Politics Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader: Biden’s SOTU Speech Neglects to Make a Crucial Request to the Citizenry

Why didn’t the president's speechwriters save this solemn, mass-media-covered occasion from being another exercise in rhetorical futility?

By Ralph Nader

The President’s State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress is the media event of the year for the occupant of the Oval Office. Joe Biden spoke for an hour, covered lots of predictable policy ground, and also praised, promised, and reassured “the people.”

But, as President Biden has done many times in public speeches and addresses, he failed to engage the people as his allies to confront his policy opponents in Congress.

All his priorities – social safety net protections, rebuilding community infrastructure or public works, more aggressive action against climate crises, and paying for these programs by repealing the Trump tax escapes for the large corporations and the super-rich, are being blocked by 50 GOP Senators and two Democratic Senators.

Biden’s reluctance to invite the people to phone, write or email these obstructionists in Congress reflects his personality of not criticizing the GOP opposition when addressing the public.

Here is what Mr. Biden could have said to mobilize the citizenry and stay with his amiable style:

My four major programs register large majority support among the American people. It is easy to understand why. People want their public services to work. They want the roads, bridges, public transit, their water and sewage plants, their public clinics, and broadband upgraded and maintained in good repair. People need their well-equipped heroic emergency responders to rescue them in times of danger. That’s what your taxes are supposed to be for public needs.

Furthermore, the American people want their government to have the facilities to protect them from climate violence and not just when the tornadoes, hurricanes, massive wildfires, floods or droughts, and other natural disasters hit us. Increasingly, the people are worried about more of these calamities worsening for their children and grandchildren.

You know what? It doesn’t matter whether they are conservatives or liberals, small businesses or large company owners, members of the chambers of commerce or unions. That’s why all the polls register loudly: “Do It, Now!”

We also know that the American people are compassionate. They know that misfortune, calamity, bad luck, or disabling depression could befall any of us. Half of the working families in our country are poor. They struggle to meet their daily needs and debt payments. Fifteen million children go to bed hungry in America! Our traumatized veterans return home and find themselves homeless, unemployed, uncared for and committing suicide, all in higher proportions than is the case with the civilian population.

Workplace hazards claim many workers’ health and safety. Toxics in the environment expose some people more than others. All these people who are our neighbors, friends, and relatives call for the compassion of those Americans fortunate enough not to be in distress.  All religions historically instruct their adherents to take their charitable responsibilities seriously. We learned this as kids attending our places of worship.

Our proposed programs have, for decades, lent a helping hand to needy workers – daycare and family leave – and to needy unemployed such as wider access to Medicare, Medicaid, home healthcare, nutritious food programs, and energy assistance. In 2021, this Congress appropriated funds that gave over 60 million non-partisan children approximately $300 per month per child. Mothers and fathers called this supplemental help during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic a timely lifeline. It expired in January. Many in Congress have refused to temporarily renew this emergency help.

My fourth program, which would repeal the Trump tax escapes answers the question members of Congress always ask. How do we pay for these services and initiatives I have outlined (which by the way, economists tell us help promote economic growth and head off heavy expenses, as with safety, health, and health insurance improvements)? The super-rich and the giant corporations should step up their patriotism and finally pay their fair share as people like Warren Buffett and the Patriotic Millionaires’ organization have argued for years.

Just in the period of Covid-19, the very wealthy have increased their assets by a trillion dollars and INCREASED their wealth while a pandemic has claimed more than a million innocent American lives and destabilized the economy. These privileged and wealthy people and super-profitable corporations are benefitting from the lowest federal income taxes their class has paid since before World War II.

Congress itself has documented the huge tax escapes available to the super-rich. One stunning fact stands out: In 2021, 55 corporations that earned $40 billion paid zero in federal income taxes. They can get away with this because their lobbyists stay in touch with their members of Congress who make their privileges possible.

That’s not fair by any standard of fair play for the American people. I don’t know any American workers who can make record wages and pay no federal income tax.

My proposals would restore the taxes on the super-rich and giant corporations, including foreign corporations doing business in the U.S. to where it was before the Trump cuts. Even then they were paying in federal income taxes far less than companies and super-rich were paying in the prosperous nineteen sixties.

