An Open Letter to Barack Obama

Between Hope and Reality

Dear Senator Obama:

In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words “hope and change,” “change and hope” have been your trademark declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers of power that want not “hope and change” but the continuation of the power-entrenched status quo.

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous, unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm attorneys. Never before has a Democratic nominee for President achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart. Why, apart from your unconditional vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, are these large corporate interests investing so much in Senator Obama? Could it be that in your state Senate record, your U.S. Senate record and your presidential campaign record (favoring nuclear power, coal plants, offshore oil drilling, corporate subsidies including the 1872 Mining Act and avoiding any comprehensive program to crack down on the corporate crime wave and the bloated, wasteful military budget, for example) you have shown that you are their man?

To advance change and hope, the presidential persona requires character, courage, integrity — not expediency, accommodation and short-range opportunism. Take, for example, your transformation from an articulate defender of Palestinian rights in Chicago before your run for the U.S. Senate to an acolyte, a dittoman for the hard-line AIPAC lobby, which bolsters the militaristic oppression, occupation, blockage, colonization and land-water seizures over the years of the Palestinian peoples and their shrunken territories in the West Bank and Gaza. Eric Alterman summarized numerous polls in a December 2007 issue of The Nation magazine showing that AIPAC policies are opposed by a majority of Jewish-Americans.

You know quite well that only when the U.S. Government supports the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements, that years ago worked out a detailed two-state solution (which is supported by a majority of Israelis and Palestinians), will there be a chance for a peaceful resolution of this 60-year plus conflict. Yet you align yourself with the hard-liners, so much so that in your infamous, demeaning speech to the AIPAC convention right after you gained the nomination of the Democratic Party, you supported an “undivided Jerusalem,” and opposed negotiations with Hamas — the elected government in Gaza. Once again, you ignored the will of the Israeli people who, in a March 1, 2008 poll by the respected newspaper Haaretz, showed that 64% of Israelis favored “direct negotiations with Hamas.” Siding with the AIPAC hard-liners is what one of the many leading Palestinians advocating dialogue and peace with the Israeli people was describing when he wrote, “Anti-Semitism today is the persecution of Palestinian society by the Israeli state.”

During your visit to Israel this summer, you scheduled a mere 45 minutes of your time for Palestinians with no news conference, and no visit to Palestinian refugee camps that would have focused the media on the brutalization of the Palestinians. Your trip supported the illegal, cruel blockade of Gaza in defiance of international law and the United Nations charter. You focused on southern Israeli casualties, which during the past year have totaled one civilian casualty to every 400 Palestinian casualties on the Gaza side. Instead of a statesmanship that decried all violence and its replacement with acceptance of the Arab League’s 2002 proposal to permit a viable Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in return for full economic and diplomatic relations between Arab countries and Israel, you played the role of a cheap politician, leaving the area and Palestinians with the feeling of much shock and little awe.

David Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator, described your trip succinctly: “There was almost a willful display of indifference to the fact that there are two narratives here. This could serve him well as a candidate, but not as a President.”

Palestinian-American commentator Ali Abunimah noted that Obama did not utter a single criticism of Israel, “of its relentless settlement and wall construction, of the closures that make life unlivable for millions of Palestinians. . . . Even the Bush administration recently criticized Israeli’s use of cluster bombs against Lebanese civilians [see for elaboration]. But Obama defended Israeli’s assault on Lebanon as an exercise of its ‘legitimate right to defend itself.'”

In numerous columns Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, strongly criticized the Israeli government’s assault on civilians in Gaza, including attacks on “the heart of a crowded refugee camp . . . with horrible bloodshed” in early 2008.

Israeli writer and peace advocate Uri Avnery described Obama’s appearance before AIPAC as one that, “broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning, adding that Obama “is prepared to sacrifice the most basic American interests. After all, the US has a vital interest in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace that will allow it to find ways to the hearts of the Arab masses from Iraq to Morocco. Obama has harmed his image in the Muslim world and mortgaged his future — if and when he is elected president,” he said, adding, “Of one thing I am certain: Obama’s declarations at the AIPAC conference are very, very bad for peace. And what is bad for peace is bad for Israel, bad for the world and bad for the Palestinian people.”

