RALPH NADER -- 03/24/96
Ralph Nader appeared on Meet The Press (a.k.a. "Meet The
Depressed") on March 24, 1996, and was interviewed by Tim
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We're back on Meet The Press. With us now, consumer advocate
turned presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Mr. Nader, welcome.
*Why* are you running for president?
Because we're part of a larger and longer-term political movement
to build democracy in concrete ways; to strengthen the roles of
the voter-citizen, tax-payer, consumer, worker, and shareholder;
and to confront, and to give competition to, the two parties:
Tweedledum-Tweedledee/Republican-Democrat, which are
increasingly, essentially, a party of, by and for big business.
The dominance, the supremacy of, these global corporations over
our government, over our marketplace, over labor, over consumers,
over small businesses through these franchise agreements, is
getting completely out of hand, and on a collision course with
Now on Tuesday, voters in California will find your name and the
"Green Party". If you become the nominee of the Green Party on
Tuesday, will you run as presidential candidate all the way
In all probability.
What, what hesitation?
The only... It's up to the Green Party.
But as far as Ralph Nader's concerned, you're in the race all the
Correct. Unless a lot of "Greens" volunteering all over
California aren't in favor of that. But they make the final
Now people in the White House will say, "Listen. When it comes to
issues, when it comes to the crunch, Bill Clinton has been there.
When there was a bill which would limit the stockholders' ability
to sue, Bill Clinton vetoed it. Just last week, when there was a
bill which would limit product liability, ability of people to
sue for defective products, Bill Clinton threatened to veto. Bob
Dole would have signed both those bills. And Ralph Nader, if
*you* run, in California, you're gonna drain votes from Bill
Clinton and *you* may elect Bob Dole."
How do you respond?
First of all, those two vetoes were unusually good news from the
White House and President Clinton deserves to be commended for
[it]. He took on big business contributors to his own campaign
and did the right thing by wanting to keep the doorways to the
courtroom open for people who've been defrauded or wrongfully
However. In the first 3 years of his tenure, he's been
consistently on the side of big business when it's conflicted
with labor and consumers. Jerry Jarzinowski(?) of the National
Association of Manufacturers said over a year ago to me that he
really liked Clinton; that Clinton was strong on businesses'
issues like NAFTA and GATT and he was pretty indifferent on
issues close to Labor's heart, like raising the minimum wage,
labor law reform, etc. What we have seen here is, not only Bill
Clinton, but the Democratic Party, with Al Fromme(?) and the
Democratic Leadership Council, pushing more into the corporatist
"right" and away from the "progressive" wing of the Democratic
And it really is of singular indifference what the impact of this
"Green movement" is on Clinton and on Dole: they're perfectly
free to adopt the "new democracy" tools, which we call the
"Concord principles", that I ran on in a "none of the above"
write-in candidacy in New Hampshire in 1992. There's no patent on
By the way, of the 6300 write-in votes in New Hampshire in 1992
that I received, 52 percent were Republican, 48 percent were
Democrat. I think a lot of the people that are going to vote
Green, many of them would've stayed home, and some of them
would've been Republican and some of them would've been Democrat.
But people are gonna say to you, Ralph Nader: "In the end, this
is a real world. Would you prefer to have Bill Clinton, or Bob
Dole, sitting in the Oval Office? Because one of those two men
are gonna be president."
I would prefer *neither*, in the "real world."
Who would you prefer sitting in the Oval Office?
That's why we're expanding this new political movement! So we get
people who rise from a deliberate, established civic confidence
in our country; who rise from the grass roots; who know where
they come from; who don't just toss their hat in the ring, go to
the fat cats, raise money, and say, "I promise you I'll do 'this,
this' if you elect me president" -- and then all we see are
Our democracy is deteriorating! And it's deteriorating because
the political government is increasingly captured by the
It wouldn't bother you if you woke up in November of '96 and
said, "Bill Clinton was not re-elected today because he lost the
state of California to Bob Dole. And the reason was: Ralph Nader
siphoned off 6 percent of voters who would've voted for Bill
If that happens to Clinton because he refuses to adopt very
important campaign finance reform, sponsor initiative referenda
recall all over the country, have inserts in various company
bills that are being bailed out for illegal monopolies to help
consumers voluntarily to join their own consumer action groups,
give tax-payers standing to sue the federal government, elect
shareholders who *own* these companies to have some control,
including the pension trust -- he deserves it! Because it's so
easy to up-end Dole by moving with a vision of a concrete
expansion of our democratic tools! Democracy solves problems.
It's the best mechanism to solve problems I think ever devised.
And democracy brings the *best* out of people in this country.
We've got too many problems we don't deserve, too many solutions
we don't apply. It's all open for Bill Clinton to move into that
arena and reduce any challenge that comes to him.
And if he embraced some of your visions, as you're talking about
this morning, you would be then reluctant to challenge him all
the way through to November?
Not at all! Politicians always need an opposition that *stays* to
its convictions and holds them to their promises.
[...to be continued...]