Let the Victors come after us.
~ Walt Whitman
Losing is an experience we are all advised to get past. Success requires the will and intelligence to not just “seize” opportunities but play the dirty game of maneuver, compromise, and deceit. And so we play – some of us more whole-heartedly than others. But what is at stake when the dowdy shards of previous convictions and beliefs get ransacked by the sick and shameless, the petty and petulance, of temporal parochialism – and ultimately discarded by powerful forces beyond our control? Will it be the nature of the defeated to continually reappear in their impotence and dwindling irrelevance and eccentricity? Posed a little differently, how much reinvention is feasible for self-styled "progressives" in the coming age of Obama without simultaneously accepting our immolation?
The scoop on Ralph Nader is that he is too old and too infuriatingly stubborn to be running for President in 2008. The country is not only rife in economic and political crisis – even undergoing “paradigm shifts” we’re sometimes told – but ready to elect its first African-American President. Yet Nader’s core fight-the-power delivery still hasn’t changed since when I first heard him speak in the mid 1990s. As William Greider recently put it in a piece for The Nation, Nader “pierces the fog of propaganda with hard facts and reason, but the smoke rolls over him and he disappears from public view.” The few exceptions to Nader's otherwise systematic and expected erasure from the established medias are typically spiked with contempt.
And while the enthusiasm at rallies and events have varied over the years one thing has remained fairly constant. They have always remained gatherings of ordinary people who are usually very well-informed, who enjoy political debate, and who love sticking it to The Interests – even to Nader himself now and then. They can be astute but also sloppy; persistent yet disorganized and homespun. “Is the mic on?” Simply put, Nader and ordinary people because Nader gives ordinary people hope. You can ask him questions, even shake his hand and take your picture with him, have him read your fortune. In attendance lately is not a mob of the faithful marching in step with lapel pins but an exceedingly casual, at times even inherently disagreeable, motley bunch. It is so sooo democratic. Even the truly exciting and remarkably propitious Super-Rallies held back in 2000 in sporting arenas across the country were still improvisatory enough, (from the celebrity speakers to the attendees,) to fall well short of being choreographed into mass spectacles.
And these are the assets – meager as they may be – that are inherently at odds with the advancing plans of the corporate green Godzilla. Nader has led the good fight for decades. So call it sabotage, call it resistance. It is all worth preserving, all worth fighting for, and that’s why I’m voting Nader!