rn: Nader Acceptance Speech (long but marvellous!)


Jan Slakov

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000 17:23:01 -0700
From: Sid Shniad <•••@••.•••>
  Nomination for President of the United States


        For the Green Party Nomination for President of the United States

                        Denver, Colorado, June 25, 2000

On behalf of all Americans who seek a new direction, who yearn for a 
new birth of freedom to build the just society, who see justice as the 
great work of human beings on Earth, who understand that community 
and human fulfillment are mutually reinforcing, who respect the urgent 
necessity to wage peace, to protect the environment, to end poverty and 
to preserve values of the spirit for future generations, who wish to build a 
deep democracy by working hard for a regenerative progressive politics, 
as if people mattered — to all these citizens and the Green vanguard, I 
welcome and am honored to accept the Green Party nomination for 
President of the United States.

The Green Party stands for a nation and a world that consciously 
advances the practice of deep democracy. A deep democracy facilitates 
people’s best efforts to achieve social justice, a sustainable and bountiful 
environment and an end to systemic bigotry and discrimination against 
law-abiding people merely because they are different. Green goals place 
community and self-reliance over dependency on ever larger absentee 
corporations and their media, their technology, their capital, and their 
politicians. Green goals aim at preserving the commonwealth of assets 
that the people of the United States already own so that the people, not 
big business, control what they own, and using these vast resources of 
the public lands, the public airwaves and trillions of worker pension 
dollars to achieve healthier environments, healthier communities and 
healthier people.

These goals are also conservative goals. Don’t conservatives, in contrast 
to corporatists, want movement toward a safe environment, toward 
ending corporate welfare and the commercialization of childhood? Don’t 
they too want a voice in shaping a clean environment rooted in the 
interests of the people? Don’t they too want a fair and responsive 
marketplace, for their health needs and savings? Let us not in this 
campaign prejudge any voters, for Green values are majoritarian values, 
respecting all peoples and striving to give greater voice to all voters, 
workers, individual taxpayers and consumers. As with the right of free 
speech, we may not agree with others, but we will defend their right to 
free speech as strongly as we do for ourselves.

Earlier this year, I decided to seek your nomination because obstacles 
blocking solutions to our society’s injustices and problems had to be 
overcome. Feelings of powerlessness and the withdrawal of massive 
numbers of Americans from both civic and political arenas are deeply 
troubling. This situation had to be addressed by fresh political movement 
arising from the citizenry’s labors and resources and dreams about what 
America could become at long last. The worsening concentration of 
global corporate power over our government has turned that government 
frequently against its own people, denying its people their sovereignty to 
shape their future. Again and again, the will of the people has been 
thwarted and the voice of the people to protest has been muted.

In the past, citizens who led and participated in this country’s social 
justice movements faced steep concentrations of power and overcame 
them. A brief look at American history is instructive today. Common 
themes occur from the Revolution of 1776 against King George III’s 
empire to the anti-slavery drives and women’s suffrage movements of 
the 19th century, to the farmers’ revolt against the large banks and 
railroads that began in 1887, and on to the trade union, civil rights, 
environmental and consumer protection initiatives of the 20th century, 
culminating in the demands for equity by Americans who are 
discriminated against due to their race, gender, tribal status, class, 
disability or sexual preference.

All these movements took on excessive power, pressed for 
relinquishment or sharing of that power despite vigorous opposition by 
elements of the dominant business community. Many years were lost to 
the resolutions of these injustices before justice began to prevail and 
corporate power receded. However, when citizens won, and Tory 
merchants, cotton slave holders and corporations were compelled to 
share that power with the people they oppressed or excluded, America 
was a better place for it. America became more beautiful. Moreover, the 
companies behaved better and prospered more.

Over the past twenty years we have seen the unfortunate resurgence of 
big business influence, generating its unique brand of wreckage, 
propaganda and ultimatums on American labor, consumers, taxpayers 
and most generically, American voters. Big business has been colliding 
with American democracy and democracy has been losing. The results 
of this democracy gap are everywhere to be observed by those who 
suffer these results and by those who employ people’s yardsticks to 
measure the quality of the economy, not corporate yardsticks and their 
frameworks. What we must collectively understand about the prevalent 
inequalities is important because so many of these conditions have been 
normalized in our country.

