It wasn’t a typical conversation with a typical candidate. In Ralph Nader’s address to UM students, he didn’t make us feel good about ourselves or fill us with empty promises, but instead provided ugly statistics and said that our generation is “silly” in terms of our priorities and what influences us.
He didn’t receive applause and cheers. It was a time for students to digest their abundance of opinions but lack of political action.
His goal was to provoke, to anger and to stir a plan for action among students that want to see any real change in this country, not just another changed name for who resides in the White House.
He couldn’t have been more honest. The Democratic and Republican parties have grown further away from actually putting their ideologies into action. Political parties have been sadly reduced to beliefs instead of action. Proposed bills go unwritten; they are frozen by Congress, and they sometimes end up in such a chopped up state that it would have been better to abandon the issue altogether.
Every election year the same issues have come up: healthcare, social security and retirement, affordable housing, education, etc., but what major changes have really been made in the last two administrations for the betterment the people? We have gotten so caught up in discussing and complaining about the issues that nothing ever really gets accomplished.
Instead of calling upon more disconnected politicians, Nader calls us to become leaders. In order to see the fruits of real change, we need to demand more than just renewed empty promises; we need to start staging our fight. Our country wasn’t born as a result of an impersonal, passive population, but a passionate, aggressive, active population.
Nader even quoted a Chinese proverb that states, “To say and not to do is not to say.” Simply voting is just getting by in the political process and it takes a ridiculous about of time and energy just to get people to do that. It is what happens after the candidate is elected that ultimately matters.
Nader runs for the presidency with no intention of actually winning, but to get something bigger accomplished: To open the doors to those who have been abandoned by their parties that have resorted to incompetent candidates who lack the fervor for real change because they are too busy trying to please the both sides.
But I forgot. Americans have it “good.” As long as there isn’t widespread famine, suicide bombers or too much disease, we don’t have too much to worry about. Our lives are so much better than those of others. Nader said the American people could have everything they want, but don’t vote for anything they want. Well, I guess that not using our power is power in itself.
Marquita Bell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.