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2000-06-26

Ralph Nader

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Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader says that things will be different if he wins the White House, and he says that has the two major parties worried. The first order of business: Reform the political process. [includes rush transcript]

Nader, a longtime consumer advocate, easily won the Green Party’s nomination at its convention in Denver yesterday. His vice-presidential running mate is Winona LaDuke, an Ojibwe activist from the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.

As president, Nader said he would target the military brass, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Congress and the State Department. Nader wants the Pentagon to stop its obsession with missile defense programs and focus on infectious diseases as national threats; wants to renegotiate trade agreements, especially with the World Trade Organization and wants Congress to listen to the voters instead of corporations.

Nader also said mainstream politics are moving toward Green Party values. He believes he has the chance to win elections and force the Democrats and Republicans to listen to his issues.

Well, today we bring you the acceptance speech that Nader gave this weekend at the Green Party convention in Denver.

Tape:

  • Ralph Nader, accepting the Green Party nomination for president.

Related link:

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

GREEN PARTY REP.: The proud State of Mississippi, home to the Freedom Hills Green Party of North Mississippi, the Jackson Greens and Nader activists galore, whose air is sweet with magnolia and honeysuckle perfume, come to you with a brief history lesson of national import. It took a major grassroots effort to overcome intransigent elected officials who fought to maintain a status quo of racial oppression in the 1960s. Today, a new generation of officials, led by former Ole Miss cheerleader, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, are doling out corporate welfare, blocking campaign finance reform and keeping the minimum wage at poverty levels.

Senator Lott, the American people do care about campaign finance reform! Mississippians are, in the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, "sick and tired of being sick and tired." Tired of poverty! Tired of hunger! Tired of preventable disease! Our needs are not being met! Grassroots efforts have overcome your type before. Your time is gonna come. We proudly cast our two votes for Ralph Nader.

AMY GOODMAN: Yesterday at the Green Party convention in Denver, Colorado, Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader accepted his party’s nomination. He said things will be different if he wins the White House, and he says he has the two major parties worried. The first order of business: reform the political process. Nader, a longtime consumer advocate, easily won the Green Party’s nomination at its convention in Denver yesterday. His vice presidential running mate is Winona LaDuke, an Ojibwe activist from the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.

As President, Nader said he would target the military brass, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Congress and the State Department. He wants the Pentagon to stop its obsession with missile defense programs and focus on infectious diseases as national security threats. He said he wants to renegotiate trade agreements, especially the World Trade Organization, and wants Congress to listen to the voters instead of corporations.

He launched a blistering attack against Republicans, Democrats, Congress, corporate America and the commission that sets the rules for presidential debates. Nader also said mainstream politics is moving toward Green Party values and that he believes he has the chance to win the election and force the Democrats and Republicans to listen to his issues.

Today we’ll bring you the acceptance speech of Ralph Nader this weekend at the Green Party convention in Denver. Ralph Nader:

RALPH NADER: On behalf of all Americans who seek a new direction, who yearn for a new birth of freedom to build the just society, who see justice as the great work of human beings on earth, who understand that community and human fulfillment are mutually self-enforcing, who respect the urgent necessity to wage peace, to protect the environment, to end poverty and to preserve values of the spirit for future generations, who wish to build a deep democracy by working hard for a regenerative progressive politics, to all these citizens and the Green vanguard, I welcome and am honored to accept your nomination for President of the United States. Thank you.

The Green Party stands for a nation and a world that consciously advances the practice of this deep democracy, a deep democracy that facilitates people’s best efforts to achieve social justice, a sustainable and bountiful environment and an end to systematic bigotry and discrimination against people just because they’re different.

Green goals place community and — community and self-reliance over dependency on ever larger and more absentee giant corporations with their technology and capital and influence over so many governments and government policies. Green goals aim at preserving the commonwealth of assets that the people of the United States already own so that people, not big business, control what they own and use these vast resources on the public lands and the public airwaves, trillions of worker pension dollars, to achieve healthier environments, healthier communities, healthier people, and to establish a trusteeship for these resources on behalf of future generations.