Over the next four and one half months, this campaign must challenge 
the campaigns of the Bush and Gore duopoly in every locality by running 
with the people. When Americans go to work, wondering who will take 
care of their elderly parents or their children, irritated by the endless 
traffic jams, stifled by their lack of rights in the corporate workplace, 
ripped off by unscrupulous sellers and large companies, put on 
telephone hold for the longest times before you get an answer to a 
simple question–so much for this modern telecommunications age, beset 
by having to pay for health care you cannot afford or drug prices you 
shouldn’t have to suffer, aghast at how little time your frenzied life leaves 
you for children, family, friends and community, overcome by the sheer 
ugliness of commercial strips and sprawls and incessantly saturating 
advertisements, repelled by the voyeurism of the mass media and the 
commercialization of childhood, upset at the rejection of the wisdoms of 
our elders and forebears, anxious over the ways your tax dollars are 
being misused, feeling that there needs to be more to life than the 
desperate rat race to make ends meet, then think about becoming a part 
of a progressive movement of Greens, of this citizens’ campaign, to 
change the political economy so that healthy environments, healthy 
communities, and healthy people become its overwhelming reason for 

Look at Europe. During the Fifties and Sixties, several European 
countries provided all their citizens with health care coverage, day care 
and other services for children, labor laws which facilitate the 
organization of trade unions, a statutory "social wage" for all workers, 
union and non-union, providing one month paid vacations, retention of 
pay while caring for sick family members, pensions and other services. In 
the year 2000 A.D., most workers in our country do not have these basic 
rights. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, the United 
States was ranked 37th among nations in the world regarding the quality 
of health care a country provides its people. This is not only 
embarrassing but also unacceptable. Western European countries 
provided for their people thirty to fifty years ago. Why can’t we do it now 
in a period of economic boom? It’s possible. We can make a difference. 
Together we can chart a new course. 

However, what we must first do, as I mentioned already, is to collectively 
understand the inequalities afflicting so many of our citizens to translate 
this understanding into a demand for solutions. What is so normalized 
now must now be defined as intolerable and unworthy of this great 
country of ours.

A collective understanding must distinguish peoples’ yardsticks to 
measure the quality of the economy from corporate yardsticks. Consider 
business money in politics which overpowers labor money by eleven to 
one. Corruption reaches new peaks every two years and further nullifies 
what the voting franchise is supposed to mean. What about the bragging 
about the economy’s nearly ten straight years of spectacular 
performance? Try applying people’s yardsticks instead of the measures 
of record GDP, corporate profits and stock exchange prices. A very 
different picture emerges. Because the benefits of this boom have 
accrued to the wealthier and especially wealthiest classes, the majority 
of Americans are left behind. There is over 20 percent child poverty, 25 
percent for pre-school children. This is by far the highest percentage 
among comparable countries in the western world. There are about 47 
millions workers, over one-third of the workforce, making less than $10 
per hour, many at $5.25, $6.00, $7.00, with no or few benefits. The 
majority of workers still, after ten years of overall economic growth, make 
less today, in inflation adjusted dollars, and work 160 hours longer per 
year than workers did in 1973!

Then, there is the people’s yardstick for individuals who pay most of the 
taxes to their governments. Given proliferating corporate tax shelters, 
trillions of dollars in corporate and individual tax havens overseas, 
corporate income tax contributions to the federal treasury are well under 
ten percent, notwithstanding awesomely record profits. Between 1981-
83, a worker in a General Electric plant or office paid Uncle Sam more in 
actual total dollars than did giant GE which paid no federal income taxes 
on over $6 billion in profits and received a refund to boot.

