Nader's Appeal to Conservatives

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Ralph Nader was on The Daily Show last night, explaining his appeal to disaffected conservatives. He said much the same thing, at greater length, in an American Conservative interview last month. There's a little something here for everyone, even me. My favorite bits:

We are presently defending prosperous nations like Japan, Germany, and England, who are perfectly capable of defending themselves against nonexistent enemies….

Conservatives are furious with the Bush regime because of the fantastic deficits as far as the eye can see. That was a betrayal of Bush?s positions, and it was a reversal of what Bush found when he came to Washington.

Conservatives are very upset about their tax dollars going to corporate welfare kings because that undermines market competition and is a wasted use of their taxes….

Conservatives are also upset about the Patriot Act, which they view as big government, privacy-invading, snooping, and excessive surveillance. They are not inaccurate in that respect….

They don?t like ?Leave No Child Behind? because it is a stupidly conceived federal regulation of local school systems through misguided and very fraudulent multiple-choice testing impositions.

If you're determined to feel warmly toward Nader, though, you have to overlook a few things, such as his opposition to free trade and his railing against "giant multinational corporations." I'd like to believe him when he says he's defending capitalism against corruption by an alliance of big business and big government, but it's clear that he's also upset about the fact that companies respond to consumer demand by providing products and services (tobacco, alcohol, junk food, gambling, action movies) of which he does not approve. His hopes for an alliance between moralistic conservatives and puritanical lefties on cultural issues are enough to make me long for politicians without principles. Fortunately, we've got plenty of those.

[Thanks to Scott Chamberlain for the link.]

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  1. “His hopes for an alliance between moralistic conservatives and puritanical lefties on cultural issues are enough to make me long for politicians without principles. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of those.”

    Yeah and Nader is one of those politicians without principals every bit as much as the rest of them. He’s it the pocket of the trial lawyers big time who have given lots of money to him and his organizations.

  2. In 1984, after cruising around for a few days on an unlicensed motorcycle, I purchased a used Ford Pinto. Thanks in part to Ralph, who showed the Pinto would frequently explode on a rear-end impact, it was the cheapest car available at $600, just about all of the money I had. That Pinto provided me a way to get to work, make more money, and later buy a safer car. I sold it two years later for $600 to fellow who rode to my apartment on a bicycle.

    Nader’s OK, if only he’d stop aspiring to boss people around and stick to doing something useful.

  3. This disaffected conservative ain’t voting for Nader, not now, not ever. It’s reavealing he was in Buchanan’s mag. Anti-capitalism paleo-cons might be attracted to Nader, if he toes the paleo line on immigration, or at least comes close to it.

  4. Yeah, let those other nations defend themselves against whatever enemies that they have or want to make.

    Stephen,

    Calling Buchanan’s non-interventionist wisdom; “Al Jazeera-friendly views”, is just a silly smear on your part. Read something else Nader said a few days ago:

    “What has been happening over the years is a predictable routine of foreign visitation from the head of the Israeli government. The Israeli puppeteer travels to Washington. The Israeli puppeteer meets with the puppet in the White House, and then moves down Pennsylvania Avenue, and meets with the puppets in Congress. And then takes back billions of taxpayer dollars. It is time for the Washington puppet show to be replaced by the Washington peace show.”

    http://www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=64895

    The only problem here is that he absolves our own government of the idiocy of supporting the brutal Israeli occupation by making them out to be merely “puppets”.

  5. Zorrel,

    Yep, they did the same thing with Sharpton.

  6. Eric,

    Anti-free trade is not a position that charecterises most paleo-cons or the paleo tradition, it’s just Buchanan’s personal mistake.

  7. I think Ralph is confusing GOP donors with GOP voters. He’ll get their money as long as he campaigns in swing states. He’ll get their votes the day that hell freezes over.

    Ralph and I have something in common: We both got some of Ben Stein’s money. It’s just that I only $850 for answering several questions on his show, while Ralph got the maximum allowable under McCain-Feingold 🙂

  8. “Anti-free trade is not a position that charecterises most paleo-cons or the paleo tradition, it’s just Buchanan’s personal mistake.”

