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By Mike Westfall

Ralph Nader is one of the few people ever born in America who deserves
to wear the badge of “Great American”. His courageous life as a political activist, humanitarian, environmentalist and America’s consumer rights advocate is legendary.

Ralph has run for President of the United States four times and
announced on NBC’s /Meet The Press/ Sunday, February 24 that he was
running as a third party presidential candidate in 2008. He cited that
because of the protracted Iraq War, the wobbly economy, taxes, powerful
lobbyists and other key issues, Americans are disenchanted with
both the Republican and Democratic parties and need another voice. Who can
deny that we are over taxed, and that there are special parasitical interests on both sides of the political isle that have been influencing our government in negative ways for much too long?

Instantaneously, when Ralph declared his candidacy, the liberal talking heads came out of the woodwork calling him demeaning names such as a buffoon and a crackpot. Democratic sympathizers especially detest Ralph. They call him an election spoiler and claim that his entry into the 2000 presidential election cost Al Gore the election by taking votes in the close Florida race. What they are really saying is that they want to control the American elections, only want their chosen candidates to run, want to limit voters’ choices, and they blame their party failures on Nader. They call themselves Democrats, but this is not democracy. It is sour grapes.

Nader is profoundly different from the other candidates, because he is
not a career politician. Nader’s calling has been special in that rather
than merely spending a political career jawboning for votes, he has
actually spent a lifetime selflessly working on hundreds of causes
by identifying critical issues, rallying the people around those serious
issues to find solutions and actually doing what was necessary to
correct the problems.

His politically biased critics are expert at using the eager
sensationalist press as their alter ego to broadcast their false,
exaggerated and twisted remarks to slander him through personal
attacks. They have never put the cause above themselves or reached out to the
public for any reason other then for politically prostituting
themselves by character assassinating one of the most respected people in the
world. Unlike Nader, they have never held a demonstration, never
conducted a community rally, never spoken to Congress and never taken
on big business because of big businesses’ inhumane or anti-American
practices. What similar contributions have Nader’s critics made to
America? None! They have zero credentials.
Unlike his detractors, Ralph donates nearly all of his income, other
than a modest $25,000 per year, to approximately 50 non-profit
organizations that he has founded which are totally dedicated to
helping the American public.

Many of us are old enough to remember when safety was secondary, and
cars had a multitude of safety problems. Ralph’s work has resulted in
the creation of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act,
which created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 1966.
This led to a series of auto safety features beginning with safer
windshields, seat belts, air bags, etc. Because of Ralph Nader, our
families are much safer.

Ralph spearheaded the investigation of government corruption in 1971.
Public Citizen, which he founded, has over 140,000 members and does
investigations on Congressional, health, environmental, economic and
other issues. Ralph has been the people’s watchdog as he led countless
fights against corporate greed and Pentagon waste. His vital work has
covered issues including dangerous chemicals, and it has also covered
excessive tax rebates for big corporations that have devastated our

He has been the supreme, unequaled voice bringing safety to the
American products that we all use. His dedication and tenacity on health and
safety issues has unquestionably saved the lives of thousands of
Americans, possibly even the lives of the family members of his most
vocal and unappreciative critics.

Thirty years ago, I was a Flint GM blue-collar auto activist leader.
In the 1980s, we saw that we were losing America’s good paying
manufacturing jobs for a host of reasons ranging from automation to
global sourcing. In Michigan, General Motors was demanding property tax
assessment reductions of millions of dollars from twenty different hurting communities. Sixty-six cents of every dollar would have had to come back from our schools. I was part of a broad based community member’s movement consisting of workers, educators, churches and universities challenging GM. We invited Ralph to Flint to help us,
which he immediately did.

Ralph graciously used his resources to assist us. He wrote about our fight, he came to Flint for rallies, he and I did press conferences and radio shows together. He also sent Jim Musselman, one of his most capable staff attorneys, to assist us in Flint for several months on the GM property tax assessment reduction fight. No one else in this nation
was willing to do this, but Ralph Nader did.

It is worth noting that the most critical issue facing workers during those times was job loss. The workers’ cries fell upon deaf ears in both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party as they sold out workers and manufacturing communities with their NAFTA pact. NAFTA has been used as the grease for American manufacturing job loss. NAFTA has made it impossible for local governments to protect the best interests of their
citizens and workers.

Former Republican President George H.W. Bush negotiated the NAFTA pact, and Democratic President Bill Clinton and his Vice President Al Gore, in this unholy political alliance, initiated and led the signing of it on September14, 1993. NAFTA has single handedly done more to devastate and destroy America’s once proud premier auto industry and manufacturing base than any other program in the history of labor, thanks to both the Democrats and the Republicans.

NAFTA was designed as a power shift that was totally lopsided in favor
of multi-national investors at worker expense. When workers suffer
their families, communities and states suffer with them. Washington’s NAFTA
has allowed American based multi-national corporations, which have no
loyalty to any one nation, the right to pit one nation against another
nation and reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator. It has
suppressed wages, weakened unions and reduced benefits as it has moved
production from the United States to Canada and Mexico. Since NAFTA was
signed, America has lost over a million middle-income manufacturing
jobs devastating states like Michigan.

NAFTA has done more harm to America’s manufacturing sector than any
other program in the history of labor. It is a sterling example of why
Washington politicians are not friends of working Americans.

Ironically, it hasn’t helped Mexico or it’s Maquiladora factories south of the American border. Mexican’s have seen poverty increase and their real wages reduced. They have, also, seen their towns turned into environmental nightmares.

Before NAFTA, Ralph Nader proved himself an ally of the working class
and was participating in radio shows with me in Flint addressing the
dilemma facing America’s middle income manufacturing workers. Now the
same Democratic Party who, jointly with the Republican Party, brought
us NAFTA is calling Nader names because he dares run against them. Ralph
was an unwavering challenger of NAFTA. He stated that NAFTA was written
in such a manner that it could emasculate and undercut the laws of the participating nations which were designed to guard consumers and the environment. That is exactly what has happened and with horrifying consequences.

In conclusion, I am a fundamentalist Christian Conservative. Ralph Nader and I are not on the same side of the table on all of the issues. That said, I have a deep respect for Ralph and his life’s work. He has the qualifications, intelligence and honesty that some of the others lack. Ralph has as much right to run for election as any of the other career politician candidates. He has authentic credentials. Anyone who has been privileged enough to know or has ever worked with him has admired not only the good work he
has done for our society, but his integrity, dedication and concern for his fellow man. He is a positive role model and a sincere champion for the American people because of his great passion for the important issues. Ralph Nader is America’s premier consumer advocate. Whatever your political persuasion, America can never repay him for his
contributions to our nation. For Americans to not consider his ideas, reject his opinions, discount his reputation, rebuff his work and call him names is sheer stupidity. The ridiculous people who suggest that we do such things have a twisted definition of democracy.

So no, Ralph Nader is no crackpot nor is he a loose cannon, and he doesn’t lick the boots of corporate or political America like his befuddled, sharp shooting, dimwitted critics.