In 1941, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis made a prescient 
observation when he wrote: "We can have a democratic society or 
we can have the concentration of great wealth in the hands of the 
few. We cannot have both." Today, that concentration of wealth and its 
political power has reached stunning intensities. In large companies, 
people who work in the same enterprise are now earning $1 for every 
$416 that the CEO takes away. In 1940, it was $1 for every $12. Today 
the financial wealth of the top 1 percent of households exceeds the 
combined wealth of the bottom 95 percent of American households. 
Earlier this year Bill Gates’ wealth was equal to the combined wealth of 
the poorest 120 million Americans. Whatever this enormous imbalance 
says about the great software imitator from Redmond, Washington, it 
means that about tens of millions of Americans, who work year after 
year, decade after decade, are nearly broke. What democracy worth its 
salt would have led to this profound inequity? Globally, the combined 
annual income of the world’s poorest 3.5 billion people equals the 
world’s two hundred richest people who more than doubled their net 
worth between 1996 and 1999.

The net would be much smaller were other forms of corporate welfare 
such as subsidies, erased corporate debts to Uncle Sam, giveaways and 
bailouts to be subtracted. Of course, small businesses don’t have such 
complex shelters to avoid taxes. When small businesses get into trouble, 
they are free to go bankrupt, unlike speculating, mismanaged or corrupt 
big businesses that can go to Washington for a complex bailout.

What about measures of environmental devastation? These don’t 
appear on the balance sheets of Exxon, DuPont, General Motors, or 
Peabody Coal. Degrading the air, water and soil that we use does not 
register with any reports of such companies. Global warming, ozone 
depletion, oceanic deterioration and forest clear-cutting do not have 
company logos on them. GE still has not been held responsible for the 
PCB poisoning of the Hudson River and got away with a trivial charge for 
what it did to my home area’s Housatonic River.

A low level flight across the USA would reveal the enormous wounds 
and scars, toxic hotspots, runoffs and dumps exacted by the timber, 
mining, paper, chemical and metals industries, taking out the livability of 
entire communities and their legions of worker-victims. More coal 
miners have lost their lives from black lung disease and mine 
collapses in the past 110 years than all the American lives lost in 
WWII. And that is just one industry’s casualty toll. The epidemic of 
silent environmental violence continues. Whether it is the 65,000 
Americans who die every year from air pollution, or the 80,000 
estimated annual fatalities from hospital malpractice, or the 100,000 
Americans whose demise comes from occupational toxic exposures 
or the environmental racism where the poor and their often 
asthmatic children live in pollution sinks, to cite a few preventable 
conditions. The mortality and morbidity toll is far in excess of the 
appalling street-level homicide numbers that amount to about 20,000 
annually. The corporate youth addictors, tobacco and alcohol, the 
deliberate over-medicators, bear some responsibility for yet more 
fatalities and sicknesses.

The economic indicators preferred by Chairman Alan Greenspan and 
most politicians from the two parties exclude much more that matters to 
people: consumers who are defrauded, injured and killed by hazardous 
or mis-sold products and services such as drugs, medical devices, 
vehicles, pesticides, flammables, medical malpractices, insurance and 
bank reports, credit, low income repair and loan scams. These tragedies 
are ignored, although they do sometimes come before the courts and 
are covered in excellent major media investigative features. Then, to the 
chagrin of the dutiful reporters, too often nothing happens.

The percentage of union members in the private economy has just 
dropped below 10 percent, the lowest in 60 years and the lowest 
percentage in the western world. This indicator of people’s plight 
explains much more about why many workers do not earn enough to 
support their families, why they have to bear more of the health 
insurance premiums, if they receive any from their employer, and why 
they go without or endure shrinking retirement benefits.

What we must achieve is a stronger democracy to turn all these 
deplorable conditions around. Because we know from our own inner 
strength and knowledge as a nation and from the experiences of our 
courageous forebears who surmounted their injustices, we can and we 
This country has more problems than it deserves and more solutions 
than it uses. Because our democracy is underdeveloped, there is little 
accountability. The corporate commercialization of our country, our 
government, our universities, our schools, our youngsters, our very 
expectation levels continues unabated. Health, safety, justice, education, 
respect for the environment and future generations are subordinated to 
boundless greed and commercialism. Much of our foreign policy is driven 
by unsatiable corporate pressures to sell military hardware to both the 
Defense Department and directly to foreign dictators. This happens even 
if it goes against the interests of our country, taxpayers and the principle 
of prudently allocated public budgets. Weapons manufactures foist 
weapons systems onto the Pentagon, working through a PAC-greased, 
supine Congress. Lower level Pentagon analysts are left to fume in 
private, powerless to stop the waste and distortions of our policies.