My fellow Americans, aren’t you getting tired of State of the Union speeches by presidents condemning gouging prescription drug prices and the ban on Medicare negotiating volume discounts with the big drug companies, as the VA and the Department of Defense do now, with nothing happening on Capitol Hill? Aren’t you tired, as I am, of a succession of presidents condemning fraud on the government by business crooks or promising to make America more self-sufficient in critical areas, and nothing happens in Congress?

The list goes on – for a higher minimum wage, enforcing the law against corporate crime, monopolies and daily rip-offs of consumers, and letting workers have an easier time forming trade unions.

Still, Congress – not all lawmakers of Congress by any means – does nothing and in some instances actually passes legislation making some of these abuses worse.

Enough already. You the people gave your sovereign power under our Constitution over to the 535 members of Congress. You must demand that your delegated power be used by Congress to lift up and serve the American people ‘indivisible for liberty and justice for all.’ You know their names, their phone numbers, and their emails. Let them hear from you! Or you can call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask the legendary Capitol operators to take you to the offices of your senators and representatives. If just 30 million out of over 300 million Americans do this simple task, I guarantee that you’ll change enough minds to make these great advances against frustration, anxiety, dread and fear a daily reality.

In addition, the White House will place these programs in clear language with numbers on a new White House website Yes.org. When you contact your members of Congress,  make sure you insist on a response to your message. If your members of Congress do not respond to your demands, send them again and again to their national and local offices and, if you wish, to the local media.

We only need a handful of legislators to change their minds or to be independent of mind, to get these long-overdue changes enacted. As was done throughout American history, when members of Congress decided to do the right things, despite special interest negativity, it was because they heard your voices, your reason, your personal pleas, your compassion, and your respect for what our Founders called “posterity.” Only you now can make members of Congress rise to their “better angels.”

Thank you and God Bless America.

Why didn’t Biden’s speechwriters save this solemn, mass-media-covered occasion from being another exercise in rhetorical futility?

19 comments

  1. What Nader, and Scheer, (by his submitting this post) seem to not understand, is that politics is all a stage, an act. Do you really think that those criminals in office have time to make speeches, be on tv, read all legislation, vote, create legislation, plus go golfing? These are not hard working people. How do they do it? My books explain it clearly. The COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS and the TRILATERAL COMMISSION is where legislation is really sourced, (both founded and members appointed by Rockefeller), and these so-called “public servants” make lots of money as actors.
    “Politics is the entertainment division of the government” -Frank Zappa

    Politicians deceive and make promises that they don’t keep. Do they really intend to do them, but were impeded by other politicians? We are so accustomed to broken promises and voting for the lesser of two evils, that we don’t react with strong responses. Are they incapable of creating solutions to society’s problems? Look at op-eds in the newspapers. Some of them, especially in the NY Times, present accurate summations and good solutions that are viable. I have also. But our policy makers in Washington cannot originate, nor can they implement correction to the problems? Or perhaps they have no intention to do so.

    Kahn, Michael Lewis. ANGRY LOUD AND CLEAR TRUTH SECOND IMPROVED EDITION: THE GROWTH AND MECHANISMS OF THE ROMERICAN EMPIRE (p. 114). Kindle Edition.

    1. I know, many know, but the political facade is so entrenched there is NO ONE with the POWER to confront it except w/ useless, placating words. Plus the Earth’s climate is going to have the final say.

  2. Neither the Dems. or Repubs. will ever do anything that was mentioned by Mr. Nader’s column, not even a livable minimum wage of $15 or affordable health care! ( Sorry Mr. Obama, but a minimum of $1M a month for decent health coverage may be affordable” to you but not most working stiffs! And of course since almost half of voters voted for the malignancy Trump, what does that say about we the people…… 🐒

  3. This article demonstrates why Ralph Nader should be President. The fact that his and Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns were shamelessly derailed by their own “Democratic” party with McCarthy-era smears speaks to the fact that “better angels” are not in control of US politics.

    [Mod: Please stop putting the same link in every comment]

  4. I really like and admire Ralph Nader, and if had become POTUS we would all be better off. However, to expect ANYTHING good of Biden is against 50 or more years of experience of him in public life.

