Monday, July 28, 2008

ralph nader thinks the embargo against cuba is stupid

do you know ralph nader's a presidential candidate? a lot of people don't.

in this, the 'greatest democracy on earth,' there's a complete media blackout against the man .... with tiny exceptions. yesterday, on a corporate news channel, there were soundless images of him speaking, with the news announcer announcing ralph's arrival in austin and promising more from ralph to follow. i'm not sure how much they followed up, but more of nothing is never enough.

why are the american people being denied an opportunity to know about a presidential platform? probably because ralph nader and his running mate, matt gonzales, are trying to connect with, as ralph puts it, the 1% of americans who are actually doing the day to day work of democracy. who are those folks? they're the ones attending municipal council meetings, organizing rallies for peace and an end to economic violence, writing petitions, and lobbying their representatives. 1% of the populace, claims ralph, are working to protect the democracy america holds up as a shining example to the world it bombs. he cited an ancient greek philosopher who said that 'to know, and not to do, is not to know.' not only does the corporate world not want us to know, but they especially don't want us to do - and their media reflects that philosophy of lethargy.

ralph's interested in promoting democracy, and not in an imperialist way. in the last election the democrats promised to talk impeachment, and to begin to end the invasion of iraq. in fact, over 50 billion addiitonal dollars have been designated towards that effort, with approval from many otherwise elected democrats, and especially turncoat nancy pelosi. ralph and matt are offering a real alternative.

they're talking about electoral reform, so that votes are counted in a way that actually represents the will of the electorate. as a canadian i know (and mentioned) that, while multiple candidates makes for a thriving democracy, it can result in a tyranny of the minority unless the votes are counted in some sort of proportionally representative manner. (i also let the folks know that, in a previous decade, the majority of canadians voted for the parties who said they weren't going to implement nafta, but we got it anyways because brian mulroney was elected with 30 something percent of the vote. we need electoral reform. we don't want to provide america with their energy needs even before we meet our own needs - it's not that we don't love y'all, i said, but it's cold in canada!).

one reason my friends and i went to hear ralph nader speak is because they're so disappointed with barack obama's turn to the right. it seems there are increasing numbers of people who feel that same way. last night we learned that obama's getting more money from corporate lawyers than the other candidate in the 2 party duopoly. we also learned of a website -

ralph spoke about personal vs. civic power - americans have lots of personal power, he suggested, able to travel (though not to cuba and yes, he agrees the embargo is stupid and should be lifted) and earn money and buy things .... but americans don't have so much civic power, especially when it comes to democracy. they're political slaves, he says, encouraged to vote for the least worst candidate and led to actually think of any other candidates, aside from the two, as harmful to democracy. 18,000 people die every year in the united states because they have no health care. ralph wants americans to raise their expectations. there's talk of a google sponsored three way debate in california, that'd be a start.

ralph is saddened by the numbers of otherwise reasonable and progressive people who tell him he should drop out of the race. there's actually a poll, he said, that shows al gore got more votes against bush in a previous election because ralph was running. if the ancestors had been afraid to 'throw their vote away,' as ralph supporters are accused of doing, women would still be unable to vote and there would still be slavery. (not that slavery has been eliminated, of course ... ask any migrant worker)

ralph took questions from the audience - he agrees there needs to be reform of the central banking system, he doesn't like the security and prosperity partnership, he's concerned about poverty and medicare and would implement a canadian style health care system - with improvements. he thinks there should be one federal set of procedures for getting a presidential candidate on the ballot rather than different rules state by state. one of the volunteers decided they ought to make posters - how to add ralph nader to your ballot - at every polling station. a man who wrote the software for the diebold voting machines said he knows it's faulty, he knows those machines don't work.

in closing ralph talked about eugene debs who was asked if he had any regrets. eugene said his only regret is that americans, who have so many opportunities, don't seem to want much of anything that's really important. to know, and not to do, is not to know.