Friday, May 9, 2008

Looking Past November--Watchdogs and Other Canine Metaphors

[11-5-08 -- Update: Please see]

An as of yet much under-advertised aspect of the Nader 2008 campaign is the fact that it won't end in November. Mr. Nader wants to build on the energy and volunteers in the campaign to start Congressional Watchdog groups of 1000 people in each Congressional district to put pressure on our elected officials to, well, do their jobs (you know that thing we're paying them and giving them health insurance for).

I happened to be looking back through a list of interesting quotes I keep and came across one I hadn't thought of in a while. It's from a popular movie from the 90's, Wag the Dog. I don't remember the details of the film, but in case you haven't seen it, it's basically about a president who hires people to fake a war in order to divert attention from his own domestic scandals. In any event, I do remember the quote the title is based on, from the very beginning of the movie:

Why does a dog wag its tail? Because a dog is smarter than its tail.
If the tail was smarter, the tail would wag the dog. [1]

Now, I'm not sure I agree with the analysis that it's
entirely because of intelligence, but the quote and it's film context certainly inspire one to think about what is wagging whom in this country.

I just watched this video of the Nader campaign protest of the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) Mr. Nader helped start 40 years ago. They protested a "rule that will deny roof crush victims their rights to seek justice and compensation." [2] In Mr. Nader's words:

So what we're seeing here is a giant auto industry crackdown on the lives and safety of the American people, using the federal government as a weapon against the kind of safety technology that the engineers know how to put in the cars, doesn't cost them anything, and that 8 models already meet... [3, emphasis added]

Mr. Nader goes on to urge everyone to contact their senators about this issue before the June 4th senate hearing. But the point here is, this sounds like yet another example of the corporations "wagging" the American public. Corporations aren't even living beings, they are not capable of intelligence, having less intelligence than a dog's tail. But it would appear that if Americans do not act intelligently or work to put pressure on our representatives, money and entities that only exist on paper fill the void.

Here's hoping that people will volunteer for these Congressional Watchdog Groups! It's time the tail learned its place.

I'll end with the statement the Nader Exploratory Committee made on this topic a few months ago:

Maybe we’re wrong.

Maybe the Democrats and Republicans will nominate Presidential candidates this year who will stand up against the war profiteers, the nuclear industry, the credit card industry, the corporate criminals, big oil, and the drug and health insurance industries.

We doubt it.

But hope springs eternal.

In the meantime, take a few minutes and explore with us an idea.

The idea is this—1,000 citizens in every Congressional district.

Each and every one committed to challenging the corporate powers that have a hammerlock on our political and economic systems.

Organized citizen power facing off against corporate power.

In this election year – 2008.

Instead of spending this election year sitting back and watching the corporate candidates spin their vapid mantras – hope, experience, change.

Instead of spending the year complaining about inertia, exhaustion, and apathy.

Let us instead weigh the possibility of pulling together half a million dedicated citizens collectively rising up off our couches and organizing a ground force in every Congressional district in the country.

A ground force of citizens who are informed, committed, tenacious advocates for a just future.

This is what we are contemplating.

Something new.

Something big.

Something bold.

Something that works.

Something that will prod young and old alike.

To join in a mass push back against the corporate powers that are dictating our future.

No one person can get us there.

But one person is ideally suited to lead this grassroots force – if he chooses to do so and runs as the citizens’ candidate for President in 2008.

And that one person is Ralph Nader.

In the 1960s, Nader brought together a group of young people who challenged the corporate status quo.

The press dubbed those young people Nader’s Raiders.

And the rest – as they say – is history.

Here's the idea—1,000 active and informed citizens in each Congressional district ready to take on the corporate political structure in this 2008 election year.

Half a million citizens – mobilized, informed and powerful, organized for a common cause – facing off against corporate power and corporate control.