A further illustration of your deficiency of character is the way you turned your back on the Muslim-Americans in this country. You refused to send surrogates to speak to voters at their events. Having visited numerous churches and synagogues, you refused to visit a single Mosque in America. Even George W. Bush visited the Grand Mosque in Washington D.C. after 9/11 to express proper sentiments of tolerance before a frightened major religious group of innocents.

Although the New York Times published a major article on June 24, 2008 titled “Muslim Voters Detect a Snub from Obama” (by Andrea Elliott), citing examples of your aversion to these Americans who come from all walks of life, who serve in the armed forces and who work to live the American dream. Three days earlier the International Herald Tribune published an article by Roger Cohen titled “Why Obama Should Visit a Mosque.” None of these comments and reports changes your political bigotry against Muslim-Americans– even though your father was a Muslim from Kenya.

Perhaps nothing illustrated your utter lack of political courage or even the mildest version of this trait than your surrendering to demands of the hardliners to prohibit former president Jimmy Carter from speaking at the Democratic National Convention. This is a tradition for former presidents and one accorded in prime time to Bill Clinton this year.

Here was a President who negotiated peace between Israel and Egypt, but his recent book pressing the dominant Israeli superpower to avoid Apartheid of the Palestinians and make peace was all that it took to sideline him. Instead of an important address to the nation by Jimmy Carter on this critical international problem, he was relegated to a stroll across the stage to “tumultuous applause,” following a showing of a film about the Carter Center’s post-Katrina work. Shame on you, Barack Obama!

But then your shameful behavior has extended to many other areas of American life. (See the factual analysis by my running mate, Matt Gonzalez, on You have turned your back on the 100-million poor Americans composed of poor whites, African-Americans, and Latinos. You always mention helping the “middle class” but you repeatedly omit mention of the “poor” in America.

Should you be elected President, it must be more than an unprecedented upward career move following a brilliantly unprincipled campaign that spoke “change” yet demonstrated actual obeisance to the concentration power of the “corporate supremacists.” It must be about shifting the power from the few to the many. It must be a White House presided over by a black man who does not turn his back on the downtrodden here and abroad but challenges the forces of greed, dictatorial control of labor, consumers and taxpayers, and the militarization of foreign policy. It must be a White House that is transforming of American politics — opening it up to the public funding of elections (through voluntary approaches) — and allowing smaller candidates to have a chance to be heard on debates and in the fullness of their now restricted civil liberties. Call it a competitive democracy.

Your presidential campaign again and again has demonstrated cowardly stands. “Hope” some say “springs eternal.” But not when “reality” consumes it daily.

Ralph Nader
November 3, 2008

Ralph Nader is a leading consumer advocate, the author of The Rebellious CEO: 12 Leaders Who Did It Right, among many other books, and a four-time candidate for US President. Read other articles by Ralph, or visit Ralph's website.

29 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Max Shields said on November 4th, 2008 at 11:38am #

    Ralph, I voted for you and I have absolutely no regrets. I’ve heard people say after voting for Obama, when the duty of voting for the guy on the t-shirts and massive marketing drive, finally left the voting “booth”, there was this great sense of angst, a buyers remorse, a sense of having been used. All his McCain-lite positions came rushing into their psyche.

    But I felt nothing of the kind, Ralph. It’s a great feeling when your conscience and your actions – even the simple action of a vote – are in harmony.

  2. Phil said on November 4th, 2008 at 12:05pm #

    Too, too true. Obama in a way will be worse than McCain, since this blind fanatical love-fest among his supporters will let him get away with far more evil things in office than his opponents would. I’m even more scared about the next four years than I was in ’04.