There is more to collectively understand. Corporatization is fast going 
global with autocratic support structures such as the World Trade 
Organization (WTO). The WTO undermines our legitimate local state 
and national sovereignties which enable America to lead the way in 
worker, consumer, environmental standards. Global corporations 
command the capital, technology, labor and many governments. How 
have they used this unprecedented supremacy to alleviate the world’s 
problems? The big drug companies avoid research into global infectious 
diseases, such as malaria and TB, that claim millions of lives a year and 
are heading to our shores in drug resistant form. Despite adverse 
publicity over their duplicitous behavior, the tobacco companies are 
straining to hook every possible youngster in the Third World with 
portents of massive cancer and other tobacco-related deaths yearly. The 
munitions makers are busy expanding their lethal export trade, using 
your tax dollars in the form of subsidies.

The food processing giants and the fast food chains are busy displacing 
indigenous foods with fat and sugar pumps a la McDonalds fast food. At 
the same time, the biotechnology companies drive to change the nature 
of nature without answering basic scientific or need questions. The 
banking giants and their IMF and World Bank cohorts are continuing 
their structural adjustment polices in Third World countries that cut public 
budgets, end critical consumer subsidies and replace real food acreage 
with cash crops for exports, while imposing environmentally damaging 
megaprojects that enrich the local oligarchy. The timber companies, 
working directly or through local firms are rapidly destroying the rich 
biological diversity of the equatorial forests. The large energy companies 
want these countries to buy more nuclear and coal-burning plants, 
develop the same fossil fuel-nuclear alliances that undermine local 
renewable solar technologies and energy efficiencies. By cutting such 
deals and supporting dictatorial regimes and the domestic oligarchies, 
democratic developments that would help the people, for example, land 
reform, agrarian credit, cooperatives, trade union rights, and political 
reforms are stymied and destroyed.

These conditions come back to plague us one way or another, as in the 
billions of wasted taxpayer dollars Congress has appropriated for the 
International Monetary Fund. When we overspend on munitions, the 
arms companies make money. Should we wage peace through 
preventative diplomacy and defense, they would make very little. One 
would think with the demise of the Soviet Union ten years ago, we would 
have had that Peace Dividend allocated to improve peoples lives.

Fifty years after World War II, tens of thousands of our troops are still in 
Europe and East Asia, defending prosperous nation allies who are fully 
capable of defending themselves against non-existent enemies. Yet, 
useless massive weapons systems remain on the drawing boards to 
further mortgage our fiscal future and drain money and talent from long 
overdue civilian projects.

At home our criminal justice system, being increasingly driven by the 
corporate prison industry that wants ever more customers, grossly 
discriminates against minorities and is greatly distorted by the extremely 
expensive and failed war on drugs. These prisons often become 
finishing schools for criminal recidivists. At the same time, the criminal 
justice system excludes criminally behaving corporations and their well 
defended executives.

A most insidious influence of corporations is their way of making us feel 
powerless, as did the auto industry for so many years. They did this by 
withholding information on better ways to build cars that they know how 
to design. We grow up corporate, thinking that this is the way things are 
and that will always be and reducing our expectation levels in the 
process. It was Ford Company Vice President William Gossett who wrote 
in 1959 candidly, that the modern corporation is the dominant institution 
in our society.

* * *

I grew up corporate at a time of the ascendancy of the motor vehicle 
highway expansion and the deliberate tearing up of the electrified trolley 
system (by GM and company) and blocking new systems of public 
transit. Research information about unsafe cars, sponsored by the 
Department of Defense, because soldiers were dying in highway crashes 
here at home in large numbers, liberated my civic perspectives. Good 
things happened. As a nation, in 1960 we started to raise our 
expectations about what levels of safety, emission controls, fuel 
efficiency should come with motor vehicles. As a result of federal 
regulation, motor vehicles became much safer than they were and 
millions of casualties have been prevented since then. The options were 
much wider than we had been led to believe. 

