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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/13/15

For Nader, Defiance Is a Way of Life

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"Unrelated to any moral authority to govern, you can, at the very least, immediately launch, with other nations, efforts to provide emergency assistance to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis presently afflicting Gazan children, women and men deprived of food, water, shelter, and medicine. They are besieged, defenseless, impoverished, and in dire circumstances."

"As has been said, democracy is not a spectator sport," Nader wrote to Obama in 2014. "It requires a motivated citizenry, along with rights, remedies, and mechanisms that facilitate people banding together as candidates, voters, workers, taxpayers, consumers and communities. Concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few who decide for the many is the great destroyer of any society's democratic functions. It was Justice Louis Brandeis who memorably stated that 'we can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.' And another well-regarded jurist, Judge Learned Hand, declared, 'If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: Thou shalt not ration justice.'"

"We're being governed by corporations who are strategically planning every aspect of our lives," Nader told the gathering in New York. "They are strategically planning our elections, our politics, our government, our media, our food, our transportation, our foreign policy, our allocation of public budgets. They're even strategically planning our genes, and the genetic inheritance of the globe. They're planning childhood. Childhood is exposed to direct marketing and violent programming. They are undermining and circumventing family authority, the authority of mothers and fathers over their own children, by direct and massive 24/7 marketing to 4-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 10-year-olds. And then the addictive industries move in, hooking them for a lifetime. Correspondence is the only thing left in terms of freedom, other than a spot call to a talk show host where you get in a hundred words before they pull the plug."

"We are an advanced Third World country," Nader said. "Not 'we are becoming.' We are an advanced Third World country with unsurpassed armaments and science and technology, because we want to show off to the rest of the world. But you look at the rest of our country, and 80 percent of the people are poorer today than they were in 1973. Look at the way most people live. You turn on the TV, that's not most people. That's the rich and famous."

"Your generation has got to get a movement going," he said to a young woman at the end of his talk. "Elizabeth Warren actually said, why are the students charged a higher rate [on loans] than Wall Street banks? Like 6 percent instead of virtually nothing? And she asked that question. Now you have a senator [Warren] that millions of students can rally around. The problem is that the students sign on to these contracts but the ax doesn't fall until after they graduate. So they don't feel it when they are able to congregate in their own auditoriums and student centers. And when they're out there [after college], they're scattered. Defused. Even though the Internet is supposed to be able to rally them. But I don't give them any excuses, because they're always bragging about the Internet, and all of their friends, and all of their links, right? They should be able to do it in 24 hours. Millions of students ... are beaten down, and can't buy a house at age 30, even though the interest rates are low, and are just frightened beyond their wits that by the time they're 60 they're still paying their student debt."

I asked Nader afterward if he set aside certain periods in the day to write his letters.

"No," he said. "My indignations are aroused any time of day or night."

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Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

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