Transcript: Nader's Concession Speech

Nov. 7, 2000 -- GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RALPH NADER: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, all of you. We really did go. Our last campaign appearance was in Portland, Maine, at 1:30 this morning.

(APPLAUSE)

And the place was rocking. They were really moving up there, having gone from New York to Boston to Durham, University of New Hampshire, and Maine.

Well, first let me thank all the people who worked on this campaign. I mean, what we know for sure is that we’re coming out of this Election Day with the third-largest party in America, replacing the Reform Party, and going on …

(APPLAUSE)

… and building a long-term, progressive, reform movement. That’s really quite an achievement. It took lots of people all over the country to do that. It took great staff working day and night here in Washington.

And above all, it took a commitment by people to no longer settle for the least of the worst or the lesser of two evils, where at the end of the day you’re stuck with worse and evil.

(APPLAUSE)

Climbing …

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Ralph!

(LAUGHTER)

NADER: Trying to challenge the entrenched two-party system, this is really a lot what the campaign was about.

The two parties rigged the statutory barriers to get on the ballot for starters. And they command most of the money, by raising corrupt soft money and corporate money and PAC money, all of which we rejected. All of which we rejected because we want to set an example of what is necessary for real reform of our corrupt campaign finance system.

(APPLAUSE)

And then, of course — and of course you’re up against — most of the media coverage is on the horse race between the two horses …

(LAUGHTER)

… that are tired and hollow and have forgotten even to eat their oats in order to reinvigorate themselves.

And then, the two parties control the debate commission, which is really a private company control. And they exclude third-party candidates.

So, really, it’s quite an amazing and varied system of rigging the election for the two major parties against fresh political starts, which is why the two political parties can’t regenerate themselves, because they’re excluding all kinds of competition and instead imitating themselves — protective imitation.

As the Republican and Democratic parties take more money from the same sources, they morph into one corporate party with two heads, and presume that it really matters for the State Department or Defense Department or Treasury Department or Departments of Commerce, Labor, Agriculture or the health and safety regulatory agencies — whether it really matters whether Gore or Bush are in the White House, because they don’t make the decisions. The decisions are made by the people we trip over Washington, D.C., every day: 22,000 corporate lobbyists and 9,000 political action committees pumping money into both Republican and Democratic coffers.

This is what we expected was going to happen, and we took them on. And the important thing here is that we have reached a take- off stage in the Green Party and that this is the last time that the two parties in a national election will have the monopoly power to exclude significant third party competitors from the debates, because we are going to break the monopoly of the debate commission.

(APPLAUSE)

Going around the country, you get the feeling that there are millions of people who are really ready for a new, progressive political movement. And it takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of work to get them together and to believe that they can do it because of the dominance of the two party duopoly. But we have now seen enormous talent come out from all over the country, not just as local and state candidates on the Green Party, like Medea Benjamin in California running for the U.S. Senate.

(APPLAUSE)

But we’ve seen seasoned citizen activists who recognize that the civil society has been crowded out in Washington increasingly in the last 20 years by the two corporate parties.

And we have to heed Thomas Jefferson’s wisdom that when our government is taken away from us, we have to go into the political arena and mobilize new political and civic energies throughout the United States in order to come back and take our government back from the corporate supremacists who think that there’s nothing they can’t control, there’s nothing that they can’t commercialize, there’s nothing that they cannot daunt. And we’re going to prove them wrong in a very decisive manner.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, most members of the press misread the distinctiveness of this Green Party mobilization. They think, well, it’s just like another Green Party. It makes a valiant effort and the elections over and then it recedes then their leaders go back into their business in Texas or elsewhere.

This is not …

(LAUGHTER)

This is not that type of Green Party.

Right after the election, the Green Party moves and locks arms with all those citizen and neighborhood groups all over the United States who are fighting for a more just America, who are fighting for environment, fighting to establish missions against policy and enforcing the civil rights laws and the civil liberties laws; missions to say to the American people that the choice is the sovereignty of the people or the sovereignty of global corporations over the United States of America.

And that’s an easy choice to decide on whose side we’re going to be. We’re going to be on the side of the sovereignty of the people.

(APPLAUSE)

Also it’s important to note that in our country you cannot fire a citizen. Understand?

(APPLAUSE)

And the coordination and the side-by-side forward movement of the civic groups in our country and their political ally in the Green Party is going to give an authenticity. It’s going to ground the movement. It’s going to get much more seasoned talent into the political party than other political parties are capable for.

The Connecticut Green Party, for example, in the last four years has led on challenging the nuclear power plants that are in that state. And it mobilized the whole state, against the odds, to throw the NFL Patriots football team back to Boston and get out of a half a billion dollar stadium boondoggle.

(APPLAUSE)

And standing with labor on living wage issues. You know, there’s no Republican Party, no Democratic Party in those struggles. The two parties — the two major parties, after election they take a few days off, they relax, and then they turn themselves into money raising machines for the duration.

