Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Why I support Ralph Nader for President

For me, I guess it comes down to moral authority of government. Should government be a source of moral authority? In other words, should citizens be able to look to their government when trying to find some direction or sense of community for their lives?

I believe so.

The separation of church and state does not require the absence of moral authority from government. Our nations most celebrated achievements have a significant moral dimension to them. Civil rights, the end of slavery, and the founding of our country were all at least partly pursued due to the moral claim that “All men ['men' in the universal, un-gendered sense, of course] are created equal.”

In fact, without access to government, morality itself can become impotent, unable to take significant action.

Both the Democrat and Republican parties have become dependent on corporations to:
  1. provide media coverage that champions their platform
  2. donate an unlimited amount of soft money to the parties, and
  3. help pay for political rallies, such as the parties’ national conventions.
[Not to mention the unavoidable dependence politicians will have to corporations threatening to move jobs out of their district.] Hence, both parties have rejected the moral issues that Nader is trying to address: poverty, lack of medical attention, disease caused by pollution/other corporate abuses. Both parties have instead come to embrace a "corporate moral relativism" whose only ideology is that of dollars and markets.

To quote Neil Postman’s book The End of Education:
“Our genius lies in our capacity to make meaning through the creation of narratives that give point to our labors, exalt our history, elucidate the present, and give direction to our future…
“The measure of a narrative’s ‘truth’ or ‘falsity’ is in its consequences: Does it provide people with a sense of personal identity, a sense of a community life, a basis for moral conduct?"
“Our genius lies in our capacity to make meaning through the creation of narratives;” not in our capacity to create dollars.

Corporations, when they are granted too much political influence, demand that our “narratives,” our sense of community life, be rooted within business, within our economic interactions with others. That's why they demand our schools place standardized test-taking above all other concerns, such as civic participation, staying healthy, or pursuing extra-curricular interests. That’s why corporations make sure they have control over the media and the messages we hear on TV, which are often opinions from corporate-funded think-tanks.
Why? To make sure we hear the message that the creation of “wealth” (as defined in terms of monetary exchanges) is the only real way to help people, the only real ideology to build a life around.

And that’s where they get it wrong. It’s NOT money that decides what’s worthwhile; it’s the reasoned judgment of individuals.

Reasoned. As in free from the tyranny of greed, which INEVITABLY will play a role in judgment, when men trying to climb the corporate ladder gain influence over our political institutions. Of course such men will pull political strings to save their business some money; they have their employees (real people they interact with everyday) to think of and all.
Corporate abuse shouldn’t just be pinned on rogue individuals; it is a systematic problem within the structure of our economy.
And it comes at the cost of thousands of deaths and infections caused by air pollution, hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars used to pay corporate bills, and millions of people in our country living in conditions that could be improved by responsible congressional action.

I believe that Ralph Nader understands as well as, if not better than anyone, how to use government to help people, without damaging the capitalist institutions and values that have made our economy great. Equally important to me, he is standing up against the corporate moral relativism that is communicated through the structuring of our educational, industrial, and news-media systems.

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