A few days ago I knew hardly anything about Ralph Nader. He ran for president once and did something for cars, right? But the more I read about him, the more I like him. He seems like a human. Someone I could support, someone I could argue for, someone I could believe in.

Jay Rosen points out that Václav Havel, the Czech dissident who became President when the revolution came, said this:

We can see this in political language, where cliche often squeezes out a personal tone. And when a personal tone does crop up, it is usually calculated, not an outburst of personal authenticity.

A politician must become a person again, someone who trusts not only a scientific representation and analysis of the world, but also the world itself. He must believe not only in sociological statistics, but also in real people. He must trust not only an objective interpretation of reality, but also his own soul; not only an adopted ideology, but also his own thoughts; not only the summary reports he receives each morning, but also his own feeling.

What if Nader could be our Havel? Not only in his humanity, but in his dissent. Nader spent decades as a dissident, going through our government rooting out corruption by publicizng it. What if he was on the inside? What if he had not only the access, but the soapbox? The critic taking the reins! That would be a real President. That would be a real change.

Politics would become interesting again. People would get involved. Voters would come to the polls. Nader’s started dozens of organizations on his own. He’s gotten people interested in their government, working to improve it. Imagine if he got the country to do the same.

We’ve been so starved for years that politicians have almost become a second class. Sure, they’ll shake hands and kiss babies and show up at fundraisers, but listen to us? Ha! They listen to polls perhaps, but not people. They’ll do just enough to get by. And when we’re not looking they give subsidies to their campaign contributors and ignore the issues we care about until it’s time to spout platitudes about families and values and social security again.

What if we could change all that?

What if we had a chance to vote for someone who did what they thought was right, what their heart said, who tried to get people actually involved in watching government and pointing out its corruption and cronyism? Someone who tried to do things for us, to clear away the morass of laws and exceptions and nonsense to do things that actually benefitted our lives.

What if we had a president who didn’t think the little things were enough? Who would house the homeless, feed the hungry, give health care to all, simplify the tax code, make our lives safer, our air and water cleaner, our elections fairer, our news better?

Wouldn’t you try to support that man? Shouldn’t you support Ralph Nader?

As I said, I’m new here. I’m just learning about this guy, and if I’m crazy, tell me. But it seems to me, if there was a chance we could have this guy, we should fight to take it.

posted November 19, 2003 08:17 PM (Politics) #


People With Better Birthday Presents Than Me
Movie Reviews (Kill Bill, Matrix Revolutions)
Nip/Tuck: The Best Drama on TV
Nader for America
Nader for Geeks
Nader for Activists
The Procrastination Paradox
This American Life on Voting and Politics
Eldred Argument: You. Are. There.
Eye Exercises

Aaron Swartz (me@aaronsw.com)