TRNN Panel with Ralph Nader examines the shortcomings of the Democratic Party and how it almost failed to beat the Republicans in the midterms, even though they were in a relatively weak position
MARC STEINER: I want to come back to this; I think it’s really important. But I want to bring our other guest in here. Just joining us by phone is Ralph Nader. Ralph, good to have you with us. How are you?
RALPH NADER: Very good, thank you. The Democrats almost blew it again. They’re going to probably win the House, but they should have landslided this corrupt, cruel, vicious, openly anti-people, anti-patient, anti-environment, anti-worker party called the Republican Party. And when are we going to learn that it comes down to voter turnout? In neighborhood after neighborhood half the people stayed home, even though it was a higher turnout than 2014.
So the close races where black candidates lost in Georgia and Florida, they never would have been competitive a few years ago. Why did they become competitive? Because of voter organization and turnout. The areas where the people won in Arkansas on minimum wage, or the ex-felon enfranchisement Initiatives, over 60 percent, won in Florida is because of voter turnout.
You know, we can talk about the oppressors, and we have to. We can talk about Trump, and we have to. We can talk about the corporate giant takeover of our governments, from Washington to state capitals. We can talk about the ripoffs, and the fraud, and the crime. But we have to talk about organizing movements in every congressional district, and starting with the Congress. The Congress is our most powerful tool. It’s the smallest branch; the most powerful, by far, under our Constitution. War declaration, appropriations, on and on. There’s in Congress the taxing power. And there are only 535 of them, and we know their names. And one thing they want more than money from special interests, commercial interests, is our votes.
And we’ve got to get over this overconcentration on discriminatory injustice at the expense of indiscriminate injustice; that is, where everybody is being ripped off, regardless of their gender, or racial or, or cultural, or whatever identity. We have to focus on the discrimination deep from corporate prisons, to mass incarceration, to the kind of public facility destruction that happens to be in poor areas, and poor areas of the city, and lack of healthcare, and all that. But we have to mobilize where everyone is ripped off.
You know, I’ve talked to conservative Southern audiences on consumer protection being ripped off; hospital malpractice, credit fraud, all the rest. They’re all ripped off the same way. Conservatives and liberals, self-styled voters, are ripped off the same way. So the major redirections that we can win soon are living wage- that’s a left-right support among workers. You think conservative workers at Wal-Mart don’t want a better wage? The second is full Medicare for all. The third is dealing with the $1.4 trillion of gouging student debt that is aborting their opportunities in life year after year. The fourth is law enforcement, law and order crackdown on corporate crooks. From the ghettos to Wall Street they’re ripping off trillions of dollars of money that people earned.
And the other one is a new tax system where revenues can be raised and redirected from the corporate welfare subsidy handout, bailout budgets, to rebuild the public works in every community in America. We’re not talking just about highways and bridges. We’re talking about community health clinics. We’re talking about libraries. We’re talking about sewage and safe drinking water systems. We’re talking about public transit. And in order for this to happen- and you don’t think that comes in at 90 percent back home? Those kinds of jobs, good paying jobs that can’t be exported to China in every community? In order that for happen the military budget has to be confronted. There are a lot of retired generals and national security officials who think the military budget is bloated, the Pentagon procurement system is corrupt, that the empire around the world is boomeranging against us. More and more countries, more and more fighters hate us. That’s what we’re getting for the trillions of dollars, and we’ve got to stop blowing up other countries and building infrastructure here.
And that all comes down to Congress. 535 people. If you get an enlightened billionaire, for a hundred million dollars a year you can start, jumpstart, Congress watchdog groups that represent majority opinion on living wage, on full Medicare for All, on adequate housing and public transit and public infrastructure. And look at that, that’s peanuts. There’s a there’s a near billionaire. His name, you may know him, his name is Nick Hanauer. He’s from Seattle. And he writes these wonderful articles lecturing his business colleagues to raise that minimum wage to a living wage. It’s now frozen at $7.25 federal. Some states have it higher. And you know what he said the other day? He said in Politico, he said if the Democratic Party doesn’t markedly move left they will not be where the center is. In other words, there’s huge left-right support for major redirection of priorities and investments and public budgets and tax reform in this country.
So let’s, let’s not get away with our legitimate rage at what’s happening to our country, and its impact in the world and climate disruption, which hits the poor even worse than people who have more money. Let’s not get away from the nuts and bolts, getting out the vote. When you have half the people who don’t vote in this country- we know who they are. They’re African Americans, Hispanic Americans, they’re poor whites. They feel disempowered, they feel discouraged, they feel excluded, disrespected, underpaid, underinsured. They’re desperate, you know, to try to make ends meet. They’re deep in debt. Forty percent of the families in this country in a study didn’t couldn’t handle a sudden $400 debt that they weren’t planning for.
And that’s the coalition that’s going to win control the Congress. Now, you win control of the Congress, and then things change at the executive level. Different kinds of judges are confirmed, or not confirmed. It affects the state legislatures. 530 men and women. Don’t you think we outnumber them? Don’t you think there are a lot of conservative and liberal voters who want the same things for their children? Good schools, good public services, fair taxation, clean air, clean water, safe medicine, safe food, and an end to this televised corporate pornography that sidesteps parental authority, whether they’re liberal or conservative, and directly markets to 8, 9, 10-year-olds junk food, junk drinks, and unbelievable violent programming. You don’t think that’s a left-right support thing? These corporations are raising our kids; they’re undermining parental authority and morality. They are electronic child molesters.
The Democrats have lost one issue after another. They’re trying to defeat today the Republican Party with a hand and two fingers tied behind their back because they’re completely indentured to their commercial funders. And that’s why they didn’t make an emblazoned issue of living wage, which comes in 70, 80 percent. That’s why it didn’t make a major issue of full Medicare for All. They didn’t even talk about the public option. That’s why they didn’t make a major issue of cracking down on the corporate crime wave that goes into every neighborhood and it’s baleful impacts; redlining, loan sharks, rent-to-own rackets, payday loan rackets. That’s why they didn’t make an issue of the public corruption of the Trump administration, and how Trump is taking the federal cops off the corporate crime beat, from the coal industry, to the oil industry; banking to insurance. Again and again they are losing the winning issues because they don’t put them up for the voters.
MARC STEINER: OK, Ralph, now hold on just one second. I want to introduce another guest who just came in.