Hospitals & Asylums    






Nader-Gonzalez ’08 HA-26-08


By Tony J. Sanders


On Friday, September 26, 2008 Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez spoke from 2:00-4:00 pm at the University of Southern California (USC).  They are running for President and Vice President of the United States of America on the socialist and feminist minded Peace and Freedom Party in California, Independent ticket for the rest of the nation.  Ralph Nader is an attorney, author, lecturer and political advocate who ran for President in 2000 for the Green Party and in 2004 and 2008 as an independent.  On February 24, 2008, Nader announced his 2008 presidential bid.  On February 28, 2008, Nader named former San Francisco Board of Supervisors president Matt Gonzalez as his running mate for the 2008 Presidential Election.  In August Ralph Nader emerged from the Peace and Freedom Party’s convention as the party’s presidential nominee with the support of a majority of the delegates.  Although Nader only received 97,421 votes in the 2000 elections his popularity went up and he received 463,653 votes, 0.38% of the popular vote, in 2004.  Ralph Nader will qualify for ballot status in 45 states. 


Support for third party candidates is clearly growing but Congress remains dominated by the Democrats and Republicans.  The argument for a third party is compelling.  Do we want to continue the two party system?  If one party was 95% bad and the other was a 100% bad who do you vote for?  Are you going to vote for the Peace and Freedom Party as an alternative?  When are we going to break the corporate grip on the two parties and elect a third party candidate?  Greg Kufun, from Portland, Oregon, a lawyer who closed a nuclear power plant and has been a Nader volunteer since 2000 explained, “No Democrat would be elected if they cut the defense budget.  Democrats in 2006 seized the House and Senate claiming to stop the criminals but the first thing Pelosi did was take impeachment off the table”.  Congress now enjoys a 91% disapproval rating.  How can either Democrats or Republicans fix the problem of corruption in Washington, they are the problem?  To change Washington DC the United States will clearly need to evolve into a multi-party Parliamentary system like the majority of other democratic nations.  The Independents have my vote.


Nader and Gonzalez are the seventh Peace and Freedom candidates to run for President of the United States on the California ballot. - famed physician and author Benjamin Spock (1972), African-American community organizer Margaret Wright (1976), party state chair Maureen Smith and feminist writer Sonya Johnson (1984), constitutional rights activist Ron Daniels (1992) party chair and Berkeley elected official Marsha Feinland (1996) and Native American leader and political prisoner Leonard Peltier (2004).  The Peace and Freedom Party also has three candidates running for California Assembly, five for Congress and one for Senate this 2008.  The most notable candidate is military mom, Cindy Sheehan, who is trying to unseat tyrannical Nancy Pelosi’s Congressional seat in San Francisco, as an independent endorsed by the Peace and Freedom Party, Green Party and other third parties.  The Peace and Freedom Party has never won a federal seat, in fact they have never won more than 3.5% of the vote by Geneve Torres in a 1992 bid for the Senate.  The United States House of Representatives currently holds no third party members. The United States Senate holds two - Joe Lieberman, formerly a Democrat, won reelection to his Senate seat in 2006 and Bernie Sanders, a self-described "democratic Socialist" but official independent, won election to the Senate in 2006 after serving sixteen years as an independent Congressman from Vermont.  While the odds are against the Peace and Freedom Party, or Independents, as they are known in 44 States other than California, like the other third parties, namely the Green Party, Libertarian Party, Socialist Party and Constitution Party, if dissatisfaction with Congress continues, the people will come to realize that third parties are the only way to change government in Washington.


Third parties face many obstacles.  Nationally, ballot access laws are the major challenge to third party candidacies. While the Democratic and Republican parties are usually entitled to ballot access in all fifty states in every election, third parties often need to meet extra criteria for ballot access, such as registration fees or, in many states, petition requirements in which a certain number of voters must sign a petition for a third party or independent candidate to gain ballot access. In recent presidential elections, Ross Perot appeared on all 50 state ballots as an independent in 1992 and the candidate of the Reform Party in 1996.  Perot, a multimillionaire, was able to provide significant funds for his campaigns.  Patrick Buchanan appeared on all 50 state ballots in the 2000 election, largely on the basis of Perot's performance as the Reform Party's candidate four years prior. The Libertarian Party has appeared on the ballot in at least 46 states in every election since 1980, except for 1984 when David Bergland gained access in only 36 states. In 1980, 1992, 1996 the Libertarian Party made the ballot in all 50 states and D.C.. The Green Party gained access to 44 state ballots in 2000 but only 27 in 2004. The Constitution Party appeared on 42 state ballots in 2004.   Ralph Nader, running as an independent in 2004, appeared on 34 state ballots. In 2008 Ralph Nader should appear on 45 state ballots, along with Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party and Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party.


Presidential debates between the nominees of the two major parties first occurred in 1960, then after three cycles without debates, took place again in 1976 and have happened in every election since. Third party or independent candidates have been included in these debates in only two cycles. Ronald Reagan and John Anderson debated in 1980, but incumbent President Carter refused to appear with Anderson, and Anderson was excluded from the subsequent debate between Reagan and Carter.  Meeting the 5% support threshold Independent Ross Perot was included in all three of the debates with Republican George H. W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992. His participation in these debates helped Perot climb from 7% before the debates to 19% on Election Day, but no electoral votes.  Perot was excluded from the 1996 debates, despite his strong showing four years prior, he won only 8% of the popular vote.  In 2000 revised debate access rules made it even harder for third party candidates to gain access by stipulating that, besides being on enough state ballots to win an Electoral College majority, debate participants must clear 15% in pre-debate opinion polls. This rule remained in place for 2004, when as many as 62 million people watched the debates, and is still in effect for 2008.  Ralph Nader explains, “What we are seeing is a blackout of dissenting voices.  We are going to have a parallel interview rather than a debate.  No one will talk about health insurance, corporate crime, Palestinian peace or consumer protection.  Infrastructure is crumbling and the money goes to the military.  Both candidates are increasing military spending.  People want a third party candidate in the debates”. 


The main purpose of third party candidates is to get the word out on issues that are important to them, and to voice opinions on issues of general importance, that neither of the major political parties, with their military industrial backing, are willing to redress.  While they may be blocked out of the debates, Nader and Gonzalez, are going to be campaigning across California regarding the proposed $700 billion bailout of financial institutions, in October.  Ralph Nader said, “FDR warned about corporate power during the Depression, he said, ‘when government is controlled by private economic power, that is fascism.  They control the FDA, they control the automobile lobby’.  The $700 billion blank check is a power grab by the most corrupt.  What it amounts to is lying, cheating and stealing.  The politicians are more afraid of you than corporations.  This bailout amounts to the corporate destruction of capitalism, socialism supreme.  I want a massive amnesty for nonviolent drug offenders, jail the corporate offenders.  We don’t want to treat the people like spectators.  6 million people in California have no health insurance, 48% of children live in poverty or near poverty.  We have a principle that we will do everything we can to make the world a better place.  Nothing gets done without knowledge.  Nothing gets done without principles of justice.  But that’s not enough, you have to have fire in the belly.  You have to get angry at systemic injustice.”


Maschi, Bob. Challenge for Power: Nader and Gonzalez on the California Ballot. The Partisan. Issue No. 26. Fall 2008

Peace and Freedom Party.

Ralph Nader for President 2008.