    That is not true. There is a lengthy history of business conservatives supporting barriers to imports. Of course, there is a lengthy tradition of liberals supporting the same barriers. And there are lengthy traditions of liberal and conservative support for reducing those barriers. For a brief period, from the early 80s to the early 90s, Republicans/conservatives were more Free Trade than Democrats/liberals, but then Clinton realigned his party to majority-Free Trade, just as Reagan had done a decade before.

    Now the left-left (the ones left of the AFL-CIO, such as the Wobblies): THEY’VE been consistenly anti-trade barriers.

  9. “What has been happening over the years is a predictable routine of foreign visitation from the head of the Israeli government. The Israeli puppeteer travels to Washington. The Israeli puppeteer meets with the puppet in the White House, and then moves down Pennsylvania Avenue, and meets with the puppets in Congress.”

    Does anyone else find the casual recycling of the Jews Running the World myth just a little bit unsettling?

    Not to imply Nader is an anti-semite, just a schmuck.

  10. joe,

    The business “conservatives” who have supported trade barriers out of self-interest are different folks than the “old right” paleocons. I like the rest of your post.

    Also, Bush sometimes talks a good game. But, he never lets principle get in the way of political considerations, as politically unproductive as those transgressions have been. You pointed this out in the “Shrimp” thread.

  11. I know what happens when I visit my puppet too often.

    It chafes.

  12. “The Israeli puppeteer”? Ugh. I think I’m going to be sick. I didn’t think Nader was an anti-Semite either, until I read that. No wonder Pat Buchanan is his new buddy. They’re a nice match. Assholes.

  13. I’m pretty sure Ralph Nader is on good terms with plenty of Jewish people, phony Rick. Opposition to bigotry should be a spur to rigorous thought, not an excuse to flee it.

    Why is it that people can suggest that the Saudis have too much influence over our government and the issue is debated on its merits, but change “Saudis” to “Likud” or “Israelis” and half the blogosphere starts shrieking like a girl in a Friday the 13th movie?

  14. They don?t like ?Leave No Child Behind? because it is a stupidly conceived federal regulation of local school systems through misguided and very fraudulent multiple-choice testing impositions.

    What definition of “conservative” is being used here? “No Child Left Behind” threatens to withhold *federal* funds unless schools meet certain criteria. If schools want to do their own thing, NCLB doesn’t stop them from doing it — they just don’t get to do their own thing AND suck on the government tit. How is that kind of requirement at odds with conservatism?

    In any case, anyone who’s surprised that Nader can appeal to the Right really should read Virginia Postrel’s “The Future and Its Enemies”.

  15. Ah, I see we’re back to playing the “criticism of Israel = anti-semitism” game. If that’s true, I know quite a few anti-Semitic Jews. 🙂

    Truth is, our disastrous involvement in the Middle East is mainly due to our extensive support of Israel’s kicking the Palestinians out of a land they’d lived in for over a milennium. So yeah, I can see how someone could come to the conclusion that they’re pulling our strings.

  16. Aw, come on FlyByNight. What are you trying to say?

    Just because somebody opposes the massive international neocon zionist banker conspiracy that controls the world, doesn’t mean they are anti-semitic. And just because somebody finds useful the work of revisionists who say that maybe a lot of Jews starved during WWII, but certainly none were gassed, doesn’t mean they are anti-semitic.

    Admittedly, Nader’s and Buchanan’s comments about the Israelis, the Jews, etc., don’t look too good. But taking a page from Pat’s books, maybe that’s just because we’ve spent too much time listening to mass media and watching movies. And need I remind you who controls Hollywood?

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Of course, with the resurgence of socially acceptable um, let’s call it “not-antisemitism”, at least it stops conservatives from bitching that discriminating against conservatives was the last acceptable prejudice.

  17. BTW, JD, we’ve sure had a lot of hijacked airliners used against our buildings lately, haven’t we?

    I’d submit that we can prevent a lot of different types of attack, if we can summon up the willpower to ask the political leadership to do so. The 9/11 attacks seemingly had a lot more to do with people not giving a shit about preventing terrorism, more than any inability to stop such attacks. Otherwise, shouldn’t we still be suffering from a plague of 757s crashing into our buildings?

