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Ralph Nader Speaks On the FISA Amendments Act

Ralph Nader at a Press Conference in Columbus, Ohio on September 8 2008Ralph Nader does not have the backing of a vast party machine. He does not have the rousing oratorical skill of a Bible-quoting preacher. But he does answer questions. I posed this question to him during a press conference in Columbus, Ohio shortly after 1:00 pm today:

Jim Cook: If you were elected president, what would do about the FISA Amendments Act?

Ralph Nader: Well, repeal it! Then, restore the FISA law with improved safeguards so no government agency can snoop on the American people without first receiving a judicial warrant.

The FISA Amendments Act, in case you’re not familiar with it, is a new law passed this year that legalizes a massive electronic operation to spy on the personal communications of millions of Americans within the United States and allows physical searches of Americans’ homes and places of work, all without a search warrant or evidence. That’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

John McCain speaks in favor of the FISA Amendments Act. Barack Obama voted for the FISA Amendments Act. Only Ralph Nader has had the courage to unequivocally oppose the FISA Amendments Act.

I believe in supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States of America. Why again shouldn’t I vote for Ralph Nader this November?

7 thoughts on “Ralph Nader Speaks On the FISA Amendments Act”

  1. Gary says:

    Because Ohio is a swing state.

  2. Jim says:

    And…? Help spell out the complete argument for me. I really need to think through this.

  3. J. Clifford says:

    Because Barack Obama has consistently stood against the FISA Amendments Act, and offshore drilling, and the death penalty, and faith-based kickback initiatives…

    … in the alternative universe known as Dimension X. In our universe, Barack Obama has caved in to the Republicans on every one of those issues.

    Barack Obama is better than Sarah Palin and John McCain, but not by a very much.

  4. Gary says:

    Jim, here’s my thinking:

    Here are the things we know for sure:

    1) Ralph Nader will not win, no matter what else happens.
    2) Either Obama or McCain *will* win.
    3) Neither Obama nor McCain are perfect.
    4) Obama is light years more progressive than McCain.

    So, one can use one’s vote to take a step in the right direction, or one can throw one’s vote away. The perfect is the enemy of the good. You could spend a lot of energy promoting Nader to no positive effect (at this particular place and time). It could even be argued that such energy siphons energy from a more positive direction. If we lived in states that were clearly leaning one way or the other, we could afford to make a statement with our votes. But as we live in swing states at the moment, it would be imprudent to throw away our votes. A vote is a tool that should be wielded with care.

    It is about politics at this point, not idealism. Sometimes decisions must be practical; I think this is one of those times. It is too important to squander our vote. We can make progress by taking a step in a positive direction or we can leap over our ideal cliff to our deaths.

  5. Gary says:

    (I mean, not to be too dramatic. I’m a librarian, not a writer.)

  6. Jim says:

    A: Let’s be literal. You DON’T actually know #1 or #2. More complicatedly, the reason that people think that #1 and #2 are true is that they have encountered so many other people who think that #1 or #2 are true. This is a feature of social systems called network autocorrelation: that an idea becomes socially real (“reified”) by a person to the extent that it is accepted by the other people that person comes in contact with.

    If you don’t accept the non-social reality of #1 or #2, and accept that #1 and #2 are socially determined, and then recognize that social consensus can be broken by people who act differently, then there’s wiggle room for the force of independent thought and action, isn’t there, Gary?

    B: what is the likelihood that I will be THE deciding vote between Obama and McCain? Even in Ohio, it’s practically zero (Quantity 1). That means that no matter what I do, I will be “throwing my vote away” in the sense that my vote alone will not change the election. So what do I do with it? Do I give it to Barack Obama, helping in a very small way (Quantity 2) to create the perception of a landslide and a mandate of approval for Obama’s stated policies which include tossing the Constitution in the crapper and other capitulations? Or do I vote for Ralph Nader, helping in a small but larger way (Quantity 3) to create the perception that there are people out there who aren’t just going to vote for the Democrat no matter what and must be mollified by, you know, respecting the Bill of Rights and treasonous junk like that?

    There are three quantities to consider, and unfortunately they can’t be given a numerical value. I have to make a judgment about which I think is larger, and about the direction in which I want to make my own little push.

    C: Beyond voting, the “energy” you speak of I think refers to talking about candidates like Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney and Bob Barr and so on. I chafe at the notion that talking about things is destructive. I think that when there’s a feeling among people that it’s very important we not talk about X, perhaps that’s a sign that we need to talk a little more about X. Not necessarily commit to it; I’m not committed. But to talk about it.

    Hey, you are a writer if you write! Please write more. This is a conversation worth having.

  7. Tom says:

    i voted for Nader every time he’s been on the ballot and BUSH and his fascist “theocracy” won, though i’m sure both elections were rigged. After Obama went with the Republicans on FISA i gave up on him too.

    So, yeah, i’m “throwing my vote away” for what’s right over bullshit/complicity masquerading as “change.”

    If either of the major candidates win, the only change we’re likely to be left with is that in our pants pockets, couch cushions and ashtrays.

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