    Thanks for helping spread the truth, Ralph. My wife may be mad at me for voting for you instead of Barack today, but even a futile attempt at supporting something outside the corporate duopoly has to be worth it.

  3. rosemarie jackowski said on November 4th, 2008 at 12:36pm #

    Ralph…Thank you for everything that you have been doing for the people for so many years. You are an example of a true Statesman – not a politician.

    Thank you again for helping us in Cape May, NJ. It was a long time ago but I will never forget how you came to our aid with no publicity and no fanfare. It was because of your help that the nuclear power plant was not built off the coast of Atlantic City.

    I have voted for you in every election since then – more than 20 years ago. When you are not on the ballot, I write you in.

    Please continue to speak out. Do not let them silence you. The corporate control of information has gotten so bad in southern Vermont, that during this election some candidates have been censored – black listed. Many have been “Naderized” -silenced and invisible. Sadly, it is not the government doing the censoring – it is the corporation that owns the newspapers.

  4. Ramsefall said on November 4th, 2008 at 2:15pm #

    Good to read your words on this site, Ralph. You describe the Barack Obama that so many people are failing to see. In time they’ll all see, provided this year’s rigging fails to pull through.

    I admire your commitment and accomplishments over the years, it’s a shame that the political landscape is so barren of more like you.

    Best to you.

  5. David W. Deitch said on November 4th, 2008 at 3:34pm #

    I take my hat off to Ralph Nader, one of the greats. Voting for him was the least I could do, and an easy choice with no regrets. Never quit Ralph, and neither will I.

  6. Timber said on November 4th, 2008 at 4:26pm #

    I’m suffering the buyer’s remorse that Max mentions. I live in North Carolina, which is so full of racists, redneck fascists, corporate whores and religious nuts that it is still a toss-up, so I gave in and voted for Obama myself.

    I also agree with Phil: under the cover of being a “liberal” (as defined by Fox News and the Republicans), because he is black, and because he is a Democrat, I believe Obama will be the spoonful of sugar that helps the agenda of big business and military imperialism go down with an otherwise skeptical “left.”

    My only hope is that people will be so outraged by his betrayals that it creates an opportunity for a more progressive candidate in 4 years. Sadly, I think it’s more likely that, like Clinton, Obama will serve the purposes of the right by normalizing policies that might be criticized if they were put forward by a white Republican.

  7. Don Hawkins said on November 4th, 2008 at 6:43pm #

    Ralph in the next few months maybe one year we will see what this administration is about and let’s not forget congress. We are all and the all is 6 billion plus out of time. The amount of carbon even in this economy we human’s put into the atmosphere is 10 thousand times the natural rate going back millions of moons.

    The long term history of the Earth suggests the existence of hot and cold stable states. What the geologists refer to as the greenhouses and the ice houses. The best known hot house happened 55 million years ago at the beginning of the Eocene period. In that event between one and two terratons of carbon dioxide were released into the air by a geological accident. We are fairly sure about this from measurements made by Professor Elderfield of Cambridge University and his colleagues and from the researches of Henrik Svensen and colleagues of Oslo University. Putting this much CO2 in the air caused the temperature of the temperate and Arctic regions to rise 8oC and of the tropics 5oC and it took about 200,000 years for conditions to return to their previous state. In the 20th century we injected about half that amount of CO2 and we and the Earth itself are soon likely to release more than a terra ton of CO2.

