Nader’s crusade is necessary

by Jim Longworth

Perennial presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader recently announced his fifth run for the White House, setting off a flurry of emotional responses from the two major political parties.

Republicans were gleeful at the news, while Democrats tried to hide their panic with sarcasm. The donkey brigade is fearful that Nader will siphon off liberal votes and put John McCain into the Oval Office, much as he did to aid in denying Al Gore the top spot in 2000.

This time, though, Nader is older, less organized and not likely to score as big with independents. And that is too bad.

That’s because the two-party system in America has failed its followers miserably. If ever there was a time when we needed an independent president, it is now. Just look at what’s happened over the past two administrations:

Both parties worked together to pass NAFTA, which has resulted in massive job losses here at home;

Both parties worked together to fund George Bush’s illegal war in Iraq, which has depleted our financial resources and caused the deaths of over 700,000 people.

Both parties supported building a 700-mile fence on the Mexican border which will never be completed, never be paid for and never be effective in keeping illegals from getting into our country.

Both parties stood by and allowed the subprime mortgage industry to flourish at the expense of millions of homeowners who now face foreclosure.

Both parties have done nothing to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, the price of which has soared from $28 per barrel in 2001 to over $103 per barrel today.

In short, the only time both parties work together is to vote on something that makes our country weaker, and the only time they won’t work together is to accomplish something positive. Example, they have failed to achieve healthcare reform because neither party wants to buck the powerful health insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies.

Want more evidence that the two major parties have failed us and have no intention of fixing the messes they created? Just look at the remaining three candidates. John McCain has pledged to keep us in war and conflict for the next hundred years. He was also scolded by his own colleagues during the Savings & Loan scandal in which he was a major player. And he thinks there’s nothing wrong with our healthcare system.

Hillary Clinton was complicit on NAFTA and voted for the war in Iraq, then voted to continue funding it. And though she fought for health care reform as first lady, she has taken more money from the health care lobbyists than anyone else running for president, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

And then there’s Barack Obama, a man who speaks in generalities about everything, saying nothing specific about anything. As an Illinois state legislator he voted “present” on scores of bills just to avoid having to go on record as taking a stand on anything.

History may not be replete with third-party saviors, but we have had a few independent thinkers on the national scene. Teddy Roosevelt was one, so was John Anderson. But the most successful third-party candidate in history was Ross Perot. Perot was the only candidate who addressed the problem of our growing deficit and the only one to oppose NAFTA. Perot accurately predicted the job losses and plant closings, and he even predicted the amount of time it would take for the negative effects to take hold.

But what did the two parties do to this visionary? As soon as he pulled into a tie with Bush the Elder and Bill Clinton, the Republicans launched a smear campaign against the Texas billionaire and had the public thinking he was a lunatic.

That’s what the two-party system can do when they fear losing power.

So what is it, then, that the Dems and Republicans fear about Nader and his Green Party? Could it be their radical platform? Okay, let’s look at what the Green Party stands for:

They want to protect the environment and preserve our natural resources.

They oppose racism, ageism and sexism. Even further, they favor an end to male dominated politics, instead supporting equality among the sexes.

They seek to work with other nations in the pursuit of peace.

And they believe that citizens, not politicians, should have power, and that decision-making should remain at the individual and local level whenever possible.

Boy, those are some pretty scary ideals aren’t they?

And so, once again, we have an honorable, intelligent third-party candidate offering to serve us, but we won’t vote for him because the two major parties and the media cling to their old familiar mantra: “If you vote for a third-party candidate, you are wasting your vote because he can’t possibly win”.

I heard that about John Anderson in 1980. I heard it about Perot in 1992 and 1996. And I’ve heard that same illogical refrain about Ralph Nader in 2000, 2004 and 2008. The fact is if just 34 percent of us vote for Nader this fall, he can indeed win.

So if you are tired of two-party politics as usual and weary of the corruption and gridlock that comes along with it, then grow a pair and vote for Nader.

If, on the other hand you are satisfied with the way the two major parties have been running things, then vote for McCain or his eventual Democratic opponent.

If you do, though, as far as I’m concerned, you are the one wasting a vote, not me.