by Arik Johnson
Ralph Nader for President
A Republican for Nader: Have Republicans Won the Ideology Wars and Long for a Worthy Rival; or, is it a Case of Spoiling Gore's Campaign as Perot did in '92 to Bush's Daddy? This Republican is Endorsing Nader as Good for American Business
If I never hear the words "statistical dead heat" again, it'll be too soon. Same goes for phrases like "key battleground states" and " lockbox". Whether or not this race has been one of issues over image is more important than ever. So the question is, does every Gore voter agree with Gore on every issue or does every Bush voter agree with Bush's stand on every issue?
But, it's undeniable -- the Presidential debates of several weeks ago helped Bush surge back to parity with Gore. Gore is said to be fond of saying of the three face-offs that, in the first one he was too hot, the second too cold, but the third one was just right. Whatever, Goldilocks
Analysts say that Al Gore has been unable to capitalize on the strength of our good economy and the influence of the Clinton Administration on that economy, because he distanced himself from Clinton too early on. The crazy thing, according to Larry King, is that, if Clinton could run for a third term, he'd win... practically guaranteed. Don't get me wrong -- I don't think that anyone believes that Al Gore or Bill Clinton has had much to do with the success of our economy -- and its success moving forward for that matter. We've been a continuously growing economy because of growth in productivity -- pure and simple, period, end-of-sentence. But, remember that Clinton helped us not to screw it up by replacing Greenspan -- which he could've -- and any lesser man would've. So, maybe he did have some impact. Likewise, the Internet and Microsoft haven't been as much responsible for productivity growth through personal computing either -- though Bill Gates would love to claim such credit -- Deming and the quality movement (TQM and ISO9000/9001) initiatives over the past 20 years were the real heroes.
While publications normally endorse candidates for President all the time, I was loathe to do so on grounds of objectivity. However, the choices presented by the major political parties this year are uncommon in its demand for a voice from the business sector to call for a truly objective endorsement of the best candidate.
I almost hate to admit it, but as a feisty Ralph Nader kept claiming the two lead horses were sleeping in the same bed, it struck me that, the future of American business' competitiveness is on the line here. And, whether we succumb to the status quo of corporate welfare and a divergent wage gap, we must think rationally about the future of the world economy. While there's much I disagree with on Nader's platform, most of what he says makes sense to me. So, this week, I hope to make his case to the business community.
I'm dismayed at how little separates Bush and Gore from being clones of one another. Each one, beholden to the same special interests. Each one, a card-carrying member of the "privileged" class. Each one, a warmed-over remnant of a category of politicians who have always served up more of same.
How did each major candidate choose to differentiate himself? Big government vs. small. Free choice vs. "right to life." Partial privatization of social security vs. same-old-same-old. Fuzzy math "A" vs. fuzzy math "B." In the back pockets of special interests vs. otherwise. Vouchers for private schooling vs. none. Opening up Alaska's wilderness vs. leaving it untapped. Giving tax cuts to all vs. containing them to a few.
Fact is, four out of 10 Ralph Nader voters in California in his 1996 campaign were registered Republicans. I, myself, am a registered Republican in the "key battleground state" of Wisconsin who plans to vote Nader. I've spoken with many others who fit into our shared, if inexplicable, ideological category in the past several months who support Nader not because it'll wreck Al Gore's campaign, but because we can't stomach a vote for George W. Bush any more than we can if we voted for Gore and feel there's little debate left in American politics of late.
The Democrats have spent the weeks coming down to Tuesday's Election Day almost ridiculously beseeching Nader to drop out and throw his weight behind Gore to break the tie. Nader has responded that, he's the only Presidential candidate being asked to tell his supporters to vote for his opponent! The almost surreal behavior of Democratic leadership when they're in a jam like this is unbelievable. Where were they when Nader was trying to get a chair at the debate table? They didn't seem too concerned about letting him have a voice back then.
Nader's claim that the "...central issue in this campaign is the excessive concentration of power and wealth in the hands of global corporations..." - citing BusinessWeek's recent declaration that business should get out of politics, is one I support wholeheartedly. He's right! With 43 million people without health insurance, campaigns underway to break the backs of labor unions and the increasing control of NAFTA and the World Trade Association, I can sympathize. In my humble opinion, society loses its potential and dynamism when business gets too close to government - in the form of campaign financing (the buying of candidates which we see at all levels in politics today - national, state and municipal) and undue influence (such as the passage of the China Trade Agreement that most Americans disagreed and our Congress and Chief Executive signed into law anyway).
