Ralph Nader on Principles & Values

Gore has only himself to blame for defeat and a bad campaign

Gore ran a poor campaign, failed to attract new voters and remained a captive of the conservative Democratic Leadership Council and the special commercial interests that financed his campaign. He entered the election with every advantage against a marginal, ill-equipped and corporate-dominated Texas Governor. Yet, he mismanaged his campaign into a deadlock and now has only himself to blame for the Democratic fiasco.
Source: Interview in Washington D.C. Nov 10, 2000

Gore needed to run on more than not being George W. Bush

In the end, Al Gore made his appeal on one major campaign pitch - that he was not George W. Bush. That simply was not enough to bring millions of stay-at-home voters to the polls.
Source: Interview in Washington D.C. Nov 10, 2000

Nader-Trader: Swap Gore vote with friend in non-swing state

Some Nader supporters are succumbing to the argument that Nader could tip the election to Bush-whom most of them find unacceptable-if he keeps pressing his campaign in key states. But they want to further the Green Party’s goal of qualifying for federal campaign funds in 2004, which will happen if it wins 5% of the nationwide presidential vote.

Their proposal: Ask pro-Nader voters in crucial swing states to vote for Gore in return for promises from pro-Gore voters in non-battleground states to vote for Nader. That way, there’s no net loss of votes for the Green Party, but Nader doesn’t draw all-important votes from Gore in the places where it really matters.

A website called states: “Wouldn’t it be great if you could both vote for Nader AND against Bush? Now you can-become a Nader Trader. If you live in a swing state, contact a Gore-voting friend in a strongly Bush-leaning state and informally agree that your friend will vote for Nader, while you will vote for Gore.”

Source: Charles Babington, Washington Post Oct 26, 2000

Experience to run government comes from suing most agencies

Bush and Gore were asked about experience and leadership qualities.

NADER: ‘Well, I’ve been a full-time citizen for 40 years. I think the auto industry knows what I can do in terms of safer cars. We’re almost experts at how to make government and corporations accountable.“

Q: Do you have the experience to run the vast agencies of the US government?

NADER: I don’t know anybody who has sued more of them. I don’t know anybody who has participated for over three decades in the process.

Source: Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe, page D1 Oct 8, 2000

Shift power from corporations to consumers

What does Nader stand for? His raison d’etre for his candidacy: shifting power from “giant corporations, which have a grip over our government, environment, workplace, and marketplace” to “workers, consumers, taxpayers, and the voters of America.”
Source: Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe, page D1 Oct 8, 2000

Attract new voters to build future party

Q: How do you explain polls that say you have very little support?

NADER: In recent days I’ve been 7 percent, 6 percent, 17 percent in Alaska. We’re going to draw from a lot of young voters for the first time. We’re going to get millions of votes in November to build for the future a strong party.

Source: Nader-Buchanan debate on ‘Meet the Press’ Oct 1, 2000

Focus on broader distribution of power

The focus on fundamentals of broader distribution of power is the touchstone of this campaign. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis declared for the ages, and I quote: “We can have a democratic society, or we can have great concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both.”
Source: CNN: “Burden of Proof” Aug 9, 2000

Spoiled political system spawns spoiled candidates

“I don’t think you can spoil a political system that’s spoiled to the core. Nobody’s entitled to votes. We all have to earn our votes. George W. Bush is basically a conglomerate political corporation running for president. He has a terrible record when it comes to children, consumers, pollution control in Texas, poor people’s access to the courts, and I think all that’s going to come out.”
Source: John Mintz in Washington Post Jul 17, 2000

Uses personal income as societal change agent

Aside from modest personal expenses, I have always treated my income [estimated at over $300,000 per year] as a de facto philanthropic fund for many projects and institutions that serve the interests of consumers, the environment, labor and more accountable business and government. In short, the monies I earn are for strengthening civil society.
Source: Mike Allen, Washington Post, page A01 Jun 18, 2000

Opposes concentration of power & monied interests

The progressive Green Party, founded in 1996, shares Thomas Jefferson’s and James Madison’s view of government as “a public check against the excesses of monied interests,” Nader said. The abolitionist, trade union, environmental and consumer movements all have targeted the same evil -- “excessive concentration of power and wealth,” he said. Nader said too many working Americans have been left behind in the booming economy.
Source: Associated Press Mar 13, 2000

Counter “democracy gap”: raise expectations in politics

Source: Green Party Announcement Speech Feb 21, 2000

New populism: citizen participation over commercialism

As befits its name, the Green Party, whose nomination I seek, stands for the regeneration of American politics. The new populism which the Green Party represents, involves motivated, informed voters. When citizen participation flourishes, as this campaign will encourage it to do, human values can tame runaway commercial imperatives. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis declared, “We can have a democratic society or we can have great concentrated wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both.”
Source: Green Party Announcement Speech Feb 21, 2000

Expand agenda to voter, worker, consumer, shareholder

Q: How much pressure has been brought to you to drop out of the race?