We can remind ourselves that through our state governments, we give 
business corporations the charter that brings them into existence. We 
can, therefore, as was done in the 19th century, condition this charter on 
good behavior and withdraw the charter for recidivist companies which 
then become subject to trusteeships for rehabilitating the companies with 
new leadership. Bad trade unions had to undergo such rehabilitation. 
Ultimately, it is always the people who bear the fundamental 
responsibilities to correct the course of their societies and their wayward 

One of those critical responsibilities is to ensure that our children are
well cared for. This is an enormous undertaking because our children are 
now exposed to the most intense marketing onslaught in history. From 
the age of 9 months to 19 years, precise corporate selling is beamed 
directly to children, separating them from their parents, an unheard of 
practice formerly, and teaching them how to nag their beleaguered 
parents as unpaid salesman for companies. There is a bombardment of 
their impressionable minds.

Through television, the Internet stores, samples and mailings, these 
companies convey their message to the little ones. They teach them how 
to crave junk food, thrill to violent and pornographic programming, 
interact with the virtual reality mayhem. The marketeers are keenly 
aware of the stages of child psychologies, age by age, and know how to 
turn many into Pavlovian specimens powered by spasmodically 
shortened attention spans as they become ever more remote from their 
own family.

Conditioned to become gazers and spectators for an average of 30 
hours a week, youngsters now register as more obese and out of shape 
than any previous generation since 1900 when such records began to be 
collected. Their teachers see the results of this addictive commercial 
exploitation, the rat pack product conformity, the intrusion of commerce 
into the schools themselves. This does not prepare the next generation 
to become literate, self-renewing, effective citizens for a deliberative 
democracy. Instead, this commercial traffic makes them even more 
vulnerable to the streets.

So offensive are these intrusions to the basic norms of nurturing a 
wholesome childhood that people, conservative and liberals alike are 
joining together to protest, demand restraints and encourage a wider 
association of adults, including retired adults, with children. There are 
good reasons why every major religion long ago warned about giving too 
much power to the merchant mind. Why? Because its singular focus and 
its self-driven impulses run roughshod over the more non-commercial 
values that define a worthy society.

How badly do we want a just and decent society, a society that raises 
our expectation levels about ourselves and our community, a society that 
foresees and forestalls future risks, a society that has the people 
planning the future of their country, not global corporations as is the 
case now? A just and decent society is the dream of all those good 
citizens across our land who fight the good fight daily, it is the dream of 
the Green Party, it is the dream of a growing number of people seeking 
to involve themselves more actively in reclaiming this democracy of ours.

This campaign is about strengthening our Republic with "liberty and 
justice for all" so that freedom is defined as participation in power: power 
to solve our problems and diminish our injustices that cause such pain 
and stultify so many Americans and their children. It is good to have 
such dreams, my mother would tell us, but she added a challenge. She 
taught us that determination puts your dream on wheels. Together we 
reviewed the problems and have understood that inequalities are getting 
worse. Together we can change the course of events as our forebears 
did. With commitment, dedication and determination we can put our 
dreams on wheels in this campaign.

The people of this country have options. There are more citizen 
organizations and individuals knocking on the doors of their 
governments than a government responding. This means we must 
persist until we prevail. There are hopeful signs across the country as 
this campaign is demonstrating. We are campaigning all over the country 
with citizen groups on the ground who are working to lift standards of 
living and quality of life. The tide is starting to turn. 

Last year our campaign promised to journey to all fifty states. I am the 
only Presidential candidate to have completed campaigning in every 
state of our country since the first of March. In Boise, Idaho, recently, a 
reporter asked me: "Since Bush is expected to win Idaho and Gore has 
essentially conceded Idaho, neither of them are coming here, why did 
you? "Because," I replied, "if you’re going to run for President of the 
United States, you should campaign in every one of our states."

Campaigning with the people in all the places we visited is illuminating 
and heartwarming. The impulse for changes as if people mattered are 
visible everywhere. Let me share some examples. 

