What We Accomplished
A Post-Election Message from Ralph Nader
Authoritative public sentiments have always been there, have they not? From the Declaration of Independence’s majestic prose to the preamble of our Constitution which begins with "We the People of the United States …" to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address "toward a new birth of freedom … for a government of the people, by the people and for the people" to the last words of the pledge of allegiance — "with liberty and justice for all."
Sentiments remain mere words; heralding hopes, wishes and poignant nods. Unless they are grounded in reality, behavior, respect, attitude, and renewal, they become the words of controlling processes, pacifying the resigned, fortifying the concentrators of abusive power, and ever manipulating the trusting populace by the latest politicians climbing up the electoral hills.
The Nader/Gonzalez independent ticket set standards for presidential campaigns that were authentic, honest, factual, far-seeing, and committed to a deliberate, deep democracy that creates high expectations and dedicated actions from the people themselves. Democracy is revered all over the world because it brings the best out of people. But the people have to want it, to work for it, and to use it daily in its many splendid varieties.
Elections are a temptation for abstraction, soaring rhetoric without roots in the daily experience of those who are impoverished, ailing, defrauded, and indebted. The vast majority of citizens are marginalized and excluded from the freedom to participate in power — to paraphrase Marcus Cicero.
Our campaign started with the realities of our country on the ground where the people live, work, and raise their families. Politics must never be an abstraction. For if allowed to be such, it will be a mirage that stokes the hopeful emotions while detaching people from a critical recognition that they and only they — individually and organized — can make their representatives truly their representatives, dutifully producing more leaders. Leaders who cannot betray the trust of the people, and that of their children and grandchildren, know from whence they came.
It is with these thoughts that all of us at the Nader/Gonzalez campaign headquarters tender our gratitude to all who stood with us. We thank your enlightened self-interest, your awareness of the necessity for enlightened communities from the neighborhoods and workplaces all the way to our national government. We must make this government a tribune of peace, justice and freedom throughout this tormented world of ours.
While I was campaigning in Syracuse, New York this October in a city beset with hard times, a middle-aged blue-collar worker with calloused hands approached me after our discussion and said, "I’m voting for myself, which is why I’m voting for you." I took that declaration as a serious trusteeship and later on the campaign trail turned it into a basic question: "Isn’t it about time that we all voted for ourselves?" Isn’t it about time that we planned our futures rather than ceding that essential function of citizenship to giant rootless corporations?
What follows is a summary of what we achieved together through the Presidential campaign of 2008, despite being obstructed by the Democrats’ and Republicans’ ballot access hurdles and traps, despite being excluded from speaking to tens of millions of Americans through the Presidential debates (polls repeatedly showed the people wanted us — by name — included), and despite being willfully ignored by the national television and national newspaper/magazine media. These achievements represent persistence, stamina, and the willpower to penetrate this political bigotry so as to give choice to those voters who knew we were running.
We believe history will treat the Nader/Gonzalez initiative kindly in part because its reading of the necessities of the American people was accurate as was its condemnation of the concentrated powers that have for so long denied them livelihoods of decency, security and voice.
We thank you who made all this possible. Looking forward, we thank all who will make the campaign’s legacy proliferate through all seasons at all times wherever human beings seek the fulfillment of their human possibilities.
Moving a Progressive Agenda Forward in the Electoral Arena.
Nurturing anew the survival seeds and sprouts for a functioning democracy, so that someday the fruits of this campaign will be traced back to the political pioneers of 2008 who carried forward the torch of conscience and justice high across the land.
- We followed the model of Presidential candidates Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas; if they had not run within the electoral arena many people would not know key elements of the progressive agenda. As Thomas Paine once said, "a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of right."
- In 2008, without third party and independent candidates there would have been no opposition to the bailout, no discussion of single-payer, no opposition to nuclear power plants, no support of living wage, no peace advocacy over blow-back militarism, no advocacy of electoral reforms, no crackdown on corporate crimes, etc.
Civil Liberties for Independent and Third Party Candidates
Working to break down unfair ballot access laws that shred the rights of minor party candidates to run for office.
- Example: Victory in Arizona, declaring in-state petitioning law unconstitutional at the 9th circuit court of appeals.
