honing in more on the content of my rant while taking my signature supercilliousness in stride. So stop reading now if you are in the former camp - if you complacently cleave to the (dangerous) delusion that Obama (or or McCain, or Bob Barr) is the savior of Demcracy, and nothing at all, not even your dream candidate’s audacious admission to beastial relations with underaged badgers, will serve to sway you away from your stubborn stance.

So hopefully by the time you read this, the Democrats will have ended their excruciatingly bitter and painfully protracted campaign. And, hopefully, Obama will have emerged the victor and the nominee. After all, Obama, in contrast to Hillary, evinces at least some political differences when compared to the Republicans.

But Obama is no progressive paragon. Sure, his voting record as senator is more progressive than your average conservative politician, and sure, as I said, his campaign does offer some stark differences to the pitiful pandering McCain platform.

Indeed, in some ways I have been impressed with Obama - especially his courageous and heartfelt response to the Reverend Wright storm brewing a few months ago. And let me just say that I actually respected Obama MORE when I found out he was pals with such a fiery figure who spoke vicious truths to sickening lies. Goddamn America indeed.

But in many (most) ways, Obama is business as usual. He is big business-owned, and proffers no promises to extricate our country from its bellicose entanglements abroad. In all reality, despite his considerable charms and latent progressive leanings, Obama is finally just a mainstream right-of- center corporate Democrat. He is not the MLK-esque messiah he is being construed to be, as much as we’d like to believe in him. Of course he’s better than McCain in some key substantial ways, but he is not worlds better, and worlds better is what we need.

Which is why, dear reader, Clockwise Cat is endorsing Ralph Nader’s run for president.

Okay, fine, an endorsement from my humble zine means SHIT. But hey, at least our shit don’t stink half as bad as a corporate Democrat’s. Besides, our feces are all covered up by scent-masking litter. That’s worth something, no?

So in bold contast to Obama, Ralph Nader IS a paragon of progressive values. Granted, to most (so-called) progressives nowadays, Nader is considered a pariah. But in my view, that is all the more reason we should stand up and take notice. WHY is Nader a pariah among progressive voters? Is it because he stands for dramatically curtailing military operations abroad in favor of focusing on jobs and healthcare for the masses? Is it because he assertively advocates against the corporate hijacking of our government? Could it be because he refuses to be bought and sold by these very same corporations that are, in his words,"occupying" our country?

No, Nader is not a pariah for THOSE reasons, because most TRUE progressives would agree with his platform.

Nader is a pariah among progressives, rather, because such voters are tragically misinformed - not to mention willfully and obstinately foolish.

They are misinformed, you see, about the fact that Nader "stole" the 2000 election from Al Gore. This is one of the most pervasive and pernicious misperceptions in modern political parlance. First of all, Al Gore was not "entitled" to any votes, as Nader detractors tend to imply when they say Nader purloined votes from the Democrats. Like any other candidate, Gore had to earn votes, and he did not earn them from a portion of the progressive population, owing to a cravenly unimaginative campaign. Gore did not champion the people over profits as a real progressive should. Nader did, and won over a substantial slice of the voting populace - conservative, liberal, and otherwise.

The electoral college is another culprit in Gore's defeat. Third parties are rudely neglected in our system, a system geared more toward monied interests. Typically, third parties are not affluent and backed by such interests - and nor do they generally want to be. (It's a very sly slight, really, because it forces us to choose between two parties that are virtually identical in substance, with some surface disparities to keep us mesmerized by the cozy illusion that we are offered a genuine selection. The raw reality is, it's Coke Vs. Pepsi)

So, since Nader's party could not legitimately compete in the presidential contest, it ended up "siphoning" off a few votes from Gore. In a valid contest, with three or more frontrunners, Nader's impact wouldn't be perceived in the same narrow way. Nader would not be construed as a spoiler; he would simply be seen as another candiate in the race.

Another culprit in the 2000 fiasco is the candidacy of Pat Buchanan, who had considerable clout among voters, and yet is not in any way seens as a spoiler. Even Buchanan himself admits that Nader as been unjustly scapegoated.

