Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why Ralph Nader makes me a better Democrat

I had the pleasure and opportunity to be a part of the organization that brought Ralph Nader to the University of Utah campus in 2002. He had just come out with another book, "Crashing the Party" and was going to speak about becoming a more civically engaged society. He inspired me so much. I have an autographed copy of the book and after I read it, I wasn't so mad about him running for President in 2000.

SIDENOTE: I do not think Nader hurt Al Gore in 2000. Al Gore, by failing to distinguish himself effectively from Bush, hurt himself in 2000.

Nader's words struck a chord with me. In his speech, he said, (and I'm paraphrasing) "When your grandchildren look at you years from now and ask, 'Why is the world the way it is? Did you do everything you could to make it a better place?' and you can't answer them, you did not do enough to help change the world." In his book(s) (I also got a copy of More Action for Change), he discusses many things that are wrong with our country. I agree with him.

But it is because there are so many things that are wrong with our country that I have worked so hard to get more Democrats elected. I think the country would be much healthier with multiple political parties running things. Diverse opinions create conscious and (sometimes) eloquent discourse. But things being as they are, we only have two viable parties and because of this, my priorities lay with getting more Democrats elected wherever I can.

For example, I am currently having a discussion with some people who want to get rid of our dear State Senator Buttars here in Utah. They believe that only a Republican can beat him. I, of course, vehemently disagree.

You see, I believe that a Democrat can win anywhere in the state of Utah. Yes, I really believe this and yes, I've been told I'm delusional.

My reasoning is simple. When people tell me, "A Democrat can never win so what's the point," I respond, "Well, have you ever helped a Democrat when the odds were stacked against him/her? Have you ever thought of running as a Democrat?" The problem doesn't lie with the policies, platforms or beliefs of the party; it lies with people's attitude to just give up in trying to get Democrats elected. They feel it's a pointless endeavor and don't even start to help.

This attitude is what loses elections.

If everyone who was ever pissed off at their republican legislator or Congressman actually did something (like, donate to or canvass for their Democratic opponent) I guarantee you that it would indeed make a difference. We may not win the race by a landslide but we'd certainly put up a fight.

If you don't think the Democratic candidates are liberal or progressive enough or should believe in something differently, get out there and make them change their minds.

Ralph Nader is best known as running for President in 2000. But before that, he was (and still is) an amazing community organizer and consumer advocate. He knows, better than anyone, the absolute importance of getting out there and doing things and not just sitting around talking about it. We all can do something to make our world a better place but no one ever changed history by sitting in front of a computer typing or on the couch watching TV.

So if you've ever been one to say that a Democrat can't ever beat a republican--especially in Utah--I strongly urge you to use more than your words and start "walking the walk." Help out the Democrat in your area or, if you live in a Democratic area, go to another district to help. You'll see and be making a difference.

Wouldn't it be nice to one day say you helped turn Utah blue (or at least a purple)?