What Ralph Nader Likes About Donald Trump

And what he doesn't like about Hillary Clinton


Fighting to keep seafood out of your television set since 1969.

Ralph Nader is not supporting Donald Trump for president. Indeed, the consumer activist and five-time presidential candidate just accused Trump of lowering "the level of political debate to unheard-of depths of salacious, slanderous…vacuousness, garnished with massive self-boosterism and repetition." It's just that in the same interview, conducted by U.S. News & World Report, he still managed to find more nice things to say about Trump than nice things to say about Hillary Clinton:

The liberal activist says Trump has brought some important issues to the fore.

"He's questioned the trade agreements. He's done some challenging of Wall Street—I don't know how authentic that is. He said he's against the carried interest racket, for hedge funds. He's funded himself and therefore attacked special interest money, which is very important," Nader says. "But he's lowered the level of political debate to unheard-of depths of salacious, slanderous and vacuousness, garnished with massive self-boosterism and repetition."

"And that's not good, because that brought a lot of money into the media and that's the kind of debates they're going to want to goad."

When asked what positive contributions Clinton has made to the 2016 campaign, Nader called her a "corporatist, militarist Democrat" who would have been defeated by Sanders if every state held an open primary.

This shouldn't be shocking. Nader has never been allergic to praising parts of the right when its aims coincide with his, and he was bound to find something to like in some of the sentiments that Trump has been channeling. And he surely isn't about to hold Trump's wealth against him—Nader, after all, once wrote a manifesto/novel called Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, in which "the rebellious rich take on the reigning rich." Clinton, by contrast, represents the corporate-state side of the Democratic Party that Nader has been battling for decades. You can certainly take issue with some of Nader's specific comments here, but they reflect a consistent worldview. (Nader would not say who he plans to vote for, but U.S. News reports that he "says Sanders and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein best represent the movement he's trying to advance.")

If Nader's praise for Trump had been unqualified, that would have been surprising. If he had said nice things about Trump without mentioning Sanders, whose views are obviously closer to Nader's, that would have been surprising. But finding some pleasure in watching the guy beat the Republican establishment? Not surprising at all.

Bonus Naderiana: The one article Nader ever wrote for Reason—or actually originally for The Freeman, but Reason reprinted it—is here. Reason's 2014 interview with Nader is below.