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October 2004
Why I’m Voting For Nader

By Joan Zacharias


“No, you couldn’t…please don’t!” coupled with a stern, disapproving look. “We have to get Bush out!” This is the usual reaction when I declare that I’m voting for Nader.

I sigh. Weren’t we just marching for peace and justice, an end to war, and against the erosion of our civil liberties and expanding corporate control? Weren’t you, I say, just campaigning for Kucinich because he’s “not like the others?” Now you’re telling me that I have to forget all this, march into that voting booth, hold my nose and elect yet another bogus politician? No! I will not do that. Here’s why.

The Democratic Party is not our party.
Does this millionaires’ club feel like our party? Do we have access to the halls of power? Do they ever have to worry about any of the things that we worry about, like making this month’s rent, next semester’s tuition, or that big health insurance payment? Who do they represent? Not us! We need our own party, our own movement, our own leaders. All the time and energy we spend rounding up votes for Kerry could be devoted to independent organizing—starting with the 100 million people who are so alienated from the same old politics that they boycott the elections altogether.

We can’t fight the Right with Democrats.
How did the Right get so strong, and why are Americans so open to neoconservative ideas? Every time the vaguely populist-sounding Democrats raise people’s hopes to get votes and then end up watering down, compromising and, in the end, killing any hope for real change, they demoralize and discourage people. The Right is capitalizing on this, and the result is scary, very scary. We can’t afford to muddle through any longer. People are losing hope and looking for answers—and someone to blame. We’d better come up with some real solutions—not the lame mantra “Vote for John Kerry because he’s not as bad as Bush.”

If not now, when?

These times call for new ways of organizing, leading and working for change. We can no longer afford to devote all our energy to pressuring the Democratic Party to please, oh pretty please, listen to our appeals and concerns. The Dems want to continue the war. They voted for the Patriot Act. They support the WTO and NAFTA. They are dependent upon corporate money. They will do nothing about global warming, racism, animal suffering, poverty, homophobia, or a million other concerns that we have.

Whether Kerry or Bush wins this November, we the people lose. Come November 2nd, if Kerry wins, we cannot let ourselves be lulled into a false sense of business as usual. Let’s stop frittering away precious activist energy on the Democrats. They are not our party. They are not our best hope. They are not the answer and never will be. We must get on with the hard work of relying on ourselves.

Joan Zacharias is a campaigner for social justice, animal rights and veganism living in upstate New York.



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