March 11, 2002
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For months after the election, Democrats and other misguided Al Gore
supporters berated me for voting for Nader. Some of them echoed the silly
claims from luminaries of the Democratic Party that people like me who
voted for Ralph Nader cost Gore the election. Why if he hadn't run, they
fumed, most of his voters would have moved to Gore and given him the
Sure. And if pigs had skates they would be winning gold medals at the Olympics.
But let's assume -- as ludicrous as the assumption would be -- that Nader was the cause of Gore's defeat, does that prove that all of us who voted for Gore were misguided, at best?
Get real. The past year and post 9-11 history demonstrate that Nader was right all along: the Democrats and the Republicans are essentially clones of each other -- in everything from Enron to war. The Democrats joined the Republicans in trashing the Bill of Rights, voting billions upon billions for war toys and corporate welfare, and applauding wildly as Bush threatened to bring the whole world in line by the use of American bombs and missiles.
Both major parties are now promising all war all the time.
Just the other day, Al Gore, the great 'liberal' alternative to the junior Bush, said that it's time for a "final reckoning" with Iraq, and he generally praised Bush's performance. Gore even applauded Bush for singling out Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as an 'axis of evil.' Some alternative.
We're living in The Twilight Zone -- or perhaps 1984.
But Nader, ignored by the mainstream media during the election, is now gaining some attention as a prophet, particularly since the Enron meltdown. The man who has long warned about the dangers of unbridled corporate capitalism now says wryly: I don't want to say I told you so, but I told you so!
Congress needs to clamp down on future Enrons, Nader said in a Jan. 24 letter. "Congress and the national media are feigning great shock and dismay over the revelations of accounting shenanigans in the collapse of Enron, the giant Texas-based energy corporation. But, the truth is that the Congress and the financial media have long been aware of the accounting profession's shortcomings and its predilection to paint a rosy picture of their corporate clients-even when corporations were near collapse."
Nader isn't jumping on the Enron bandwagon to score personal points. He's been warning about the dangers of corporate practices, deregulation and corporate influence in government for decades.
In his letter he notes ironically: "Now, many of the same leaders who pushed the deregulation of the financial industry through Congress will be conducting investigations of what went wrong at Enron," and adds, "Congress needs to carry out full-scale investigations of Enron. But to leave the job as simply another splashy investigation for television would be a travesty. Congress needs to use this moment to atone for its failure to protect the public in the past by ensuring that there will be independent accurate information for investors, consumers and regulatory bodies."
And, with the straight talk that endears him to me and at least a couple of million other voters, Nader goes on: "It is a tough job for a Congress riddled and compromised by large campaign contributions not only from Enron, but from the entire financial industry. But, the job has to be done because there are other Enrons out there in the corporate world with variations on the scheme to deceive and dupe the public in their quest for easy profits."
In his new role as prophet, Nader has appeared on NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, PBS's Firing Line, and the Fox News Channel show, Fox and Friends. He put forward a 'corporate decency' proposal to the National Press Club in January, and he is now on a tour promoting his new book, Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender.
The book is both a memoir of his campaign and an exploration of why he decided to run -- the effect of big corporate money on both parties and government, the rightward shift of the Democrats until they are nearly indistinguishable from Republicans, the dangers of deregulation which leads to a loss of checkpoints on corporate crime, fraud and abuse, etc.
In the preface, he writes: "Unfortunately, a working, deliberative democracy has few real champions in the Republican or Democratic parties. These parties see their self-perpetuation in the narrowest of dimensions -- largely by allowing business interests too great a say in local, state, and national agendas. There is a relentless lobbying industry that enlarges the privileges and immunities of corporations as compared with individuals and makes sure that governments leave the people defenseless and feeling powerless. ....
Nonetheless, most elected officials are afraid to address these abuses. The absence of public sector resistance is especially troubling because the public sector, led by Congress, the White House and the state governments, has given away the store to corporations through deregulation, privatization, subsidies, reduced law enforcement, and limitations on civil lawsuits. Still, these coddled companies demand more, more, and more. Enough is never enough."
In this, of course, he's right on the mark. But don't expect to see any real in-depth discussion of these and issues in the corporate media. And don't expect Al Gore and the Democrats to jump into the fray on the side of the average working person, because the average working person doesn't make $50,000 campaign contributions.
Nader has said that he thinks the Enron scandal can generate momentum for reform, including a fundamental reform of campaign financing. I hope he's right; I fear he's not.
But he's on the right track, even while the Democrats timidly, and obscenely, try to play at being Republicans, only more war-like and corporate friendly.
Republicans and Democrats believe they have a god-given right to be the only two choices given to voters, and the media solemnly agrees. During the presidential campaign, Nader was repeatedly denounced by Democrats and the media as only a spoiler, someone who had no right to run.
That attitude and position is illogical, elitist and utterly dangerous. If our choices are limited to picking from one of two clones, we will have more Savings & Loan disasters, more Enrons, more tax cuts for the rich and hidden tax increases for the poor and middle class, more loss of U.S. factories and jobs, more unjustified and immoral wars on the world's poorest and weakest peoples.
During his campaign for the presidency, Nader warned of the dangers of corporate crime, corporate welfare, our dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power, and the destructive effect of the war on drugs.
We desperately need more choices, candidates like Nader who will tackle these issues and others. But we'll never get them if we allow the two major parties and their apologists in the media to set arbitrary limits on what candidates are allowable.
Don't expect a mea culpa from me for voting for Nader. I want to see mea culpas from the 100 million or so folks who voted for one of two identical candidates and now wonder why we're going to hell in a hand basket.
Don't blame this mess on me. I voted for Nader. Why the hell didn't you?
Deck Deckert has spent nearly two decades as copy editor, wire editor and news editor at several metropolitan newspapers, including the Miami Herald and Miami News, before becoming a freelance writer. His articles and stories on everything from alligator farming to UFOs have appeared in numerous U.S. publications. He has written two young adult novels under a pen name, and co-authored a novel about the NATO war on Yugoslavia, Letters from the Fire, with Alma Hromic, who he met in an Internet discussion group. Deckert and Hromic subsequently married and are writing a book about their experience with Internet romance, Cyberdance.
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Deck Deckert on Swans
Essays published in 2002 | 2001