WE INVITE YOU TO MEETů
Consumer advocate & candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination
AT A FUNDRAISER
To benefit the DC Statehood Green Party & the 20 Citizens lawsuit for full
autonomy and congressional representation for DC
Learn about Ralph Nader's campaign and meet progressive activists
Friday, March 10, 7:00 pm
At the Josephine Butler Building
2437 15th Street NW
Live Music & Refreshments
$5 student or senior
no one turned away for lack of funds
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sponsored by the Statehood Green 2000 Committee
Read more below about the Ralph Nader's campaign announcement on February
21, in a press release and in the text of Ralph's speech. Find out more
about the campaign at <www.votenader.com>. To join the local campaign
effort, call Scott at 202-518-5624.
February 21, 2000
RALPH NADER ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN FOR PRESIDENT
-- Green Party Bid Raises Ante in 2000 Campaign
[Feb 21] Announcing his bid today for the Green Party nomination for
President, Ralph Nader promised to campaign actively and "send a message
across the country."
In a statement at a news conference at the Madison Hotel, a few blocks
the White House, Nader, one of the most respected political figures in
America, stated that he will campaign on "fundamental issues -- democracy,
concentrated corporate power and the excessive disparities of wealth."
Invoking the message of last year's Seattle demonstrations against the
Nader introduced an extensive blue-green agenda that pointed to core labor
standards and environmental safeguards as central issues in his campaign.
"In 1996 I stood for election, this year I'm running," Nader said, "The
American people deserve a debate on corporate globalization and its damage
Addressing concerns regarding Nader's potential impact in November,
advisors claim that his campaign will help turn out the vote and could
assist the Democrats in taking back Congress. In the 1996 election, more
potential voters didn't vote than did. A serious Nader campaign could bring
independent and new voters to the polls, energizing the 18-to-30-year-old
voters and others who have traditionally not turned out to vote. But there
are those in the Democratic Party who do not relish the prospect of having
to debate Nader or deal with the issues raised by his progressive-populist
Pointing out the impact of "big money, big influence" politics on
Washington, Nader distributed a fifteen page statement on how to revitalize
democracy. Nader said that "concentrated corporate power is on a collision
course with democracy".
In 1996, in the Green Party's first presidential campaign, Nader received
nearly 700,000 votes and finished in fourth place, although limiting his
campaign spending to under $5000. In 2000, the Nader campaign intends to
raise $5 million dollars.
On March 7th in Califormia, initial polls have indicated that Nader
receive a significant block of votes in the state's open primary.
A Connecticut native, Nader is a Harvard-trained lawyer who has a four
decade record in consumer and public interest law and activism.
The Green Party is holding its national Nominating Convention in Denver
the Renaissance Hotel, June 24-25. One of approximately 80 Green parties
internationally, the US Green Party platform focuses on environmental
protection, economic justice, grassroots democracy and nonviolence.
Speech at candidacy announcement
February 21, 2000
Statement of Ralph Nader, Announcing His Candidacy for the Green Party's
Nomination for President
Today I wish to explain why, after working for years as a citizen advocate
for consumers, workers, taxpayers and the environment, I am seeking the
Green Party's nomination for President. A crisis of democracy in our country
convinces me to take this action. Over the past twenty years, big business
has increasingly dominated our political economy. This control by the
corporate government over our political government is creating a widening
"democracy gap." Active citizens are left shouting their concerns over a
deep chasm between them and their government. This state of affairs is a
world away from the legislative milestones in civil rights, the environment,
and health and safety of workers and consumers seen in the sixties and
seventies. At that time, informed and dedicated citizens powered their
concerns through the channels of government to produce laws that bettered
the lives of millions of Americans.
Today we face grave and growing societal problems in health care, education,
labor, energy and the environment. These are problems for which active
citizens have solutions, yet their voices are not carrying across the
democracy gap. Citizen groups and individual thinkers have generated a
tremendous capital of ideas, information, and solutions to the point of
surplus, while our government has been drawn away from us by a corporate
government. Our political leadership has been hijacked.
Citizen advocates have no other choice but to close the democracy gap
direct political means. Only effective national political leadership will
restore the responsiveness of government to its citizenry. Truly progressive
political movements do not just produce more good results; they enable a
flowering of progressive citizen movements to effectively advance the
quality of our neighborhoods and communities outside of politics.
