Choosing the last man to die
By Ahmed Amr
"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam - How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" John Kerry in his 1971 appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
We have all been weaned on the belief that Republicans and Democrats have hereditary entitlements to the keys of the White House. Third party candidates are viewed as idealistic serfs just a little premature in seeking emancipation.
Reasonable men can agree that elections are messy divisive affairs that sap the nation's energy, turn brother against brother, increase the divorce rate and interrupt regular programming. Common decency demands that we avoid inflicting the burden of a third party candidate on the American public. After all, it would only serve to confuse them.
Because of the wisdom of restricting our choices to two parties with indistinguishable platforms, it is now considered perfectly legitimate for Democratic partisans to focus their energies on sabotaging the emergence of any real alternative.
This election season, the Kerry camp is sparing no effort to prevent Nader's name from appearing on the ballot. Nader's detractors insist that because he can't win, he shouldn't be allowed to run. If one accepts that argument, it follows that Carter should have conceded to Reagan in July and left the Republicans to stage a Soviet style referendum in September. And McGovern should have extended the same courtesy to Nixon in 1972.
Anti-Nader smear campaigners now entertain us with a ghastly tale of a demon named Ralph who endangers the nation with an 'ego' problem and is nothing but a spoiler. Take a close look. What exactly is left to spoil on the Democratic Party shelves? Are we supposed to drool over one last can of stale worms?
If Nader doesn't have a big ego, he should get an ego transplant. His supporters should also consider overdosing on ego enhancement pills and retain the courage and assertiveness to vote for their first choice - Ralph. To fight the good fight against both Democrats and Republicans, we need audacious activists fortified with passion, vision, stamina and yes - bloated egos.
It is no secret that Nader is unlikely to come up with the funds to defend himself against Kerry's anti-democratic tactics. To further handicap Ralph's media exposure, the Democratic Party is using its considerable influence in the media to guarantee that pundits will systematically ignore Nader's message. Notice how they fail to mention that Nader is the only candidate in this race whose military service is not clouded by controversy.
Thanks to Kerry's Machiavellian intrigues, Ralph Nader remains uninvited to the presidential debates, which have become exclusive affairs restricted to the brand name nominees. In the 2000 campaign, even Nader's passive presence was deemed a threat to Al Gore's prospects. Accordingly, they confiscated his ticket at the door.
With only a few weeks before the elections, the only thing going for Nader is his platform, which promises to pave a very short path to the City on a Hill. One doesn't need a Ph.D. in political science to realize that Ralph is offering Americans what they've always wanted: Peace, security, prosperity, universal health care, a healthy environment, a fair and rational tax code, alternative energy and an educational system second to none.
If a candidate were to be judged on the strength of his platform, Nader would be the designated man to beat. Yet, his numbers in the polls are still in the low single digits.
Which begs a whole series of questions: why is it that sane voters of the adult persuasion consistently abandon the presidential contestant most likely to deliver clean government and a responsible corporate culture? What exactly will it take for Americans to exercise their inalienable right to throw the bums out of office when they don't deliver the goods?
As members of a very prosperous society, why shirk from our obligation to provide a safety net for the weakest of our brothers and sisters? What is so wrong with voting for the candidate most likely to demonstrate our good will to the rest of the planet, enhance our national security and improve our reputation and moral standing in the world?
Why does the peace movement refuse to wave the banner of the peace candidate? Why can't we see the obvious - that the Peace Party can very easily become a majority party? In fact, we may already be a majority.
Perhaps the greatest success of the two ruling parties has been their ability to project themselves as the only institutions with major constituencies. As a result, peace partisans have internalized their status as a fringe movement. We have become a minority in our own minds. Many of us sit at home frustrated in the 'knowledge' that we're the very last peaceniks on the planet. A casual head count of your neighbors, relatives and friends should convince you otherwise. Just take a look around you. How many war rallies do you see?
On the issues of peace and justice, Nader is no fringe candidate. In fact, peace is the single issue most likely to appeal to both liberals and conservatives.
Moving on to the economic front. Why does the labor movement ignore the fact that unions have been emasculated to the point where they only represent one in ten wage earners? Why aren't they actively campaigning for the one candidate who promises to make the minimum wage a living wage? Are conservatives any less concerned about the outsourcing of jobs to slave wage foreign markets? Why do we forget that Perot and Buchanan were the first to warn against the detrimental effects of globalism?
Does any American consumer have doubts about who will best protect their interests? As consumers searching for the best deal on the political landscape - aren't we entitled to an objective comparison of which candidate offers the best value for our vote? At the very least, shouldn't we insist that Nader be given an opportunity to pitch his political platform? We already know what the two Yale candidates offer - an unhealthy stew made of skulls and bones. Aren't we entitled to take a few peeks at the Princeton candidate?
On every issue, Nader is the candidate whose agenda is best suited to serve the interests of the average American. If you were just voting on health care, who should rank as your first choice? If you are seriously concerned about the environment and want tangible progress on alternative energy, Nader should earn your vote. Here again, the Peace Party will find many Republicans and conservatives who are just as green as liberals and progressives.
If you still have an egalitarian spirit, which candidate will stand up for the common man while living in the luxury of the White House? If you are an unashamed progressive who tattoos the 'P' word on your forehead, why waste your vote on Kerry, the nominated prince of the other right wing party? If you are a conservative who doesn't like corporate corruption or a government that is servile to a foreign lobby, why not show your patriotic stuff and vote for an American who will refuse to put Israel and Enron first?
Who is committed to honoring the constitution - Nader or Ashcroft? If you want your kids to have the best education, answer just one question: which candidate will make a concerted effort to recruit the best teachers with attractive wages to guarantee that the most qualified Americans are building the next greatest generation? If you want to show our generosity of spirit, why not lift up the weakest among us and do it in a manner that preserves their personal dignity?
Do you want a president who can pay for this bill of goods without picking your pocket? Which candidate will prevent tax revenues from being siphoned off by Haliburton and other corporations who have abandoned the habit of paying their fair share of the tax burden? Who is more likely to permanently exile special interest groups from the temples of power? Which candidate promises to be tight wad with every last dime of your tax dollar? In short, who will cut the pork and deliver the beef?
Kerry has yet to articulate how he would shore up the domestic front. He insists on projecting himself as a conservative and avoids any mention of strengthening the labor movement, increasing the minimum wage or providing a safety net that would alleviate the hardships of the poorest among us. If Kerry has ever mentioned the need to raise the salaries of teachers, he made sure to do it in hushed tones. On health care, he will do the Clinton thing - promise you the moon and shower you with dust from Mars.
It is John Kerry who is an imposter and a major league spoiler. He offers the peace camp a one item agenda: Anybody but Bush. Which says next to nothing about Kerry - who remains a staunch supporter of the invasion of Iraq. He is already promising four more years of occupation.
Kerry has no right to ensnare the Peace Party's partisans with scare tactics and smear campaigns. He could demonstrate a little dignity by saving his energies for a fair and honorable competition with Bush on how best to conduct an illegal war. Let the War Party faithful determine whether Kerry would make better choices in picking the last man to die for the mistakes in Iraq.
Ahmed Amr is the editor of NileMedia.com. This article may be published and distributed at will. Readers are encouraged to circulate it.
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