Schlag Byte, December 4, 2000, "Ralph Nader"

I had addressed the Community Hospice of upstate New York and was departing the Albany airport to go to Washington D.C. As I slowly scrunch into my emergency aisle seat, I see Ralph Nader walking down to take the seat directly opposite me. This is the second week after the election and Ralph is a despised man among Democrats and Liberals who hold him responsible for giving away the election to Bush. People shake his hand, he signs autographs and after we are airborne, I lean over and say "I want to congratulate you for your courage in running because a lot of old friends are going to treat you like a leper." He laughed and we schmoozed. He said people will point the finger at him but none of them will wonder why he couldn't win his home state, or West Virginia, New Hampshire, or why he waited so long to campaign seriously in Florida. He said he ran because he wanted to give people a choice about what they heard and then differentiate between what was real and what was make-believe.He wasn't allowed to participate in the debates, he said, because only two parties have the funds to buy the media coverage, they determine what gets heard.

Ralph wanted to talk about "posterity," a word we didn't hear much anymore, even though the framers of the Constitution used it all the time. Our interests are more immediate nowadays. Big money determines the agenda; furthermore, he said the two parties were the same because both answered to the same corporate interests.

I'm sorry the conversation wasn't taped, it was pretty intense, but not without humor. I like Ralph Nader, I respect the courage of his convictions, intellect and his advocacy for ordinary people. I had hoped he would get 5% of the vote so he'd qualify for the funds to get heard.

It's also true that he cost Gore the election. The Voters News Service surveyed voters as they left the polls and found that 48% of those who voted for Nader said Gore was their second choice, only 21% said Bush was their second choice. If Nader hadn't been on the ballot in Florida, Gore would have gotten 46,482 of Nader's 96,837 votes and Bush would have gotten 20,336. This would have given Gore more than 26,000 votes and the victory.

Ralph Nader has done what no third party candidate has done since Teddy Roosevelt in 1912. He has clearly affected the outcome of a presidential election.

via eMail, Tue, 5 Dec 2000 11:50:33 -0700