These goals are not just Green goals. If we get down to the level of everyday life, they’re also goals by many authentic conservatives — not corporatists, authentic conservatives. Don’t conservatives, in contrast to corporatists, want movement toward a safe environment where their children can breathe clean air and drink clean water? Don’t they want to end corporate welfare, the diversion of their tax dollars to undeserving large corporations? Don’t they want to oppose and do something about the commercialization of childhood? Don’t conservatives also want a voice to achieve a fair marketplace, one that responds to their own health needs and the integrity of their own savings?

Let us not in this campaign prejudge any voters, for Green values are majoritarian values. They’re more than that. Green values respect all peoples and all strivings that give greater rights to all voters, workers, individual taxpayers and consumers. And as with the right of free speech — and this is central — we may not agree with others, but we will defend their right to free speech as strongly as we do for ourselves. And that ultimate Green value is the value of universality, respecting all peoples’ rights to participate in power, to shape their own communities, countries, world.

Earlier this year, I decided to seek your nomination, because the obstacles blocking readymade solutions — and this country has far more problems than it deserves and far more solutions than it applies — the obstacles, the obstacles to our society’s injustices, just have to be overcome. Feelings of powerlessness and the withdrawal of massive numbers of Americans from both civic and political arenas are deeply troubling to all of us. This situation has to be addressed by a fresh political movement, one that arises from the citizens’ labors, resources and dreams — in that order — dreams about what America could become at long last.

The worsening concentration of global corporate power and its enormous manifestations in concentrating political power to serve them has turned that government, there, our government here, very frequently against their own peoples, denying these peoples their sovereignty to shape their own future. Again and again, the will of the people has been thwarted, and the will and the voice of the people to protect their interests and to protest has been muted.

In the past, citizens who had participated in this country’s social justice movements faced steep concentration of power and overcame them. It’s always good to dwell a little bit on the past, because it gives us motivation. The sources of civic motivation come very often from the heroics of our forbearers. Common themes occur from the Revolution of 1776 against King George III’s empire to the anti-slavery drives and the women’s suffrage movements of the nineteenth century; to the farmers’ revolt against the big banks and the big insurance companies and the big railroads that began in the late nineteenth century; to the trade union, civil rights, environmental and consumer protection initiatives of the twentieth century, culminating in the demands for equity by Americans who are discriminated against according — discriminated against due to their race, gender, creed, tribal status, class, disability or sexual preference.

What do all these have in common? All these movements took on excessive power, pressed for relinquishment or sharing of this power, despite vigorous opposition by elements of the dominant business community. Many years were lost to the resolution of these injustices before justice began to prevail and corporate power receded.

However, when citizens won, and Tory merchants in the Revolutionary War lost, when citizens won and cotton slave holders lost, and corporations were compelled to share that power with the people they oppressed or excluded, America was a better place as a result. America became more beautiful. Moreover, the companies behaved better and then — the irony of our political economy — actually prospered more.

And this is really the theme that we need to emphasize as we go out around the country in these next few months, to shift the power. It’s extremely critical to a democratic society, and Louis Brandeis said it best, a 1941 Justice of the Supreme Court. He said, "We can have a democratic society, or we can have the concentration of great wealth in the hands of the few. We cannot have both."

Over the past twenty years, starting around 1979, we have seen the resurgence of big business power, after having to give up a little in the 1960s and ’70s to the various populous movements, such as consumer, environmental, human rights, civil rights. This power has generated its own brand of wreckage: propaganda and ultimatums on American labor, consumers, taxpayers and, most generically, American voters. Big business has been colliding with American democracy, and American democracy has been losing on all too many fronts.

The results of this democracy gap are everywhere to be observed by those who suffer these results and by those who employ people’s yardsticks to measure the quality of the economy, not corporate yardsticks, people yardsticks.