Finally, of course, we saw how Bush unabashedly pilfered the election through vote fraud and other underhanded, unlawful means (the Florida Supreme Court illegally overriding the decision, for one). And we saw how an acquiescent Gore did not insist, through lawsuits and so on, on a proper vote recount, and on inditing those who sought to steal the election.

And yet Nader is the pariah here for those too timid to focus on the Democrats' staggering failings, and on Bush's illegal “election,” and on the profoundly flawed electoral college system.

The movie, "An Unreasonable Man," shows just how much of an impact Ralph Nader has made in both the material marketplace as well as the marketplace of ideas. Indeed, Nader has labored tirelessly so that we could have access to many things that we now take for granted, such as seat belts, airbags, product labels, free airline tickets in the case of overbooked flights, lower levels of lead in the environment, safer drinking water, and so on. Nader and his multiple organizations have also been crucial players in the establishment of the Freedom of Information Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nader's many books include Corporate Power in America, Who's Poisoning America, and Collision Course: The Truth About Airline Safety.

And yet, despite his exuberance of compassionate consumer rights and humane policy victories, Nader continues to be the whipping boy by embittered, provincial, pigheaded, delusional Democrats. Rather regressive of them, doncha think?

So here is just a partial litany of Nader’s purely progressive 2008 platform:

*Immediate withdrawal from Iraq with a plan in place for restitution and rebuilding
*Total reversal of US policy in the Middle East
*Establishment of a single-payer (i.e., non-corporate) national health insurance system
*Slashing of the “bloated, wasteful” military budget
*Crackdown on corporate crime in all areas, such as environmental devastation, tax evasion, and so on
*Implemention of solar energy initiatives
*Repealing of NAFTA so that jobs at home and in Mexico can flourish once again
*Restoration of civil liberties via the repealing of the unconstitutional Patriot Act, FIFSA, etc.
*Immediate closure of Guantanamo Bay
*Humane approach to immigration, to include eradicating US support of corrupt regimes in Mexico and Latin America that economically oppress their citizens

The Democrats, in their cowardly campaigns, are calling for NONE of these intitatives. And yet prominent progressives, and scores of so-called progressive voters, persist in boisterously backing the pseudo- progressives (the Dems) and relegating real progressive Nader to the trash heap of history . It’s a malaise, I tell ya; a vicious virus.

Of course, lest we forget that a large part of Nader’s strategy is to “progressive-ize” the Dems. As Hamza Shaban points out in his excellent article (LINK) “Nader's goal is not to thwart the Democratic party...he wants to liven political debate to make each Democratic candidate stand taller. Nader will make the Democratic nominee talk about the failings of military excess and the taxpayer's burden of an enormously bloated defense budget.”

Naturally Nader isn’t in it to win. Granted, ideally he WOULD win, but he knows better than to hope for third -party victory in a nominal Democracy.

According to Ralph Nader, progressives have lost the plot, so SOMEONE has to step in and offer dauntless dissent and hope. To sum up Nader’s Ralph Nader’s impetus for his 08 presidential campaign, he has choice words for the editor of Progessive Magazine:

“It doesn't matter that you call yourself a progressive, Matt, or that you call your magazine The Progressive. You are not progressive. And your magazine is not progressive. You are supporting the corporate Democrats. Therefore, you are a corporate Democrat. Stop deceiving the public.”


Vote Nader


christl d. said...

more people need to read your blog cat. why dont you ask online sites to publish your articles? theyre very insightful and straightfoward.

3 things to say:
1) i learned quite a few new words.
2) you dont blindlessly follow the parties.
3) the most important - i never knew any of this about Nader. and its beyond wrong that people twist him into something to be looked down on. he deserves to be president than any of the current canidates.

Clockwise Cat said...

Hey DJ!

I did used to write rants for other magazines until I started my own webzine. And I do still get my poetry published elsewhere. But thanks for your kind words! I am so glad that you are "hearing" the message about Nader - he is a TRUE progressive crusader!!