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Opinion: Vote for Ralph Nader not a vote for Bush

If you genuinely support George W. Bush or are one of the twelve Americans tickled pink by John Kerry, I wish you and your candidate all the happiness in the world.

For the rest of you, I have good news: you can, in good conscience, vote for Nader. You won’t “actually” be voting for Bush, as many have ignorantly claimed. You also won’t be throwing your vote away. What’s more, you probably agree with much more of his platform than you do Kerry’s.

I am voting for Nader this November-even if I have to write him in-and you should, too. Here’s why.

By now, everyone knows we we went to war in Iraq on the basis of lies. Every attempt to refute this fact has been ridiculous and bullheaded. Even worse, we went to war with no clear exit strategy or plan for reconstruction. To declare our resolve to “stay the course” is to chant a meaningless slogan. Our course in this war has always been misguided and myopic. Staying the course means continuing to do wrong.

Unlike the other two candidates, Nader realizes that the United States has demonstrated utter incompetence in leading the war and reconstruction. He suggests control should be turned over to the U.N. and peacekeeping forces from the Middle East; while owning up to our responsibility in Iraq by supplying troops and continued funding.

Nader’s strategy has a long list of benefits, whereas Bush’s and Kerry’s have long lists of excuses and contrived justifications. It is pointless to vote for Kerry rather than Bush over the issue of Iraq. In four years, we will still be entrenched in Iraq. Kerry has made it clear he would have voted for the war even if he knew then what we know now.

For millions of Americans, however, Iraq is not the only issue of life or death in this election. Fifty-five years after President Truman called on Congress to create universal health care in the U.S., it still hasn’t happened.

Kerry’s plan would only cover 70 percent of presently uninsured Americans and also retain the deeply problematic HMO industry. Seventy percent is not good enough for millions of uninsured who cannot get the care they need when they or a family member is desparately sick or injured. A vote for Kerry, the “least worst” of the two major party candidates, is a vote against the well-being of millions of Americans who cannot afford healthcare.

Only growing support for Nader will force Kerry to take firm stances on issues that Democrats, liberals, and progressives ought to fight for.

Kerry calls himself a progressive, but he never underlines how important it is for the world’s most prosperous nation to take care of the staggering 12 percent of its citizens who live in deep poverty. Even with the knowledge that Martin Luther King, Jr. had begun pressing the the U.S. government to adopt such a campaign when he was assassinated in 1968, Kerry seems unwilling even to talk about this emergency.

Nader is the only candidate who strongly advocates tough enforcement against corporate fraud, a set of white collar crimes that has drained trillions of dollars from workers. It is this issue-the unjust partnership between corporations and government-that most clouds any differences between Bush and Kerry. Both have relied heavily on corporate support throughout their political careers and continue to do so. Do you really think your voice counts as much in the American democracy as the voice of AOL/Time Warner or General Motors?

The most compelling reason to vote for Nader is not because you think he will become president but because you think a man like him should have the opportunity to become president.

The Democrats have been doing everything in their power to deny Nader this opportunity through fierce and ridiculous legal battles in every state where the Nader/Camejo team is working to get on the ballot. Apparently Kerry’s party doesn’t believe in the democratic process. Why should the participants in that process believe in him? Just because he is less terrible than Bush? Thinking that way is like believing that we should thwart the devil but not actively love our neighbors.

Real change is needed in our democratic system, and Kerry will not affect that change. He and his colleagues will work hard to preserve a system that would allow another George W. Bush to be elected. We must think long-term, or else the most we may get is four years of slight improvement before a relapse into another Bushian oligarchy.

The Republican party does not build its hope of “four more years” on Nader stealing votes from Kerry. This was proven recently by the Center for Responsive Politics, who revealed that only four percent of Nader contributors also gave to Republicans, and these contributors gave much more ($66,000) to the Democratic ticket than they did to Nader ($54,000).

“For all their talk about free markets, the major parties do not tolerate competition very well,” Nader wrote recently in the Washington Post. A vote for Nader is a vote of no confidence in the current two-party system, a system largely controlled by corporate money. It is simultaneously a vote in favor of something that neither Kerry nor Bush have the courage to promise-truer democracy, humbler foreign policy, improved infrastructure, more just distribution of wealth, and health care for every American.

*Daniel Klotz is campus coordinator for the Students for Nader campaign. His email address is dklotz@eastern.edu. Nader’s complete platform is available at VoteNader.org.

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