It’s quite interesting, looking back on the last twenty years, corporations have been very demanding of our government, and they’ve got almost all their demands. They demanded lesser law enforcement, which they called deregulation, and they got it. They demanded more tax shelters, and they got it. They demanded forgiveness of the debts that they owed Uncle Sam, and they got it. They demanded that Uncle Sam subsidize and bail them out and transfer all kinds of medical knowledge and natural resources free to these companies, and they got it. They demanded an expansion of the receptivity by political officials to political action committee money, cash, campaigns, and they got it. They’ve gone from 400 political action committees in 1974 to 9,000 today. They demanded that the governments in office not be pro-labor, if anything turn their back on labor, they got it. Being pro-labor is almost a taboo phrase in Washington, D.C.

Now, what did we get in return for that? They got almost everything they wanted, and here’s what we got in return: an even greater furtherance of their greed and their desire to impose more controls and more corporate regulation over the people of this country.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader accepting the Green Party nomination yesterday in Denver, Colorado. We’ll continue with his acceptance speech in just a minute, here on Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now!

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now!, the Exception to the Rulers. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return now to the acceptance speech of Ralph Nader, nominated yesterday by the Green Party to run for President of the United States.

RALPH NADER: Over the next four-and-a-half months, this campaign must challenge the campaigns — this campaign must challenge the campaigns of the Bush and Gore duopoly in every locality running with the people, not as Bush and Gore do — not as Bush and Gore do, parading around the country looking for photo opportunities and staged events.

When Americans go to work, they may wonder about these injustices, and it’s time to put them on the table, because they’re part of everyday life. Everyday life. Tomorrow morning, millions of Americans will go to work. Many of them will wonder who’s going take care of their elderly parents, who’s going to take care of their children, how can they afford it. They’ll go to work irritated by the endless traffic jams, coming from a horribly imbalanced transportation system [inaudible]. They’ll arrive at work knowing, for the most part, that they can be fired at the end of the day, that their rights are stifled in the workplace, their personal privacies can be invaded.

They go back into the market to shop for the evening’s meal, and they see how many ways they can be ripped off. They can be ripped off by unscrupulous sellers, large companies and pharmaceutical firms.

They try to address their own grievance, and they call the telephone number of the bank or HMO or their government agency and city hall, and they get put on hold, don’t they? And they are told, "Press one, press two, press three." And you know how much of life is just spent listening to those recorded announcements and how they treasure your patronage, but, oh, the employees are serving others like you. And then often they put music on, and billions of hours are wasted that could be used for other things. All this in a modern telecommunications society, I might add. And then — and then you don’t get an answer to your question very often. You get people who specialize in telling you "no" in all kinds of polite and sweet ways. There are times at night when I’m working late, and I want to listen to classical music. I dial United Airlines. Can’t we even get our local, state and national governments and our corporations to answer our phone with a human being? Ah, no.

Continue on the daily life of millions of Americans. They’re beset by worries about how to pay for healthcare, and they can’t afford it. And then they — when they do get the healthcare, they have to spend hours figuring out the bills, which are often in code and are overlapping from different services.

And then they wonder about how little time they have in their frenzied life for children, family, friends, community, civic activities, and they’re overcome often by the sheer ugliness of commercial strips and sprawls and incessantly saturating advertisements. I confess that I think if some of these companies could develop the technology, they’d plant those logos right on your eyeballs.

People daily are repelled by the voyeurism of the mass media — that doesn’t even need explanation — and the commercialization of childhood. They’re upset at the rejection of the wisdom of our elders and our forebears, as if it’s old-fashioned, it’s not up to date, it’s not modern. They’re anxious over the ways your tax dollars are being misused. They’re feeling that there needs to be more to life than the desperate rat race to make ends meet and an ever ending process of going deeper and deeper into consumer debt.

Well, for all people who do experience these things, do think about becoming a part of a progressive movement of Greens, of this citizen campaign to change the political economy, so that healthy environments, healthy communities and healthy people become its overwhelming reason for being.

