Ralph Nader Announcement of Candidacy
February 23, 2004
Toward a 'New Birth of Freedom' and Justice

Today I enter the 2004 elections as an independent candidate for the Presidency of the United States to join with all Americans who wish to declare their independence from corporate rule and its expanding domination.

The exercised sovereignty of the people, in our history, has brought forth solutions to the people, the justice they craved, and the futures they desired for their children.

In times past, the naysayers were organized commercial powers whose unbridled greed and authoritarian structures were denounced by Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It took a strengthened populace against the "malefactors of great wealth" to overcome these naysayers and abolish slavery, open the vote to women, the unions to workers, the cooperatives to farmers -- to temper the large mineowners, industrialists, railroads, and bankers. In this manner, American history surged upward.

Today, there is a compelling necessity for a new strengthening of the people to reform and recover their public elections from the grip of private financing -- to rescue our public authorities from the corporate government of big business.

These mass concentrations of power, privilege, wealth, technology, and immunity have placed their rampaging global quest for maximum profits in the way of progress, justice and opportunity for the very millions of workers who made possible these corporate profits but who are falling behind, excluded and expendable.

Their labors have gone unrequited as these unpatriotic corporations abandon our country and shift industries abroad, along with what is left of their allegiance to our country and community.

The dreaded supremacy of corporatism over civil institutions, stomping both conservative and liberal values alike, has broken through any remaining barriers by the two major political parties.

Corporatism has turned federal and state departments and agencies into indentured servants for taxpayer-funded subsidies, budget-busting lucrative contracts, and dwindling law and order against the widely publicized corporate crime wave. This resistant crime wave has looted and drained trillions of dollars from millions of workers, their pensions, and from small investors.

There has been ample media publicity to such crimes, abuses, and frauds, of these unprecedented self-enrichments of top executives at the expense of their fiduciary duties to their companies and owners. Has the President supplied the required law enforcement resources for action? Scarcely. He is otherwise preoccupied. Very few of these bosses have been brought to justice and jail.

Lincoln's "new birth of freedom" and "government of the people, by the people, for the people" must indeed not perish from this land.

Only an organized, self-confident people, lifting their expectation levels, and applying their time, energy and talent, can achieve Lincoln's foreshadowed horizons, where freedom from fear, a shift of power, and just solutions can become realities.

Comparing the Republican Lincoln's assurance, in a period of great peril and daily destruction, contrasts with the costly politics of fear peddled daily by the obsessive Republican incumbent of today, George W. Bush.

Elections should place aspirations in motion. Only in this way will they have meaning for people's lives.

Movements for change come from more voices and choices, more debates and proposals, more organizing and respect for the voters in the electoral arena. At the same time, there ought to be higher levels of responsibility by voters for their own governments.

The civil liberties and their exercise by a pluralistic, not a duopolistic, system of political parties and candidates, regenerate and reanimate a passive electorate, accustomed to betrayal and, in large numbers, not voting.

Movements for change also come from the perceived neglected necessities of the American people in a land of skewed plenty.

These movements embrace a long overdue abolition of cruel poverty in America, the provision of genuine, efficient, honest health care, the illumination of civically-inspired education, and the shift in the burden and uses of taxes away from corporate plunder and cost-transfers to individual taxpayers.

These initiatives for change embrace the conversion to breathable air and clean water, renewable energy, detoxified agriculture, decongesting transportation technologies, the affordability of decent shelter, and the enabling of workers, consumers and communities to organize and shape their political economy.

Presently, global corporations are bent on strategically planning our politics, economy, military expenditures, education, our environment, our culture, even our genetic inheritance. Is it not our responsibility together to shape our own futures within our own deliberative democratic process? In terms of outcomes, which one would you choose?

The Roman Marcus Tullius Cicero once said that "freedom is participation in power." And, more recently, Thomas Jefferson called for more "participators." Accountable power spells justice for the users of the criminal and civil laws, for the conduct of foreign policies that brilliantly wage peace, not fabricated quagmire wars. We need to lend the hand of appropriate, life-sustaining knowledge and humanity to the impoverished peoples of our Earth.

No more should our government support tyrants and oligarchies which wreak havoc and violence on their defenseless subjects and suppress their creative genius.

This independent candidacy invites citizens who want to work for and demonstrate thoughtful politics that fulfill human possibilities: citizens to assemble together -- all ages, classes and backgrounds.

We have a moral imperative to take a stand, help rescue our besieged democracy, and secure our country and its liberties. To restore the sovereignty explicit in the preamble to our Constitution -- "we the people," not for sale, can decide to displace the corporate controls that try to make "everything for sale."

The condition of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is that the people must rule, not as a manipulated mirage, but as an authentic coming together of a strong citizenry -- from the neighborhoods to the national capital -- to end the chronic material and spiritual deprivations that our people should no longer have to suffer.

Our campaign, in novel, serious and light-hearted ways, means to advance this procession of well-being along through all the states and to galvanize civic and political energies long beyond November 2004. The unceasing enlightenment of humankind requires sensitive humans to enlist in a marathon, not a sprint. May there be a decent tolerance for the release of these creative individual and community energies inside an electoral system sadly known more for its straightjackets than for its wings.

The focus on the fundamental requirement for broader distribution of power, initiative, and opportunity to forge a resourceful society should be the touchstone of this election year and its campaigns.

We owe at least the prospect of possibilities to the generations that follow us. We owe the same today to the young people of America as they ponder and prepare for their leadership obligations.