The Real News executive editor and host Paul Jay moderated a productive and informative dialog between Ralph Nader, Tom Morris, and Bill Fletcher on election night. While millions of young activists around the nation cast their ballots for Obama’s convincing rhetoric of change, these four men analyzed the socio-political climate and what a potential Obama victory will bring.
For those readers who admire the relentless tenacity and dedication of Ralph Nader at the grassroots level, you will likely be in approval of what he discusses in this forum, as his words are the focus of this review.
After campaigning with people on local issues in all 50 states, he admits to having never seen such high degrees of “resignation, and apathy, and powerlessness” across the nation. In defense of his observation, nearly a decade of neo-fascist rule will manifest those results.
He goes on to contrast his campaign with that of Obama as not having any hoopla, hope or rhetoric; Ralph continues to campaign on the real issues affecting the people in spite of overwhelming odds – he is a champion despite Obama’s victory.
Along the same line and with applause, his lack of hoopla and rhetoric is still so out-of-sync with the media cartel’s disinformation campaign that he was once again ignored by the mainstream. What we have here is a man who refuses to sell out and complacently surrender to the status quo, he is a man based on strong principle who perceives reality for what it is — a sham directed by the controlling institutions of power, of which Obama is just another cog in their finely-tuned machine.
But what do we really know about Mr. Barack Obama? Here we have a candidate who received hundreds of millions in campaign donations by corporate America and Wall Street. Nader sensibly asks something I’ve pointed out many times, “Why are the corporations investing in Obama?” By looking at his voting record it is obvious who he supports with approbation for illegal surveillance, a permanent presence in Iraq with a potential spread to neighboring countries, offshore drilling which he used to be against, an economic bailout lacking oversight and transparency, and so forth. Where is this great change that he has been spewing forth to the public for the past twenty months? It is likely just more of what the public wants to hear, but it’s apparent by voter turnout that they fail to feel the hot air blowing by them.
Part of the problem with Obama, as Nader points out, is that while Obama is pulled to the right by the corporate establishment, there are no demands being put on him by organized groups such as labor and unions to pull him the other direction and thus “make him better.”
While these aspects are certainly important to consider, Nader goes on further to expose who Obama is and who he really represents by reminding us that, “Corporate dominance is so bad that the first black Presidential candidate ignored the poor [during his campaign] . . . 100 million people.” We heard him mention the dwindling middle-class on many occasions, but the poor were undoubtedly left in the margins, too large a demographic to ignore. Some people say, hope, or believe that the new President Elect will live up to his rhetoric once he takes office and move us in a positive direction as a nation.
That though, is like wishing on a shooting star, as Nader confirms, “If you don’t pay attention while you’re a candidate, the chances of suddenly becoming a populist…are very, very slim.” While Nader is a man of action and experience, not just words, who consistently includes the poor constituents in his focus, he has seen too many candidates not pay attention and subsequently create the same results — a completely marginalized demographic that continues to expand in response.
Statesmen like Ron Paul, and even more so Ralph Nader, are quite cognizant of what it means to not adhere to the systematic rules of play. By now, they are also savvy to the repercussions of their dissidence. So long as the corporations are pulling the political strings by lining the candidates’ pockets with green, the duopolistic Republicats will continue to be the corporate choice, as has been demonstrated for decades. As such, there really is no public choice.
Nader supports this idea by asking, “What is left for the American people to decide…under more restrictive circumstances year after year?” It’s an appropriate question to ask, and something not coming from Obama or McCain, as they already know the answer and aren’t being purchased to assist the nation in facing questions as such. Rhetoric and hoopla are what these two servants are paid to maintain.
Just the same, he goes on to answer this succinctly by stating, “Nothing, because there is no powerful organization that turns the most powerful branch of government around — The Congress. Congress is the most susceptible to change.” Are we being stymied with such a response? This isn’t something that Obama or McCain have pointed out in their campaigns, which is exactly why we can entrust it to be accurate. Ralph identifies precisely that the legislative branch of government has been napping and taking vacations instead of checking and balancing the authority of the executive branch. The record shows that Congress has responded to 9/11 in more of a neurotic delirium than the populace majority; giving away our rights on a silver platter to the worst president in that nation’s history and directing US toward fascism.
There is now a lot of ground to be made up, and it won’t happen unless the people make it up themselves. As is customary, no free handouts this time around. Real change that failed to be identified by either corporate candidate in this election will have to be demanded by the people. With the election in the rear view mirror, Nader is now concentrating his energy on helping to do just that.
November5.org is a website (not yet up and running as of this writing) promoted by Nader and his affiliates which is to provide “technical and organizational assistance for organizing Congress action groups.” He admits that they can’t do it alone, that people will need to organize and dedicate their time in order to build a real momentum. He isn’t talking about something only relatively strong like the Obama phenomena or millions of young participants in an unprecedented election. He is talking about activism on local levels, which is much different than spontaneous participation on a national level.
Nader goes on to list ten major overdue changes needed in this country:
1. a living wage
2. full medicare
3. a crackdown on corporate crime
4. public funding and collections
5. getting out of the war
6. demilitarizing foreign policy
7. redirection of corporate subsidies and a bloated military budget
8. public works
9. job creation
10. changing the global trade agreement monstrosity that subordinates labor, consumer and environmental standards
If it looks and sounds like a Nader, it must be Nader. These are some of the real issues facing citizens today, and none of which were being genuinely addressed by the corporate representatives who were propped up for us again in this election. Anyone who is not a member of the elite is prone to be attracted to Nader’s proposals for change, likely affected by one or more of these issues. All the more reason to work together and collaborate as the Sage suggests, and now there will be a medium which facilitates the ease of this orchestration.
The forum proceeds and all three guests present questions and responses that are imperative at this juncture. While their focus lies on the power of locally organized groups, which is the only way to build a movement and turn things around in order to favor the people, Nader stipulates that the one thing missing homogeneously throughout the populace is “a fire in the belly.” He accurately notes the passion of people like Rosa Parks and her lead in the Montgomery bus boycotts, whose inner desire was so strong for change that she acted — strategically. This is the kind of attitude that he claims must be aroused throughout the populace if we are to see a real movement take place.
This review will be concluded with one of the most paramount statements of the forum. As Nader accurately describes, “This is a civil liberties issue . . . it is an important civil liberties battle to break open these two exclusive, reactionary, dominating, marginalizing two parties. They’re snuffing out dissent. They’re snuffing out the competition which in the 19th century brought us the Liberty Anti-Slavery Party, the Women Suffrage Party . . .” As history illustrates, civil liberties have only been inherited by the action of the people, never were they generously granted by the government.
The civil liberties that the nation has had stolen from it during the Bush Regime, are the same liberties that will need to be taken back once again, by the people, and for the people. The only way to overcome the present powers of control is to ignite that fire in the belly, and organize locally. The power still rests in the hands of the people, at least for the time being.