Now, look at Europe and what it has accomplished since 1946. Some of the Western European governments have provided all their citizens with healthcare coverage; comprehensive daycare; other services for children that we can only dream about; labor laws which facilitate the organization of trade unions; a statutory social wage for all workers, whether their unionized or not, which provide one month paid vacation, retention of pay while caring for sick family members, adequate pensions, other services. Why can’t we? If they can do it — if they can — if Scandinavia and France and Germany and the Benelux countries and others, if they can do it in the 1950s and 1960s, why can’t the richest country in the world do it in the year 2000?

In the year 2000, most workers in our country don’t have these basic rights. In fact, just last week the World Health Organization ranked our healthcare system as thirty-seventh in the world in the terms of quality healthcare, and part of that was because there are about forty-seven million people in this country who don’t have healthcare insurance to begin with. This is not only embarrassing; it’s unacceptable.

Western European countries now are full of their own corporations who are being tutored by our corporations on how to rip apart the safety net. And I asked the many Greens in this audience, from the European countries who have graced us with their presence, that to fight that inundation of coarseness and with every ounce of strength that they have.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, we need to collectively understand these inequities so that many of our citizens can translate this understanding into a demand for solutions. The problem is that so many of these inequities have become normalized, they’ve become institutionalized. That’s just the way it is. That’s the way the ball bounces. Que sera sera. And that’s what we have to overcome, because if people’s expectation levels are pressed downward, they will accept more and more injustices, because of their very powerlessness and their very feeling that they can’t make a difference, that together they can’t become part of the sovereignty of the people to shape the future of their lives and the future of our country.

A collective understanding must distinguish between the people’s yardsticks of where we’re at in this country about the quality of our economy, not corporate yardsticks. Consider business money in politics, which overpowers labor money by eleven dollars to one dollar. Corruption reaches new peaks every two years and further nullifies our own vote, what the voting franchise should be all about.

What about the bragging that we hear from Washington and Wall Street about the economy’s nearly ten straight years of great performance? Well, let’s look at how it affects regular people in this country by applying people’s yardsticks. A very different picture emerges, does it not? A very different picture, because the benefits of this boom have accrued to the wealthier families, to the top three, two, one percent in inordinate proportion.

And here are the people’s yardsticks. And we should look at these conditions as a motivation for change, not as a depressing spectacle of what we have all allowed to happen. People always say, "You know, all these depressing facts, they discourage us." Let me tell you something, I can’t understand that attitude. To me when I hear about or study or document injustice, it just motivates me. But that’s maybe because I’m not into mood changes, and I hope you aren’t either.

We have over 20% child poverty in the United States. It’s 25% in California. And nationwide, it’s 25% of pre-school youngsters. There are some countries in Western Europe that have essentially abolished child labor, and they did in the '50s and ’60s. What's our excuse? This is by far, perhaps, the most leading indicator about the quality of our economy. I’ve never heard Chairman Alan Greenspan, in all the testimony before Congress, say, "Members of the distinguished joint economic committee, I am here to tell you that the state of our economy is not sound, because, first and foremost, almost one out of every five youngsters lives in deep, brutal, denying and dangerous poverty." When will he ever they say something like that?

There are 130 million workers who work for pay in this country. There are a lot of other workers who don’t work for pay — at home, for example. 130, about ninety million of them are full-time, and forty million part-time, and we’re told we have a low unemployment rate. It’s about 4%. Well, do you know that the Department of Labor measures unemployment this way? If you’re working twenty-one hours a week, and you want to work full-time but can’t find a full-time job, you’re considered employed. And, really, how employed are you at five and a quarter an hour, or six dollars or seven or eight or nine dollars an hour? There are ten million workers in this country, three-quarters of them, adults who are making minimum wage. And forty-seven million out of 130 million workers in this country are making less than ten dollars an hour. That’s not a livable wage, especially since that’s the gross wage. You’ve got to deduct from that the car you have to use to get to work and the auto insurance and the repair, etc. That often is not focused enough on. The cost of getting to work is a net deduction from the measly wages that people get.

