Now that Ralph Nader has entered the '08 race for the U.S. presidency, many activists and advocates of direct democracy find themselves uncertain of which candidate to support at this time. The two chief editors of this blog have been having a running debate for many weeks about which candidate is the best choice for the end goal of participatory democracy and direct democracy for the U.S.A. After 'EDITOR A' sent an email to her friends and family expressing her excitement that Nader was considering candidacy, 'EDITOR B' responded by advocating for Obama. We encourage readers of this debate to contribute by emailing us their own points of view on the subject, especially if they differ from those expressed here, and we will publish them on the page we have created for the debate. (see link below) - Editor
Also I think that Obama for all the 'change' hoopla does have the power to motivate young people and is getting them involved in politics and giving them hope once more. Have you watched any of his rallies? Something ever so slightly revolutionary is happening and he is at the center of it, by chance or calculation I don't know. Whether he will be able to deliver the change he is promising is another matter, but I am willing to give him a shot.
Ralph Nader might be able to do the same thing that Obama has the potential to do if he could win, but of course he can't win. We don't have a viable third party in this country, plain and simple. It is a small select group of people who would unite behind Nader. It's a hard pill to swallow, but what everyone says is undeniably true - every vote for Nader would be one less vote for Obama (if he's the democratic nominee.) It's true what Nader says, obviously we need more parties in this country if we are going to move forward... but we have to move forward step by step because there is no chance otherwise.
Let me try to explain where I am coming from on this because I know it's a contentious issue and a hard one to decide on. Normally I would be one of those for Nader, but I believe that only a mass popular movement is capable of bringing about revolution in this country and reversing the damage that has been done. I think that it is going to require a diverse coalition of people far broader than just those that would support Nader and that it needs someone who can actually win office under the current conditions. The next president should be a leader who opens the door just wide enough within a locked system to allow people power to take over, just as Chavez did in VZLA. The revolution has to come from within the system to break the chains, and then a transformation toward a new system can begin. Once that new system is in place, there will be space within it for a green party to grow and prosper.
All that said, if Obama wins the nomination and is ahead by miles in NY over the republican candidate, I may vote for Nader as a symbolic gesture. I may do the same if Hillary wins the nomination, but out of disgust. If Hillary wins, or god forbid Romney or Mc Cain you can forget about change and say hello to cynicism and apathy again pretty quick.
EDITOR A: I appreciate your thoughts, especially what you said about Obama opening up channels for participation. Almost everyone I’ve been debating with in my vote zone (with the exception of the socialists) is going for Obama because of his great rhetoric and charismatic character. I have my own thoughts on this issue. Instead of voting for the "lesser of two evils" as many liberals argue to be the best option in our current two-party system, I will vote for the underdog who will never win, because he more accurately represents my views. While I would prefer to represent my own views in a participatory democracy, I acknowledge that now I am pressured to vote for someone who is backed by corporate donors, Wall Street, and other powers that will continue to manipulate candidates upon arrival at the White House.
From what I have gathered, no candidate in the Democratic Party is actually going to make more than a symbolic change in this country. It is true that the US needs representation of African American and Female perspectives; however I don't think that the current candidates even manage to accurately represent politically the demographics they exemplify physically. Hillary is anti-feminist because she will adhere to the patriarchal system created and perpetuated by our nation’s presidential predecessors. Obama, despite being endorsed by some of my favorite people and organizations, is much more charisma and eloquence than he is real policy change.
I appreciate your views on him and applaud those who are getting involved in politics for the first time by supporting his campaign. I also understand the need to appeal to certain corporate backing in order to stand a chance in the campaign process. However, this very acquiescence to the corrupt system shows that Obama does not have the effort nor the grassroots backing (e.g. green parties, socialists, anti-war activists) to actually defeat the worthless system already in place. Achieving real change, in the sense of demonstrating the freedom to vote for the candidate who more accurately represents my views will come when we have more than two options. There is no reason for me to vote for a candidate that I don't believe in, and I won't. In order to personally promote a multi-party system which I believe is more advantageous to representing diversity in this country I will organize and vote for a third party candidate.
EDITOR B: I see your side totally. I know it's a choice between voting for the candidate that most closely matches your beliefs, or voting strategically for someone who might not necessarily espouse everything that you're for yourself, but might unwittingly be the only chance of unleashing enough people power on the scale necessary to radically alter this locked system in the time we have left before it is too late to stop this runaway capitalist imperialist train. It's a strategic choice, and there's no easy answer.....