Since 1980 only Ross Perot has gotten on these debates. After gaining 19 million votes in 1992, he was kept off the debates in 1996 by his two major competitors.
What Nader wants is to build a permanent progressive force. “This is a new political movement,” he says.
A: That’s what we’ve got to do. We have a winner-take-all political system that discourages small parties and independent candidates from trying to start a new direction or a new movement. We need a debate on proportional representation, which can be quite practically applied at some municipal jurisdictions and work up from that.
The first woman ever elected to Congress was Jeanette Rankin, elected in 1918. She told me that she would never have been elected if the two seats in Montana had not been run at large. She came in second in an at-large election and therefore became a member of Congress. Her point was that if she did this in all the states, say, there are 37 seats in New York, the top 37 vote-getters would go to Congress. I think that we have to think of the structural obstacles, not just ballot signature hurdles.
A: No, that may be a byproduct. Third parties historically have pushed the major parties, going back 180 years. But I think now that these two parties are so marinated in big business money, they can’t be internally reformed. There’s a whole new independent streak among people, young people, especially, are turned off.
People are dropping out of democracy. That’s a very dangerous trend. The voting level is going down. But even more than that, you have people say, “I’m not turned on to politics.” Well, history shows that if you’re not turned on to politics, politics is going to turn on you. And the political system, under the corporate domination, is closing out the civil society. Citizen groups can’t get anything done anymore. It’s very hard to get a chance to have a chance in Congress before the regulatory agencies or the courts. It’s like a permanent government in Washington.
I want to be focussed on this because every time the conventional media interviews me about what I’m going to advance in this effort, they all want to talk about the substantive issues, the red-button issues that are on the front pages of the newspaper, and the minute I try to get them on the facilities of democracy, the basic tools of power, their eyes glaze and they don’t want to talk about it. So you have to really have a single-minded focus on the building of a democracy platform, and anything else is just going to make it impossible to get the press to focus on it at all.
A: I think Americans are voting with their derrieres. They’re just sitting there and staying home. That’s why I favor a None of the Above item on all ballots. Instead of having a passive protest vote by saying, “What difference does it make? It’s all Tweedledum and Tweedledee. My vote doesn’t mean anything,“ they can go down to the polls and vote for None of the Above. In a binding None of the Above law, if None of the Above gets more votes than the candidates, it cancels the election, sends the candidates back and orders new elections in thirty days. I think there’s nothing more humiliating to a politician than to have to call up their son and daughter at college and the student says, ”Daddy, Mommy, who’d you lose to?“ They say, after a pause, ”I lost to None of the Above.“
|Other candidates on Government Reform:||Ralph Nader on other issues:|
George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)