by John Battista
Thanks to "spoiler" coverage, voters are led to believe that Nader is a fringe candidate. Interestingly, Nader's positions are in accord with Americans more than those of Gore or Bush.
Nader supports reforming political campaigns by eliminating soft money and corporate contributions, increasing public financing, and opening debates to all ballot qualifying candidates. These positions resonate with most Americans but are inconsistent with the bundled corporate millions fueling Bush and Gore as they oppose open debates.
Nader supports universal health care now, through establishing a Canadian style system in the United States. Repeated polls have shown 60 to 75% of Americans support this position and repeated studies have predicted it would save hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Yet, universal health care now is not the agenda of Bush or Gore, who seek only piecemeal, cost increasing reforms such as prescription benefits for seniors and improved patient rights.
Nader supports increasing the political power of citizens and decreasing the political power of corporations, including ending corporate welfare. He harmonizes with the vast majority of Americas who feel they don't influence elected officials enough, while corporations influence them too much. Bush and Gore are fully involved in the "Corporate Contract On America" and the corporate welfare system. Billionaire Richard Rainwater, who made Bush rich by hiring him as the managing partner of the Texas Rangers and awarding him a 12.2 million bonus when the team was sold, was the biggest winner in Bush's 45 million dollar Texas oil tax break. Gore, major stock holder in Occidental Petroleum, orchestrated the bargain basement sale of our nation's oil reserve to Occidental, and lobbied for aid to Columbia to protect Occidental's drilling on sacred U'wa land against the tribe's opposition.
Nader is a well known advocate of fair trade, social justice and worker's rights. He opposes most favored trading status with China, opposes the WTO/IMF/World Bank, seeks to increase the minimum wage to a livable wage, and supports strong international standards on environmental pollution and worker's rights. A recent USA Today poll revealed these positions are favored by more Americans than not. However, these positions are opposed by Bush and Gore who support permanent free trade with China, where labor unions are illegal, air pollution is worst in the world, and sweat shop/child labor is common. This is part of Bush and Gore's support for the WTO which undercuts environmental protections, worker's rights, and American jobs. Moreover, their parties, although revealing thirty three cents worth of difference, both seek a minimum wage below any livability standard.
Nader supports strong environmental laws and consumer protections, increased public transportation, taxes on pollution and sprawl, plus increased funding for alternative energy. These positions accord with American sentiment but are inconsistent with Bush's opposition to stricter air quality controls for Texas, the number one state in ozone depleting emissions, toxic chemical releases, and environmental justice complaints. As Vice-President, Mr. "Global Warming" Gore failed to support the phase out of hydrofluorocarbon and methybromide, well known ozone depleting, global warming chemicals and silently watched over regressions in American environmental and consumer protections while brow-beating South Africans for pharmaceutical companies.
Nader seeks to increase social justice spending by decreasing military spending. He would decrease the military budget by withdrawing American troops from Europe, ending military support for oppressive governments, not funding the Star Wars shield, and lifting sanctions on Iraq. These common sense positions have not been polled to my knowledge but certainly are supported by more of the population than say they will vote for Nader. These positions are opposed by Bush and Gore who seek to increase or maintain the military budget and fund the Star Wars shield.
So why doesn't Nader lead in the polls? The reason is simple, voters don't believe he can win. As William Rhodes put it after hearing Nader at the NAACP conference, "I agreed with 110 percent of everything Mr. Nader said. He would make a good president. But he's not going to get as many votes as the big boys and I don't want to throw my vote away."
Mr. Rhodes' attitude is an indictment of our electoral system, especially since instant runoff voting, part of Nader's Green Party platform would solve the "wasted vote" problem. If Nader can rouse the non-voters to vote and convince the rest of us to vote our beliefs instead of what pundits and polls tell us, then he will not only lead in the polls, he'll win.
John R. Battista, M.D.
Connecticut Delegate, Green Party National Convention
Coordinator, Connecticut Coalition For Universal Health Care
New Milford, Connecticut