    Global heating 55 million years ago took place much more slowly than now; the injection of gaseous carbon compounds into the atmosphere may have taken place over a period of about 10,000 years, instead of about 200 years as we are now doing. The great rapidity with which we add carbon gases to the air is as damaging as is the quantity. The rapidity of the pollution gives the Earth system little time to adjust and this is particularly important for the ocean ecosystems; the rapid accumulation of CO2 in the surface water is making them too acid for shell forming organisms. This did not happen during the Eocene event because there was time for the more alkaline deep waters to mix in and neutralise the surface ocean. James Lovelock

    Obama needs to tell people the truth and then with some help from some very good minds go for it. Radical changes and if we don’t see this many will try a few years more and if still we don’t see those radical moves and the money power people don’t get on board but instead continue with there head up there ass the rest is academic. I have to say it will be interesting to see how the people who have been trying for years now to tell and tell and tell people what needs to be done and then to know it will not happen what just give up. It will take a total focus in a very bad economy but can be done with yes those radical outside the box go for it moves. No pressure Obama and don’t be afraid to ask for help use the knowledge. Lose the suits go to work it’s called imagination use your mind tell people the truth find the people with the knowledge they are out there and go for it. Make it real.

  8. Poilu said on November 4th, 2008 at 7:17pm #

    I saw this letter elsewhere, and was greatly impressed by it. And as others here have said, I TOO voted my conscience — SCREW the “Conventional Wisdom”!! Hence Nader got my vote as well.

    Likewise, I have NO remorse about that choice, only a continued resentment regarding that self-imposed duopoly stranglehold — the pre-selection of “APPROVED” candidates by the power elite — which makes third-party candidacies such an uphill climb.

    I also evolved a brand new resentment against my state, which, according to its own web publications, had mandated the use of Voter-Verifiable Paper Records in all its E-voting machines since January. It clearly did NOT, as my experience today demonstrated! Same Sequoia AVC Advantage “black boxes”, NO paper ballot for verification, and NO call-back yet from the Department of Elections, which could only inform me initially that the model had been certified. (That’s despite its prior rejection, in Augist, by the state Attorney General’s office, due to the non-compliance of Sequoia’s proposed “voter-verifiable” system with the state’s criteria! So now it seems New Jersey simply went ahead and certified the machine with NO “paper trail” at all!) Color me pissed off.

  9. Don Hawkins said on November 4th, 2008 at 11:01pm #

    It is 12:30 Nov 5, 2008 the twenty first century and what I just witnessed I hope it is real. I know there is no time to waste. Obama said tonight we are fighting two wars and then we have a Planet in peril that got my attention. We are out of time and I am sure he knows that. If he try’s and I think he will he will be going against the money and the power. In the next four years if we don’t see those bold moves and get people working together again the rest is academic. I hope he calls on people and today would be good who know where the wild wind blows. James Hansen and Rajendra Pachauri would be a very good start.

  10. Jason said on November 4th, 2008 at 11:58pm #

    OK. I am not very good at sounding intellectual in my words and have tried to work as much as I can and avoid most politics. Please explain the logic in complaining about foreign policy when the most important problem is our economy right now. I have read all over the internet that Obama was on a panel of attorneys that sued banks for not lending enough subprime loans. I am in real estate and have worked with banks for 10 years. Our entire market crashed mainly due to bad loans. Obama helped destroy our economy and now his major focus is to fix it.

  11. mary said on November 5th, 2008 at 4:02am #

    ……’I think he will he will be going against the money and the power’…..

    Excuse me but he IS the money and the power. Still has bucket loads of the stuff from his Wall Street pals left over in his campaign funds. Perhaps he can start by distributing that out to the Amerikan poor.

    PS Obama’d out here in the UK and they are replaying his speech endlessly with shots of his tearful audience. We shall see.

  12. Josie Michel-Brüning said on November 5th, 2008 at 5:02am #

    Being very moved by Ralph Nader’s letter, as well as by your comments I’m thinking as long as there are people like you in the United States, as long there is hope for a real change.
    Please, keep fighting. As Obama seems to be “flexible” you could have some impact on his policy and his advisors. As for me, for instance, I felt threatened when reading one of his advisors is Zbigniew Brzezinski, involved in the Afghanistan intervention in 1978 … that seemed to be one of the reasons, why Obama appealed to the Germans last summer in Berlin to be more engaged in the Afghanistan war …
    However, being involved in the campaign to free the “Cuban Five” and supporting the appeals for fair trials also for Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier
    – ceterum censeo – we have to call for justice.

