Flashes 04-06-2000

Nader came armed with a list of statistics that will ruin your day; a sort of downer State of the Union Address testifying that we're in an economic and social free fall, the antithesis of Bill Clinton's annual list of carefully worded statistics touting our prosperity. (Did you know that a majority of workers are making less now, inflation adjusted, than in 1979?)

Tellingly lacking from Nader's speech was anything resembling an election promise. When an audience member inquired who his running mate is, he seemed surprised. That Nader is too pragmatic to pretend he could win is his biggest shortcoming as a candidate. His Web site campaign photo looks like a mug shot; he lectures with his hands in his pockets.

What Nader doesn't seem to get is that successful leaders of social change know to make their audiences feel hopeful and proud, as well as angry and determined. Nader only provokes depression and frustration, running through a list of sad stories and bitter statistics without providing countermeasures. Being a president is about more than just being right.

Still, despite his own efforts to the contrary, Nader managed to impress. Unlike Al Gore (whose recent stop in Phoenix was jammed with go-team-go sound bites) and George W. Bush (whose every utterance sounds like an umpteenth stump-speech draft), Nader can intelligently and thoroughly answer any question you throw at him.

The Green Party needs about 14,000 signatures by June 29 to get Nader on the ballot in Arizona. The party hopes Nader can reach 5 percent in the polls, enough to qualify for federal matching funds. Although Nader doesn't seem to believe he can win, he is adamant about the prospect of drawing protest votes away from "Tweedledum and Tweedledee," who he says only differ on the easy targets (education, crime, abortion) and not the widespread critical ones (corporate influence).

"You want to throw away your vote?" asks Nader, getting as passionate as he gets. "If you want to throw away your vote, then vote for the least-worst. You want more of the same, keep giving them your vote. They won't respect it, and they'll take it for granted."

As usual, Nader is right. And, as usual, he still doesn't stand a chance.

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