And how about this? The majority of the workers, still, after ten years of overall economic growth, make less today in inflation-adjusted dollars and worker longer hours — 160 on the average a year — than they did in 1973. Now, you see the other candidates, especially Al Gore, he’s always saying what a great rosy economy this is. Whose yardsticks is he using? He’s using the yardsticks of his corporate paymasters! That’s whose yardstick he’s using!

On top of it, it’s $6.2 trillion in consumer indebtedness. Yeah, they’re more jobs than ever before. You hear Al Gore say there are twenty-two million more jobs created since 1993. Reminds me of the old cartoon, you know, where a reporter had a microphone and a face of a couple workers, and he asked one worker, "Do you know the economy, it grew by six million jobs this year?" And the worker replied, "Yeah, I know. I’ve got three of them." The point is that you can have two members of the family working. They can hardly make ends meet, and they go deeper and deeper into debt. And that’s something we should pay attention to.

Let’s not idealize the past, but in 1950, in a textile mill town in Connecticut, where the workers weren’t paid all that much, a worker could pay for a six-room house on a 3%, thirty-year mortgage — three; now it’s 8.25%. — and buy a second-hand car. Today, two of three workers have a hard time having a standard of living called middle-class standard of living, because of the lack of livable wages.

The lower unemployment rate also is masked by low wages in millions of part-time laborers who are registered as employed, but they’re really grossly under-employed. So we should never allow ourselves to be controlled by the tyranny of those yardsticks. It’s a controlling process. Watch out for those official statistics, because they often serve the interests of concentrated power, which we can call the oligarchy or the plutocracy.

Who designed this economy that had such massive accumulative wealth and such poor distributive economic justice? Was it topsy, or was it economic forces beyond the control of regular people? An economy that grows with more ways to leave people behind raises the question of what will happen when we experience a recession or worse.

Then, of course, there’s the people’s yardsticks for individuals who pay most of the taxes to their governments, and, of course, this has always been a scandal. My favorite example, 1981-1983, General Electric made $6.3 billion in profits, paid not a cent of corporate income tax to Uncle Sam and got $120 million refund, because of the safe harbor loophole that was on the books at that time. It’s been repealed. But here’s the comparison. One worker in a General Electric office or General Electric factory in those years paid more in total dollars to Uncle Sam than General Electric, one of the biggest tax escapees still at large.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Ralph Nader’s acceptance speech of the Green Party nomination for President of the United States, which he gave yesterday in Denver, Colorado. And we will go back to that speech when we return from our break, here on Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now!

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now!, as we return to the acceptance speech of Ralph Nader for the Green Party nomination.

RALPH NADER: Do we want to say to the seventy million Americans who do not vote, for many good reasons sometimes — they think their vote doesn’t count. They think that — they think that they don’t want to legitimize the process. Do we want to say to those seventy million nonvoters that the Greens want you, they want you to help them build a new beginning, because the Greens will give you no excuses for any further abdication of your civic duty to join us and help build a great society?

You know, we go around exhorting our petitioners to get us on the ballot over these huge hurdles constructed by the Republican and Democratic parties to exclude competition. They have to ask whether the person in the mall or down the street or at the health food store or in front of a church is a registered voter, because if they’re not a registered voter, the signature is not verified. Well, I think we have to talk to nonvoters, to seek out nonvoters — maybe some of you can discern them after a while — to seek out nonvoters and to register them and to expand the efforts, all over college campuses and union halls and church basements, to register to vote!

Now, if you’ll indulge me for just a few more minutes, I have a message for some special constituents. To the contented classes of America, which I will define as the top 5% in income in our country, the contented classes, I ask: is your choice only to exit from the scene of problems, or is it also to add your voice? If you don’t like the quality of drinking water in your community, you’ve got the means to buy bottled water. If you don’t like the situation in the public schools in your city, you can just haul off and move to a more pleasant community. If you don’t like a lot of things, this country gives you the opportunity to exit what you don’t like. That’s being a quitter.

