“Must Read” Indictment of Both Major Parties,
I recommend that two books be read prior to reading this one: Halstead & Lind's “The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics” and Ray & Anderson's “The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World”. Two other books could add useful underpinnings to the points Nader makes that I summarize below: Lewis' “LOSERS: The Road to Everyplace but the White House” which immortalizes citizen-businessman Morry Taylor (the “Grizz”); and Williamson's “IMAGINE: What America Could be in the 21st Century.”
A few points about Nader's book that I hope will dispel all the negative reviews and demonstrate that this is required reading:
1) This is the only book that addresses the totality of the challenges and threats to America in a sensible balanced way, without platitudes and upon a foundation of fact.
2) This is the only book representing the new political paradigm in which the citizen-voters take back the power by wiping out the ability of corporations to buy politicians.
3) This is the only book that thoughtfully and convincingly demonstrates that the Democrats have morphed into shadow Republicans, and both parties have completely lost their ethical and popular foundation.
4) This is the only book that bluntly confronts the fact that we get the government we deserve–democracy is hard work and demands citizen time and thought.
5) Among the useful details that should outrage and mobilize citizens, and all according to Nader:
a) the Commission on Presidential Debates is a fraud perpetrated upon the public–it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic and Republic parties created explicitly to displace the more honest League of Women Voters and to bar third party candidates from being visible to America in the crucial Presidential debates.
b) there is an incestuous relationship between the media, the polls (most funded by the media) and the Presidential debate and public policy process.
c) global threats are not well-understood by Americans, and a major effort spanning the next generation must be undertaken to restore global or foreign affairs and foreign trade understanding to the public.
d) public budgets are neither public nor honest. They are massively distorted with a “proliferating array of taxpayer subsidies, giveaways, and bailouts (known as corporate welfare) to corporations.” A recurring theme in Nader's book, based on factual legally-viable documentation, is the manner in which corporations are looting the commonwealth with the active connivance of our elected officials. The people need to wise up.
e) the Internet has *not* has the anticipated leveling effect of bringing out citizen-voters to take back the power and stop corporate socialism.
f) the non-profit organizations and popular organizations (e.g. the Sierra Club, the AFL-CIO) consistently misrepresent their members by choosing the “lesser of two evils” in the two traditionalist corporate candidates, not realizing that a) a lesser evil is still evil and b) their members are smart enough to consider third party alternatives and could–if enough such organizations banded together, cause a third party to be instantly visible as a mainstream alternative.
g) the public commonwealth (the airwaves, land, water, etc.) has been taken away from the people. It is time to get it back and demand, as one small example, that those using the airwaves granted by the public provide for free political time for all viable candidates, ending the advertising rip-off that also deprives the people of clear access to all competing views.
h) community building from the neighborhood up is the place to start. We need to focus on empowering and exciting the young people and building a cadre of volunteer civic activists that will sustain progressive public interests for the decades to come.
I would make one personal observation that was inspired by reading this book: I do not believe that any one President, from any party, is viable as a “one click” choice for leading America. In my view, the next President should not be elected without two fundamental changes in how we elect Presidents: 1) instant run-off voting must be enacted, allowing second choice votes to play a role if a third party candidate is not elected (while qualifying the third party for funding in future elections based on the first choice vote); and 2) Cabinets must be announced in advance of the election and be the focus of at least one Presidential debate including at least three but ideally four parties. It is time for a third party candidate to pull together a Cabinet that includes the best choice for key posts irrespective of parties, and specifically including the Pat Buchanan's, Sam Nunns, Colin Powells, and key others like Ross Perot, Morry Taylor, even Jello Biafra (as new Minister of Culture!).
This is really a superb book, in the tradition the Committees of Correspondence that helped bring about the American revolution, and I recommend it to all.