I have a personal distaste for the trappings of modern politics, in
incumbents and candidates daily extol their own inflated virtues, paint
complex issues with trivial brush strokes, and propose plans quickly
generated by campaign consultants. But I can no longer stomach the systemic
political decay that has weakened our democracy. I can no longer watch
people dedicate themselves to improving their country while their government
leaders turn their backs, or worse, actively block fair treatment for
citizens. It is necessary to launch a sustained effort to wrest control of
our democracy from the corporate government and restore it to the political
government under the control of citizens.
This campaign will challenge all Americans who are concerned with systemic
imbalances of power and the undermining of our democracy, whether they
consider themselves progressives, liberals, conservatives, or others.
Presidential elections should be a time for deep discussions among the
citizenry regarding the down-to-earth problems and injustices that are not
addressed because of the gross power mismatch between the narrow vested
interests and the public or common good.
The unconstrained behavior of big business is subordinating our democracy
the control of a corporate plutocracy that knows few self-imposed limits to
the spread of its power to all sectors of our society. Moving on all fronts
to advance narrow profit motives at the expense of civic values, large
corporate lobbies and their law firms have produced a commanding,
multi-faceted and powerful juggernaut. They flood public elections with
cash, and they use their media conglomerates to exclude, divert, or
propagandize. They brandish their willingness to close factories here and
open them abroad if workers do not bend to their demands. By their control
in Congress, they keep the federal cops off the corporate crime, fraud, and
abuse beats. They imperiously demand and get a wide array of privileges and
immunities: tax escapes, enormous corporate welfare subsidies, federal
giveaways, and bailouts. They weaken the common law of torts in order to
avoid their responsibility for injurious wrongdoing to innocent children,
women and men.
Abuses of economic power are nothing new. Every major religion in the
has warned about societies allowing excessive influences of mercantile or
commercial values. The profiteering motive is driven and single-minded. When
unconstrained, it can override or erode community, health, safety, parental
nurturing, due process, clean politics, and many other basic social values
that hold together a society. Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin
Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justices Louis Brandeis and William Douglas, among
others, eloquently warned about what Thomas Jefferson called " the excesses
of the monied interests" dominating people and their governments. The
struggle between the forces of democracy and plutocracy has ebbed and flowed
throughout our history. Each time the cycle of power has favored more
democracy, our country has prospered ("a rising tide lifts all boats"). Each
time the cycle of corporate plutocracy has lengthened, injustices and
In the sixties and seventies, for example, when the civil rights, consumer,
environmental, and women's rights movements were in their ascendancy, there
finally was a constructive responsiveness by government. Corporations, such
as auto manufacturers, had to share more decision making with affected
constituencies, both directly and through their public representatives and
civil servants. Overall, our country has come out better, more tolerant,
safer, and with greater opportunities. The earlier nineteenth century
democratic struggles by abolitionists against slavery, by farmers against
large oppressive railroads and banks, and later by new trade unionists
against the brutal workplace conditions of the early industrial and mining
era helped mightily to make America and its middle class what it is today.
They demanded that economic power subside or be shared.
Democracy works, and a stronger democracy works better for reputable,
competitive markets, equal opportunity and higher standards of living and
justice. Generally, it brings out the best performances from people and from
A plutocracy-rule by the rich and powerful-on the other hand, obscures
historical quests for justice. Harnessing political power to corporate greed
leaves us with a country that has far more problems than it deserves, while
blocking ready solutions or improvements from being applied.
It is truly remarkable that for almost every widespread need or injustice
our country, there are citizens, civic groups, small and medium-sized
businesses and farms that have shown how to meet these needs or end these
injustices. However, all the innovative solutions in the world will
accomplish little if the injustices they address or the problems they solve
have been shoved aside because plutocracy reigns and democracy wanes. For
all optimistic Americans, when their issues are thus swept from the table,
it becomes civic mobilization time.
Consider the economy, which business commentators say could scarcely
better. If, instead of corporate yardsticks, we use human yardsticks to
measure the performance of the economy and go beyond the quantitative
indices of annual economic growth, structural deficiencies become readily
evident. The complete dominion of traditional yardsticks for measuring
economic prosperity masks not only these failures but also the inability of
a weakened democracy to address how and why a majority of Americans are not
benefitting from this prosperity in their daily lives. Despite record
economic growth, corporate profits, and stock market highs year after year,
a stunning array of deplorable conditions still prevails year after year.
