Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Letter: Small voice, big impact, by Gregory Kafoury

The editorial on Ralph Nader was as thoughtless as it was shallow ("Vanity, thy name is Ralph Nader," The Daily Astorian, March 3). Historically, the great progressive advances in our politics have originated with third parties and independent candidacies. The abolition of slavery, the trade union movement, women's suffrage, Social Security - all these and more were promoted by small parties whose core ideas were eventually adopted by one of the main parties. Since major parties are inherently conservative, small parties serve the purpose of generating new ideas. The suppression of independent candidacies and small parties is nothing less than the suppression of new ideas. This is true whether it is accomplished by stacking conventions, harassing petition gatherers or filing bogus lawsuits - as we saw with the Democratic party here in Oregon in 2004 - or whether it is done by scorn and ridicule, as in the March 3 editorial. By the way, this nonsense about Nader being ego-driven originated with a squad of Gloria Steinem-types who were sent by Al Gore in 2000 to suppress the Nader vote. Unable to take him on on the issues, they all parroted the same line, that Nader was all about ego. If you read Nader's book about the 2000 election, you will notice that unlike virtually every other political memoir, the author almost never talks about himself. He talks about events, issues and the struggle of people to gather themselves together to take control of their own fate. Why is it so difficult for the editor to accept that Nader runs so that he can discuss such issues as single-payer health care, major reductions in the defense budget, a Marshall Plan for the cities, ending the drug war and the resistance to corporate domination? If any person in America has earned the right to be taken seriously, and to be debated on their own terms, surely it is Ralph Nader.

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