  18. joe,

    They don’t actually constitute anywhere close to half of the blogoshere. It just seems like it with all the noise that those small minds make when they resort to making unfounded accusations of racism when ever the Israeli government or our government’s support of it are criticized.

  19. Maybe you should name a politician you think is FOR free trade, as opposed to “free trade.”

    Just about everybody in the corporate center of the political spectrum, from DLC Democrats to neocon Republicans, loves to talk about “free trade.” It just goes to show how little the modern corporatist idea of globally managed “free trade” has to do with the ideas of Cobden and Bright.

    And while we’re at it, some libertarians think those “giant multinational corporations” make most of their profits off the government tit.

  20. I don’t know about being buddies, but I can’t imagine even a non-free trade conservative like Buchanan ever supporting Nader. Nader’s domestic agenda is draconian big government control of the economy.

    Dan,

    Abolishing the Dept. of Education was always a proud plank of the GOP platform until Bush tossed out that plank.

    Stephen:

    “Admittedly, Nader’s and Buchanan’s comments about the Israelis, the Jews, etc., don’t look too good.”

    Nice try, but I don’t think you can cause us to “discover” racism where there isn’t any, no matter hard you try.

    with the resurgence of socially acceptable um, let’s call it “not-antisemitism”

    Anti-Semitism, no matter what you call it, should never be acceptable, ever. And, fair people should always oppose it, and oppose all racism.

  21. I’m going to vote for John Kerry, but I like to think of it primarily as a vote against Nader.

  22. Why is it that people can suggest that the Saudis have too much influence over our government and the issue is debated on its merits, but change “Saudis” to “Likud” or “Israelis” and half the blogosphere starts shrieking like a girl in a Friday the 13th movie?
    –joe

    I often ask myself the same thing. Imagine this: The U.S. leans heavily toward Nation X, which is arguably the reason for much of the hostility it faces in a very volatile region of the world. The official religion of Nation X is shared by several million coreligionists in the U.S. A pro-X lobby, AXPAC, is (along with the NRA and AARP), one of the most powerful in the country. In addition, millions of dispensationalist nutballs in the South vote based on whether a politician toes the Nation X line.

    Now, you’d think that seriously considering the role of the Nation X lobby in our political system would just be common sense.

    After all, it’s not very smart (for example) to let a vocal emigre community in Miami determine our policy toward Cuba. If you made such a critique of the Miami Cubans’ influence on Cuban policy, or influence of emigres from Latvia and other “enslaved nations” on Detente in the 1970s, most people would consider that entirely within the bounds of propriety.

    It’s only when you substitute “Israel” for “Nation X” that the problems start.

    Stephen “the [stage whisper] J.E.W.S.” Fetchet has repeatedly suggested that any consideration of the extent of Israeli influence over American Middle Eastern policy is beyond the pale. It is, he says, akin to claiming that any Jew anywhere is really just an agent of the Elders of Zion.

    But consider what Stephen said a while back in response to my comments on assimilating Mexican immigrants:

    “If Mexico wants to flood California, in the hopes of fulfilling MechA’s “Aztlan” fantasy, who are we to stop the individuals who come to the U.S. to make it happen… ”

    Gosh, that sounds an awful lot like “dual loyalty,” doesn’t it? Sounds like every Hispanic immigrant in America is a potential fifth columnist, an agent of “the [stage whisper] M.E.X.I.C.A.N.S.” Those Mexicans, they control the world, right?

    Of course, I don’t think Mr. Fetchet really believes his charges of anti-semitism. He just cynically uses the accusation, in the same way Jesse Jackson squeals “racism” every time he gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

  23. Just out of curiosity, do Cuban exiles use the racism card when faced with criticism? I think it’s pretty much agreed that the embargo is a failure (I mean, it has been 40+ years now). I’ve heard of Cuban exiles making arguments about the brutality of Castro’s regime to support the embargo, but I’ve never heard of anybody playing the race card.

    Am I just not listening hard enough?

    Also, it’s worth noting that I’ve frequently heard criticism of the Cuban exile community for wielding inordinate power.

  24. Dan, Abolishing the Dept. of Education was always a proud plank of the GOP platform until Bush tossed out that plank.

    I’m not sure how what that has to do with my observation that conservatives have no problem with placing requirements and restrictions on federal education payouts.

