Right to vote

Exercising the right to vote is a principal expression of the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution and the foundation of all our other rights. Even in a heavily contested national election, approximately one-third of all eligible voters don’t vote. Why not? In some cases, potential voters think that there is little or no difference among the candidates. In the past, I have occasionally cast my vote for a candidate with no chance of winning as a protest to express my displeasure with the choices. I did that in the 2000 election when I voted for Ralph Nader.

Many voters don’t vote because they believe that one vote does not make a difference, or that it does not matter to them personally who is president or governor or mayor. Some voters cannot afford to take time from a job in order to vote. A national paid holiday on election day every two or four years would be a small price to pay for a more involved citizenry.

Voting should be quick and easy. The longest wait I can recall happened here in Utah in 2004 when I waited in line about 45 minutes. I could not and I would not stand in line for much longer than that. People who waited hours in line to vote have my respect, and the officials who made them wait that long have my anger. No one should be forced to endure hardship to exercise their right to vote.


3rd party

Ralph Nader, speaking at BYU's Alternate Comme...

Ralph Nader, speaking at BYU's Alternate Commencement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am hearing distant drums on the internet and some of the natives are restless. There is resistance to Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee. Those who don’t like the choice between Obama and Romney have three choices: vote for the lesser evil, don’t vote or vote for someone else. In the 2000 election, I would not vote for the Democrat or the Republican. I chose to express my displeasure with the two choices by voting for the Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader. In this year’s election, I am suggesting to those who are dissatisfied with their choices that they consider voting for a third-party candidate on either the right or the left. My vote for Nader in California in the 2000 election had no effect on the outcome, but I felt better about it. With 20-20 hindsight, I might have voted for Gore instead, but Gore carried California by a comfortable margin without my vote.

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!

Cover of ""Only the Super-Rich Can S...

Cover of "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!"

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! by Ralph Nader, 733 pages is a fast reading fable about what is wrong in the US and how with leadership and donations from billionaires we can right the wrongs. Nader gives names to the good guys and slightly disguised names to the bad guys. I found the inside details on the working of Wal-Mart and Congress the most interesting parts of the book. Whether you like Ralph Nader or not, he has done a lot of good for the country. In this book, he reveals knowledge that he has accumulated over a lifetime fighting for the average citizen.

Some critics of Barack want the US to be the tough kid on the block in defense matters. This is Nader’s response: “Asserting moral courage is being tough. Waging peace is tough. Standing up to arrogant power is being tough. And until we have the deeply just society our people deserve, doing the right thing even it costs us in the short run is being tough.”

Nader also relates Lincoln’s style on campaigning before there was mass media in 1840. Lincoln advocated dividing the voters into three categories: those who are with you from the get-go, those who are susceptible to persuasion, and those who are against you from the get-go. Then he guided his followers through the step-by-step process– or more accurately the doorstep-by-doorstep process–of meeting with every voter except the opposition hardliners. Worked for Lincoln. Let’s give it a go in 2012.

He also quoted Judge Learned Hand, “If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: Thou shall not ration justice.” Nader contends…” that it is democracy, justice, and the rule of law that make capitalism produce a better material life for more people, not capitalism in itself.’

I am giving my copy of this book to my son. I have purchased one additional copy of the book which I will send free of charge to the first person who responds to this message. I wish that I could give away more. Please send an email to me at walthe@aol.com and put “Nader book” in the subject line. I will send a book to you.

Please see One World, Ready or Not

The Bradley effect

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

Here in very red state Utah, two people were heard discussing current events. When the discussion turned to the recent death of bin Laden, one person stated that she didn’t believe anything that Obama said. The other person agreed. That exchange started me thinking about what informs their opinions. Where do they get their information and why do they reach the conclusions they do?

My wife works in a local office, and she tells me that staff meetings are frequently preceded by criticism of Barack by the participants waiting for the meeting to begin. Before my recent retirement, I worked at a local hospital with mostly much younger co-workers. We didn’t discuss politics often, but when we did, most seemed impervious to argument.

When I seek the news on TV, I flip from MSNBC on the left to CNN in the center to Fox on the right in an effort to escape the ubiquitous commercials. Here in Southern Utah, CNN is labeled the Communist News Network. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are both popular here. The local branch of Barnes and Noble features many titles “authored” by Glenn Beck.

The local newspaper features mostly conservative guest columns. The same day my neighbors were discussing the death of bin Laden, there was a column in the paper authored by Michelle Malkin entitled, “The fog of the fog.” In that article, she criticized the White House for the apparent confusion in the release of the details of the raid that killed bin Laden. I have read, with difficulty, two of her books that criticize Barack Obama and his administration. It is hard to believe that any person or group of people in government could be so evil or incompetent.

In the 2008 presidential election, John McCain ran a mistake-ridden campaign, and the economy was lurching toward a possible Great Depression 2. It was not surprising that Barack won under those circumstances, and barring a bad economy, I expect that he will be victorious in 2012. The election should not be close, but a high unemployment rate may make it closer than it would be otherwise. Barack won handily in 2008, but the margin of victory was 5 to 10 points less than I had expected, and I attribute that to a lingering Bradley effect in some parts of America.

When I moved to Southern California in 1965, I started watching the local news on TV and that news concentrated on Los Angeles. Tom Bradley was a member of the Los Angeles City Council after a career with the Los Angeles Police Department. I was highly impressed with Tom Bradley. In my seventy years, I have been highly impressed with only three politicians before Barack Obama, each from a different party, Barry Goldwater, Tom Bradley and Ralph Nader.

In my younger days, I voted the straight Republican ticket. When Tom Bradley decided to run for governor of California, I decided to vote for him, since he was the better candidate. Apparently many others agreed with me; the polls showed him winning. However, when the votes were counted, he had lost to George Deukmejian, a largely unknown candidate from Long Beach. Deukmejian served two four-year terms and then returned to relative obscurity. Bradley continued serving as Mayor of Los Angeles for a total of 20 mostly successful years.

Although Barack Obama is our first African-American president, the Bradley effect still exists in parts of America. It is very hard not to attribute some of the local hostility to him to the Bradley effect. The balance of opposition to him and his policies can be either philosophical or due to mis-information. The media available to and chosen by local residents is neither fair nor balanced.