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Don't just dismiss Nader

March 05, 2008
Ralph Nader jumped into the quagmire of presidential aspirations last week, bringing forth laughter from some, anger from others, and even disbelief from a few. But being so quick to judge Nader may bring about the old adage of "shooting ourselves in the foot." And it seems that the voters have done a lot of that in recent elections.

Every law-abiding American should be able to run for any political office in this country, including the highest one. But most of us have been sidelined due to the financial output required to run an effective campaign. In other words, you have to be rich, or have the backing of the rich, in order to step into the ring of national politics that we automatically inherit as Americans.

But there's people like Nader who take the ridicule, anger and disbelief on the chin and continue on, keeping the door open, albeit just a crack, for the rest of us. There's something good — and American — about that.

Every time Nader runs for president, he brings certain issues to the forefront that would otherwise be lost in the rhetoric and doublespeak that we've come to accept as campaigns. John Edwards, who recently dropped out of the race for president, did the same thing. Because of him, universal health care, fairness to working Americans, and many other issues that impact us little guys are, at least for a while, being discussed and are considered a possibility instead of being the butt of jokes by many conservatives who think that the rich are the only ones with rights in this country. It seems that if people like Nader and Edwards don't ask the question "What if?," no one ever will.

There are many issues that matter to working Americans, but certainly not whether a black man or a woman can be president. That's a no-brainer — any intelligent person should have that right, not just middle-aged white guys. It shouldn't matter what a person looks like, what church they attend, or how much money they have as long as they bravely address the issues that matter to the people.

It's so easy to be critical of those like Nader who refuse to belong to either of the two main political parties, but it may be time to seriously consider such a candidate. Let's face it, Washington is such a mess now and it has become so confusing and complicated that most of us don't even understand how it all works (and it rarely does anymore). But it may be that things need to be shaken up a bit. Although many are reluctant to admit it (because we still cling to hope that democracy will prevail), it's the lobbyists who are calling the shots now. They are the ones who are making most of the decisions, and it's through the actions of the people we elect that those decisions are carried out and become law. And look in the mirror folks. It's us who are allowing it to happen.

I can't say that Ralph Nader would be an ideal president. Maybe he wouldn't. But anyone who knows anything about the guy knows that he has accomplished more for this country than all the present candidates combined — and more. If you ask people about Nader, most will respond that he was the guy that stopped production of the Chevrolet Corvair, one of the most dangerous vehicles ever built. But few people know that it was Nader who was responsible for every new automobile having seat belts and air bags.

And as columnist Bob Herbert recently wrote, it was Nader who, with remarkable success, waged war against tainted meat, air and water pollution and dangerous food additives. He was a major driving force behind the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and even the Freedom of Information Act — things that many Republicans and big business absolutely despise. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama John McCain and Mike Huckabee can't even come close to those accomplishments. And those accomplishments were not to make him rich, but because they were needed to protect the American people.

According to the Herbert column, Nader now wants to talk about a single-payer health plan, "full Medicare for all," and a national mission to abolish poverty, and the waste, fraud and corruption that has turned the military budget into a world-class destroyer of taxpayer dollars, and corporate crime.

And let's take a look at over seven years of the present administration — a gander at where George Bush has taken us. It was Bush and his cronies who started a war that no one knows how to stop. It's already cost us over a trillion dollars, with no end in sight. Hundreds of thousands of weapons paid for by taxpayers are now missing in Iraq. Whole crates of money, billions of dollars sent to Iraq for rebuilding projects are unaccounted for, and no one is being held accountable. Halliburton, who has made billions in profits from the war with no-bid contracts, has now relocated to Dubai, where it won't have to pay taxes on its profits. This administration has given the go-ahead for the CIA to torture those we captured, and that will surely come back to haunt us someday when our soldiers are captured. The rich got tax breaks, working Americans didn't. And we all know that it certainly hasn't helped the economy as promised. The rich just got richer, and the economy is sliding downhill more every day.

Hurricane Katrina cost taxpayers billions, yet very little of that actually went to help the people who needed it. Once again, contractors made a killing.

We've failed to capture, or even locate, Osama bin Laden. Inflation is higher than it's been in 25 years. We're in the middle of the worse mortgage crisis since the Great Depression. Millions of Americans are losing their homes to foreclosure, while the lending institutions who promoted risky loans will probably be bailed out of the crisis by — who else — the taxpayers. Ten percent — yes, one out of every 10 homes in this country, has a higher mortgage than the home is worth due to falling real estate values. Gas prices have almost doubled in the last year and a half, and have gone up 16 cents in the last two weeks. Experts now predict that we will soon be paying $4 a gallon. When a reporter mentioned that to Bush at a news conference the other day, his response was, "Oh, that's interesting, I didn't know that."

And once again, the oil companies have reported record profits for the year. Exxon/Mobile made over $40 billion, another company posted profits of $27 billion. And Bush and the clan have given them tax breaks and subsidies, claiming that it will enable them to explore alternative energy sources. Are we suckers, or what?

Now, the House has voted 236 to 182 in favor of a bill that would rescend those tax breaks for the five biggest oil companies. The measure now heads to the Senate, where Democrats face a challenge in getting enough support to bring the bill to a vote. The Bush Administration, Republican lawmakers and big oil companies condemned the bill, saying that it would unfairly discriminate against the oil companies. Just think, poor Exxon Oil and others would have to pay $1.8 billion of their absurd profits if the bill passes. Bush is threatening to veto the bill.

The price we pay for a gallon of milk has gone up 40 percent. Eggs have gone up 20 percent and the price of bread is up 12 percent. Groceries overall have gone up almost 5 percent, mainly due to the increased cost of shipping and packaging.

How in the world could Ralph Nader be a more incompetent leader than that?

Some people, mainly Democrats, believe that all Nader accomplishes when he runs for president is take votes away from an otherwise winning Democratic candidate. But if that Democrat is a viable candidate, it'll take more than Nader to spoil their chances of being elected.

And, besides, when those windbags who have never done anything in their lives except whine, like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and even Al Franken, can have an impact on an election, why can't Ralph Nader? He's actually gotten off his behind and done something.

Maybe he's not electable. And some people may not like him. But let's face it folks — we've surely known worse.

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    This race already has a "nader" in Ron Paul
    March 11, 2008 | 08:48 AM

    The difference between this and other Nader runs is that this race already has an established loony old idealist in Ron Paul. I'd like to see a debate betwixt them.

    And, Mr. Cable, we realize how you feel about Bush and his presidency by now, and I appreciate your opinions, I really do...but, does it really have to be repeated every couple of weeks? Let's talk about something new. Bush is old news.

    Sam B.
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