“People feel disempowered, disillusioned. And they feel as if their vote has no impact on the status quo. I mean, that’s the reason why they’re not voting,” said Danny Glover in a 1999 interview with The Nation.
Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign could help change that, when Nader supporters decided Tuesday whether to stand by their candidate — thus sending a powerful message to the major parties about the viability of a third party — or to switch their allegiance at the last minute to Bush or Gore.
Glover, an award-winning actor and director, is one of Ralph Nader’s staunchest supporters, joined by such celebrities as Susan Sarandon, Phil Donahue, Bonnie Raitt and Eddie Vedder with the Green Party on the campaign trail.
Did Nader’s campaign energize voters?
Glover, best known for his roles in the Lethal Weapon movies, has long been a social activist and humanitarian, advocating the release of Leonard Peltier and Mumia abu Jamal and speaking eloquently against racism. He joined us on Election Night in a live chat.
Danny Glover joins us now. Welcome!
I imagine you've been watching the race pretty closely. What's your reaction so far?
Like most people, I think it's sad. I hate to sound like the voice, the repetitive voice, but the race is really close. On the one hand, it could be very interesting — it's just too close to call right now. Certainly I don't think that we've lost any of the momentum. We've talked about — those of us who've supported Nader — putting together a coalition of people who are talking about issues that aren't spoken about, the issues you don't hear as part of the national dialogues, the dialogues surrounding the two major campaigns. The issue of globalization, the issue surrounding the death penalty, the prison system, those issues aren't addressed in the general dialogue of the campaign rhetoric of the two major candidates. But it's — I'm looking at the numbers now, and it's still too close to call.
Are you worried that support for Nader may cost Al Gore the election, and bring George Bush into the White House?
Well, I don't think support for Nader will cost Gore the White House. I don't buy that argument. I think the White House was Gore's to win or lose. Look at states like Minnesota, where Gore carried the state even though Nader had a large turnout. I think Nader had 8 percent of the vote in Minnesota. I think you'll find that in other places too. The people who voted for Nader were people who were concerned about the change, and the extension of the dialogue.
Mr. Glover, what exactly draws you to the Green Party?
The issues I'm concerned about are not just national issues, they are global issues as well. I've spent a lot of time in the rest of the world and see the impact of poverty there. Global warming, the environment, the death penalty (I'm a staunch opponent of the death penalty), and globalization are concerns that I have. I've been on several economic justice trips around the country — and not everyone is touched by this booming economy. Twenty million children live in poverty in this country. There are 2 million people in jail. Over 51 percent of those are African-Americans; over a million African-Americans are in jail. At some point, those in the criminal justice system — you need to examine the ratio of the number of African Americans in jail to those in college. The Green Party is a foundation to build a more inclusive, progressive party and that means the issues that are not normally handled by the other parties are taken on by the Green Party.
Mr. Glover, are you a member of the Green Party or is your interest primarily in Ralph Nader? Is the Green Party fielding any statewide candidates? If not, do you think having a candidate only for President is the soundest strategy for establishing a viable and sustainable third party?
My interest is primarily in Ralph Nader. That doesn't mean I won't be a member of the Green Party. The work begins after the election, building a consensus, and building opposition to the major parties. That begins now.
Danny Glover, thanks for your time.