Monday, April 5, 2010

It Was the Best of Votes. It Was the Worst of Votes

In November, 1999 I cast my vote for Ralph Nader for president. How, you might ask, could I have done such a thing?

I thought George W. Bush was a sick joke, and my skin crawled when I saw and heard Al Gore speak. I also recall that Nader's mantra was about the need for another political party as an alternative to the two corrupt ones, the Democrats and the Republicans.

It seemed as if the choices were all bad; three clearly self-righteous males. Name your poison.

Contrary to the hues and cries of those who claimed that I helped elect Bush, since we still have the electoral college system, not a truly democratic popular vote system, I claim innocence of those charges. And also since we have that electoral college system, the SCOTUS (from the early Neanderthal SCROTUM, smelly sack) appointed Bush as president. As I recall Gore won the popular vote regardless of my and others' protest vote.

Now, in retrospect, it was the best of votes. As supporting evidence of that seemingly unrealistic claim I urge you to read Chris Hedges' essay on the subject of Nader and his corporate executioners, and which you can access here.

It's been said that we go forth on the feet of heretics. Nader was seen by most, including me at the time, as an out of touch voice crying in the wilderness. One could be forgiven for not taking him seriously. However his claims and accusations have been more than borne out. It's no longer considered seditious to point accusing fingers at elected politicians on the take. That's been well documented. Non-elected persons, lobbyists, now write legislation and pay off elected politicians to vote for it. In the late 1990's that was not yet widely believed and understood, which was one of Nader's problems.

Another of Nader's problems was that he was seen by many as a real pain in the ass, one whose ego was so huge that he thought of himself as a savior. (It fell to Bush actually to talk and behave like the Messiah.)

Hedges points out that corporate America took Nader very seriously, and spared no expense in bringing him down. They realized he was, and still is, a genuine threat because he spoke truth to the public about the power of corporate money.

Nader's true downfall came when big money realized that, as it is said of unpopular ministers in religious circles of the South, "he done quit preachin' and gone to meddlin".

Nader should not and will not be president. If you worry that Obama is struggling to keep his party "faithful" in line, in spite of his attractive personality, one might call it charisma, Nader would be a total disaster as a leader. Charasmatic he is not.

That said, I've been wondering what role he should play in our political/economic culture, now that his accusations have been borne out. He'd never get Senate approval of a nomination for a cabinet position. The lobbyists are too strong, and have too much ownership of the Senate for that to ever come about. He's a lightening rod for corporate controlled media, so he's not likely to get a job as a columnist for any main stream media publication.

Perhaps he's where he should be and wants to be; the gadfly. But gadflies are not often in good repute with, nor appreciated by, the public. And it's the public which needs to come to the realization that he speaks in its interest. Progressives like me wonder why so many members of the public continue to vote against their own interests.

My good friend Thomas, who writes to the blog,, has asked me how I deal with my own realization that, as Chris Hedges pointed out in another recent essay, we are standing on the precipice of a disaster waiting to befall our civilization. My response, not necessarily an answer, is that humanity has been approaching and retreating from this kind of precipice for thousands of years.

Humanity is not perfectible, though many scientists and evangelicals believe it is ,all the while professing different and diverging roads for accomplishing and realizing that end.

Evangelicals believe that faith is the only true path to perfection. Scientists argue that knowledge is the only reasonable way. Evangelicals believe that only faith can save us from sin. Scientists argue that only knowledge can save us from ignorance.

It's neither sin in the religious sense nor ignorance in the scientific sense that blocks our way.

We are descended from all the life forms which have existed, and preceded us, on this planet over the eons. They survived as species according to, and by virtue of, the evolutionary mechanism of survival of the fittest. We, as their progeny, inheritors of their genes and anthropological/cultural memes, are prone, nay destined, to prey on others for what we need, believing, convinced that what we need is what we want and deserve.

The Evangelist says that God loves those who give cheerfully; the scientist says that Humanists love those who study diligently; I say that Nature loves those who prey.

As it is said in Desiderata: "Go quietly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence--------, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should".

Peace be unto you.



Old Dude said...

Good Column. Ralph Nader has always been one of my heroes. Nader has had the ability to touch on the key issues that Americans should know more about. Just the unvarnished facts. While more mainstream politicians dance around the subjects and avoid the “Truth”. Also Nader can outline the real issues in 5 minutes while the other guys beat around the bush for an entire campaign.
That said I did take exception to Mr. Nader’s choice of VP in one of his campaigns. The man, whose name I forget, expressed the idea to just open the border with Mexico and let everyone cross freely. Don’t know about you, but I think that is just a terribly bad idea.
If people want to live in Mexico, just move there.
Are the Economic and Political forces in play that will hold down Americans from here into the immediate future? Sure looks that way. The Wall Street Bankers are like young teenagers that just got off a roller-coaster. Whee- let’s do that again. It does not matter to them that their actions trashed the world economy and did harm to millions of people. They want more of that thrill ride. (At someone else’s expense).
This is one of the reasons that we need Ralph Nader and people like him, which will speak the truth and call out the creeps.

Old Dude

Thomas said...

Hi and thanks for the "shout out" in your column. The BS in politics seems so overwhelming at times, that I want to completely disengage. Yet I'm hearing in church, that if I'm going to be a Christian, then Jesus' teachings compel me to engage in politics and social justice issues and not to just withdraw.

Maybe I should take a look at Buddhism LOL.

Anyway, I appreciate your revaluation of the wisdom of your past votes. Personally I still think we won't fully understand the impacts of Bush's presidency for 100 years or so. I am very curious to see how history treats him in hindsight. Thank you for bringing Nader back into discussion, and for calmly reminding me that human society has lived at the precipice for much of existence.. and life goes on.

You write "nature loves those who prey." This reminds me of a viewpoint that, in fact, it is the strands of DNA that are the essential life form on the planet, and all creatures including ourselves are simply the transient organic vehicles created by this DNA to preserve and replicate itself. Species come and go, but many of the world's earliest strands of DNA survive in an unbroken line nonetheless.

OK, gotta go now, I think I hear my DNA calling me.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper said...

Thomas' paragraph near the end of his post about DNA is very insightful. Wish more people would be made aware of that reality.

It's not a view held by many of faith though, unless the person of faith sees God in the mysteries which science is uncovering. Believers of the past though were not privy to such knowledge.