What are the democrats afraid of?
DNC: Nader calls for inclusion in debates
Third party candidates and celebrities urge voters to follow their core values
“Spoiler? Who has spoiled America more than the Democrats and Republicans and their corporate masters?”
Ralph Nader posed this question to an estimated 4,000 supporters who gathered in the University of Denver’s Magness Arena for a rally on Wednesday night. The consumer crusader and serial candidate for president was referring to the 2000 election when George Bush was determined to have won the presidential election over Al Gore by 537 votes; Nader received nearly 100,000 votes nationwide, and rightly or wrongly has suffered the blame for the Bush administration’s eight years in power ever since.
The “spoiler” label is as much a part of Nader’s persona as his overgrown eyebrows, his grumpy countenance and his continued crusade against what he calls the “two-party duopoly” of the American political system. Nader’s presence in Denver — while Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden was accepting the nomination across town at the Pepsi Center — was to argue for the presidential debates to include not just Barack Obama and John McCain, but him other third party candidates, including Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party and Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party. The lengthy program included speeches by Nader campaign worker Ashley Sanders, Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello, actor Sean Penn, anti-war activist and senatorial candidate Cindy Sheehan and Green Party vice-presidential candidate Rosa Clemente.
Nader focused on the what he called the “corporate crime” that he believes is ravaging America and ruining its political system.
“The politicians in charge—indentured to their corporate pay masters—are pushing through legislation that the American people disagree with,” he said. “This is not a democracy by even a weak measure.”
While Nader said he supports the Democrats’ positions on civil and human rights, he also believes that the biggest thing that Democrats and Republicans have in common is “the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when corporate interests knock on their door.”
Nader’s speech was the highlight of a program focused on the theme of inclusion and choice as well as action.
Sanders said that too many progressives are more concerned with making changes that are safe than with making changes that are necessary. The responsibility to change lies with individuals, not policymakers in Washington, D.C., she said.
“What movement has ever succeeded that stands around and waits for Washington to pull a rabbit out of a hat?” she said.
She added that the American public has been on the verge of great change in elections before, and that they have failed to make the correct choices.
“What year will you decide that your government is your representative and not your master?” she asked
Penn, the actor and filmmaker, said he has not yet made a choice as to who to vote for in November, but he believes that it is un-American for the Democrats and Republicans to restrict the debates.
Rosa Clemente, the Puerto Rican and African-American Brooklyn-born vice presidential candidate for the Green Party, who has been in Denver all week to support the multiple protests in Civic Center Park and elsewhere, preached unity for third party candidates, at least in regards to the fight for debate participation.
Cindy Sheehan, the outspoken antiwar activist, took the stage to raucous applause. During her speech, Sheehan called President Bush “a boil on the ass of democracy” and said that getting rid of a boil would be easy; it’s revitalizing the democracy that is the challenge for everyone with America’s best interests at heart. Sheehan, who is challenging Nancy Pelosi for her Senate seat in the San Francisco area, also asserted that “if you, Nancy Pelosi, allow a debate (between all candidates in our district), it will be a landslide for Sheehan!” She also addressed the concern that many potential third-party voters have, that a vote for a third party candidate is a waste.
“If you vote for Obama or McCain, you are throwing away your vote … have the courage to allow alternative visions,” she urged the crowd.
That message has been at the core of Nader’s various campaigns for years. He urged young voters in the crowd to exercise their right to vote and asked them to stay true to their core values when they head to the polls
“It is better to vote for someone you believe in and lose,” he said, “than vote for someone you don’t believe in and win, because they will surely betray you.”