In Toledo, Ohio, we joined with members of a community of some 80 
householders and 16 small businesses taken by the City, under threat of 
eminent domain, to provide Daimler/Chrysler with a landscaping area. 
Already, the cowed city had given Chrysler ample acreage for its Jeep 
Plant. The city of Toledo cleared the land for the giant company, 
absorbed any environmental liabilities, gave Daimler/Chrysler a long tax 
holiday as part of a nearly $300 million package in federal, state and 
local subsidies. The auto company got the additional land it wanted for 
its shrubbery and a long-time cohesive neighborhood was utterly 
demolished just like Detroit’s Poletown in the 1980s. A World War II 
veteran told us that when he was fighting the fascists, he never dreamed 
his long-time home would be taken for corporate shrubbery. In stark 
contrast, Daimler/Chrysler, recording record profits, had $20 billion cash 
in the bank.

In Madison, Wisconsin, we marched with workers picketing for a livable 
wage. They were working for an independent contractor who provided 
services for the University of Wisconsin.

In Atlanta, we stood in solidarity with a large homeless shelter in the 
downtown Business District where homeless people are not supposed to 
be seen. The city has not given the Shelter a kitchen permit for two 

In Nashville, Tennessee, I met Tom Burrell, now running for the U.S. 
Senate on the Green Party line. Mr. Burrell returned from Vietnam to 
work in the auto industry and then came home to Tennessee to farm a 
large tract of land. There he learned about the shocking state of Black 
farmers in America, dispossessed of most of their land and forced to 
give up their farms over the last seventy years, in no small part due to 
blatantly discriminatory behavior by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
The Department is only now offering to make inadequate amends. Mr. 
Burrell has been a transforming leader of these farmers seeking 
recompense and land. We had reported on this situation nearly 30 years 

In Boston, right next to Fenway Park, we gathered with members of the 
neighborhood at a news conference. The issue was a forthcoming 
demand by the Boston Red Sox organization that some $300 million in 
tax monies be used to help build a new ballpark nearby. The 
neighborhood groups, disturbed by diversion of tax dollars from 
neglected needs of the city, wondered why renovation of this historic 
park was wiser than demolition. Did not the Red Sox learn from the 
experience of the New England Patriots football team who were sent 
fleeing back to Boston after their $500 million bonanza for a stadium in 
Hartford was successfully blocked? There, an aroused citizen coalition 
spearheaded by the Connecticut Green Party effectively routed the 
power of a determined executive-legislative alliance by the Republicans 
and Democratic parties. 

In Montana and Idaho, we heard unassailable arguments that stopping 
the logging in national forests made superior environmental, economic 
and job sense. Enjoy these forests now and for future generations rather 
than destroy them for 3 percent of the nation’s annual timber harvest 
and $1.2 billion of annual taxpayer subsidies to the timber barons. "Let 
the Forests breath for us," America’s great environmentalist, David 
Brower told us. 

In Hartford, Connecticut’s grim inner city amidst the office buildings of 
the affluent insurance companies, we met with clergy from the Churches 
and social activists and discussed what this so called booming economy 
has left behind in misery, deprivation and neighborhood heroics. 

In Nebraska and Iowa we learned about the shocking crisis of much rural 
farm country where small farmers and ranchers, despite working from 
dawn to dusk, cannot make a living. They are being mercilessly 
squeezed by giant suppliers and giant buyers, who are relentlessly 
driving toward an industrialized corporate-contract agriculture mutated by 
genetic engineering.

In Hawaii, we visited one of the only two plots in the United States (the 
other is on the Pine Ridge Reservation) legally permitted to grow 
industrial hemp, that 5000 year old, versatile plant with thousands of 
uses, including textiles, fuel, food and paper. A fraction of an acre was 
surrounded by barbed wire fence, saturation night lights inside a larger 
fenced area. This medieval experience brought home once again that for 
the sake of farmers, the environment, consumers and energy 
independence, it is necessary to free industrial hemp from the proscribed 
list of U.S. Drug and Enforcement Agency. 

In West Virginia, the misbehavior of King Coal is painfully visible. Some 
coal companies think nothing of blowing the tops off of mountains and 
producing a polluting rubble and consequent jamming of streams for 
many miles. Imagine! Against prevailing public opinion, King Coal is 
dynamiting mountains, whose lore and beauty formed the natural space 
for the mountain people. There was no objection from the Clinton-Gore 
Administration. Similarly, the company that operates the giant 
incinerator, an extremely hazardous polluter in southwestern Ohio 
benefitted from the broken promises of the Clinton-Gore team made in 
1992, to the citizen groups that fought and continue to fight to shutdown 
the incinerator. 

