Thursday, April 20, 2006

Subject: "We Had a Democracy Once, But You Crushed It." by Ralph Nader

Dear Fellow Citizen,

You often hear Europeans and other foreigners say – I can't believe you Americans elected George Bush as President – twice.

But looking back, not only is it believable – it makes perfect sense.

After all, too many Americans know more about the contestants on American Idol than they do about their politicians – never mind Iraq or Iran.

Bush was projected as a guy you could have a beer with.

And the Democrats were – and remain – squishy Republican lite.

Prescription for disaster.

During the 2004 campaign, we challenged the two party duopoly, corporate power, and the war in Iraq.

We traveled to all 50 states.

I could go through the whole list of obstacles that were put in our way by the corporate-political machine.

But, as we like to tell our youngsters – no whining.

People come up to me and ask – Ralph, how are we going to get out of this mess?

And my answer remains – it’s all about creative, confident citizen action.

The collective creativity of the American people trumps the power of the corrupt corporate kleptocrats and their cronies in both parties.

As we wind down here at, I’d like to leave you with three points:

First, don’t believe the hype.

On foreign policy, Democrats would have you believe that Bush is the most reckless President and that he has ripped the United States away from a tradition of cooperative diplomacy by violently overthrowing governments.

But as former New York Times reporter Steven Kinzer points out, the opposite is true.

Bush is actually following and escalating a long-established tradition.

Beginning with the ouster of Hawaii’s monarchy in 1893, the United States government has not hesitated to overthrow governments – fourteen by Kinzer’s count – that stood in the way of its political and economic goals.

One example from the fourteen: Fifty-three years ago, the United States launched Operation Ajax to overthrow the democratically elected leader of Iran – Mohammed Mossadegh.

Now it looks like Bush is preparing for Iran again.

In 1953, Mossadegh was fed up with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company – now BP – pumping Iran's oil and shipping the profits back home to the United Kingdom.

Mossadegh said -- hey, this is our oil, I think we'll keep it.

Bad idea.

For the United States government, close to the Big Oil Companies, decided to overthrow Mossadegh’s government.

Kinzer, who has written a number of books documenting a century of regime change overseas, puts it this way:

"Imagine today what it must sound like to Iranians to hear American leaders tell them -- ‘We want you to have a democracy in Iran, we disapprove of your present government, we wish to help you bring democracy to your country.' Naturally, they roll their eyes and say -- 'We had a democracy once, but you crushed it.'".

Second, look forward.

The next couple of years present all of us with great opportunities.

Third, get creative.

The ground is fertile for action. The needs and the solutions are here.