DENVER—“America is not the First World. America is not the Third World. America is the Fourth World, the richest country with the poorest people.” These are Ralph Nader’s words. He spoke to 4,000 people at the Magness Arena at the University of Colorado in Denver. He is running for President with Matt Gonzalez for Vice President.
His motive is to open the debates to third party and independent candidates, and to change restrictive ballot laws which block poorly funded candidates.
“The only difference between the two parties is the speed with which their knees hit the floor when their corporate overlords come knocking,” thundered Nader.
“Everything we love about America came from third parties,” he said. “Abolition of slavery, The First Amendment…” He is impatient with those who stand apart from the political process, who feel they can’t make a difference, so why try, or who feel that politics is dirty.
Six powerless women met in Seneca Falls to demand women have the vote. Industrial interests did not want women to have the vote. They knew women would end child labor, which was profitable then, just as shipping our jobs to communist or fascist dictatorships is profitable today, said Nader. Those suffragists had no power; they took power, just as Americans must take power today.
The majority of Americans want everything he wants for the country, said Nader. Those things are free universal health care, an end to the bloated and corruption-prone defense budget, an end to torture, restoring the Constitution and an end to corporate control of our government.
America is the only Western democracy with a “pay or die medical system” and that is a mark of shame on America, he said.
At the end of World War Two, Europe was destroyed, with cities and fields in shambles. Fifty years later the people of Europe are ahead of us in wages, have affordable or free university education, have universal health care, good pensions, and four or five vacation weeks per year. They have that because the people demanded it, and they were able to demand it because of proportional representation and third parties and open ballots.
Nader challenged the audience to demand changes from their representatives, to make phone calls to their congressmen and senators asking that he, Matt Gonzalez, Cynthia McKinney, Bob Barr and Ron Paul be allowed to debate John McCain and Barack Obama.
He proposed a new motto, “Instead of ‘Yes we can’ say, ‘we will decide!’” and he led the 4,000 in a few booming rounds of “We will decide!”
Ralph Nader has been an activist for forty years. His work led to seat belts in cars and to the Freedom of Information Act, among many other things. He is the author of Unsafe at Any Speed and the subject of An Unreasonable Man.