  5. Come on man… Are you so blind Ralph to not see and understand that Biden was chosen by the corporate oligarchs and their wholly owned DNC to screw the citizens over on behalf of the aforementioned corporate oligarchs as they steal everything they can from the citizens. You’ve done a great service in your career to the citizens Ralph, but for whatever reason you are blind to the realities of who Biden is and who he was put in place to serve. And what request could he even make to the citizens who have no power to affect real change in the USA given the stranglehold of the two-headed corporate party. Citizens wants and needs have purposely been ignored for decades by politicians. The only possible thing that could change things would be the formation of real alternative parties that actually represent the citizens and their needs. But given how the two-headed corporate parties have all but outlawed such third parties the future is nothing but dystopian for the USA and the rest of the world. And given exponential climate catastrophe running wild it is likely way too late for political change. I love

    1. I am not sure how “I love” was tacked on to my post at the end. Something my fingers must have done. My apologies. Though I will now say: I love that Scheerpost is still around for us to find some truth in ever increasing censorship by the US Empire to feed us nothing but propaganda, even if articles such as this only serve as a (likely unintended) distraction to keep the fools believing in someone like Biden who is nothing but a war mongering and racist (more so as he plays identity politics) hack serving the world’s largest terrorist nation. And now everything is collapsing around us, economically, politically, environmentally thanks to sociopaths like Biden and his fellow servants to the capitalists of death. And to say nothing about my so-called fellow citizens who are raving in mass hysteria over the Ukraine issue. Where were they when the USA destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya to name just a few recent illegal forays of the US Empire. They are nothing but hysterical hypocrites cheering on their own atrocities. We are so doomed..

    2. Of course you know that Nader would have said and done what he just posted but, then, he never would have been allowed to be president as is the case. Can you, now, imagine how our country missed out on so much by his not being allowed to be president?

  6. I don’t think many members of Congress are interested in what the people who elected them with their personal votes care about. Only in the ones who send money to their campaigns. Why do we have to PAY for our Democracy by sending donations to campaigns? Get rid of the Electoral College, it’s a farce! Get rid of Citizen”s United! It”s legalized BRIBARY and our illustrious Supreme Court said money was FREE SPEECH!!! And while they are at it, if they ever are! let’s get everyone HEALTH INSURANCE that is affordable!!!!

  7. Mr. Nadar,

    I don’t think you understand why our political system does not work to benefit our general population. Simply put, ordinary citizens agree to have no right to interfere with the decisions of their representatives, because they don’t know how to have political power over them. Visit my website, if you want to know what to do about this.

    1. Of course Mr. Nadar knows and understands what’s going on. The speech he just wrote is what HE would have said if elected president. How sad that he wasn’t allowed to be.

  8. Oh Ralph, a product of so many old ways of considering these horrific people, politicians, POTUS, what have you, such as Biden. It’s great Ralph wants to put more words on the Telepromter for the racist Biden, but he just doesn’t get it.

    Biden is pure American, pure racist, purely tied to dirty dealings, which is part and parcel the banking system when he was Senator. I understand Ralph has struggled against these oppressors, this continuing criminal enterprise known as USA, and it must be difficult in this juncture of his evolution to continue to see the perversions of capitalism and the standard bearers of that polluted system — the Bidens, the Trumps, the Obamas, the Clintons, the Bushes. et al.

    This fellow and his felines and rough and tumble Ivy League heavy jowl soldiers have more than blood on their hands. This Russia action they all knew would turn out this way, and bumbling Joe now says the price of oil is out of his hands, and blames Russia? This is the lunacy, and yep, before Russia went in to take care of Nazi’s and the murderous bands in Ukraine’s “military,” the price of gasoline was already 40 percent higher than when he first got into the manure office, called POTUS!

    Fretilizer prices in the Pacific Northwest, price of wheat sky high, the grocery stores continuing the gouging, the price of everything sky high, paper in Japan, now on hold, and how many economists and Ivy League heavy jowls will be fired, convicted, tossed to the wind?

    The answer rhymes with Nero.

    Good one here by Todhunter,

    https://dissidentvoice.org/2022/03/economic-restructuring-democratic-deficit-and-locking-down-liberty/

    As in the 1980s, this messaging is being driven by economic factors. Neoliberalism has privatised, deregulated, exploited workers and optimised debt to the limit. We have collapsing markets kept afloat by endless financial injections and an overall declining rate of profit with firms suffocating under mountains of debt.

    AI and advanced automation of production, distribution and service provision (3D manufacturing, drone technology, driverless vehicles, lab grown food, farmerless farms, robotics, etc) are also on the horizon.