- Example: Victory in Ohio case at the 6th circuit, declaring Secretary of State Blackwell was wrong to throw Nader/Camejo off the ballot in 2004 and that the Ohio law requiring in-state petition circulators was unconstitutional.
Bringing in New People to the Political Process
- We will be over 700,000 votes in 2008 as absentee ballots and write-ins are counted over the coming days and weeks. Many of those voters would have stayed home and not voted if Nader/Gonzalez had not been on the ballot.
- 60% of Nader/Gonzalez donors have never contributed to any other political candidate before.
- Thousands of citizens developed skills in clean politics and many will run for office where they live in coming years.
Documenting the Multi-faceted Oppressiveness of the Two-Party Controlled Dictatorship of Our Country
The exclusion from the debates and the media blackout helped deflate the myth of a competitive electoral democracy. Exposing myths is the first step toward reforms.
The Nader/Gonzalez campaign helped show the rest of the world that there are voices inside the Presidential campaign who speak vigorously to the United States becoming a humanitarian superpower that knows how to wage peace, advance justice and enhance the security of all peoples, as envisioned by the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Ballot Access & Voting Success
- Bronze Medal: Nader/Gonzalez got more votes than any other Presidential third party or independent candidate.
- 45 State Ballot Lines and the District of Columbia: We got on more state ballots than in any previous Ralph Nader Presidential campaign (including the state of Idaho for the first time).
- Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez were on the ballot as Independents in 36 of those states, and in the District of Columbia.
- The Nader/Gonzalez campaign was nominated by the Independent Parties of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland and New Mexico. Nader/Gonzalez was also nominated by California’s Peace and Freedom Party, Florida’s Ecology Party, Michigan’s Natural Law Party, and Oregon’s Peace Party.
- Nader/Gonzalez qualified as write-in candidates in Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina and Texas.
- Only Oklahoma voters did not have an opportunity to vote for Nader/Gonzalez.
- Independent Party of Maryland. Obtained ballot status and the party will be able to field candidates in 2010 without petitioning.
- Independent Party of New Mexico. Obtained ballot status and achieved .5% vote threshold allowing 2010 candidates without petitioning.
- Independent Party of Hawaii. Obtained ballot status. Because of low vote totals the party must petition candidates for two more elections to obtain a 10 year ballot access status. Chairman Shaun Stenshol pledges to keep party alive and field candidates in 2010.
- Peace Party of Oregon. Obtained ballot status by securing 1% of the statewide vote total and the party will be able to field candidates in 2010 without petitioning.
- Connecticut Independent Party. Obtained ballot status by securing 1% of the statewide vote total and the party will be able to field candidates in 2010 without petitioning.
- Preserved ballot status of the Natural Law Party in Michigan.
- Ballot status of Delaware Independent Party, California Peace and Freedom Party, and Florida Ecology Party continues because of criteria other than vote totals.
Some Memorable Campaign Accomplishments
- Our Vice Presidential Candidate Matt Gonzalez was the first Mexican-American VP Candidate in American History.
- Debates: We participated in three third-party Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates:
- Thursday, October 23, in Washington, D.C. at the Mayflower Hotel between Ralph Nader and Chuck Baldwin — sponsored by Free and Equal — covered by CSPAN.
- Thursday, October 30, in Cleveland, Ohio between Ralph Nader, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin — sponsored and hosted by the Cleveland City Club — covered by CSPAN.
- Sunday, November 2nd, Vice Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada — sponsored by Free and Equal — which included Libertarian Party VP candidate, Wayne Allyn Root, Constitution Party VP candidate, Darrell Castle, and Independent Ralph Nader running mate, Matt Gonzalez.
- When issues, not party mattered, Nader won: In a local Brooklyn High School on Oct. 28, 2008, students were allowed to vote for five Presidential candidates but were told only what the candidates stood for, not their names. Nader/Gonzalez handily won the election with 46%. Read about it at http://berkeleycarroll.org/news/detail.asp?pageaction=ViewSinglePublic&LinkID=3614&ModuleID=183
- One of the eldest voters in 2008 cast a vote for Nader/Gonzalez. She is Geneva Garner, a 108 year-old lifelong Republican from Gaithersburg, Maryland. Read about it at http://www.gazette.net/stories/11042008/montnew171838_32513.shtml