  13. Don Hawkins said on November 5th, 2008 at 7:30am #

    One way or the other change is coming. If we see business as usual or what will pass for that now all the witting all the talk won’t amount to a hill of beans. Some human’s have got very clever in making other human’s believe that insanity is OK. We can write all we want about the coming day’s but if we don’t see some very bold radical moves on the problems we face well it is what it is. We are at the crossroads and the only path is some very hard choices a new way of thinking and the next few years is either we try or not that simple

  14. Don Hawkins said on November 5th, 2008 at 7:44am #

    Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) — U.S. President-elect Barack Obama should put global warming ahead of a domestic plan to cut carbon emissions, said Rajendra Pachauri, head of a Nobel Prize-winning United Nations panel of climate-change scientists.
    “Irrespective of what he does domestically and when he does something, it’s far more important for the U.S. to get engaged in the negotiations and help arrive at an agreement at Copenhagen,” Pachauri said today in a telephone interview from New Delhi. “That is clearly far more important than what they do domestically.”

    Why did Rajendra Pachauri say this today because he has a mind and can use it for something other than profit or ratings. There will be a push by Hansen and Raiendra and many more to start and start now as time is short. If we don’t start now it is what it is.

  15. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 5th, 2008 at 8:59am #

    now that the greatest show biz is finally over we can all retire to our dens and hibernate.
    the ruling class has won once again. while i detest making predictions, i dare at least guess that it may get at least a tad worse for designated or well-chosen enemies.
    and US always had chosen well. thnx

  16. Phil said on November 5th, 2008 at 11:43am #

    >>”Please explain the logic in complaining about foreign policy when the most important problem is our economy right now.”

    Ah, but our economy is inextricably intertwined with foreign policy, and the (literally) insane amounts that are poured into fomenting war and terrorism throughout the world are one of the prime reasons (if not THE prime reason) we’re in the hole we’re in right now.

    Billions for war against Afghanistan, for no justifiable purpose. Billions for war against Iraq, for no justifiable purpose. Billions for Israel’s govt, which will use it for bombing and starving civilians whose only crime is to want to live on their own land. No doubt there’ll be billions more for making war against Iran and Pakistan for no justifiable purpose. All while our infrastructure crumbles, our debt (national and individual) approaches critical mass, our unemployment soars and the number of uninsured skyrockets. Just think what a sane reapportionment of funds might do.

    If you want to fix the economy (or ultimately anything else), the foreign policy needs to be fixed too.

  17. kris ringwood said on November 5th, 2008 at 9:12pm #

    this heralds the first time I did not vote for Ralph since 1984. After listening to his book and observing how he seemed to rely upon small donations on the internet, it appears that Obama is in the pockets of the money grubbers after all. He also changed tack and took matching government funds as well.
    I don’t know if anyone has seen the film “A Good Man in Africa”, but the politician portrayed by Louis Gosset bears more than a resemblance. Now it appears Emmanuel is Obama’s new chief of staff. Control of America remains where it has been since Kissinger controlled Nixon and an entire country was given dual citizenship except the Arab contingent. I presume the Israeli running the U.S “Homeland Security” will retain his job under the Obama administration. Well it was nice while it lasted….

  18. kris ringwood said on November 5th, 2008 at 9:17pm #

    Silly of me. Of course, Obama want’s to avoid assassination (by the Mossad?!). Still at least Biden isn’t LBJ…

  19. proximity1 said on November 6th, 2008 at 6:21am #

    Dear Mr. Nader,

    Though your criticisms of U.S. policy regarding Israeli-Palestinian relations are on the accurate side of the ledger, the fact is very clear that no previous U.S. president has even come close to defending a morally respectable set of policies where Israel is concerned. That is true no less of the Clinton administration.

    In electoral political affairs, you have nothing to teach Barack Obama.

    Over the next four years, every positive change in federal government policy from those of the previous disastrous eight years you shall owe to the effective insights and battling spirit of President-elect Obama.