    A mass labour force – and therefore mass education, mass welfare, mass healthcare provision and entire systems that were in place to reproduce labour for capitalist economic activity – might in the near future no longer be required. Labour’s relationship to capital is being transformed. So, if labour is the condition for the existence of the working class, why bother with the working class?

    COVID has accelerated economic restructuring and the shift towards an authoritarian form of capitalism that is ultimately to be based on a Chinese-style social credit system to ensure the population complies with its coming servitude.

    Former WEF-sponsored ‘young global leaders’ like Trudeau, Macron, Merkel and Arden rose to the political helm of various countries after having been suitably groomed. They will continue to fulfill their roles by managing dissent through mass surveillance and clamping down on civil rights as the effects of inflation (induced by the liquidity injected into the system), joblessness and post-COVID austerity measures kick in.

    They will, of course, still facilitate freedom: the freedom of the billionaire class to continue to plunder across the globe. And the freedom for citizens to submit.

  9. “But there’s a reason” that what Nader’s saying will never happen. The big owners of this country don’t want that! They want more for themselves and less for everybody else! They got you by the balls! They own you!
    https://youtu.be/cKUaqFzZLxU

  10. So let’s trade another bullshit State-of-the-Union spiel for another. Like we have to even think about this crap, or whatever junk meals for the mind propaganda feeds us, as if to once again idly imagine what Mr. Smith could say when he goes to Washington: “We the people…” (don’t count for dogshit).

    How stupid do these professional managers of perception think we are? Apparently, very, given how far we the sheeple have fallen already for the mind control they’ve been steadily dumping on us the past couple of years, and still counting, on route to Agenda 2030.

    Nader’s revision, on premise of posing an improvement, proves only greater betrayal of common people. In the name of truth-telling, the lies it perpetuates reinforce the insidious nature of what’s coming at us, in relation to which more of us urgently need to wake up, and rise up.

    Like how war ‘over there’ relates to war here in the Homeland and war against humanity worldwide, how infrastructure includes further rollout of 5G in a neighborhood near you to connect you to the internet of things, and bodies as things, that forms the infrastructure of a prison planet they’re maneuvering us into, how ‘climate change’ con prepares us for carceral conditions of slavery from further lockdowns to personal carbon allowances ‘allowing’ us access to resources by our masters, how cybersecurity and threats of cyberattacks provide fronts for Big Brother to lay intimate, absolute claim over our identity and what in-forms us from the Ministry of Truth, how renewed declaration of war on cancer is a mere glimpse of the expanding cover of the biosecurity state beyond the covid coup to inject the general population of human lab rats with genetically modifying, digitally colonizing, and mortally dangerous poison, as if nazis and nazi doctors never existed.

    Both Biden and Nader are making us sales pitches, and as with any variety of hucksterism it’s what they’re not telling us we most need to know (buyer beware). Of course, the preclusion of any basis for informed opinion, let alone decision, over how our lives are ‘governed’, counts for no more than a dunghill for our gubners. If Nader sheds a tear on the heap, it counts for little more than democratic dressing getting us to eat the same old serving of illusion of government of, by, and for the people against which we should have revolted a long time ago. And because enough of us didn’t, we’re now facing the full onslaught of fascism from which the manufacturers of consent, and dissent as consent, misdirect us.

  11. Of course the mealy “centrist” Ds don’t want to appeal for direct action by those whose votes elected the Ds! The current party only represent the interests of the 20%ers–the upper middle class Ivy educated elite, administrators, and professionals.

    Were the rabble (us lessers) ever to mobilize… Uh, it probably wouldn’t go well for the elites whose pretense of caring leads to so little effective action on our behalf.

  12. 26 years into the Democrats’ war on the poor, which Biden has supported – slicing away at FDR’s Social Security Act. So much for that “support for the safety net.” (Democrats ended actual welfare aid as US job losses surpassed job gains, and took the first steps to dismantle Social Security via targeting the disabled). And no, millions of us strongly oppose Biden’s war agenda for reasons repeatedly pointed out – starting with Biden’s flagrant violation of the 1990 NATO agreement over the past year (via his massive troop buildup in Eastern Europe, provoking war against Russia).

  13. Lately I have not found much from Ralph Nader to agree with, but this is pretty well written and i am glad to say I can agree with Ralph again … for at least a minute. 😉

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