* A majority of workers are making less now, inflation adjusted, than
* Over 20% of children were growing up in poverty during the past decade,
far the highest among comparable western countries
* The minimum wage is lower today, inflation-adjusted, than in 1979
* American workers are working longer and longer hours-on average an
additional 163 hours per year, compared to 20 years ago-with less time for
family and community
* Many full-time family farms cannot make a living in a market of giant
buyer concentration and industrial agriculture
* The public works (infrastructure) are crumbling, with decrepit schools
clinics, library closings, antiquated mass transit and more
* Corporate welfare programs, paid for largely by middle-class taxpayers
amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars per year, continue to rise
along with government giveaways of taxpayer assets such as public forests,
minerals and new medicines
* Affordable housing needs are at record levels while secondary mortgage
market companies show record profits
* The number of Americans without health insurance grows every year
* There have been twenty-five straight years of growing foreign trade
deficits ($270 billion in 1999)
* Consumer debt is at an all time high, totaling over $ 6 trillion
* Personal bankruptcies are at a record level
* Personal savings are dropping to record lows and personal assets are
low that Bill Gates' net worth is equal to that of the net assets of the
poorest 120 million Americans combined
* The tiny federal budgets for the public's health and safety continue
* Motor vehicle fuel efficiency averages are actually declining and,
overall, energy conservation efforts have slowed, while renewable energy
takes a back seat to fossil fuel and atomic power subsidies
* Wealth inequality is greater than at any time since WWII. The top
percent of the wealthiest people have more financial wealth than the bottom
90% of Americans combined, the worst inequality among large western nation
* Despite annual declines in total business liability costs, business
lobbyists drive for more privileges and immunities for their wrongdoing.
It is permissible to ask, in the light of these astonishing shortcomings
during a period of touted prosperity, what the state of our country would be
should a recession or depression occur? One import of these contrasts is
clear: economic growth has been decoupled from economic progress for many
Americans. In the early 1970s, our economy split into two tiers. Whereas
once economic growth broadly benefited the majority, now the economy has
become one wherein "a rising tide lifts all yachts," in the words of Jeff
Gates, author of The Ownership Solution.
Returns on capital outpaced returns on labor, and job insecurity increased
for millions of seasoned workers. In the seventies, the top 300 CEOs paid
themselves 40 times the entry-level wage in their companies. Now the average
is over 400 times. This in an economy where impoverished assembly line
workers suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome frantically process chickens
which pass them in a continuous flow, where downsized white and blue collar
employees are hired at lesser compensation, if they are lucky, where the
focus of top business executives is no longer to provide a service that
attracts customers, but rather to aquire customers through mergers and
acquisitions. How long can the paper economy of speculation ignore its
effects on the real economy of working families?
Pluralistic democracy has enlarged markets and created the middle class.
the short-term monetized minds of the corporatists are bent on weakening,
defeating, diluting, diminishing, circumventing, coopting, or corrupting all
traditional countervailing forces that have saved American corporate
capitalism from itself.
Regulation of food, automobiles, banks and securities, for example,
strengthened these markets along with protecting consumers and investors.
Antitrust enforcement helped protect our country from monopoly capitalism
and stimulated competition. Trade unions enfranchised workers and helped
mightily to build the middle class for themselves, benefiting also non-union
laborers. Producer and consumer cooperatives helped save the family farm,
electrified rural areas, and offered another model of economic activity.
Civil litigation-the right to have your day in court-helped deter producers
of harmful products and brought them to some measure of justice. At the same
time, the public learned about these hazards.
Public investment-from naval shipyards to Pentagon drug discoveries
infectious disease to public power authorities-provided yardsticks to
measure the unwillingness of big business to change and respond to needs.
Even under a rigged system, shareholder pressures on management sometimes
have shaken complacency, wrongdoing, and mismanagement. Direct consumer
remedies, including class actions, have given pause to crooked businesses
and have stopped much of this unfair competition against honest businesses.