Because you, among the contented classes, are the people of influence, of contacts, who get their calls returned, you are the citizens who can give voice to the powerless and the beleaguered to improve their conditions. It isn’t that they don’t have voice. You go into the worst and poorest areas in our country, there’s plenty of voice; it’s just that nobody’s hearing it. Nobody’s listening to it. And the contented classes can amplify those voices.

And I’ll give you an example. My classmates at Princeton University, Princeton class of 1955, and Harvard Law School, class of ’58, have chosen to voice, not just to exit. Over ten years ago, our Princeton class established a Center for Civic Leadership to place undergraduates in dozens of civic organizations dedicated strictly to systematic change. The belief is that a society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity. This alumni center is also pursuing a major effort to reorder our public health budget and priorities so a major assault be conducted on global tuberculosis.

In 1993, members of my law school class of 1958 — and let me tell you, this class has more than its share of corporate lawyers — it established the Appleseed Foundation that organizes state-based centers for law and justice. Over a dozen of these centers are underway in a dozen states, and more are on the way. And their purpose is to further systemic — again, systemic — approaches to systemic injustices. How many other alumni classes of some thirty years out or more around the country’s universities and colleges, who also produce the contented classes, can develop their own systemic initiatives for building democracy and justice?

Well I’ll tell you, you’ll never hear support for these kinds of efforts as a routine part of a political campaign by the Republican or Democratic parties, but you’ll hear it from the Green Party candidate week after week, because a progressive political movement highlights civic energies which are dedicated to the proposition that a society which has more justice is a society that can realistically pursue happiness. And one might say the pursuit of happiness involves a lot of the pursuit of justice, as well.

Too many good people in this country are walking around with invisible chains, if not golden handcuffs, which restrict their contributions to the good life for themselves and their fellow citizens. A progressive political movement liberates their wisdom, judgment, experience, creativity and idealism. By the way, all those traits are not tested by standardized educational tests.

To the millions of retired Americans with such capacities — such capacities — a progressive political movement will offer endless opportunities for this community-based patriotism to blossom. We need you, after you retire, to start a new stage in your life, to start a fresh contribution to a fresh progressive political campaign. There is no reason — there is no reason why our society has to be organized in such a way as to make older people feel that they’re out of sight and they’re out of mind and they’re not wanted anymore and they’re not needed anymore. Well, the progressive Green Party movement wants you, needs you and will be with you!

Now, by the way, by now you know I’m not using the teleprompter. I love these politicians, they go like this, you know, OK, hoping that the guy who controls it keeps it moving, otherwise they’ll loose half a page.

Now, to the youth of America — to the youth of America, I say beware of being trivialized by the commercial corporate culture, that tempts you daily, tempts you hourly. I hear you saying often that you’re not turned on to politics. Well, let me bring to bear the lessons of history. If you’re not turned onto politics, the lesson of history is that politics will turn on you.

The fact that we have so many inequities and inequalities, the fact that there’s so much corporate regulation over our lives — I mean, just look, how many times every day do the corporations regulate you compared to government? Corporations also regulate government to regulate you. But apart from that, you go to an HMO and they tell you, no, yes, no, yes, no CT scan, yes, tying the hands of the doctors and the nurses. You go to an auto insurance company, it doesn’t even seem to want to pay very often, and they touch on this fine print, you know, which is the exclusions or deductions. And you go into one area or another — your credit, your genes, your privacy increasingly — your voice as a citizen is being regulated in so many complex and insidious ways by too much power in the hands of too few corporations.

Well, democracy doesn’t respond well to cynicism. It doesn’t respond well to having citizens drop out on it. It responds to hands-on participation and to energized imagination, because that’s its essence. We need the young people of America to move into leadership positions to shape their future, their own future, as part of this campaign for a just society.

