Vote Nader 2008
In “Civil Disobedience,” an essay I like to assign in the classes that I teach, Henry David Thoreau voices the frustration of living in a country whose government is the primary agent of injustice. Then, as today, the United States was burdened by an expensive war of imperial aggression. The institution of slavery was frowned upon by the majority of the population, yet that same majority did nothing to end it. “What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today?” Thoreau asks, mainly to call attention to a fundamental contradiction of democracy. Thoreau goes on to observe that most people wait, “well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give up only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and Godspeed, to the right, as it goes by them.”
Unfortunately, the situation Thoreau describes applies more to 21st century politics in the United States than it did in pre-Civil War America. “All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions,” Thoreau continues. The entire media-political superstructure in place today create this illusion by using color-coded maps, bifurcated dialogue, and superficial commentary to steer thinking. While it may seem that the Republican and Democrat Presidential candidates have done everything possible to distinguish themselves from each other, there is no substantial difference between the two. John McCain’s unjust social policies, his shameful appeal to naive evangelical Christians (Palin), and his blind faith in U.S. military might are clearly untenable. Yet Barack Obama hasn’t done too much to indicate that he conceives of the world differently. If we vote for Obama, we are placing a wager that he will renounce his arrogant turn toward the political center (the one we’ve seen during the post-primary phase of his campaign) and return to his vapid, yet promising, doctrine of hope and change.
This post is an endorsement for the Ralph Nader / Matt Gonzalez Presidential ticket in 2008. Both of the mainstream candidates support the bailout of Wall Street gamblers, neither has called for an end to our occupation of Iraq, and even Obama speaks of his intention to lead our country in the war on terror by redeploying more troops to Afghanistan. Neither candidate sees the need to reconceptualize the way we think about energy. Nor has either candidate posed a viable alternative to the exploitative health care system that holds many US citizens in bondage to private insurance industries. We need a fundamental shift in our social policy. Neither Barack Obama or John McCain will work to bring about this change, so I can vote for neither of them.