Big business lobbies opposed all of this progress strenuously, but they lost
and America gained. Ultimately, so did a chastened but myopic business
Now, these checkpoints face a relentless barrage from rampaging corporate
titans assuming more control over elected officials, the workplace, the
marketplace, technology, capital pools (including workers' pension trusts)
and educational institutions. One clear sign of the reign of corporations
over our government is that the key laws passed in the 60s and 70s that we
use to curb corporate misbehavior would not even pass through Congressional
committees today. Planning ahead, multinational corporations shaped the
World Trade Organization's autocratic and secretive governing procedures so
as to undermine non-trade health, safety, and other living standard laws and
proposals in member countries.
Up against the corporate government, voters find themselves asked to
between look-a-like candidates from two parties vying to see who takes the
marching orders from their campaign paymasters and their future employers.
The money of vested interests nullifies genuine voter choice and trust. Our
elections have been put out for auction to the highest bidder. Public
elections must be publicly financed and it can be done with well-promoted
voluntary checkoffs and free TV and Radio time for ballot-qualified
Workers are disenfranchised more than any time since the 1920s. Many
stagger under stagnant leadership and discouraged rank and file.
Furthermore, weak labor laws actually obstruct new trade union organization
and leave the economy with the lowest percentage of workers unionized in
more than 60 years. Giant multinationals are pitting countries against one
another and escaping national jurisdictions more and more. Under these
circumstances, workers are entitled to stronger labor organizing laws and
rights for their own protection in order to deal with highly organized
At a very low cost, government can help democratic solution building
host of problems that citizens face, from consumer abuses, to environmental
degradation. Government research and development generated whole new
industries and company startups and created the Internet. At the least, our
government can facilitate the voluntary banding together of interested
citizens into democratic civic institutions. Such civic organizations can
create more level playing fields in the banking, insurance, real estate,
transportation, energy, health care, cable TV, educational, public services,
and other sectors. Let's call this the flowering of a deep-rooted democratic
society. A government that funnels your tax dollars to corporate welfare
kings in the form of subsidies, bailouts, guarantees, and giveaways of
valuable public assets can at least invest in promoting healthy democracy.
Taxpayers have very little legal standing in the federal courts and
indirect voice in the assembling and disposition of taxpayer revenues.
Closer scrutiny of these matters between elections is necessary. Facilities
can be established to accomplish a closer oversight of taxpayer assets and
how tax dollars (apart from social insurance) are allocated. This is an
arena which is, at present, shaped heavily by corporations that, despite
record profits, pay far less in taxes as a percent of the federal budget
than in the 1950s and 60s.
The "democracy gap" in our politics and elections spells a deep sense
powerlessness by people who drop out, do not vote or listlessly vote for the
"least-worst" every four years and then wonder why after another cycle the
"least-worst" gets worse. It is time to redress fundamentally these
imbalances of power. We need a deep initiatory democracy in the embrace of
its citizens, a usable brace of democratic tools that brings the best out of
people, highlights the humane ideas and practical ways to raise and meet our
expectations and resolve our society's deficiencies and injustices.
A few illustrative questions can begin to raise our expectations and
what can be lost when the few and powerful hijack our democracy:
* Why can't the wealthiest nation in the world abolish the chronic poverty
of millions of working and non-working Americans, including our children?
* Are we reversing the disinvestment in our distressed inner cities
rural areas and using creatively some of the huge capital pools in the
economy to make these areas more livable, productive and safe?
* Are we able to end homelessness and wretched housing conditions with
modern materials, designs, and financing mechanisms, without bank and
insurance company redlining, to meet the affordable housing needs of
millions of Americans?
* Are we getting the best out of known ways to spread renewable, efficient
energy throughout the land to save consumers money and to head off global
warming and other land-based environmental damage from fossil fuels and
* Are we getting the best out of the many bright and public-spirited
servants who know how to improve governments but are rarely asked by their
politically-appointed superiors or members of Congress?
* Are we able to provide wide access to justice for all aggrieved people
that we apply rigorously the admonition of Judge Learned Hand, "If we are to
keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: Thou Shall Not Ration
* Can we extend overseas the best examples of our country's democratic
processes and achievements instead of annually using billions in tax dollars
to subsidize corporate munitions exports, as Republican Senator Mark
Hatfield always used to decry?
