Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ralph Nader: A Reasonable Choice

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

Maybe you've heard of it (and maybe you haven't) but there's a movie called "Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man" which is, oddly enough, about Ralph Nader. If you have Netflix, it's available to watch instantly. I strongly recommend it.
Now go ahead and make fun of him for just a second for being named remind yourself that it's not his fault. Besides which, it's not any worse than being named George, and that's served a bunch of presidents just fine.
Are you done giggling now?
OK. Good.

Here are some facts about a candidate that I finally feel comfortable standing behind:
(this is mostly quoted and/or paraphrased from his biographical information on his own site)
♦He was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Americans in the twentieth century.
♦He graduated from Princeton magna cum laude. He has studied Chinese and Russian, and received his LLB 'with distinction' from Harvard Law (in other words, he's smart).
♦After serving with the army, he traveled through Latin America, Africa, and Europe. He has interviewed world leaders as a freelance journalist, and seen firsthand the world and the great social struggles within it.

♦Nader is authentic and frank (Find the episode of SNL he appeared on--he's a terrible actor). In spite of efforts to find them, no one has ever been able to find a scandal around him.

♦Nader has been an advocate for the consumer since the age of 31 when he wrote an article "The Safe Car You Can't Buy," which pointed out safety defects in US cars and criticized the auto industry for them. (Incidentally, the auto industry went to great lengths to try to quiet or discredit him, but they were unable to find any blots on his character.) His research and subsequent lobbying helped push congress to pass the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (which included things like requiring seatbelts in all vehicles). In the process, he also won a settlement ($425,000 for invasion of his privacy as they tried to bring him down), and so he found himself financially set for life...but did he retire? No! Instead he has put that money toward making this country a better and safer place for consumers. He feels it is an ethical imperative to take on these issues, and that the federal government is now one of them. "Our 'democracy' is a fraud--it's consumer fraud" ~Pat Buchanan

Here are some more things Nader has lobbied for, created, or otherwise helped establish:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Clean Air Act
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Safe Drinking Water Act
  • Freedom of Information Act
  • Center for Science in the Public Interest
  • Wholesome Meat Act (requiring inspections at slaughterhouses and packing plants)
  • Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights
  • warning labels on medications
  • and literally dozens more...

He believes that corporations have too much power in and over the government, and strives to make our government 'by the people, for the people, and of the people.' He believes in using the legal system to right injustices, and to strengthen democracy. Even if you have no desire to vote for him, you should understand that his efforts have a daily effect on you. If you ever wear a seatbelt, breathe clean air, eat safe food, get a refund when you're bumped from a flight, or a dozen other things...Nader was behind it.

A few words from Ralph:

"If you get things out in the open, you'll get some action."

"The democrats and republicans are essentially one corporate entity with two heads."

And since I always say it should be about issues, not just the character and accomplishments of the candidate, here are his positions:

  • Shift power back to the people and away from the corporate monopolies in radio, television, telephone, gas, and electric, and utility companies.
  • Improve workers rights, including a living wage ($10/hr), the right to unionize, and seating judges who will side with wronged employees over corporations. (Down with Walmart!)
  • Stop the bailout, and instead focus on jailing the crooked people involved.
  • His energy policy includes tax incentives for those who comply as well as tax penalties for those who do not. Some points are: more efficient factories, promote renewable energy development, improve transportation options, and preserve regulatory protections. (He favors solar power first as it is safer the nuclear.)
  • In education, he favors cutting out high-stakes testing and increasing funding. He is pro-vouchers.
  • Nader favors a "National Initiative" which would move us more toward a true democracy--where petitions could be turned into national ballot measures, and the people could vote for what they want, instead of standing by while congress sits in the laps of corporations and ignores the people.
  • Single Payer Healthcare (my Hubby wrote about this recently too if you didn't go read it yet).
  • In the middle east: pull out of Iraq quickly, and work with existing peaceful groups to stabilize the area.
  • Be hard on corporate crime.
  • Civil liberties, including pulling back on the Patriot Act and racial profiling, equal pay for women, gay-rights, racial-equality, rights and support for those with disabilities, and legalizing medical marijuana (it's safer than a lot of the stuff the FDA has approved) and industrial hemp.
  • In agriculture, increase food safety, promote and protect the small farms, organic foods, and sustainable practices. He supports genetically modified foods.

Yes, I disagree with him on some things...I oppose same-sex marriage (although I favor equal rights--just not special rights). I oppose genetically modified foods (although I at least trust Nader to put safety ahead of profit, which is my main objection to GM foods). Ralph Nader is not perfect, BUT I find him unerringly honest, and while I disagree with him on some specifics, I do trust that he will always be genuine and do what he feels is right, even if it's unpopular. Furthermore, I heartily believe in voting third party in the interest of breaking up the duopoly which currently exists in US politics.

Again and again, Ralph Nader is an advocate for the little guy, and seeks to make the bigwigs be accountable. Honestly, it reminds me of the continental congress the summer that they sent George III the Declaration of Independence, and so I leave you with a quote from that same...
"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

    With the lesser of two evils, you still end up with evil.

    Vote for someone you actually like.

    If you don't vote your conscience now, when will you start?


    Tim said...

    If I weren't living in a swing state, I think I'd voter for him too.
    But when both Obama and Palin come to your city two days before the election, you know it's going to be close.
    So I've got to vote for the lesser of the two evils.

    Mommy Bee said...

    If you read my post about voting third party, you'll see that I agree with you--in a swing state I might make a different choice. And in spite of personal misgivings, I think you know my leanings are with you. :)

    Carolyn said...

    I'm voting third party this year, too. I hadn't even considered Nader as a choice, but I'll consider him a bit more. I'm leaning toward a candidate that is in favor of less government. I still haven't marked my ballot, though, so anything is possible.

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