In October 2000, I was actively involved in Green Party candidate Ralph Nader's campaign for president. Again exploiting my position in the press, I got extensive space with which to sound off about Nader's platform, my own health woes and a benefit show we were organizing. Read it and weep.


In working towards Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader's success on election day, the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Green Party (343.3044, will be sponsoring two fund-raising events this week. "Success?" you chuckle. Well, perhaps their more realistic goal is at least 5% of the vote, which'll earn the party $12 Million in public funding for the next election.

The first of these benefits, at Chelsea's Café on Tuesday, October 24th, will feature local bands Cousin Lost and Sunday Morning, as well as solo-performers, Fred Weaver and Mike Waugh. The second benefit will be at the Spanish Moon on Friday, October 27th and will feature the bands the Kenmores, Tabu and As They Wept.

It's easy to trace folk music's involvement in politics from Joe Hill's pro-union songs of the 20's, through Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan's arrival in folk music's heyday of popularity in the early 1960s. Under the influence of Folk, Rock music developed a political conscience early on and, with the advent of the MC5's radical left wing White Panther Party, came to culmination with the rock-band-as-political-party-leaders. 30 years later, it's only fitting that local musicians would want to be involved, just as their musical forefathers were.

But it's not quite that way for me... Bob Dylan aspirations aside, I'll tell you what my motivations are on this particular day... I'm sick. I've been mysteriously sick with either cold or allergies for officially 8 days. The socialist in me is wishing for a national health care plan where I could go and have a doctor figure out exactly what is going on in my sinuses for less than $75. The hypochondriac in me tells me that it's gotta be cancer - not again! - but for the money I've paid in the past, I'll tell you... it's not like I trust doctors.

In the summer of1998, I was referred to a hematologist for an abnormally high hemoglobin level. The whole thing turned into a fiasco that has made me wary of the forces driving the health care industry. After repeating the blood test, the hematologist decided that I needed more tests. I needed rare tests, in fact... something involving a Chromium isotope and $800+ (which my admittedly non-comprehensive, but cheap, major medical insurance wouldn't cover). I went home worried and sad.

Anxious for information, I called the office a few days later and was told that the doctor was searching the metro area to find a facility to perform this test. The fact that it was such an exotic procedure only added to my worries. But at least, I thought, I had a well-paid professional on my side.

Weeks passed and I didn't hear anything... I made several calls to the office, but got no more info. The last phone call I made to the office, the nurse told me a major facility had been found that did the test, but that the facility refused to perform it because they looked at my chart and thought that I didn't need the test. They thought it was too expensive and useless since it didn't look to them that there was anything wrong with me. The hematologist was furious and had been arguing with the hospital.

The nurse admitted all of this to me on the phone... What faith was I to have in my doctor at that point? Well, I didn't need any faith - or anything for that matter - because my new specialist simply never called me back. Is that quality health care?

And here I am 2 years later... feeling healthy, well, except for the last 8 days. I don't waste money on doctors anymore pursuing my hypochondria. Still, unfortunately for most Americans who want cheaper access to good doctors, no national health plan exists.

Currently, according to the World Health Organization, the United States ranks 37th of all countries in the quality of health care it provides its citizens. If America is as great as all the rhetoric I've heard on the presidential debates, then why aren't we at least in the top 10?

Well, Ralph Nader ( supports a national single payer health care system that would cover all Americans. He points out that you could pay for this in the existing system by cutting administrative costs back from 24 cents of each dollar to11 cents. That's what Canada spends to administrate their system. And we make fun of Canada? They're efficient. And they're healthier.

Health care is just one of the reasons that I've decided to vote for Nader. The rest of the Green Party platform is based on working towards a more grassroots democracy, where people actually feel they have a voice in government and are, because they feel heard, more inclined to be involved. A lot of this stance hinges on the removal of corporate influence on government and people's lives, the very goal that Nader has spent years working towards.

Another thing you pick up on in the Green Party platform is a simple dedication to honesty. That's probably something both major parties would swear to, but then why were they working so hard to keep Nader out of the televised debates? (And quite literally... Nader, who was given a ticket to be in the first debate's audience, was greeted by uniformed police and escorted off the premises under the threat of arrest.)

It's all a shame that he wasn't allowed to participate. You thought that there were awkward silences when Gore spit his "fuzzy math" at George W. Bush. One will only be able to imagine the stress (and silences) Nader would have caused when criticizing Bush and Gore.