Unlike Gore, Ralph Nader is the Real Thing

by | Nov 3, 2000 | POLITICS

In recent years, the Democratic Party has moved to the right. In most respects this has been phony P.R., of course, such as Clinton’s proclamation that “The Era of Big Government Is Over” — with his actions (from the Hillary health plan of 1994 onward) consistently proving that he means no such thing. From a […]

In recent years, the Democratic Party has moved to the right. In most respects this has been phony P.R., of course, such as Clinton’s proclamation that “The Era of Big Government Is Over” — with his actions (from the Hillary health plan of 1994 onward) consistently proving that he means no such thing.

From a far-left liberal’s point-of-view, the Clinton Administration has been a disappointment, if not a disaster.

Clinton failed to totally nationalize what’s left of the private health care sector. He significantly cut back on federal welfare control, and to a very great extent did end welfare as we know it. He supported trade liberalization, a policy first set into motion by the conservative Reagan and Bush Administrations. It is true that the Clinton Administration expanded government regulation and raised the marginal tax rate (reversing some of Reagan’s successful policy), but not nearly to the extent that the far-left liberals would have liked.

Under Clinton, the Democratic Party has shifted from a party of principle — albeit, almost always the wrong principle — to a party of scandal, compromise, and double-talking that nobody (of any political viewpoint) can ever again respect. We don’t even have to consider the sex scandals (and the perjury) to find evidence for this point.

So Ralph Nader represents the suppressed frustration of many long-time Democrats — just as for many conservative-leaning people, Ross Perot at least seemed to provide an alternative in the last 2 elections.

Perot, however, was decidedly anti-ideological. He maintained that so long as you held some sort of ideological view of any kind, that you were not to be trusted. Left unanswered by Perot was how it’s possible to set any sort of policy course without at least an implicit ideology — which is undoubtedly why Perot’s candidacy, despite initial excitement and attention, never got anywhere. You can’t win if, in effect, you say: “Vote for me. I have no ideas!”

Nader, on the other hand, is decisively ideological. He wants to push the Democratic Party back to the left (as far as possible) on economic, regulation, and environmental issues. He wants to go back to LBJ, FDR — and then some. He’s sick of Clinton’s signing welfare reform bills, all the while winking that we’ll reverse it in a year if the Democrats take back Congress. He wants outright, unapologetic Big Government liberalism: particularly, of course, in the name of “the environment.”

Nader is evidently in a state of denial that Big Government liberalism is dead as a doornail — at least psychologically. On the emotional level, most Americans now reject the idea of Big Government expanding any further, even if they are scared of starting the long good-bye to existing Big Government programs like Social Security and Medicare. Nader is more than the “green” candidate. Nader is the candidate for people who haven’t accepted the reality that the Berlin Wall has fallen, and all that this implies.

Nader knows he has no chance of winning the election. He openly admits it. And it clearly does not bother him that he may tilt the election in Bush’s favor. To him, it is worth it — so long as the Democratic Party stops taking its left wing for granted, and starts remembering its roots.

In one respect, Nader is admirable: He forces the Clintons and Gores of the world to acknowledge that they really are, in the end, quite liberal. It’s a glorious sight to behold, after eight years of watching these two men evidently succeed at having their cake and eating it too.

If you pay absolutely no attention to the content of what he’s saying, Nader might seem (on the surface) like an intelligent and principled man. However, for years Nader has spread the false belief that a free market system cannot be fair to the consumer. He advocates the Al Gore idea of “us versus them” when it comes to business and technology, ignoring the obvious fact that under capitalism (or, more accurately, the semi-capitalism we have had in this country for several centuries), the standard of living is constantly rising for everybody. He zeroes in on the fact that some businesses will lie or mislead, and blows this out of proportion to imply that the capitalist system cannot function without a self-appointed guardian such as himself to look over us.

Nader does not seem to grasp that while in a free market individuals and businesses are free to do what they please, they also must accept the consequences of their actions and constantly risk going out of business. Like a paranoid or otherwise psychologically disturbed person, he feels others have power over him even though they cannot initiate any force against him. Indeed, Big Government liberalism is a form of psychological paranoia, masked as rational intellectualism.

Nader also looks at the fact that there are differences in income, ignoring the improving standard for everybody under capitalism, and cries out for some form of [egalitarian] equalization. In essence, he simply can’t get over the idea that Communism, and all its variants such as democratic socialism, are history. So he has to reinvent democratic socialism. Liberals initially hoped that Clinton could do this: reinvent democratic socialism, using different terms but still pursuing the same policies as FDR and LBJ. In many respects, Clinton has done this — though never on the grandiose level that he and Hillary dreamed. Of course, to stay in power, Bill and Hillary had to suppress many of their true ideological views and become moderate Republicans in certain respects. It’s this latter fact that people like Nader (and those who support him) cannot stand. They don’t want the watered down, phony P.R. version of Big Government liberalism that Bill and Hillary (and now Al) have always delivered. They want the real thing.

Nader’s error does not lie in his assertion that in a [free] society, the buyer must beware and educate himself about products on the market. Nader’s error lies in the fact that he looks to government to do this for us; and in his assertion that the government even has a moral right to control our choices in this manner.

Nader looks to coercion and bureaucracy to solve problems which should be left to private people acting in their rational, self-responsible interests. He is na

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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