Nader: Obama supporters are in 'political slavery'
During a Sunday press conference and campaign rally attended by RAW STORY, Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader claimed that liberals and Democrats who will vote for Sen. Barack Obama as the "least worst candidate" are actually trapped in "political slavery."
At the campaign stop in Austin, Texas, Nader spoke to an audience of approximately 200 about his campaign's primary issues in the 2008 presidential election. During the press conference -- held in a sweltering classroom at the back of a small, suburban Methodist church -- Nader also directly addressed an elderly white woman as a "political bigot."
"What is your answer to people, including myself, who believe that the votes you get will take away from the Democratic party and ensure McCain wins?" asked the woman during Nader's Q&A with the press. "People who say that a vote for you is a vote for McCain."
Nader grew tense, and his response to the woman was abrupt. "Madam, do you think I'm a second-class citizen?" he asked.
"I'd like for you to answer my question," said the woman.
"No, because that question implies that somehow I am less equal in running for election than two crooked politicians in Washington," he said. "You are a political bigot, wittingly or unwittingly."
It was during his speech, and after the press conference, that Nader said progressives who will vote for Obama as the "least worst candidate" are actually trapped in "political slavery."
In June, Nader drew criticism for commenting that Sen. Obama is trying to "talk white," adding in a filmed interview that his candidacy was appealing to "white guilt."
"I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos," said Nader of Obama. "Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson?"
He continued: "He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically, he's coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up."
"Put bluntly, because he's black he must be by definition in Nader's eyes an inherent rebel or at the very least actively challenge the white corporate and political establishment," wrote Alternet's Earl Hutchison. "But that assumes that blacks are instinctive rebels because of their color. Earth to Nader on this one; the likes of blacks from Clarence Thomas to Colin Powell should have long since dispelled that myth. Yet, to even think that blacks should be open racial crusaders is crass, cynical, and even borderline racist."
"Progressives have a hard enough time convincing communities of color that we're on their side without arrogant old white guys talking down to them and the nation's first black presidential candidate," commented Steven T. Jones, writing for the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Responding to Nader's comments, Obama chided the independent candidate for not paying attention to his speeches.
"All the issues that he talked about, whether its predatory lending, or the housing foreclosure crisis or what have you, or issues that the traveling press can tell you, I've devoted multiple speeches, town hall meetings to, throughout this campaign," said Obama. "At this point, he's someone who's trying to get attention, and whose campaign hasn't gotten any traction. It is what it is."
A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found Nader's candidacy drawing 5 percent support nationally.
Original photography supplied to RAW STORY by Stephen C. Webster.