A: I’ve heard from emissaries from the Democrats, from some members of Congress, and their question is always, why are you doing this? And I’ve given them the answer:

This is a broad political effort to enlist young people, broaden the agenda, and focus relentlessly on expanding the tools of democracy -- for the five roles we play in our country: voter, worker, taxpayer, consumer and shareholder.
Source: National Public Radio, interview by Diane Rehm Apr 3, 1996

Struggle against commercialism based on priceless things

Q: What’s the most important childhood memory you have?

A: I think of little homilies by my parents. One day, I came home and my parents were in the back yard and my mother said, “How much is a dozen oranges?” I knew. “How much is a dozen eggs?” And I knew. Because my father had a restaurant, so I knew the prices. And then they said, “How much is that breeze that’s caressing our faces? What do you think that sun is worth right now? And you hear those birds? What’s the price of those birds?“ And they were trying to teach me that there are things that are priceless. You don’t always measure things by the dollar. And I remembered that as I embarked in my struggle against commercialism and the overwhelming spread of commercial dictates into universities, into government, even into religion, into areas far removed from traditional market place venues.

Source: David Frost interview Oct 21, 1994

Sacrificed personal life because civic work is a joy

Q: Wouldn’t you like to have sons to pass on your thoughts to the way your father inspired you?

A: [Not having] sons and daughters was a sacrifice. It’s [a choice] I have to bear [because] I don’t believe in being an absentee father.

Q: When was the last time you had a whole day off?

A: Sometimes when I’m traveling I take a day off simply because there’s nothing to do. And I do take about a week off during the summer.

Q: What’s your idea of a good time?

A: Reading is a good time. Conversing with friends. Seeing new things and new experiences. When traveling, I like to go see plants and factories, like a meat processing plant. Or a coal mine.

Q: Your work schedule is what? 80 hours a week?

A: It’s pretty much all the time except eight hours to eat and sleep. But I enjoy it. The definition of work implies something you’d rather not be doing. [Civic work] is a joy. If more people would involve themselves in civic action, they’d discover an important formula for personal human happiness.

Source: David Frost interview Oct 21, 1994

Power corrupts, unless it fears loss of power

Q: Do you think power inevitably corrupts?

A: Power that is not afraid of losing its power will inevitably corrupt. And that’s why a dictatorship is so dangerous, that’s why monopolies in the corporate area are so dangerous. Power is necessary, but power has to fear losing its power to be responsible in its exercise. I don’t like concentration of power. Whether it’s in Wall Street or whether it’s government ownership of the means of production which is the definition of Socialism.

Source: David Frost interview Oct 21, 1994

Pushed consumer protection in “Nader’s Raiders”

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader will announce his third campaign for the White House. He ran as a write-in presidential candidate in 1992, and as the 1996 nominee of the Green Party. Nader won 684,902 votes in the 1996 presidential election and 2% of the vote in California.

Born to Lebanese immigrant parents in Connecticut, Nader is a Harvard-trained lawyer who has taken on a vast range of issues, ranging from an unsafe General Motors car, the Corvair, later withdrawn from the market, to banning smoking on airline flights. He was named by the LA Times as one of the 50 people who most influenced business this century.

He and his team of investigators, popularly dubbed “Nader’s Raiders,” have pushed for legislative change and raised public awareness. Nader works out of the Center for Responsive Law in Washington and lives nearby in a studio apartment. A bachelor, he does not own a television or car and has few interests outside his work.

Source: Feb 17, 2000

Ralph Nader on Green Party

Vote with your heart if your state is a foregone conclusion

Many liberals are torn about what to do. Do they follow their heart and vote for Nader or use their head and go with Gore? Some Nader allies have come up with interesting ways to solve their dilemma. A philanthropist is taking out newspaper ads in states that are considered safe for Gore (Massachusetts, New York) and safe for Bush (Texas, Colorado) urging progressives there to vote for Nader since the outcome there is a foregone conclusion. That strategy is meant to help Nader achieve his goal of securing 5% of the national vote so his Green Party can get federal matching funds in 2004.