* Can we stop the giveaways of our vast commonwealth assets and become
better stewards of the public lands, better investors of trillions of
dollars in worker pension monies, and allow broader access to the public
airwaves and other assets now owned by the people but controlled by
* Can we counter the coarse and brazen commercial culture, including
television which daily highlights depravity and ignores the quiet civic
heroisms in its communities, a commercialism that insidiously exploits
childhood and plasters its logos everywhere?
* Can we plan ahead as a society so we know our priorities and where
to go? Or do we continue to let global corporations remain astride the
planet, corporatizing everything, from genes to education to the Internet to
public institutions, in short planning our futures in their image? If a
robust civic culture does not shape the future, corporatism surely will.
To address these and other compelling challenges, we must build a powerful,
self-renewing civil society that focuses on ample justice so we do not have
to desperately bestow limited charity. Such a culture strengthens existing
civic associations and facilitates the creation of others to watch the
complexities and technologies of a new century. Building the future also
means providing the youngest of citizens with citizen skills that they can
use to improve their communities.
This is the foundation of our campaign, to focus on active citizenship,
create fresh political movements that will displace the control of the
Democratic and Republican Parties, two apparently distinct political
entities that feed at the same corporate trough. They are in fact simply the
two heads of one political duopoly, the DemRep Party. This duopoly does
everything it can to obstruct the beginnings of new parties including
raising ballot access barriers, entrenching winner-take-all voting systems,
and thwarting participation in debates at election times
As befits its name, the Green Party, whose nomination I seek, stands
regeneration of American politics. The new populism which the Green Party
represents, involves motivated, informed voters who comprehend that "freedom
is participation in power," to quote the ancient Roman orator, Cicero. When
citizen participation flourishes, as this campaign will encourage it to do,
human values can tame runaway commercial imperatives. The myopia of the
short-term bottom line so often debases our democratic processes and our
public and private domains.
Putting human values first helps to make business responsible and to
government on the right track.
It is easy and true to say that this deep democracy campaign will be an
uphill one. However, it is also true that widespread reform will not
flourish without a fairer distribution of power for the key roles of voter,
citizen, worker, taxpayer, and consumer. Comprehensive reform proposals from
the corporate suites to the nation's streets, from the schools to the
hospitals, from the preservation of small farm economies to the protection
of privacies, from livable wages to sustainable environments, from more time
for children to less time for commercialism, from waging peace and health to
averting war and violence, from foreseeing and forestalling future troubles
to journeying toward brighter horizons, will wither while power inequalities
loom over us.
Why are campaigns just for candidates? I would like the American people
hear from individuals such as Edgar Cahn (Time Dollars for neighborhoods),
Nicholas Johnson (television and telecommunications), Paul Hawken, Amory and
Hunter Lovins (energy and resource conservation), Dee Hock (on chaordic
organizations), James MacGregor Burns and John Gardner (on leadership),
Richard Grossman (on the American history of corporate charters and
personhood), Jeff Gates (on capital sharing), Robert Monks (on corporate
accountability), Ray Anderson (on his company's pollution and recycling
conversions), Johnnetta Cole, Troy Duster and Yolanda Moses (on race
relations), Richard Duran (minority education), Lois Gibbs (on community
mobilization against toxics), Robert McIntyre (on tax justice), Hazel
Henderson (on redefining economic development), Barry Commoner and David
Brower (on fundamental environmental regeneration), Wendell Berry (on the
quality of living), Tony Mazzocchi (on a new agenda for labor), and Law
Professor Richard Parker (on a constitutional popular manifesto). These
individuals are a small sampling of many who have so much to say, but seldom
get through the evermore entertainment-focused media. (Note: mention of
these persons does not imply their support for this campaign.)
Our political campaign will highlight active and productive citizens
practice democracy often in the most difficult of situations. I intend to do
this in the District of Columbia whose citizens have no full-voting
representation in Congress or other rights accorded to states. The scope of
this campaign is also to engage as many volunteers as possible to help
overcome ballot barriers and to get the vote out. In addition it is designed
to leave a momentum after election day for the various causes that committed
people have worked so hard to further. For the Greens know that political
parties need also to work between elections to make elections meaningful.
The focus on fundamentals of broader distribution of power is the touchstone
of this campaign. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis declared for the
ages, "We can have a democratic society or we can have great concentrated
wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both."
Nader 2000, P.O. Box 18002, Washington, DC 20036