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Nader: Members of Congress are ‘Afraid of You’

Ralph Nader speaks in Alexandra, Va., on Sept. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Earl Gibson III)

WASHINGTON – Citing Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader said now is the right time for a “citizen revolution” against the influence of money in the political process since members of Congress are “still afraid” of voters.

“This country was founded because a small number of people showed up on July 4, 1776. Showing up is half of democracy and yet people do not show up at town meetings. Most people do not show up at local elections,” Nader said at a “Breaking Through Power” event sponsored by the Center for the Study of Responsive Law.

“Most people do not show up in courtrooms to see how our court system works or doesn’t work so I think we can start this way: there are times when a tiny number of people around the country have started a rumble and those rumbles led to some of our greatest laws,” he added.

Nader said the “secret of Congress” is they are “still afraid of you” no matter how much “they choreograph you” or “however they gerrymander you” or “however they control the local media to reflect their own views and propagandize their district.”

Nader told the audience he knows progressives yearning for a president like Richard Nixon.

“They’re still afraid of you. When they stop being afraid of you, the ballgame is over. Nixon was afraid of the rumble from the people and he signed all kinds of environmental, worker safety, consumer protection laws. He even proposed voting for the District of Columbia to have voting rights in Congress – the colony called District of Columbia,” Nader said.

“He even proposed a health insurance system better than the Clintons did years later – didn’t get through. He even proposed a minimum income plan –how about that one? As the first step to abolish poverty but that didn’t get through either. This is Richard Nixon! Arch right-wing commie-baiter from southern California.”

Nader continued, “To show you how things have declined in this country, I know progressives who are nostalgic for Richard Nixon.”

Nader argued that money in the political process “nullifies what your vote means.”

“It’s time, as Bernie Sanders has said repeatedly, for a political revolution and it will only come from a citizen revolution before it becomes political. It will only come from the citizen groups before it becomes political,” he said.

Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who also appeared at the event, praised Nader for his political and consumer advocacy.

“Today I’m proud to stand again and again with Ralph Nader to challenge corporate control of our government, special interest control over the budgetary process, to call to reverse privatization of municipal services which is happening all over America in the ironic name of fiscal conservatism,” Kucinich said.

“Public budgets are not neutral – they are a political statement. They inform us not only of the priorities of government but of the deeper question of who rules. Today in America, corporate control of both political parties has put our democracy at risk,” he added.

Kucinich said the U.S. system of “checks and balances” is not working properly.

“The administration writes the checks and Congress doesn’t know what the balance is,” he said.