A Vote for Ralph Nader?
Jude Wanniski
June 28, 2000


I watched your appearance on Meet the Press Sunday and, as usual, found myself agreeing with a lot of what you had to say in your latest run for the White House as a third party candidate. I was also surprised when you said you thought you would draw some votes away from the Republican candidate, when Tim Russert kept asking if you would feel bad if your votes threw the election to George Bush. I think you are right in saying most of your votes will come from folks who would otherwise not bother to vote -- because both major political parties represent the same Political Establishment, which has its heart set on the status quo. While Iím leaning toward George W. Bush at the moment, I continue to watch your campaign in hopes you will broaden your message and at least force Governor Bush and Vice President Gore to break out of the box and deal with you as an agent of change. You may know that for several months I was helping Pat Buchanan, hoping he would get enough traction to force a genuine debate in this quadrennial opportunity ordinary folks have to influence the course of the nation. Pat was sure that by playing his broken record at an ever-increasing volume, he would get into double digits in the polls and wind up in the debates. Alas, I finally threw in the towel when that became clear. He has thus far been a waste of time. The fact that you will be on all 50 state ballots for the first time, and because the political analysts will watch to see who you take votes from as we head into the backstretch, means you might be the fellow who makes it to the debates, not Pat.

I have a lot of ideas for you, that would fit with a populist campaign. The clearest is that I think you should advocate a gold-based dollar, something the Big Boys do not want any part of, because it closes off their ability to manipulate our national currency for fun and profit. Iíve never understood why you have shown so little interest in monetary issues when they are at the center of the corruption of our two parties. If you would raise that banner, I assure you the electorate would push you past the 15% marker and put you into the debates this fall.

Ordinary people always benefit when their nation is forced to keep the money honest and you would soon build up a following. It is a lot more positive than simply complaining about NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, which is Patís broken record anyway. Take up the call for a simplified, flatter tax system -- which neither Gore nor Bush will touch -- and by gosh you will have my vote.... and the votes of a lot of friends who are now planning to hold their noses while approaching the voting booth in November. Here are two places where I already find myself in complete agreement with you:

MR. RUSSERT: Are you in favor of a missile defense system?

MR. NADER: It's not workable. The American Physics Society indicates that it's very easily decoyed. It's not workable. Any nation that tries it is going to commit suicide. There are far more devastating, insidious ways to bring in nuclear weapons and other weapons into the country, the so-called suitcase approach. We've spent $60 billion as a nation now dealing with missile defense, and have come up with nothing. It's a program designed to enrich the giant munitions corporations who are really behind it all, in addition [to] some ideologues.

MR. RUSSERT: One of the obligations of a presidential candidate is filing a financial disclosure form, which you have done. And much to the surprise of many, it says that Ralph Nader is a millionaire worth nearly $4 million, with over a million dollars of Cisco stock... [Cisco] has... focused on passing legislation to issue more H1-B visas to foreign workers, while Nader has taken a strong stand against visas. With your million dollars in Cisco stock, have you insisted with Cisco management that they not pursue policies that you have publicly found objectionable?

MR. NADER: First of all, I have opposed those policies, vis a vis all companies, not just Cisco. I don't think we should engage in a massive brain drain in this country, taking talented people from other countries, for example, when we've got talented people in this country, even though [they] would have to be paid a little more by these companies.

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Great stuff, Ralph. I was of course a great advocate of a missile defense system during the Cold War, even knowing it almost certainly would not work, but it would complicate life for the Soviets. When the Cold War ended, I shifted position and have argued for a much reduced effort on the kind the Russians now are talking about, designed to deal with tinpot dictators. On the visas for foreign workers, I am in total agreement. If their countries have trained them to be topflight scientists, let our multinational corporations go to them if they are not interested in training Americans to do that kind of high-value-added work. We have 2 million American men in the prison system, and neither Bush nor Gore are talking about training them to do anything but make license plates.

Iíve enjoyed talking to you in the past, Ralph, and would be happy to lend a hand to your effort if you are interested. You have the inflammatory rhetoric down pat. You only need a few good positive issues to hammer on, and I think you would surprise yourself at how much influence you would have on this sleepy system. The electorate knows the country is not headed in the right direction and tells that to the pollsters, despite the chatter about the stock market and low unemployment rates. It is not headed in any direction at all.