Friday, April 27, 2012

Another Crusader for Nader (sorta)

Yes, I cast a protest vote once for Ralph Nader for President. But it was in 1996, not 2000 when it might have made a difference. So don't blame me for eight years of W and Uncle Dick. (I'll leave aside any conjecture as to what disasters we may or may not have faced under Gore/Lieberman).

But with the newt's overly late departure from the entertaining Republican Primary battles this year, it reminds me of why I voted for Nader in '96.

I was in New Mexico at the time and those electoral votes were pretty clearly going for Clinton's reelection. I had voted for Clinton in '92, somewhat reluctantly, but I was tired of G.W. Bush and Perot was no real alternative. Clinton was good on policy as a moderate Democrat coming out of the National Governors Association with his ideas about "triangulation" in finding the common, moderate ground in politics. It was the character issues that caused me some concern. I watched carefully as Hillary "stood by her man" and placed my trust in Bill, as she did, at least to give him a chance.

Bob Dole, even in the third-person, wouldn't have been a bad president. He was a good, solid Republican sort. But it was him standing next to the newt who was Speaker of the House at the time that turned me off. I concede it is difficult for a solid, mainstream Republican Senate leader like Dole to distance himself from his own party's Speaker, but I could not forgive him. Otherwise, Dole's character was unimpeachable in spite of some later lapses in good judgment doing those weirdly disturbing Viagra commercials.

But let me get back to Nader. Having soured a little on Bill and his character (pre-Intern revelations) and in a quandary about my vote for president in 1996, I decided to vote for the one guy I had met. Nader spoke at my law school, the University of Maryland, back in the early 80's. It was an interesting, and yes, controversial speech he gave complimenting our class because it was the first one in the school's history to consist of 50% women. He then went on in a bit of a diatribe to challenge the women not to be like the men in corporate law success and financial earnings but rather to seek a more noble calling in public service even at some sacrifice to future income and financial equality with men.

I went up to shake his hand after the speech, mostly just to say I had met a famous guy like him. One of my female classmates was up there already giving him a piece of her mind about the offense he had caused with the patronizing call not to be equal to the men.

It was I who took my law degree into public service. The compensation has been adequate as a solid, steady income for raising my family. But I didn't go after the big bucks. While not the Crusader that Ralph is, I was safe at my speed. I owe him at least that.

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