There are moments when this nation’s political landscape does not seem so terribly dire. When someone like Ralph Nader will stand up and put himself forth as a candidate despite all those who urge against it, I am reassured that I do not stand alone in my belief that something is terribly wrong. I am greatly dissatisfied with the current administration and absolutely horrified by the possibility of another four years of President George W. Bush and his cronies. However, I am much more horrified and disgusted by anyone who would condemn a man as a spoiler and egotist for merely participating in our democracy.
Nader should be congratulated and praised for his decision, made despite the warnings. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson claims Nader’s bid is all about Nader and his ego, and yet Bush’s smug, cocky, arrogant mug has been seen far too frequently on television without much comment about his ego or sense of entitlement.
The more people criticize Nader for running – they don’t criticize him for his platform, but instead his decision to run – the more I feel like voting for him. Nader is not running merely for ego, as some argue, but to raise awareness of the large investments corporations have made in our elected officials, investments they expect to see pay off just like their other investments.
Anyone who does not see the fingers of corporate leaders manipulating the strings of governance, to lesser and greater effect, is not paying attention. Nader’s bid for the presidency is a wake-up call. Those who would condemn him do not want to believe what is so clearly evident, or know Nader to be correct and do not want to see their good deal wrecked.
We puzzle over the large number of Americans who do not vote, expecting them to be able to make a decision between two very similar candidates, and yet the two parties do everything they can to limit the number of people entering the presidential race, and the media does immeasurable harm in its characterization of third-party candidates and their supporters.
If we desire a robust democracy and full participation, we must ensure every election has significant meaning for all Americans. We must ensure all views have a chance for expression. We must ensure every candidate has the opportunity to put forth his or her platform, and, if there is disagreement, to have a chance to debate and defend. You cannot expect a person to pick an apple or an orange if what they really want is a banana.
As for the 2000 election – the wounds from which will be reopened by Nader’s 2004 bid and, I fear, might never heal – let us place the blame firmly on the shoulders of those who deserve it. Bush is in office because of the millions of people who voted for him and the machinations of the U.S. Supreme Court. Anyone who would disparage the few conscientious voters who selected a candidate based on their core beliefs – they were not irrational, they were not young and ignorant, they were not high in the voting booth – is disparaging and diminishing the value of their own vote. Those who voted for Nader, myself included, were fed up, and still are, with a Republican party creeping further to the right, a Democratic party that is doing the same and the corporations for which they work.
Nader was not a spoiler. The two major parties are spoiled.
Adam Nelsen is a University senior. Send comments to [email protected]