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How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for President

by Ralph Nader

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 2002
ISBN: 0-312-28433-0
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

The story of Nader's 2000 presidential bid, told with his trademark wooden verve and his equally trademark clarity and passion for the civic good.

American politics is squalid, myopic, and beholden, says Nader (No Contest, 1996, etc.), who offers plenty of proof for his allegations; the time for a third party—make that, in reality, a second party, since the Democrats and Republicans routinely tie each other's shoes—is long overdue. Here, Nader recalls, with righteous anger and a storm of facts, all the obstacles that were thrown in his way, from ballot-access barriers to being shut out of the presidential debates, as the Green Party sought to establish a long-term political platform movement. Nader marvels at how people could scorn him for taking votes from Gore: Shouldn't politics be about access to ideas and choosing among them? Democracy is not a spectator sport, he says, nor is it the trivial, sensational, salacious rubbish reported by the media; democracy requires a daily act of citizenship, of engagement often enough pitting outsiders against insiders, including corporate greedheads, bought politicians, and image handlers. At every whistle stop, Nader has something intelligent to say about a local issue, then brings politics home by explaining how the concentration of economic, political, and technological power is incompatible with a democratic society. That’s the meat of this story: nationwide examples of how politics has been corrupted, and a shrewd analysis of how the presidential election played out. Why McCain was dumped despite his popular appeal, why Bradley went down in flames, how the façade of the system crumbled before the simplicity of a recount. It soon becomes clear why Nader was reluctant to move from citizen-activist to electoral candidate, and why he felt he had to.

A salubrious, icy ethical bath that leaves no doubt about the serious need for third party—not to mention a fourth, and so on.