Political activist and longtime consumer attorney Ralph Nader ripped into Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, pointing out that the Democratic front-runner is only ahead of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in the race because of systemic problems that his campaign has exposed about the American political system.
Appearing on Democracy Now with polls projecting Sanders as the winner of the West Virginia primary, Nader sought to answer questions by Amy Goodman on the nature of the Democratic race, and the probable reasons for Hillary Clinton’s healthy lead over Sanders.
Attacking Clinton head-on for her alleged lack of transparency and accountability, Nader said that she is only leading Bernie Sanders because of “anti-democratic systems” that have disenfranchised independent voters from casting their votes for the Vermont senator.
“The state is that the corporatist and militarist Hillary Clinton is making a premature boast of victory. The only reason she’s ahead is because of two anti-democratic systems: one, the unelected superdelegates, her cronies, mostly, in Congress, who were elected by nobody to be delegates—they were appointed; and second, the closed primaries. Primaries are paid by taxpayers; they should not be closed to independent voters. And if independent voters could have voted in these primaries, Bernie Sanders would have defeated Hillary Clinton. In fact, in one Tuesday a couple weeks ago, he lost four primaries, in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, because of closed primaries. The one that was open to independent voters, in Rhode Island, he won. So, I wouldn’t be as boastful as Hillary Clinton.”
Moreover, Ralph Nader emphasized on the need for Bernie Sanders’ campaign to press ahead with the questions it was asking of Hillary Clinton earlier in the campaign. The release of the transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, Nader said, is important for Democratic voters because they might shed more light on the way Clinton functions behind the scenes.
“The Wall Street Journal just reported that she is getting more money from Wall Street than all other candidates combined, in the Republican and Democratic Party, running for president. She’s got to divulge her transcripts, so the American people can see how she says one thing in closed doors to the business lobbyists and another thing sweet-talking the public and mimicking the language of Bernie Sanders.”
When Amy Goodman mentions that Brian Fallon, Hillary Clinton’s press secretary, took a dig at Ralph Nader for contesting as an independent in 2008, and warned Sanders against doing the same for the benefit of the Democratic Party, Nader said that Sanders has every right to fight as an independent.
“The two-party tyranny is so exclusionary, of ballot access barriers, keeping independent candidates from being on the debates, and on and on—here we go again—that the Hillary coterie is getting ready basically to say, ‘Drop out, drop out, drop out, Bernie Sanders.’ I don’t think anybody should be told to drop out. They’re exercising their First Amendment rights of speech, petition, assembly,” Nader said.
More importantly, Nader suggested that Sanders should not drop out of the race until the last primaries, and said that the Vermont senator — in case he loses the nomination — should not support Clinton and instead lead a civic mobilization that would be beneficial to American politics and society in the long term.
“So, Bernie Sanders has got to—if he doesn’t make the nomination, he has got to lead a civic mobilization, that could be directed against Trump, but directed against all politicians, based on his broader agenda. And I suggest that he have a huge rally on the Mall in Washington sometimes in the early fall, and then break it down to regional rallies all over the country, in order, number one, not to disappoint and disillusion millions of his followers, and, second, to make a declaration that elections in our country should not be off-limits to democracy—or democracy, civil society—because when they are, elections become, as they have been, very vulnerable to commercialism, to politicians selling themselves to super PACs, and to the mass commercial media making a bundle of money on outrageously outspoken candidates like Donald Trump, who get ratings for Fox and CNN and others, and they’ve turned it into a profit center.”
It is a view that Nader shares with many others. According to Raw Story, political philosopher Noam Chomsky recently suggested that the only way that “real change” can be brought about in American society and politics is to sustain the movement(s) that Bernie Sanders has started.
In the event of these separate, sometimes mutually inclusive, movements subsiding because of Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic nomination, it would not only be a blow to Democrats, but to American politics and civil society at large.
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[Images via Trixie Textor and Joe Raedle/Getty Images]