    Nader wasn’t claiming that conservatives should should prefer him to Bush because Bush supports the existance of the Department of Education — after all, Nader supports the existance of that department as well. Nader was claiming that conservatives should prefer him to Bush because Bush favors restrictions on government handouts to schools, while Nader prefers to just blindly hand out money. That’s nonsensical.

  25. joe,

    I also don’t buy the idea that the Saudis are Bush’s puppetmasters. But it’s especially ugly when applied to the Israelis because of the history of European anti-Semitism. Just about everyone in European history who wanted to deport, imprison or kill the Jews started by positing some scenario in which Jews are the “puppeteers” who control the government, economy, media, whatever. Then the bedtrodden Gentile masses had to rise up and take their country back from the rootless cosmopolitan Jooooos.

    The idea is so classically anti-Semitic that I usually assume people are using it ironically (“well, we all know who controls the media!”). Perhaps Rick Barton is really ignorant of this. Maybe Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan are, too. But they have no excuse.

  26. Steve in CA,

    The actions Israeli government and those who do its bidding, should not, and cannot be said to be indicative of Jews in general. To abstain from discussing the influence of the Israeli government on our politics is, in itself, to give quarter to the one of the main errors of anti-Semitism and all racism; collective guilt.

  27. Why is it that people can suggest that the Saudis have too much influence over our government and the issue is debated on its merits, but change “Saudis” to “Likud” or “Israelis” and half the blogosphere starts shrieking like a girl in a Friday the 13th movie?

    Saudia Arabia is typically accused of “having too much influence” because it is typically accused of bribing US government officials to do what it wants. Go ahead; accuse Israel of that. You’ll look like a fool, because Israel doesn’t do that, but you won’t get called an anti-Semite.

    When people say “Israel has too much influence over the United States”… how, exactly, do they mean that? Israel has no resources we need. It doesn’t bribe our officials. It costs us a lot of money, and is a big pain in the ass. It’s never helped us out in a war. It can’t help us diplomatically, because the entire world, outside of America, hates it. So what’s this supposed “influence” that Israel is accused of having over us?

    Answer: Israel has no influence over our government. American Jewish voters have influence over our government. THAT is why we support Israel — because a politically active subset of the United States electorate cares enough about Israel to exert a big influence in US politics. A person saying “Israel has too much influence” isn’t really saying that Israel, the nation, has “too much influence”. He’s saying “Jews have too much influence”.

    I suppose it is possible to formulate an argument that Jews have “too much influence” in American politics without being an anti-Semite. But I can’t imagine how. Jews vote, and donate to political campaigns, and join activist groups; these are activities available to all Americans. How can any American, or group of Americans, be said to have “too much influence” in any objective sense? They can only have “too much influence” in a subjective sense — i.e., Jews can have more influence than you want them to.

    Well, there are plenty of countries in the world that cheerfully limit or ban Jewsish participation in domestic politics. This just isn’t one of them.

  28. “I stand by my previous claim: if the U.S. gave the same amount of foreign aid to any other hypothetical country that it gave Israel, and staked the same amount of political capital on another country; and if that country had a lobby in this country as powerful as AIPAC, allied with the Christian Right, it would be regarded as a leading political issue.”

    Total U.S. aid to Israel, since 1949, amounts to about 91 billion dollars. If you look a the reasons for the aid, it suddenly doesn’t sound so sinister.

    For example, Israel received 3 billion dollars from the U.S. in 1974 as part of a deal to withdraw all of its forces from the Sinai, which was a very expensive thing to do. The U.S. pressured Israel into making the move, which cost about 5 billion dollars, and compensated Israel 3 billion of that, of which 2.2 billion was in the form of high interest loans.

    Israel received another large aid package in 1985 because it was in serious danger of fiscal collapse (interest rates over 400%).

    Since 1987, Israel has received about 1.2 billion a year in non-military aid, and 1.8 billion in military aid. This amount is now being slowly reduced.

    Part of the reason Israel needed the non-military aid was to help it pay down a heavy debt load incurred from having to maintain a huge military to ward off Arab Nations that wanted to destroy it.

