Monday, August 13, 2007

Nader vs. The Clintons Revisited

In an August 19, 1996 speech before the 1996 Green Party Convention, long-time U.S. consumer advocate Ralph Nader ( indicated why he ran against 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s husband in 1996:

“Next time someone says to you, `Why are you building a third party? Don’t you know that a progressive third party will take votes away from the Democratic Party. Why are you being a spoiler?’ Well, the easy answer is you can’t spoil a system spoiled to the core.

“And another answer is that we are sick and tired and weary of being told every four years we have to choose between the bad and the worse, because every four years they both get worse. Because we don’t look kindly on two parties who…sign into law an increased child poverty legislation, where they literally throw out the baby with the bathwater, so-called welfare reform: no child care, no job opportunities, restricted food stamps, 350,000 disabled children off public assistance, and on and on. What’s the difference between these two?...The corporations are pulling both parties to the right, reactionary wing of American politics…

“Look at the basic problems. Energy: solar energy, energy efficiency—those are the solutions…Housing: There are pilot housing projects showing the way to go, so we don’t have this disgraceful, inadequate, decrepit, decayed housing stock, not to mention the homeless…Health care: we have the solution to health care…Universal health care, the single-payer Canadian system…Modern public transit:…Look at the work done in Northwestern University…on the subject and ask yourself why don’t we have…modern public transit that’s fast, reliable, that’s very close to zero pollution…Agriculture: Instead of highly chemical-intensive agriculture…organic agriculture…How about the unemployment problem?...The jobs aren’t there because billions of dollars of pension funds are being used for mergers and acquisitions and empire building instead of productive activity…”

In a September 1996 article, Luis Martin also characterized the White House record of Hillary Clinton’s husband in the following way:

"While posing as the defender of the poor and children, Clinton has led the charge against social programs, with cuts larger than anything proposed by Reagan or Bush [I]. Since becoming president, he has quietly signed cuts amounting to half the budget of the federal government. The cuts go far beyond anything implemented in Europe and Japan…Now Clinton has obtained even deeper cuts by signing the `welfare reform’ law…Clinton proposes cutting $192 billion from Medicare alone…”

Yet as Martin also noted in his article, “if the richest one percent could content themselves with 7.3 percent of the national income—instead of the current 12.1 percent—then the deficit could be eliminated.”
(Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 10/30/96)

Next: Peggy Seeger: A 1996 Interview—Part 1