Monday, September 27, 2004

On Camera, Ralph!

Alexander Cockburn has a keen bit of advice for Ralph Nader: Stop wasting time and money fighting to get on a few more state ballots. Instead, get out where the action is. Like Jesse Jackson, who flew into crisis zones, and won the release of American hostages, and gave us a more accurate picture of what was going on in the Mideast, Africa, Grenada and Panama. Or Al Sharpton, who went to jail in New York and in Puerto Rico to force attention to crimes that were being ignored. Or Jimmy Carter, lately, pushing for elections to be as fair in Florida as in Venezuela. All three have had their shortcomings -- but our pundits hated them for showing up theirs. They hate Jackson and Sharpton particularly for being conspicuously smarter than anybody else on stage.

Now, Nader can be recognized anywhere in the world as the man who fought the big corporations and saved tens of thousands of lives, perhaps hundreds of thousands, on car safety alone. Cockburn suggests that he fly to the Middle East and call for an end to killing and torture and hostage taking on all sides. And in this country, he should continue to show up wherever jobs are being outsourced under treaties that Nader long opposed. That way, Nader can take part in the presidential debates, even if he must do it from the sidewalk outside. Where he should be joined by many other Americans whose interests are not represented by the men on stage. Which is to say the mass of America’s working people.