Well, the Green Party turns itself into a civic force, to build both the critical civil society and the political institutions that will represent that civil society.

(APPLAUSE)

We had some funny moments, and I don’t mean going on Saturday Night Live or Dave Letterman. We had some funny moments in that MasterCard parody. And MasterCard was foolish enough to sue us …

(LAUGHTER)

… saying that we violated their trademark registration in the word “priceless.” Can you imagine? They put a price on priceless.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

Well, all of these moments will be recalled with pleasure because we really performed I think all of us in a very exemplary manner. There is a lot of content behind David Broder, the Washington Post political editor, who this Sunday wrote a column and said: Who ran the best campaign in the presidential campaign year? And he said, hands down, it was the Green Party, and the Nader-LaDuke candidacy.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

And he thought Bush second, and Gore third. And let me tell you, everybody who knows Dave Broder knows that he does not deal out praise very liberally. So we really have to work hard to earn that commendation by him.

But I think it reflects that we really practiced what we preached in order to preach what we practice, not just in the way we raised our funds, but the way we comported ourselves, focusing on one important issue after another, which the media systemically ignored, as they continued to pepper us with the horse race questions.

Those of you that are interested in the full agenda, which will be pushed further in coming months, the Web site is votenader.com or votenader.org.

It really is quite unique, in the sense that having received 1 percent of the national media coverage and having raised less than 1 percent of the money, and having been excluding from the debates that the majority of the coverage was on the horse race. “Oh, are you going to be a spoiler?” And I would say, “Well, you can’t spoil a system spoiled to the core.”

(APPLAUSE)

And it became so predictable that the reporters would say, “I know you’ve been asked about this 1,000 times,” and I felt like having a recorded announcement, you know, boom. But then that would’ve been too much like the corporations who tell you to call 1-800 and say press one, press two, so I didn’t want to do that.

It really didn’t give us a chance to raise the subject matter that the press over the years has been reporting on: corporate crime, corporate welfare, the whole problem of labor and the living wage, WTO, NAFTA. All these things are reported on the major press; the Gore and Bush campaigns ignored all these issues uniformly in their look-alike status. And, still, the press was obsessed with the horse race questions.

So one of the goals after the election is to, in a very kindly way, give some of the media an invitation to learn about what the criteria are for newsworthiness, in order to cover in the future third-party candidates.

(APPLAUSE)

Because we attracted the largest, mass-paid political rallies by far of any presidential candidate. Madison Square Garden, the Boston Garden, the Target Center, all the huge arenas we filled with Green Party enthusiasts. That’s one criteria.

Another is our 37-year record on weekends and during weekdays of fighting for the American people, for safer cars and food and air and water, and trying to make the government more accountable and the corporations more responsive.

And the third criteria is that we have all kinds of people organized all over the country, working their hearts out and their minds out for our effort.

And the fourth criteria is that we were above the screen in the polls, if they thought that was an important criteria.

So we had the agenda, we had the rallies, we had the record, we had the polls rising, and still it wasn’t newsworthy. So you see, a lot of these journalists are caught in a trap, kind of a time warp, and we’ve got to liberate them as well.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I want to thank people for voting for us. The people who have yet to vote out in the West Coast and Alaska and Hawaii, they can certainly build our reservoir of voters so we can go forward after this Election Day with a great second leap forward in 2002, with all kinds of good people running for local, state and federal office, building not just an exemplary election record, not just building a unifying force with a civil society, but above all building a deep democracy. That’s what it’s really all about, building a deep democracy so we can really put some reality into this hallowed phrase, “A government of, by and for the people.”

(APPLAUSE)

And I just want to — I want to introduce our campaign manager and as a representative of so many hard-working people of our headquarter staff, Theresa Amato.

(APPLAUSE)

And I want to introduce that the person who really was the cause for this entire movement and this entire mobilization, and she started a long time ago, my mother, Rose Nader.

(APPLAUSE)

When I was a school boy, once, I came home, and we were having dinner table conversation about all the things that go on in the world.

And she looked at me and she said, “Ralph, do you really love your country?” And I said, “Why, of course, mother,” wondering what was going to come next.

(LAUGHTER)

And she said, “Well, I do hope you will grow up and work hard to make your country more lovable.”

(APPLAUSE)

I never forgot that.

(APPLAUSE)

Just very briefly, I want to introduce my sister, Professor Lauren Nader, at University of California Berkeley, my niece, Rhania Milleron (ph), about to be a Ph.D. in infectious diseases.

(APPLAUSE)

My sister, Claire, who is the chair of the Council for Responsible Genetics, among many other activities in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

(APPLAUSE)

We’ll be back, as our great supporter Phil Donahue said on 6,000 television shows. We’ll be back in a few moments. Thank you.