>From Minnesota, my vice-presidential running mate, Winona LaDuke 
and called a conference of tribal leaders about the need to respect 
Treaties, and end the budgetary and other discriminations against the 
impoverished reservations. This is long over due.

Around the country from Delaware to Kentucky to Oregon to Minnesota, 
we joined with students deeply involved with the anti-sweatshop 
movement and with workers who have lost their jobs to these 
sweatshops abroad. We surveyed and confirmed the need for modern 
public transit and the wonderful new technologies that community groups 
were demanding to enable low- income people to get to work and to 
relieve the enormous time wasted in chocking bumper to bumper traffic. 
We spoke with nurses from coast to coast about furthering their leading 
role in advancing patients’ rights, the quality of health care and universal 
health care for all. And, a tip of the hat to the California Nurses 
Association, the standard-setter for unions everywhere, for being the first 
union to support this Green Party Presidential campaign.

How uplifting were our conversations with peace and nuclear arms 
reduction groups whose members, most of them sagacious, experienced 
and determined elderly women and men whose concern is first and 
foremost for the "Seven Generations" ahead. They set a new standard 
for grandparenting. We should recall that the nuclear freeze movement 
began in town meetings in New England. 

We saw struggling small businesses, the Main Street core of their 
community, slipping before the onslaught of the Walmarts and other 
giant chains that have privileges not available to these merchants. We 
met with volunteers and donors at receptions filled with civic activists 
excited over the premises and promise of an expanding Green Party. It 
would take about one million Americans, pledging 100 volunteer hours a 
year and raising $100 a year, advancing a broad and deep agenda for 
the just society congenial to millions of other Americans, to establish a 
majority political Party in a few years. 

The citizens of this country are not a backdrop for political maneuvering 
by big business. They are central to a democratic politics. They are 
central for reality testing, to help the politicians stay close to growing 
inequalities because politicians can insulate themselves by design. Did 
we really need a World Health Organization report to tell us how badly 
we stand on health care issues? Big money in electoral politics produces 
a kind of institutional insanity. This campaign will set an example of what 
can be accomplished with the honest dollars of individuals, by refusing to 
take PAC money or use soft money. This is a sane choice, now and in 
the future. It offers the citizens of this country an authentic role in 
defining and solving problems.

A progressive political party is most authentic when it connects with or 
arises from citizen movements and does not forget where it is coming 
from or the reason for its being. Major changes for the betterment of 
human beings start with major changes of direction. Such changes start 
with small steps taken by each individual and their community together 
with other individuals and these small steps evolve into ever larger steps 
which are thereby more tested and surefooted. 

The question we have to ask of ourselves is how badly, how urgently do 
we want these changes? Do we want public financing of public elections, 
which will remove any roadblocks to progress? Do we want universal, 
accessible and quality health care, with an emphasis on prevention, for 
all children, women and men in America, at long, long last? Do we want 
the repeal of restrictive labor laws such as Taft-Hartley which fuel the 
obstruction of trade union organizing for tens of millions of American 
workers who do not earn a livable wage? Do we want adequate budgets 
and do we have the willpower for enforcing and strengthening the 
environmental, consumer protection and job safety laws against 
corporate crime, fraud and abuse so often and well reported in the 
mainstream media but, alas, to so little effect? Do we want to end 
hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate welfare, the so familiar 
subsidies, giveaways and bailouts? Do we wish to discover the small and 
medium-size businesses in the Social Venture Network, and other places 
that believe in sustainable economies, like the Interface Corporation in 
Atlanta, Georgia, so as to refute the chronic nay saying of Big Business? 
Can we not move our rich country to become a society that abolishes 
poverty? Do we want an expansive transformation of our energy sources 
to the many kinds of solar energy, some of which have been around for 
centuries? Do we wish to advance the appropriate technologies that 
define efficiency and productivity as if consumers, environment and 
workers mattered?

Do we want to elevate the many civil servants in our federal government 
above the demeaning stereotypes that politicians have pasted on them 
and liberated their knowledge, insights and imagination to make 
government our servant?