While Nader's polling numbers are going south, the crowds turning out to see him just keep getting bigger. I think Nader strikes a real chord with voters in a lot of ways. The fact is, Nader addresses and agrees on lots of points that are salient across the board to Americans and its future competitiveness in a global economy. Nonetheless, he will not be elected President - and, thanks to the success of the Democrats demonization of a potential Bush Administration, he probably won't get enough votes (five percent nationally) for his other goal either -- to quality for federal matching funds in 2004 either. Since so few politicians are able to be elected on the basis of their stance on the issues, I've collected and dated a few of Nader's most relevant position (and difficult to disagree with) statements for you to consider for the future of this New Economy, below:
On the Economy · 47 million full-time workers make less than $10 an hour. (Oct 26) · Use surplus to rebuild country & provide for communal needs. (Oct 1) · Top priorities: Infrastructure; poverty; preventive health. (Jul 23) · High gas prices are the fruit of corporate power. (Jun 29) · People indicators are down despite good economic indicators. (May 7) · Two-tiered economy is unhealthy & troubling. (May 7) · Allow citizen lawsuits for waste in government spending. (Feb 21) · The economy is down, when measured by human yardsticks. (Feb 21) · Fed worries wrongly about wage inflation over profits. (Nov 1999) · Spend surplus on public works & infrastructure. (Jul 1999) · GNP fails to measure quality of life. (Dec 1995)
On China Policy · Support human rights as cornerstone of US foreign policy. (Jun 25) · China & other dictatorships have no real free trade. (Jul 2)
On Privacy/Free Speech · Disagrees with ACLU on spending money as free speech. (Feb 23) · Supports "impenetrable protection of privacy". (Oct 1996) · Differentiate discriminatory justice from indiscriminate. (Oct 1996) · Political discourse narrows when media serves Mammon. (Dec 1995)
On Crime · Decreasing unemployment reduces crime; not enforcement. (Aug 14) · Death penalty does not deter. (Aug 9) · Moratorium on executions. (Aug 9) · Some executed by death penalty were innocent. (Jul 23) · Pollution & toxic exposure cause more deaths than homicide. (Jun 25) · Death penalty does not deter & is discriminatory. (Jun 25) · Focus on crime prevention instead of harsher sentences. (Jun 25) · Product liability suits are a pillar of democracy. (Mar 1996) · Lawyers & victims need unlimited contingency fees. (Mar 1996) · Regulatory agencies are needed to fight corporate crime. (Dec 1995)
On National Defense · Corporate welfare: taxpayers fund defense industry mergers. (Oct 9) · Deter wars by being attuned abroad. (Oct 8) · Kill F-22, Seawolf, Osprey, & other gold-plated weapons. (Oct 1) · SDI doesn't work; money better spent elsewhere. (Jul 11) · Stop using weapons sales to determine foreign policy. (Jun 25) · Stop spending on unneeded weapons & non-existent enemies. (Jun 25) · Stop unneeded defense of prosperous countries. (May 7) · Defense frameworks: how to wage peace while building weapons. (Feb 23) · Popular participation instead of corporate involvement. (Feb 23) · Supports Test Ban Treaty & arms control. (Feb 23) · Arms race is driven by corporate demand. (Feb 23) · F-22 aircraft is unneeded; and dangerous to fly. (Feb 23)
On Drugs · Failed War on Drugs endangers communities. (Oct 22) · Legalize marijuana, and treat addiction as a health problem. (Sep 9) · Treat hemp like poppy seeds, not like heroin. (Sep 6) · Remove industrial hemp from DEA drug list. (Jun 25) · Replace Drug War with treatment and alternative sentencing. (Jun 25) · Supports legalization of industrial hemp. (May 16) · Solution to addiction is information, not prohibition. (Oct 1994)
On Education · Abandon standardized testing; focus on teaching civic skills. (Oct 8) · Invest in K-12 education; that will reduce poverty. (Jun 26) · Teach democratic principles & citizenship in schools. (Feb 21) · Kick Channel One & commercialism out of class. (May 1999) · Focus on civic & consumer education. (Oct 1996)
