Ralph Nader has spent a lifetime fighting on behalf of ordinary people. Life magazine ranked him as one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth century. The Atlantic named him one of the hundred most influential figures in U.S. history. Founder of Public Citizen, he is a long-time advocate for consumer safety and workers rights.
Gerrymandering puts up a resistance wall favoring the Republican state government-controlled gerrymandering. It keeps Republicans picking their own voters by these crazily shaped congressional districts in order to maximize their representation in Congress.
Nader rose to fame in the 1960s, when he took on General Motors and its unsafe Corvair car. His 1965 book Unsafe At Any Speed was instrumental in the enactment of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act; his efforts also helped create the Environmental Protection Agency.
Not only has Nader exposed the misdeeds of the corporate sector, but the U.S. political system as well. In recent years, he has led struggles around NAFTA, the WTO, corporate welfare, and single-payer health care. He is the author of numerous books including Return to Sender, Unstoppable, To the Ramparts, and Breaking Through Power, and co-author of Fake President and Wrecking America.
He spoke with David Barsamian, founder and director of Alternative Radio, on February 27, 2021. The full interview can be heard here.
Q: Its probably likely that, had there been no pandemic, Donald Trump would have been reelected. The question arises, how did 74 million Americans vote for him?
Ralph Nader: Excellent point. I was lookingat the voting statistics, and if 45,000 votes switched in three states to Trump, 45,000 out of 158 million or so votes in Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia, he would have tied Biden with 270 Electoral College votes. Then it would have gone to the House of Representatives where the vote is by states, and Republicans control more states. He would have been reelected without even going to the House of Representatives if you add one more state and 40,000 or 50,000 more votes, so you are still under 100,000 more votes switching. If you added one more state, and that state would have been Nevada, hed have been elected for another four-year term.
One of the reasons that is almost never mentioned is hereditary Republicans. Tens of millions of hereditary Republicans will vote for the Republican nominee, regardless of who that nominee is. Mayor Bloomberg, when he decided not to run for President years ago, said, 15 percent of Democrats will vote Democratic if Ayn Rand was the nominee. And 15 percent of the Republicans would vote for Republican if Leon Trotsky was the nominee. Those are his words. But clearly, probably 30 or 40 million would vote for the Republican ticket regardless. How about the rest?
The rest are people who are largely single or double, or triple issue [voters] only. They have low expectations of what this most powerful person in the world can do for their children, for the environment, for peace, for tax equity, for rebuilding and repairing the United States, for consumer protection, for worker rights, living wage, and full health insurance. All that they dont care about.
Heres what they care about. And heres what Trump gave them. One, the tax cut. Even though it was a tax cut for the rich, they believed his lies, and thought it was a tax cut for themselves.
Number two, deregulation, even though deregulation harmed them by exposing them to more pollution. Less protection for their children from pesticides, for example. All kinds of harm, regardless of whether they were Trump voters or Biden voters. They all bleed the same way, [theyre all] being ripped off by credit card companies, insurance companies, banks, mortgage service firms, all the fine print contracts. They loved his talk about deregulation.
And the third that they bought into was that he was opposed to abortion. Heres this consummate philanderer who for years was for abortion. They said were holding him to his word; and he did pursue policies against reproductive rights.
The fourth, probably got a few million votes, [was] his belligerent talk overseas, when he would talk about wiping a country off the map and expanding the military budget beyond what the generals themselves asked.
So, it behooves the Democrats to start looking at themselves in the mirror and asking why they came so close to disaster. They had all the money in the world. They had more campaign money than the Republicans. And they had $150 million in two relatively small states, Kentucky, where Mitch McConnell was running for re-election, the majority leader of the Senate. And South Carolina, where that travesty called Lindsey Graham was running for re-election. And the Democrats lost and lost big. One of their candidates spent $80 million, and the other spent $70 million. And they dont even have a look back to see what went wrong, so it doesnt go wrong again in 2022 and 2024.
Q: What about Supreme Court justices and the other judges that Donald Trump appointed?
Nader: He came through. He appointed three of the most reactionary judges you could conceive of and got them confirmed with Mitch McConnell in the Senate. They now have a six to three majority in the Supreme Court for many years to come. And in that sense, he fulfilled his pledge.
So, you take all these issues, and you can see why 74 million people voted for Trump. And by the way, the population keeps growing. So, the fact that he got more votes than Mitt Romney, part of that was due to the expansion of the electorate.
But there is another factor that almost never is talked about. Trump did better among Hispanics and Blacks than it was expected for him to do. People couldnt figure that out. Well, Tom Hartmann came up with the evidence: He has been listening to Latinx radio shows that have been taken over by rightwing Latinx equivalents of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Michael Savage.
So lets not underestimate the transformation of millions of Reagan Democrats years ago with the rise of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and others, after the Fairness Doctrine was repealed by George Herbert Walker Bush, his Federal Communication commissioners. We have to look carefully at that, and see whether its beginning to occur in the Black media as well. And we're not talking about large percentages here. But if Trump got 10 percent more Latinx votes than he was expected to get, thats pretty worrisome for the Democratic Party going toward 2022.
Q: Why didnt Biden have any coattails. He won the popular vote by more than 7 million.
Nader: Again, the Democrats dont do the kind of post-election self-assessment that the Republicans do when they lose elections. Theyre very arrogant. They dont return calls [from] progressives to the Democratic National Committee. The House Democratic Caucus is hard to reach. They dont seek out advice.
The Democrats keep losing elections or not winning ones they should win in a landslide to the worst Republican Party in history. They have the same consultants who make huge amounts of money, 15 percent of all the TV ads, so they discourage the Democratic candidates from having a ground game. They say youve got to go on television, youve got to go on social media, so they can get the 15 percent commission. And as a result, the Biden victory was not matched. They lost two or three seats in California. Biden won California in a landslide.
Another reason is gerrymandering. Gerrymandering puts up a resistance wall favoring the Republican state government-controlled gerrymandering. It keeps Republicans picking their own voters by these crazily shaped congressional districts in order to maximize their representation in Congress. For example, 60 percent of the vote, roughly, in Pennsylvania was Democrat. And yet the majority of representatives in the House from Pennsylvania are Republicans. Thats what gerrymandering does.
Q: Talk about the Grand Old Party, the GOP. Whats going on with the Republican Party?
Nader: Its been taken over by corporatists who have shoved even honest conservatives aside. For example, the Republican Party of Dwight Eisenhower, of Senator Robert Taft, and of others in the 1950s and 1960s, had certain conservative principles. I didnt agree with a lot of them. But for example, they believed in enforcing the antitrust laws. Look at all the giant mergers that they allowed under George W. Bush in industry after industry, the drug industry, the railroad industry, communications industry, and the auto industry.
The corporatists expanded corporate welfare, which the conservatives hate, they call it crony capitalism. So, Trump was a big promoter of corporate welfare because he was a big corporate welfare [recipient], with his gambling casinos and real estate in New York City. So again, corporatism over conservatism.
Conservatives were known to be a little bit isolationist. They didnt like the empire. Some of them were hypocrites. But, generally speaking, they were hesitant about expanding their empire and not engaging in what are called wars of choice. Republicans such as Wendell Willkie, who ran for President in 1940 against Franklin Delano Roosevelt on a peace program.
The future for the GOP is purely a function of how weak the Democratic Party is. If the Democratic Party was progressive, there wouldnt be much left of the GOP. Theyd be lucky to get 30 percent of the vote.
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