Scott Cavanagh
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Left owes Nader thanks, not scorn

Monday, February 25, 2008

By Scott Cavanagh
Since his recent announcement that he would run—for a third time—for president, legendary consumer advocate Ralph Nader has taken quite a pounding from most everybody on the left. Although I do concede (despite Nader’s arguments to the contrary) that his 2000 campaign cost Al Gore Florida and that his legacy as the champion of consumers and regular citizens has been somewhat tarnished by his continued quest for an unattainable political prize, I take issue with those that belittle the accomplishments of someone I consider a personal hero.

The 2000 race dimmed Nader's star, but it would not have been so had the shortsighted Democrats embraced his progressive ideas during the early parts of that election season. Now Barack Obama has not found time to meet with Nader for even one hour, despite Ralph’s repeated requests for just a few moments to discuss issues facing today's consumer in this age of unprecedented corporate greed and avarice—requests that began over a year ago.

It is important to understand that Ralph Nader has not just done some good for some people. He is THE reason we have seat belts and air bags in our cars, safety caps on our RX bottles and safe toys for our children. This is a great man—a man that has done more for everyday Americans than the past seven presidents combined, and disrespecting him is shameful.
Has he caused some candidates on the left a few uncomfortable moments when pointing out fights they have avoided waging over the past few decades? Of course, but is Nader not correct when he says that the Democrats have virtually BECOME Republicans over the past 30 years?
Is he not correct when he points out that the Dems' willingness to abandon all core values in favor of becoming "Republican Light" has eroded their base beliefs so badly that Republicans can just treat "liberal" as a dirty word with a majority of the electorate? Are all realistic progressives not in simple agreement with Ralph that when politicians talk about Social Security solvency and what we must sacrifice in benefits or higher premiums to protect it, they do so knowing that the entire system could easily be made secure by simply cutting loopholes that allow American companies to set up post office boxes in tax-friendly foreign locales to avoid paying billions?

Both Republicans and Democrats let well-established charades like that go on and on. A Nader administration would work to end them immediately--and would call Congress out on them every day. Every single day Nader would use that bully pulpit to fight for us. Is that what Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer have been doing for the past two years? Is that the party you deserve? We deserve better and Ralph knows it.

Would Ralph Nader have supported NAFTA, or GATT, or the Bankruptcy Bill, or the Patriot Act, amnesty for Big Brother or anything to do with war in Iraq? Of course not. He's Ralph Nader. He's not for sale--thank God.

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