On the Environment · Charge agribusiness for water; stop charging more to people. (Oct 22) · Mining companies get free mines for campaign contributions. (Oct 9) · Highway pork leads to sprawl, air pollution, global warming. (Oct 9) · Focus on family farms instead of large agribusiness. (Oct 9) · Drilling Alaska is a temporary fix for an inebriated system. (Oct 1) · U.S. farm policy should focus on family farmers. (Sep 22) · More renewables & more efficiency to stave off global warming. (Jul 24) · Raise CAFE standards; treat SUVs like cars. (Jul 24) · End all commercial logging in National Forests. (Jul 24) · Head off a genetic engineering rampage. (Feb 23) · Protect whistleblowers on health, safety, & pollution. (Feb 21) · Corporate collectivism leads toward ecological disaster. (Feb 21) · Congress should revive energy policies before crisis. (Oct 1999) · Bold investment needed for public transportation. (Jul 1999) · More funds to maintain National Park system. (Jul 1999) · Promote energy independence to avoid foreign wars. (Oct 1996) · National corporate charters for environmental bankruptcy. (Mar 1996)
On the Auto Industry · Auto safety devices are simple & cheap; but take years. (Oct 10) · Safety regulation works; but Auto Safety Agency sold out. (Oct 10) · More regulation for auto safety, with criminal penalties. (Oct 10) · Cancel R&D giveaways to auto industry; let them do it. (Oct 9) · Gore has given auto industry and other polluters a free ride. (Oct 1) · Motor vehicles are the greatest environmental hazard. (Feb 21) · DOT: Focus on safety and mass transit. (Oct 1996) · Automakers avoid replacing internal combustion engines. (Dec 1995)
On Children · Democracy needs youth's energy & participation. (Jun 25) · TV ads targeting kids are "electronic child molesting". (Feb 23) · Corporate TV marketers are raising our kids. (Oct 1999) · Commercial TV separates children from parents. (Dec 1995)
On Foreign Policy · Wage peace and anticipate conflicts abroad. (Oct 8) · Forget "hot spots"; ask "How did we get into this?". (Jun 25) · Redefine national purpose to solve Third World scourges. (Jun 25) · Support foreign peasants instead of foreign dictators. (Jun 25) · Support social and economic justice across the globe. (Jun 25) · Assist Russia & Israel in moving towards better governments. (Jun 25) · Iraq: Trade sanctions strengthen Saddam. (May 16) · Selling arms is not a good way to conduct foreign affairs. (Feb 23)
On World Trade · Restrict IMF power, or abolish it. (Oct 9) · End export assistance; it's corporate welfare. (Oct 9) · Renegotiate NAFTA & WTO "as if human beings mattered". (Oct 8) · Subordinate the commercial to human rights, the environment & labor. (Jul 2) · It's not free trade; it's corporate-managed trade. (Apr 28) · NAFTA failures: $50B Mexico bailout; 400,000 exported jobs. (Oct 1996) · Seattle sparked the movement to question corporate globalization. (Feb 23) · "Battle of Seattle" convinced the President to reconsider WTO. (Dec 1999) · Global trade concentrates power & homogenizes the globe. (Dec 1999) · WTO's "trade uber alles" hurts environment, health, & safety. (Dec 1999) · A growing movement: international labor rights. (Aug 1999) · Multinational corporations challenge democracy. (Oct 1994)
On Democracy · Don't waste your vote: Gore & Bush only marginally differ. (Oct 23) · Nader in debates will draw out the "priceless truth". (Aug 9) · Allow voting for "None of the Above". (Feb 23) · Reinvent democracy via new tools for citizen empowerment. (Feb 21) · Concentrated party power weakens democracy. (Feb 17) · Focus on anti-trust enforcement to help small business. (Oct 1996) · 100% publicly funded campaigns, by $100 tax checkoff. (Oct 1996) · Government delivers more service than people realize. (Dec 1995)
On Campaign Finance Reform · Green Party does not take PAC, soft, or corporate cash. (Oct 1) · No private money in public campaigns. (Aug 9) · Spending campaign money is not free speech. (Feb 23) · Public campaign finance; 12-year term limits. (Feb 21) · Public election financing, with free TV & radio time. (Feb 21)
On Corporate Welfare · Scrutinize even "good" corporate welfare, which helps public. (Oct 9) · Corporate welfare is a function of political corruption. (Oct 9) · S&L bailout helped bankers & hurt consumers. (Oct 9) · Rules needed for examining & challenging corporate welfare. (Oct 9) · Disallow benefits to companies except for public purposes. (Oct 9) · Stadiums & other local tax abatements ignore small business. (Oct 9) · Federal regulation of state & local abatements & subsidies. (Oct 9) · Bailouts: require payback; practice prevention by regulation. (Oct 9) · Legislation to eliminate all corporate welfare. (Oct 9) · $1000 bounty for suing for abuse of corporate welfare. (Oct 9) · Big business influence hurts democracy. (Jun 25) · Corporate sponsorship turns debates into beer commercials. (Jun 20) · Corporate government has hijacked political leadership. (Feb 21) · States & the public should oppose corporate tax breaks. (Apr 1999) · Role of government is to counteract power of corporations. (Apr 1996) · Coined the term "corporate welfare". (Jul 1995)
