Like Nader, I fell in love with the government that we learned about in Civics class and think we ought to give it a whirl - but my education was well rounded. I learned about futility in literature and drama when we read Don Quixote and put on a high-school production of Man of La Mancha.
That well-rounded education and pragmatic world view is why I wince when Ralph Nader speaks these days.
Especially when he says things like this:
"There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American," Nader said. "Whether that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. 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? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards."
The Obama campaign had only a brief response, calling the remarks disappointing.
Asked to clarify whether he thought Obama does try to "talk white," Nader said: "Of course.
"I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law," Nader said. "Haven't heard a thing."
"We are obviously disappointed with these very backward-looking remarks," Obama campaign spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said.
Can we move beyond this crap please? I like to think that I am fairly typical - I am a middle-aged white woman with a diverse background. I have worked with, supervised and been supervised by people of every race. Please believe me when I say I don't even think about race unless someone forces me to.
To hear someone like Nader say something like that is sickening. Standard American English is white English. That is simply how it is, and that a Harvard graduate speaks Standard American English should not be construed as pandering to white people, no matter how Mr. Nader tries to couch it to his lunatic fringe supporters.