    I remind you of your respective electoral records of offices won:

    Nader : Obama:

    1992 : US presidential: loss n/a

    1996: n/a Illinois senate: elected, Dist. 13

    1998: n/a Illinois senate: RE- elected, Dist. 13

    2000: US presidential: loss U.S. House (Democratic primary: loss

    2002: n/a Illinois senate: RE- elected, Dist. 13

    2004: US presidential: loss US Senate – Illinois: elected

    2008: US presidential: loss US presidential: elected

  20. Meg said on November 6th, 2008 at 6:58am #

    Thank you for your years of service on our behalf, Mr. Nader. I am another who sent my vote your way and am at peace with that decision. I have long respected you and your efforts, and still believe you would serve this country well as President.
    Americans have been disillusioned, angry, and fearful for some time–those states of mind are not a good basis for decision-making. It was not surprising that Obama’s platitudes were so persuasive and compelling for so many voters; his words, while seeming more palatable than some of McCain’s rhetoric, were nothing more than the exact words voters wished to hear. A lot of vulnerable people were ready to believe.
    Already, as I write this, Paul Volcker (affiliated with the Trilateral Commission and former Chairman of the Federal Reserve) is one of Obama’s advisors in financial matters. With that in mind, it seems to me that the possibility of meaningful change in our country’s financial dealings is already compromised.
    Change? The only change which will take place will be the arrangement of the furniture in the White House…

  21. Doug Rogers said on November 6th, 2008 at 7:24am #

    George Bush also has an impressive record of winning elections. Is that supposed to mean something? The question is what has Obama achieved in winning these offices. I’m sure there is something but I can’t think of what it is.

    Ralph Nader on the other hand, without serving in any office, has an incredible list of accomplishments. Centrists have a position from which they can win elections. But they don’t have a mandate to achieve very much. Leftists on the other hand are in a bad position to win elections, but by constantly pushing the terms of the debate have the more vital role in shaping policy.

    By 2006, anti-war activists had effectively moved the terms of debate so that the Democrats could win. But being centrists they immediately found excuses not to end the war. The same thing is happening now. Since 2000 the activist left has spearheaded the critique of Bush making Obama’s victory possible. But again, because he’s a centrist we are now going to witness his capitulation on every issue on which his supporters are hoping for change.

    It’s time for the left to declare once and for all that we are neither Democrats nor Centrists.

  22. Pete V said on November 6th, 2008 at 9:03am #

    Mr. Nader,

    Thank you for your decades of courage. Your refusal to compromise your principles, even when facing maelstroms of opposition, is an inspiration to us all. The justice you pursue may be slow coming, but thanks to your efforts and other dedicated, self-sacrificing individuals the idea will not die.

    Thank you.

  23. Eddie said on November 6th, 2008 at 11:46am #

    Here’s a “right wing” Republican who’s proud to have noted for Mr. Nader in 2004 and 2008. (I am ashamed of having voted for Bush Jr. in 2000!) Are Ralph Nader and Ron Paul the last two decent, honest men in the profession? You (and I) don’t have to agree with them on every thing to recognize the stamp of honesty and an inability to mouth meaningless drivel.

  24. Kolyan said on November 7th, 2008 at 7:09am #

    Mr. Nader,
    I really appreciate your life-long continuation and dedication!
    What else we could do to deliver the true meaning of Constitution and Sovereignty of this country?

    I was actually very interested to see just plain and simple overall “election-08” results. Surprisingly, by state counts Mr. Nader even not listed on dedicated CNN page under Independent category. Only two main characters are there with all the numbers and jazz.

    I recall there was a list of candidates on state ballot. So how do I find plain and simple description of which candidate has how many votes without storming my state election office? Any idea?

    Thank you all.

