Ralph Nader has announced today that he'll run for president again this year. He knows he has no chance of winning, of course, but I may vote for him anyway. It'll be my third time (1996 & 2000) and so far he's the only person I've voted for twice. Why?
I live in New York. My state will vote for the Democratic candidate for president in 2008 so I'll have the luxury of a protest vote that someone in another, more closely contested state, might not have. But what is there to protest?
As Howard Zinn recently wrote:
Today, we can be sure that the Democratic Party, unless it faces a popular upsurge, will not move off center. The two leading Presidential candidates have made it clear that if elected, they will not bring an immediate end to the Iraq War, or institute a system of free health care for all.
They offer no radical change from the status quo.
They do not propose what the present desperation of people cries out for: a government guarantee of jobs to everyone who needs one, a minimum income for every household, housing relief to everyone who faces eviction or foreclosure.
They do not suggest the deep cuts in the military budget or the radical changes in the tax system that would free billions, even trillions, for social programs to transform the way we live.
None of this should surprise us. The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties. We should not expect that a victory at the ballot box in November will even begin to budge the nation from its twin fundamental illnesses: capitalist greed and militarism.
And as One Pissed Off Liberal wrote in his recent, brilliant "Let Us Not Talk Falsely Now" post:
And to continue to hold out hope that the democrats are going to save us is naïve at best, and quite possibly insane.
One thing I know for sure about this country is that nothing ever improved but for the hard work and heroic sacrifice of ACTIVISTS - and for the Democratic establishment to openly diss activists like both HRC and Pelosi have done recently should tell us everything we need to know about the Democratic Party - that it is very nearly as rotten as the Republican Party.
They represent the Status Quo. They will change little.
I like Barack Obama and think he has the possibility to be a great president. I thought the same about John Kerry and was happy to vote for him last time - the first time I'd voted for a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1992. I was sorely disappointed by the job Bill Clinton did as president and do not believe Hillary Clinton would make a good president. If she is the Democratic nominee then I will almost certainly vote for Ralph Nader (unless New York was close - which it won't be).
People who vote for Ralph Nader aren't naive enough to think he'll be elected president. Just naive enough to think it's a good idea to expose the American people to ideas that the Republican and Democratic parties have colluded to exclude from our national dialogue - like the destructiveness of our "capitalist greed and militarism." So far it's been left to "fringe" and fundamentally flawed candidates like Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich to raise these issues. Now we have another.