I AM A REGISTERED Democrat. And I'm not proud. For more than 20 years,
I've resigned myself to voting for a predictable parade of ever less
palatable rich white men whose party line with every subsequent
election more closely resembles that of their Republican
counterparts. True, my personal politics lie slightly to the left of
the Democratic Party's; ours is a joyless marriage of convenience
that has never been consummated.
But I vote Democrat for the same reason millions of other
disgruntled lefties do: because the Republicans are even worse. And
we all know that the Greens don't have a snowball's chance in a D.C.
summer of getting elected, and a vote for Ralph Nader is a vote for
George W. Bush, blah, blah, blah. Friends, when are we all going to
stand up and refuse to vote for the lesser of two weasels?
Oh, I've heard all the arguments. And certainly, the prospect of a
Bush presidency is more chilling than one with Al Gore at the helm.
But there's a saying I learned in my spiritual practice that is as
applicable to politics as to personal growth: If you keep doing what
you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always gotten.
What we've gotten is increasingly rotten.
There is only one candidate with the courage to stand up to the
corporate Goliath. Nader's been doing it successfully for over 30
years. While Gore and Bush flap their gums about campaign finance
reform, Nader is the only one walking the walk by refusing corporate
hush money: He accepts contributions from individuals only. No PAC
money, no soft money, just people donating no more than the legal
limit of $2,000 apiece.
Others, who might be inclined to vote for Nader, wonder about his
leadership abilities. In three decades of public service, Nader has
built a social movement from the inchoate yearnings of a people
trampled by mainstream politics. This man began with a vision and a
constituency of those of us who want to lead safer, healthier, longer
And with his leadership and grass-roots support, Nader demanded
that our government serve her people -- and helped structure the
institutions required to implement change. Today, we have Nader and
his dedicated raiders to thank for environmental protections, better
citizen access to government, and cars that are a lot safer than they
would be if it were up to the big boys in Detroit.
Nader has other visions that I and most Americans would love to
support -- developing renewable energy, waging peace, strengthening
labor laws and getting corporations off the public dole.
Is anyone but Nader talking about the decline in real wages, the
escalation of child poverty, environmental racism, and the
implications of the fact that consumer debt is higher than ever?
But we don't have to live in fear any more. We have a choice. We can
and we must vote from a genuine sense of felt passion and hope, vote
for someone we believe in, someone who shares our vision for the
future of our country, our Earth, our very humanity. Can Ralph Nader
win? He can if everyone who believes in the principles that Nader
both serves and embodies -- default Democrats, floundering
Republicans and all those who feel disenfranchised -- vote.
I have a dream that some day we will all cast our ballots for the
person we know to be the best candidate -- not merely in the one
likely to defeat our worst fears. If not now, when?
Lisa Martinovic lives, writes and votes in San Francisco.
©2000 San Francisco Chronicle