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WHAT ABOUT RALPH? Ralph Nader is as different from the four major presidential contenders of 2000 as the above idea of leadership is from our current celebrity-obsessed perspective. While the vast majority of politicians are focus-groupand image-driven, Ralph Nader remains quintessentially, for better or worse, Nader. Ralph Nader believes in the power of people taking control of their lives. He invented the modern concepts of consumer advocacy, citizen activism, and public interest law because he truly believes that if we “do it ourselves” it will have much greater meaning, and longer lasting power, than if even the most benign and enlightened government does it for us. How can a man who has never been elected to any office, never held any position other than the unofficial title of “Public Citizen Number 1” become broadly acknowledged as one of the great Americans of the twentieth century? It is because he, unlike the vast collection of gasbags who ply us with platitudes, honors us with his belief in us. Nader’s stands on the issues of the day grow directly out of his belief in the dignity of the individual. He, alone among the major candidates, stands up unequivocally against child labor and the denial of worker rights, for universal health care, for an end to child poverty in America. He supports public funding of political campaigns, withdrawal from the World Trade Organization, vigorous protection of the environment, an end to the consolidation and monopolization of financial institutions, firm limits on biotechnology and genetic manipulation, slashing the military budget, and halting sanctions against Iraq. For some, Nader remains a problematic candidate. Working for his campaign in 1996, I experienced a little of the anguish that comes from working with a candidate who lacks a strong sense of self-promotion. Contemplating another time around, many of us worry about a repeat, a campaign without funds, and worse, without a sufficiently “driven” candidate. But the Nader of 2000 has absorbed the lessons of ’96 and believes the time is ripe for a much more complete effort. He rose to the occasion heroically in Seattle, debating ferociously against the minions of globalization with the same energy he employed to fight the automobile industry three decades ago. Nader has pledged to visit every state at least three times during this campaign. He has pledged to raise funds and to have a campaign structure with paid staff. Nader has promised that this will be a real campaign. What more can we ask? The rest is up to us. Nader often quotes his father telling him that the United States didn’t need a third party so much as it needed a real second party. In truth, we are well down the road of having only the choice between two wings of the business party. The Democrats and Republicans quibble over a range of issues, but the core injustices, inequalities, and stupidities continue or worsen as the years, and decades, roll by. Nader likens the major parties to Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the rival fiddlers who were incapable of stopping their musical feud despite the fact that their tunes were indistinguishable. It’s high time to reject them both, and demand a politics that calls forth, in the immortal words of Lincoln, “our better angels.” Dan Hamburg is a former U.S. congressman from northern California. He was the Green Party candidate for governor of California in 1998 and currently serves as executive director of Voice of the Environment, a San Francisco-based nonprofit. “Monsanto,” from page 15 Lang report “a pretty clear picture of an attempt to make it appear the issue is being fairly and accurately covered while actually avoiding doing so.” Heider is clearly uncomfortable with being perceived as a defender of big corporate power, which he acknowledges has too big a commercial interest in mainstream news. “I think if you frame the story as Fox vs. Jane and Steve, that already puts a spin on the story. But if you think about it as a dispute between two reporters and station managers at a Fox-owned station, that’s probably more accurate.” Based primarily on his own experience in television news, he is convinced that neither Monsanto nor Fox forced the station to retreat on the story, and that a courtroom is no place to edit journalism. He admits to some sympathy for Akre and Wilson’s position, but considers their lawsuit a poor tactic to attack corporate domination of the news. “I do worry about reporters and their ability to deal with tough stories. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. But the F.C.C. has not been any great champion of reporters’ rights. I question whether this is the way they’re going to get those reporters’ rights.” In Akre and Wilson’s eyes, the lawsuit is not just about their rights as journalists, but about the future of journalism. “Television is not what it was even ten years ago in this country,” Wilson told his Austin audience. “At one time, news was a sacrosanct public service. Now those people are dead and gone…. Big corporations are doing to the news business what they do to every other business. They are in business to make money. Their primary goal is, `How much money can we make, and how fast can we make it?’ “News decisions are now based on money. When a story has the potential, as this one did, to prompt a lawsuit that might cost them two or three or four hundred thousand dollars to defend, or to upset the milk producers so they were going to pull all those nice moustache ads, or the grocers, because we were going to point out that they never kept their promises, and they might pull the grocery ads suddenly, the decision about what we’re going to tell you about what’s in your milk, is made based on what it’s going to cost the station…. ‘How are we going to get the most people to watch, charge the advertisers the highest rates we possibly can, keep everybody happy and make money?’ This kind of story won’t do that. This kind of story will make people mad.” For more information about the Jane Akre and Wilson lawsuit, consult their website at . Other useful sources include The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods \( Rachel’s Environmental Weekly \( \( 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MARCH 17, 2000