And then there was Ralph


            The end of the Republican Convention brought with it, new poll figures suggesting a bounce for Bush that I could have only dreamt of for Kerry.  I decided to return to some spiritual ideas that had given me comfort.  In a sense, I let go of the outcome, and simply plan to ask each day, that the outcome of the election would best serve compassion, honesty and a coming together for America.  On Labor Day, I caught a speech by Ralph Nader that he delivered on August 28th, at the Reform Party Convention, that was attended by about 40 people. 


            I have to say that I agreed with everything Ralph said.  He referenced two quotes by Eisenhower, one in 1953, in which he talked about all the things that could be bought with the money we spend on weapons.  Eisenhower spoke of schools and hospitals and thing that help people.  Ralph also mentioned the warning that Eisenhower gave against the military industrial complex in 1960.  By today’s standards, Eisenhower would be considered a flaming radical, liberal, unpatriotic, you name it. 


            So now I thought about Kerry, who was lambasted by every Republican and one Democratic speaker for voting against various weapons systems throughout his career, especially in the early 90's, the end of the cold war, when even Cheney thought we could do without some of these.  The thought is, it is unpatriotic to vote against any weapons system, so most mainstream politicians won’t do it, just like they wouldn’t vote against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution or the recent Iraq war resolution.  No politician can afford to be labeled soft on defense, and thus unpatriotic. 


            Ralph’s contention was the military - industrial complex is alive and well, flourishing through 10 years of Viet Nam, 8 years of Reagan’s weapons build up that is touted as ending the Cold War, and now through a war on terrorism.  A war without end, amen, just what George Orwell described in “1984".  Ralph mentioned that we develop new weapons systems, sell them to other countries, then go back to the decision makers saying, all these other countries have these weapons, we need them, too.  And so, America re-arms itself.  It is big business for corporations, and one is unpatriotic or soft on defense, if they don’t support it.   


            Ralph suggested that liberals and conservatives were coming together on a lot of trade issues and other things that warrant concern about corporate influence undermining democracy.  Ralph suggested that if corporations like Wal-mart were held to the same standards of patriotism that individuals are, they would be subject to criminal activity.  He stated that Wal-mart tells its product suppliers to either cut pay and benefits to workers, or move to China.  So, they move to China.  They exploit cheap labor in an communist dictatorship, and China gets most favored trade status from our government.  But not so Cuba, there we are determined to undermine that government. 


            Ralph went on to talk about solar energy, saying it will be around for 4 billion years, it does not cause pollution, but its only draw back is that it cannot be owned by Exxon-Mobil.  Solar energy would be a more de-centralized product.  So, we burn fossil fuels, instead. 


            You would think with all this, I would become a Nader supporter.  I think if Larry King gave Ralph as much air time as he gave Ross Perrot, Ralph could get the 15 to 20 % support that Ross got.  With that, Ralph would be in the Presidential debates, and if many people responded to his ideas as I did, he could become a viable candidate.  It might be a real 3 way race. 


            Recently, my brother said he thought the Democrats & Republicans colluded already that Bush would win.  He bases this on Kerry not waging a good campaign in August.  I blame the media more than Kerry for giving credence to the Swift Boat nonsense, that took Kerry off message.  He was making some good strides before and after the Democratic Convention.  I also think his obscure position on Iraq had to do with him thinking he had to look tough for potential swing voters who might support the war. 


            Four years ago, a friend of mine supported Gore but said she would try to help the Green Party after the election.  Is it no coincidence that President Bush became such a lightening rod, that Ralph became the ego centric enemy.  In truth, he has the best ideas, because he does not have to play the usual political games.  But those ideas are muted, because it has become so important to re-defeat Bush.  And yet, what if he wins, anyway?  What if he wins because his most viable opponent can’t risk going against the corporate structure that feeds both parties.  


            The Democrats got energized with the Dean anti-war message, so when Kerry suggested he would have voted for the Iraq resolution even knowing what we know now, it took the wind out of our sails.  There would have been no need for a resolution, as Hillary Clinton said, and there would have been no vote.  Kerry took the bait from Bush, and the Bush team ran with it.  By the end of the Republican convention, I too sensed a loss of Kerry support. 


            I wondered what happened to all that anti-Bush sentiment?  I know that is not enough to win an election, but Kerry had Bush on the run on most issues, except terrorism, and he was close there.  Kerry - Edwards do have a better plan for avoiding terrorism, but their message was blunted by the Swift Boat distraction, and left room for Republicans to distort Kerry’s position and record on other areas.  Repeatedly, these distortion were not even challenged by Democratic pundits.  It was as if they had no talking points beyond Kerry’s service in Viet Nam.   


            I support John Kerry because, along the continuum of sucking up to corporations, he is more committed to people than Bush is.  He would do better.  He would not do as well as Ralph in these areas, but he would do better.  I hope he finds his winning strategy in time, and I hope a majority of us likely voters remember how much we believe that we are going in the wrong direction, that we were mislead into a war that distracts us from waging war against real terrorists, that we are losing our buying power, our benefits and our children’s future to a band of thieves.  I will always love Ralph and support him for his uncompromising advocacy for consumers like us.  He is not a spoiler, he is making us more honest with ourselves, and we should applaud him for that.  . 


            We are getting poorer, yet shouldering a greater percent of the tax burden.  We are losing health care benefits, our education system is turning into a factory of teaching kids how to pass tests, our environment in being sacrificed, and we are less safe.  And for all that, a majority of people want to give Bush 4 more years.  Go figure.  They only need to listen to Ralph for an hour to see how ridiculous this is. 


Bill Gazitano