Can we assure that these civil servants — physicians, engineers, 
scientists, lawyers, cost analysts, procurement managers and others — 
have a place where they can bring their conscience and ethics to work 

Do we want our own media, our own television, radio and cable networks 
as a functioning and deliberative democracy desires and needs? Do we 
want to reserve part of the public airwaves which the people own in the 
first place for programming that reflects our solutions, our cultures, our 
sense of the heroic and the many models of little known success that 
need to be publicized and emulated?

Do we wish to so lift the horizons of the pursuit of happiness in our 
society through the pursuits of justice so that bigotry, discrimination and 
virulent intolerance recedes toward oblivion?

Do we wish to expand the definition of national security and national 
purpose to show how, with reasonable amounts of knowledge, resources 
and goodwill, we can rapidly begin to defeat the global scourges of 
poverty, contagious disease, illiteracy, lack of shelter, environmental 
devastation, and to recognize the genius of Third World peoples to help 
it flower? 

Isn’t it about time that the United States government stop supporting 
dictatorships and avaricious oligarchies with our tax monies, munitions 
and diplomacy? Isn’t it time that our government takes a cue from 
numerous studies and model projects, and advances foreign policies 
that support the peasants and the workers for a change?

Do we want to say to the 70 million non-voters, the Greens want to help 
you build a new beginning? Here is your chance to come forth and 
support what you have long wished for, a progressive movement that is 
for the people because it is of the people.

To the contented classes in America, the top five percent on the income 
ladder, I ask, is your choice only to exit or is it also to voice? Your 
income enables you to exit and buy bottled water when you are 
concerned about the quality of your communities’ drinking water, to send 
your children to private schools, and to move to some more pleasant 
community. But you are the people who can get your calls returned. You 
are the citizens who can give voice to the powerless and the 
beleaguered to improve their conditions.

My classmates at Princeton University and Harvard Law Schools have 
chosen to voice. Over ten years ago our Princeton class of 1955 
established a Center for Civic Leadership to place undergraduates in 
dozens of civic organizations dedicated to systemic change. The Center 
is also pursuing a major effort to reorder our public health budget so that 
a major assault on global tuberculosis can be mounted. In 1993, 
members of my Law School class of 1958 established the Appleseed 
Foundation that organized state-based Centers for Law and Justice. 
Over a dozen of these centers are underway, for the purpose of 
furthering systemic approaches to systemic injustices. How many other 
older alumni classes, undergraduate and graduate, can develop their 
systemic initiatives for building democracy and justice?

A progressive political movement highlights civic energies which are 
dedicated to the proposition that a society which has more justice is a 
society that needs less charity. Too many good people are walking 
around with invisible chains which restrict their contributions to the good 
life for themselves and their fellow citizens. A progressive political 
movement liberates their wisdom, judgment, experience, creativity and 

To the millions of retired Americans with such capacities, a progressive 
political movement offers endless opportunities for this community-based 
patriotism to blossom. We need you in this fresh campaign. Small 
numbers of large corporations are playing roulette with the planet.

To the youth of America, I say, beware of being trivialized by the 
commercial culture that tempts you daily. I hear you saying often that 
you’re not turned on to politics. The lessons of history are clear and 
portentous. If you do not turn on to politics, politics will turn on you. The 
fact that we have so many inequalities demonstrates this point. 
Democracy responds to hands-on participation. And to energized 
imagination. That’s its essence. We need the young people of America 
to move into leadership positions to shape their future as part of this 
campaign for a just society. Let’s prepare to take the politicians and the 
lobbyists on a tour of the People’s America. 

Two premises are basic to this political campaign. First, that a basic 
function of leadership is to generate more leaders, not more followers. 
Secondly, this political movement is first and foremost movement of 
thought, not of belief. There is nothing wrong with beliefs but it would be 
better to have them preceded by thought and followed by action.

By debating, phoning, e-mailing, and marching during the next four 
months, we the people will grow a new political start, a green plant 
pushing up between the two fossil parties.

With a new progressive movement, we the people have the ability to 
vastly improve our lives and to help shape the world’s course to one of 
justice and peace for years to come.