Nader Speaks for the Poor. Puts Some Heat on Obama.

by | Jun 25, 2008

Rocky Mountain News asked Ralph Nader, an independent candidate for President, if Barack Obama is any different than Democrats he has criticized in the past, considering Obama’s pledge to reject campaign contributions from registered lobbyists.

Nader’s response is on the shocking side, which makes sense as a media strategy. Although I suspect this is how Nader really thinks and really talks, no matter who might be listening.

“There’s only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He’s half African-American,” Nader said. “Whether that will make any difference, I don’t know. I haven’t heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What’s keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn’t want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We’ll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards.”

“I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law,” Nader said. “Haven’t heard a thing.”

“He wants to show that he is not a threatening . . . another politically threatening African-American politician,” Nader said. “He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically he’s coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it’s corporate or whether it’s simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up.”

I love that we have someone, anyone, willing to speak truth to power. Doing so is heroic in these times. It might not be welcome, or even all that smart, politically or otherwise, but still I respect that Nader is doing it. He’s a man of action and he would like to see some people in D.C. snap to attention, as improbable as that eventuality seems.

On a totally unrelated note, I wish Nader had some sharper looking creative. Obama really has the graphic designers in his camp.