We’re going to ask the young people of America, who among you are going to be the leaders in saving the Equatorial forests? Who among you are going to be the leaders in preserving our oceans? Who among you are going to be the leaders in abolishing poverty and nurturing childhood and injecting matters of the spirit and well-being to dilute the crass commercialism that is being imposed on us? Who among you will develop a tax system that’s equitable and that can meet the needs of the people? Who among you will be the geniuses who will find ways to make bureaucracies, public and private, more accountable? Who among you will participate in the growing global movement that says the people of this world will plan the future of this world, not global corporations and their corrupt governments?

Two premises are basic to this political campaign, I want to share with you briefly. First, that a basic function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. You’ve got to go right out the country that way. This country is in desperate need of leaders of all kinds, and we can all be leaders in our own right, in our own craft and our own talent and our own sense of urgency in our own locality. We can play on many civic stages, but we can all be leaders. The second premise is that this political movement is first and foremost a movement of thought, not a movement of belief. There’s nothing wrong with beliefs, but it’s a pretty good idea to have them preceded by thoughts, followed by action.

By debating in the next four months, by phoning, by emailing, by marching, you can reach millions of people. You go back to your communities and your counties and your states and your region and expand what this effort is all about in the imaginations of people who too long have been betrayed by broken promises and defaulting interests.

We know that the people will respond to a new political start, because this is a political start of the people, that thousands of people can, in coming years, become local state and federal candidates for Green Party offices. You can build this party, as you join it and participate in it. You can build this party as a fresh — as a fresh green plant pushing up between the two fossil parties that have no grassroots base at all, parties built on business cash, driven by business cash, fueled by business cash, animated by business cash, so that they are more and more remote from the American people and engage mostly in campaigning against one another through thirty-second electronic ad combat and exclusive presidential debates. Are we going to get on these debates, or aren’t we?

Yours is the roar of fairness of the American people, whose polls show that they too want a four-way presidential debate. And it’s not just because their — they want a four-way presidential debate, not just because they don’t want to fall asleep watching the drab debate to dreary. They want to expand the agenda to highlight issues that the two parties are systematically altogether ignoring.

And so, spread the word. Let’s get on those debates. Let’s expand the number of debates. Let’s have other major media have the guts to break out of this two-party cul-de-sac, this two-party cul-de-sac that degrades what a presidential election should be all about. It should be a wondrous opportunity for civic expression, participation, voice, back and forth. We’ve got to move for that. That’s one of the great contributions we can make this year. And after November, the Green Party will be an ever-burgeoning asset of democratic forces and democratic talent.

And remember, there are people out there wondering how they can get in touch with us. You know how you can get in touch with our campaign, and others around the country who want to get in touch with us can only log in to votenader.org with their volunteer efforts, their skills, their talents, their ideas, and, yes, their individual — only individual — contributions because we are not taking PAC money or using soft money.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: What about those that don’t have a computer?

RALPH NADER: What about those who don’t have a computer? Oh, well, I’ve got to respond to that one.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible] D.C.?

RALPH NADER: Yes. Yes, that’s right. Yes, of course, statehood for the District of Columbia is on the Green Party ballot. Now, I was just asked what about the address for people who don’t use computers. There’s still some people left who don’t use computers, including myself. The address is Nader 2000, P.O. Box 18002 — 18002 — Washington, D.C. 20036. And the phone number is (202) 265-4000.

We all have to stay in touch with one another, and with a — lastly, with a new progressive movement, we the people have the ability to vastly improve our lives and to help shape the world’s course to one of justice and peace for years to come. That is not only our solemn opportunity that we have helped build; it’s also our solemn duty and our solemn pledge to future generations, the posterity that must inherit our utmost civic energies and humane policies.

Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: Excerpts of Ralph Nader’s speech, accepting the Green Party nomination for President of the United States yesterday in Denver, Colorado. Tomorrow, Winona LaDuke, Green vice presidential nominee.

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