Thursday, June 3, 2004

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader lashed out at Democrats and Republicans yesterday for denying the rights of third-party candidates and either ignoring or purposely suppressing their issues in favor of corporate interests.

“The two-party trajectory has begun to dial for the same dollars from the same special interest and are reducing the two-party system to one,” Mr. Nader said.

He said the indications are clear in the current status of federal, state and local elective seats. The two parties are vastly more similar than they are different, he said, especially in their efforts to have absolute control over the nation’s political landscape.

Mr. Nader added that 95 percent of U.S. House seats are deemed noncompetitive, and 40 percent of state and local elections this year have incumbents facing no opposition.

“This reflects a long buildup of rigging the system against third-party candidates,” he said.

Mr. Nader also pointed to a recent meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to talk about their respective platforms.

Mr. Kerry told Mr. Nader that he would be strong on energy efficiency and renewable-energy technology if elected, and complained that the oil-industry lobby was the biggest obstacle in that regard.

“So I asked him, ‘What will you do to overcome the [oil lobby],’ and he said, ‘Just wait until I’m president,’” Mr. Nader said, chuckling at Mr. Kerry’s answer.

The speech before the National Press Club was not short on condemnation for both parties. He said they are conspirators in taking issues important to Americans off the table and moving the country toward a corporate state.

“When government is controlled by private economic power, that is fascism,” Mr. Nader said, quoting President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Who was saying “no” to health care for all Americans, a national living-wage standard, equal distribution of taxation, campaign-finance and election reforms, and environmental protection and energy advances, Mr. Nader asked rhetorically.

“The corporations, that’s who,” he answered.

Talking about the Iraq war, Mr. Nader reiterated that an impeachment process should begin against President Bush for “faulty” intelligence, “misleading” Congress and taking the country to war under pretenses.

Mr. Nader also accused Democrats of being soft in their criticism of defense spending, which he said encompasses 50 percent of the nation’s budget and has the most corrupt spending mechanism for contracts of any agency.

Quoting another former president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mr. Nader said the continual costs of new fighter planes, tactical weapons and bombs could be invested into advancements for schools and hospitals.

“Because [Mr. Bush] knew the cost of war, sometimes it’s more important to have a president who knows what war is, instead of a clutch of chicken hawks who think they know,” he said.

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