  25. Joseph Anderson, Berkeley, CA, said on November 7th, 2008 at 11:55am #



    From: [Joseph Anderson]
    To: [deleted for privacy — a good friend of mine and close political associate of Nader]
    Subject: Nader: “or [whether Obama is going to be] Uncle Tom for the giant corporations” …?
    Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2008 22:15:18 -0800

    Hi [deleted for privacy],

    Nader: “or [whether Obama is going to be] Uncle Tom for the giant corporations” …?

    Ralph Nader calls Obama a Uncle Tom

    (From *all* the different YouTube videos of this, there have literally been 100’s of 1,000’s of views.)

    This is what happens when an arrogant ‘white’ guy can’t admit when he’s *wrong* (even when repeatedly given the chance [related to something else very important], as before with me). It finally caught up with him.

    [Apparently, as in my case, when Nader (and, unless you’re constantly worshipping them, many of those other starring progressive icons) thinks you’re a nobody (even from the left) who’s a nobody that nobody publicly/professionally important (even *very* important on the left) knows and cares a lot about, that’s exactly how he treats you — even if your from the left and originally supported him. But that’s often so true with a lot of even those progressive star icons. Or, as Michael Eric Dyson wrote about many even progressive icons on p.54, par.2, of his book _Debating Race_: “…they go, ‘Oh, hell, who is he? I’m not going to get the glory anymore because now this person is there.’ Insecure, incapable of accepting intelligent, articulate (ordinary) people who just want to help.”]

    (And Nader’s whole sentence [racially insulting Obama] didn’t even make any real sense at that! — especially to most Black people: “…whether he’s [Obama’s] going to be Uncle Sam or Uncle Tom”. What does even, “…whether he’s [Obama’s] going to be Uncle Sam”, mean? — since neither figures, for most racial minorities, have a great reputation.)

    Obviously Nader doesn’t have any authentic Black personal friends (if any Black personal friends at all) to advise/tell him. But, if he even had any, he probably wouldn’t even consult or listen to them either: hell, what do *we* know?

    Even *if* the sentiment were politically right, the wording was *grossly insensitive* to the national Black community — and grossly *wrong* to say it that way — at least not unless/until Obama might *clearly* demonstrate that. And the reasons Nader itemizes aren’t even logically or politically sufficient reasons for saying that (unlike those one could give for someone directly like Clarence Thomas, Ward Connerly, John McWhorter, or even, effectively, Condoleeza Rice)! Rev. Wright didn’t even call Obama that: Wright said that, “Obama was just being a politician.” While Obama has arguably come close by rhetorical omission, or speeches about “Black male (ir)responsibilities”, he hasn’t yet *singled-out* and especially *targeted* Blacks for adverse political or economic policies. *I* wouldn’t even say what Nader said and I’ve been sociopolitically quite opposed to either Obama and McCain as would-be, white-supremacist, economically neo-liberal, imperialist, military-industrial complex, pro-corporate presidents, promoted from political parties that represent just that.

    Nader’s emotionally losing it — and, while I know some very young and fit 70-something year-olds (especially in California!), I think he’s personally getting too old to stand up to the stresses of constant round-the-country barnstorming for either his book or running for president (that can take a toll on someone of any age), and constant personal-political attacks even from so-called “progressive/leftist” icons. Apparently, not even his political or personal (if he’s got any left with good judgement) friends can help him anymore.

    And then Nader accuses the news anchor of being a *bully*??? — when that’s exactly how Nader was to me — *twice!* — when I gave him a chance to reconsider his words, say he was wrong, and apologize, not only to me, but to the *two* other Black people [women] there who were also *very* disappointed at his behavior.

    *That’s* how Nader wants to go out… ? And now he’s *ffinished* in the national Black community — and he would have been finished in the Bay Area with Black people as far as my efforts would have been concerned. All that talk, before, of his about his emulating his father’s supposed great judgement, ethics and principles…; my brilliant lefty attorney housemate summed it all up in her usual succinct way when I told her what happened to me from Nader: “Goes to show it’s all just rhetoric.”

    As Ice Cube would say, let a ffoolll be a ffoolll!