    As for the military aid, a lot of it is pure pork. Israel is a huge buyer of American arms. So the American government loans or grants money to Israel, which is then used to purchase weapons from American manufacturers. I don’t agree with this, but it’s not some Jewish cabal – it’s good old pork-barrel politics.

    The reality of aid to Israel is that the U.S. does it not because Jews control America, but because it is very much in the U.S. interest to maintain a healthy democracy with a powerful military in the middle east. This was especially true during the cold war, when Israel was a major bulwark against Soviet aggression in a very critical region.

    Yes, Israel is a special case. It gets more aid money than any other country. But it’s also in a special situation. It is a democracy in the heart of a land full of tyranny. It is a close friend of the United States. It serves U.S. interests well.

    The thing that bothers many of us about criticism of Israel is not that the criticism is invalid, but that it is not balanced by criticism of other nations in the region. Israel, with all its flaws, is still light years ahead of every country in the region in terms of human rights, rule of law, and civil society. It’s important to criticise policies that are not right, but it’s troublesome that Israel gets special attention for what it does by the same people willing to give the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, and other countries in the region a pass for violations of human rights that are much more severe.

    And there is a big difference between healthy disagreement and criticism, and calls by some to ‘cut off’ Israel, or openly support its enemies against it. And, the U.N. is clearly hostile to Israel – one needed to look no further than the Durban conference to see that.

  29. Support for Israel may be based on domestic politics, but it isn’t just the Jewish lobby. Christian fundamentalists are ardent fans of Israel because (1) they think our unwavering support for the Israeli gov’t will bring about the end of the world (and yes, they view this as a good thing), (2) some of them figure it’s better if the Jews are over there rather than over here, and (3) some of them probably like the idea of a gov’t that oppresses dark-skinned Muslims.

    Maybe it’s best to put aside the issue of whether Israel and/or its supporters have too much clout in the US and focus on whether our policies in Israel are a good idea. Bad ideas can come from all sorts of places (e.g. hare-brained domestic politicians, hare-brained domestic lobbying groups, hare-brained idealists who really think their ideas will work, not to mention the requisite Illuminati cabal of scheming bankers). The origin of a bad idea doesn’t change the fact that it’s a bad idea.

  30. By “conservative,” I’m sure that ole’ Darth Nader means his friends in the Buchanan department of the right , or what I like to call the “Theytookourjarbs!!!” wing of the conservativism movement.

  31. We are presently defending prosperous nations like Japan, Germany, and England, who are perfectly capable of defending themselves against nonexistent enemies.

    Evidently, if you are watching the Nadervision News Channel, it was the tooth fairy that occupied Eastern Europe for 50 years, the East Bunny than took out the WTC, and Santa Claus that blew up that train in Madrid.

    Nice soundbite, utterly wrong on one of hte main questions of the age. Hell, he isn’t just wrong on the question, he doesn’t think it’s a question at all.

    Oh well, I suppose it’s better than Buchanan’s Al Jazeera-friendly views on the same subject…

  32. Outside of the nonexistent enemies part, nader has a point.

    It’s undeniable that we are defending the europeans, japanese and others, though the reasons may be up for debate.

  33. “Theytookourjarbs!!!”

    Isn’t that the name of the guy Buchanan founded The American Conservative with?

  34. Except, fellas, the military forces we currently have stationed in Europe – the ones intended to stop the Ruskies from pouring across West Germany (look it up, youngsters) have squat to do with stopping train bombing and hijackings.

  35. Yeah, no shit Nader. Good job pointing out the evils of GWB. But somehow I find your solution of ‘put King Ralph in charge of all minutia of your life and I’ll take care of everything’ even more wanting.

  36. Eric II: Watch South Park.

  37. Stephen, read that quote again. Note the word “presently”. Reconcile that with who occupied Eastern Europe for 50 years, or our inability to defend even ourselves against hijacked airliners, please. As for existing enemies, I doubt we’re helping Europe much with a military presence – we might even be making things worse by making them more obvious allies/targets. I suppose if Al Qaeda gets themselves an armored division, we might be of some use. (Although I do have to say that maintaining bases around the world is useful in terms of fast reaction time, regardless of whether there’s a particular threat to the host country.)

    As for Nader, I agree with a fair amount of what he says, but I think he’s either willfully or ignorantly confusing ideological conservatives with Republican voters.

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