On Healthcare Reform · Enforce fair drug prices if sponsored by govt research. (Oct 9) · Medicare prescriptions covered under universal health care. (Sep 8) · Price restraints on drugs; limit profiteering. (Sep 8) · Opposes assisted suicide laws for terminally ill. (Aug 25) · Cradle-to-grave health care better than Clinton's plan. (Jul 11) · Health care is a universal human right. (May 3) · Recast health care in a non-profit mode. (Mar 21) · Keep commercialism out of maternity wards. (Aug 1999) · Make medicines affordable in Third World. (Jul 1999) · Challenge the monetization of HMOs. (Jul 1999) · HMO review procedures must be independent of HMOs. (Jul 1999) · HMO plan: accountability, doctor-driven, independent review. (Jul 1999) · Criticizes "sweetheart deal" for big tobacco. (Nov 1998) · Let FDA regulate nicotine as an addictive drug. (Mar 1996) · Tobacco is the world's worst air pollutant. (Oct 1994)
On Social Security · Social Security is solid; pending bankruptcy is nonsense. (Sep 20) · Pensions controlled by people, not banks or insurers. (Feb 21) · Social insurance is government at its noblest. (Jan 1999) · Social Security privatization replaces certainty with risk. (Jan 1999) · Fears loss of retirement funds in privatized investments. (Jan 1999)
On Tax Cuts · Tax code loopholes benefit corporate donors & cost taxpayers. (Oct 9) · Sunshine on tax loopholes; sunset on tax breaks. (Oct 9) · Put meat in the process of progressive taxation. (Oct 8) · More taxpayer input into tax & spending policy. (Feb 21) · Tax breaks for big business hurt families. (Dec 1999) · Tax breaks to big business unfairly hurt small business. (Apr 1999) · Focus on under-taxation of corporations, not income tax. (Oct 1996) · Against flat tax; keep progressivity. (Oct 1996)
On Technology · FCC gave away $70B in airwave licenses to large corporations. (Oct 9) · Domain name registration needs openness to replace monopoly. (Oct 9) · Put all Congressional voting records on Internet. (Jun 26) · More free info from govt via computers & airwaves. (Feb 21) · Ruling against Microsoft bodes well for competition. (Nov 1999) · Microsoft is anticompetitive and anticonsumer. (Nov 1998) · Microsoft must be stopped. (Nov 1998) · The public owns the airwaves; express our rights. (Apr 1996)
On Poverty · Attack corporate welfare kings, not poor welfare queens. (Oct 9) · Limit executive compensation to 30-to-1 over lowest pay. (Oct 9) · Domestic Marshall Plan to abolish poverty. (Oct 8) · Democracy can't co-exist with gross income inequality. (Jun 25) · Retail malls siphon off business from central cities. (May 18) · Homelessness is peaking despite good economy. (May 7) · Big business lobbying subordinates democracy. (Feb 21) · Training & earned income credits are corporate subsidies. (Apr 1996)
On Labor Unions · Living wage spreads economic expansion to reach all areas. (Oct 22) · Repeal Taft-Hartley; strengthen unions. (Oct 8) · Unions struggle even in heart of union country. (Sep 5) · Vote for a union supporter, not against Republicans. (Aug 29) · Message to Democrats: Don't take labor for granted. (Jul 23) · Raise the minimum wage immediately. (Jun 26) · Functional wages are falling despite economic boom. (Jun 25) · Top CEOs make 415 times entry wages. (Feb 23) · Limit executive salaries & perks. (Feb 21) · Student pressure can help oppressed textile workers abroad. (Aug 1999) · Help for ordinary people should replace corporate welfare. (Sep 1) · Address corporate crimes piecemeal AND by revoking charters. (Feb 23) · Stop giving corporations the same rights as people. (Dec 1995)
Whew! Well, there you have it. You might not agree with all of Nader's positions necessarily - I don't myself, despite my endorsement. But, if you can agree with three-quarters of any candidate's positions on the real issues, then that's pretty good for U.S. politics.
Nader has managed to capture the attention span of the true "liberals-with-conviction" from the Democratic Party; but he's also gotten a number of conservatives from the Republican and Reform parties and even farther right. What's perhaps most astonishing about his campaign, is he's done so spending just a little more than $5 Million (compared to Bush's $170 Million and Gore's $100 Million, according to OpenSecrets.org).
Now that you know a few of the issues at stake, next week, we'll wrap up our political competitiveness discussion with how and why the winner won.
Arik R. Johnson is Managing Director of the Competitive Intelligence (CI) outsourcing & support bureau Aurora WDC. Learn more about Arik at his firm's Web site www.AuroraWDC.com/arik.htm.