    Take care,


    [Berkeley, CA]

  26. Max Shields said on November 7th, 2008 at 12:47pm #


    Nader isn’t finished with the black community as you put it.

    The progressive African American Community understands what Ralph is saying and don’t need Fox to interpret this truth.

    Or are you arrogantly suggesting the contrary?

    Those nasty little blogs you read and thousand of comments.

    Remember Joseph one Newtonian physical laws – for every action there is a comparable re-action. The action is the election of Obama. He will have his apologists, but if we, as a progressive movement don’t keep our wits about us and stop it with the dumb talk about Nader’s perfectly accurate use of the word Uncle Tom – this could get very ugly.

    Remember this, Obama will not be the black president. He will be the caretaker of white power. All the caucuses in the world will not change that fact.

    The US of A is not past racism, not by a long shot. We live in the belly of the imperial racist empire regardless the color of our president.

  27. Deadbeat said on November 7th, 2008 at 1:40pm #

    Max says…

    Remember this, Obama will not be the black president. He will be the caretaker of white power. All the caucuses in the world will not change that fact.

    I agree with Max and his response to Joseph. Obama will not be the “black” president. Then again Obama didn’t campaign to be the “black” president.

    Max is also right that leftists among the African American community understands where Ralph is coming from however if we use the election results as a guideline that represents 1% of the Black population. 95% of the African American community voted for Obama so I think that Ralph’s use of the phrase “Uncle Tom” to describe Obama, while having some truth to it, is not the best way to communicate with the broader African American community. Its use is more alienating then unifying.

    Folks have to determine how they choose to communicate. Words do have meaning. For example I never heard Ralph describe for example Rahm Emmanuel as a “Zionist”. He uses the term “pro-Israel”. “Zionist” and “pro-Israel” conveys TWO very different political realities.

    In other words, why did Ralph feel it OK to term Obama “Uncle Tom” which is derogatory yet has never used the term “Zionist” to describe Rahm Emmanuel. “Zionist” is not a derogatory term but and accurate description of Emmanuel’s politics. This is the kind of duplicity that many African Americans will question.

    Right now I think empathy and nuance is a much better approach to take when confronting Obama and his supporters. There will be a time and place for antipathy and disdain.

  28. damu said on November 7th, 2008 at 3:42pm #

    It’s interesting to read all these comments about what Obama will or won’t do as President of these United States. I’m going to trust that he will do his best to keep his word! However in light of the fact that he is just one black man working for a nation controlled by white people; in a system designed for whites by whites, I can understand why Ralph Nader, Joe (the plummer), right wing conservatives, uncle toms, red necks, skin heads, aryan resisters, ku klux klansmen and a host of other so-called Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of Obama being in the White House.

    Ralph Nader gives off the impression that if he were elected, he could have avoided being a lackey for the white special interest groups and if he couldn’t, he at least would have looked more appropriate in the White House.

    What good does it do for a candidate who has lost an election to predict the failure of the person who won?

  29. Antonio Trossero said on July 5th, 2009 at 1:51pm #

    Joseph Anderson is a racist black whom went to the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland to disrupt Nader’s event;he had to be restrained by Nader’s secuirity and was thrown out.The reason for Anderson’s action was just racial solidarity with Barack Obama whose election he celebrated on KPFA,for all his “radical” posturing.
    Joseph Anderson also created a disturbance at Norman Finkelstein event in Berkeley,as well as other places like Black Oak,BFUU,UC Berkeley,etc;he was also expelled from the ,now defunct Codys’ Books.
    His behavior is typical of an Agent provocateur,perhaps for the ADL,or any police agency;the only other explanation is insanity.
    Joseph Anderson makes a point in making friends with “progressive” jews and casts accusations of “antisemitism” that seem taken from the ADL’s book.Unfortunately ,in ” politically correct” Berkeley he thrives using his “blackness” and threatening with accusations of “discrimination”.
    All political organizations should investigate this individual.