Ralph Nader on Dave Brat: 'A Clear Populist Challenge by Main Street Against Wall Street'

The left looks rightward.


The American left's reaction to Dave Brat's victory over Eric Cantor last week sometimes seems to be taking place on two different planets. There are the people who simply recoil in horror that someone even more conservative than Cantor! could be heading to Washington, and there are the people who look at the libertarian and populist elements of Brat's message and see some conservatives taking a step in the right direction. Ralph Nader belongs to the second group:

among all the reasons for Cantor's fall, there were the ones encapsulated in the Nation's John Nichols' description of Brat as an "anti-corporate conservative." Repeatedly, Brat said he was for "free enterprise" but against "crony capitalist programs that benefit the rich and powerful." David Brat pointed out that Cantor and the Republican establishment have "been paying way too much attention to Wall Street and not enough to Main Street."

Brat supported "the end of bulk phone and email data collection by the NSA" and other government agencies on constitutional grounds.

Professor Brat attacked the Wall Street investment bankers who nearly "broke the financial system," adding the applause line: "these guys should have gone to jail. Instead of going to jail, where did they go? They went to Eric Cantor's Rolodex."…

Brat is a mixed bag for progressives. But in that mix is a clear populist challenge by Main Street against Wall Street and by ordinary people against the corporate government with subsidies and bailouts that the Left calls corporate welfare and the Right calls crony capitalism. Therein lies the potential for a winning majority alliance between Left and Right as my new book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, relates in realistic detail.

Read the rest here. Check out Reason's coverage of Brat's win here. For more on populism, go here, and for more on the intersection between populism and libertarianism, go here and here. To read Tim Carney's review of Nader's new book, pick up the July Reason at your local newsstand. And for Reason's recent interview with Nader, hit play: