Ralph Nader has no plans to run himself in 2016, but he has very clear ideas about the kind of candidate he would—and who he definitely wouldn't—like to see in the next US presidential contest.
The ideal candidate for Nader: A wealthy, progressive and courageous individual who can buck the traditional scramble for corporate dollars while running on a more visionary platform that puts the concerns of people and the planet above that of private wealth and elite interests.
"Nothing succeeds like failure, when you're servicing the power structure," said Nader in an interview with Politico's Patrick Gavin published on Tuesday, explaining this as the powerful lesson he's learned after more than nearly half a century as a consumer advocate and political activist.
The conservation centers around Nader's new book, Told You So, which explores why those who defend the public interest have consistently been defeated by corporate power since before the Reagan era and how that trend has continued up and through the disappointment of the current Obama presidency.
"Nothing succeeds like failure, when you're servicing the power structure." -Ralph Nader
Following on this argument, says Nader, is that what the country needs now is not another pro-corporate Republican or the predictive Democrat Hillary Clinton to lead it out of this dark period, but "fresh energy" and a new, truly progressive vision for the future.
From the Iraq War to the financial collapse of 2008, says Nader, those who got it all wrong—including Clinton in many respects—have been rewarded with million-dollar book deals and high-level appointments as those progressives who consistently and accurately predicted disaster can barely get a spot on the public radio shows.
Watch the interview:
Asked about Clinton as the possible next president, Nader was firm and explicit in his opposition.
Hillary Clinton, Nader told Gavin, is not his idea of a progressive candidate. The former first lady and New York Senator who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 election but then served as his Secretary of State, said Nader, “Never saw a war she didn't like, never saw a weapons system she didn’t like, never challenged the Pentagon when she was on the Senate Armed Services Committee.”
“Do we really need a dynasty now?" he asked. "We’ve had twelve years of the Bushes, what — do you want eight more years of the Clintons? Do we really want a redux here or do we want fresh energy and redirection?”
Progressives are almost always right (but ignored)
That's the unsubtle thrust of the new book, Told You So: The Book of Weekly Columns.
The book, a collection of Nader articles dating from the early 1970s and running through late 2011, is designed to show that time and time again over the last several decades how Nader and those who agreed with him on numerous domestic and foreign policy issues were correct in their predictions and warnings as the nation lurched ever to the right as the corporate stranglehold on elected officials and the nation's democratic safeguards tightened.
As fellow progressive columnist and activist Jim Hightower writes in the book's introduction, Nader has been out in front on nearly every big issue since he began his work as a public advocate in the 1960s, including "product safety, environmental justice, workers rights, fair trade, Wall Street greed, money in politics, war crimes, healthcare for all, whistleblower protection, Pentagon bloat, government secrecy, green energy, Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Food-—you name it."
In the interview with Politco, Nader addresses the book's central theme of progress "vindication" regarding past issues, but also looks forward with a special emphasis on what he believes needs to be done in the US politically before 2016.
Though Nader makes an (almost) assurance that he has no intention of running again for president, he says he is making active plans to encourage others to take on what he calls the "duopoly" of power represented by the dominant Democrat and Republican parties.
Nader told Politico that he doesn't think it necessary for the right candidate to run as a third party candidate, but says money remains the key obstacle when it comes to election politics for progressives.
He says he wants a progressive-minded, "enlightened" billionaire to take up the charge to “break up this insipid, dull trist where the two parties are dialing for the same dollars."
“I’m going to find at least ten enlightened billionaires or multi-billionaires," Nader said, "and I’m going to have a criteria. Have they spoken out about where they think the country is going? And are they worried about it? And have they done things reflecting some sort of civic enlightenment and courage? And are they able to communicate? Obviously, they have the money. And I’m going to encourage them to run.”