Another strategy that has popped up on the web at implores, “If you live in a swing state, contact a Gore-voting friend in a strongly Bush-leaning state and informally agree that your friend will vote for Nader, while you will vote for Al Gore.” For his part, Nader says he doesn’t care whether Bush or Gore wins.

Source: Matthew Cooper, Time magazine, p. 79 Nov 6, 2000

Waited 16 years; Dems no different than GOP about power

Many accuse Nader of basing his entire campaign on a much more substantial whopper than Gore’s story about his arthritic dog or Bush’s claim that he pushed for a patients’ bill of rights in Texas. They question Nader’s insistence that there is no real difference between the two major-party candidates. “It’s what do they stand for versus what do they fight for-I discount the rest as linguistic differences,” Nader said. “Anyway, my phrase is that there are few major differences.”

Nader said he was not impressed by pressure warning that he could hurt his reputation as well as his causes if he was seen as having helped elect Bush. “I waited in 84, 88, 92, 96,” he said bitterly. “It’s as if the Democrats are telling us, ‘Wait another four years, then ask our permission.’” Then he said the way the two parties cozied up to special interests and encouraged a concentration of power made all other distinctions meaningless. “I don’t care if they’re different on everything else,” he said.

Source: Melinda Henneberger, NY Times Nov 1, 2000

Goal is 5% of vote, to qualify Greens as a recognized party

Nader knows he’s not moving into the White House, but he has a concrete goal: 5 percent of the vote so the Green Party will become a recognized third party and can reap millions in federal campaign matching funds in 2004. He defines victory as “getting tens of thousands of people into political activity and hundreds of candidates running. We become the third political party in America, with the fourth way behind.“ Nader says his chief aim is a ”shift of power,“ which would help him achieve his agenda: universal health insurance, public financing of campaigns, and the shifting of tax dollars from ”corporate welfare and a bloated military budget“ to services for people.
Source: U.S. News & World Report Oct 25, 2000

Tactical voting: if Gore leads your state by 9%, vote Nader

Nader hinted that anxious Democratic voters could practice “tactical voting” this year. If Gore is nine points ahead of Bush“ in polls the day before the election, Nader counseled, voters ”can vote for the Greens and have it both ways. They can help build a watchdog party after November 7 by depleting the vote totals from both parties.“
Source: Thomas Edsall, Washington Post, p. A1 Oct 23, 2000

Vote conscience rather than choosing between drab and dreary

Nader asked supporters whether the town had made any progress under eight years of Clinton. “One of the greatest disemployers of Flint, Michigan, is William Jefferson Clinton.” Urging supporters to “vote your conscience,” Nader warned residents against picking the lesser of two evils. “If you reward both parties, those parties will only get worse every four years. We’re not going to hear much about issues in the upcoming presidential debates between the drab and the dreary.”
Source: AP Story, NY Times Sep 21, 2000

One purpose of campaign is moving Democrats Left

Nader said a central purpose of his candidacy was to move the Democratic Party left on labor and other issues. To make it easier for unions to organize, Mr. Nader called for making it legal for a union to boycott not just the company it is striking against but other companies that do business with it. (Such boycotts were banned by the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.) He also called for requiring employers to pay triple damages when they illegally fire workers for supporting a union. Asserting that he should be included in any presidential debates, Nader said he would seek to force Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush to address work-related issues, like occupational safety, that have been largely ignored during the campaign. “Gore will tell you, ‘I’m for you. I’m going to fight for you. I’m for a ban on using replacement workers in strikes.’ But what has he done in eight years? I don’t care what you’re for. I want to know what you’ve done. Talk is cheap.”
Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times Jul 23, 2000

The DemRep duopoly obstructs citizenship

The foundation of our campaign [is] to focus on active citizenship, to create fresh political movements that will displace the control of the Democratic & Republican Parties. They are simply the two heads of one political duopoly, the DemRep Party, feeding at the same corporate trough. This duopoly does everything it can to obstruct the beginnings of new parties including raising ballot access barriers, entrenching winner-take-all voting systems, and thwarting participation in debates.
Source: Green Party Announcement Speech Feb 21, 2000

Other candidates on Principles & Values: Ralph Nader on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Al Gore
Bill Clinton
Jesse Ventura
Ross Perot
Ralph Nader
Pat Buchanan
John McCain
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
School Choice
Social Security
Tax Reform
War & Peace