AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:35 am


FIELD NOTES – Neil G. McBride
(compiled May 28, 2010)
Interviewee: Neil McBride
Interviewer: Jessica Wilkerson
Interview Date: May 27, 2010
Location: Oak Ridge, TN



THE INTERVIEWEE. Neil McBride was born on December 12, 1945 in Dallas, Texas. He received his J.D. from the University of Virginia in 1970. After graduating, he worked for a year as the Southern Director of the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council in Atlanta, GA. He then worked for a year as a staff attorney on Aviation Consumer Action Project, established by Ralph Nader. From 1973 to 1978, he worked as a staff attorney for the East Tennessee Research Corporation, a rural public interest law firm funded largely by the Ford Foundation that provided legal and technical assistance to community organizations in East Tennessee. From 1978 to 2001, he served as director of Rural Legal Services of Tennessee. He is currently General Counsel to the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed McBride to the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors.

THE INTERVIEWER. Jessica Wilkerson is a graduate student in the Department of History at UNC-Chapel Hill, currently conducting research for her dissertation which will explore social justice activism in southern Appalachia, with special attention to women’s activism, from the late 1960s through the 1990s.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INTERVIEW. I met Neil McBride at his office in Oak Ridge, TN. The first couple of sentences of the recording were cut from the audio, but nothing of significance was lost besides the introduction. Mr. McBride willingly shared his history as a public-interest advocate in East Tennessee and gave a good overview of the types of community activism that he has helped to support in the region. There were no interruptions during the interview.

CONTENT OF THE INTERVIEW. Neil McBride discussed his work with Ralph Nader; involvement in setting up the East Tennessee Research Corporation; describes the work of the East Tennessee Research Corporation; the Tennessee Valley Authority Public Participation Project; starting the Coal Employment Project; influences on his work Tennessee; the relationship between the East Tennessee Research Corporation and community-based activism in Appalachia; Vanderbilt Student Health Coalition; Save Our Cumberland Mountains; gender and women’s issues in Appalachia; economic justice campaigns in East Tennessee; race relations and civil rights in East Tennessee.
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:52 am

Sen. Bob Corker says the TVA Board of Directors has only one member with “any corporate board experience,” raising questions about its “entire governance structure"
By Tom Humphrey
August 26th, 2012 ... as-only-o/



-- Neil McBride, an Oak Ridge lawyer and adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee School of Law who is also general counsel for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

Back in 2004, Bill Frist, then Senate majority leader, spearheaded congressional passage of legislation that eliminated the Tennessee Valley Authority's three-member, full-time board of directors and replaced it with a panel of nine part-time directors. Sen. Bob Corker, who succeeded Frist in a Tennessee Senate seat, now says the board isn't working out.

Corker first questioned TVA's governance structure and the qualifications of board members in an August news release. He elaborated in subsequent interviews, telling the Chattanooga Times-Free Press: "As you look at TVA today as an $11 billion-a-year company with tremendous challenges, it has a board of directors with the qualifications that I think would cause most Tennesseans to be very concerned. . . . We have only one person on the board, to my knowledge, who even has any corporate board experience."

We understand that picking TVA board members involves a political process -- they're nominated by the president and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. But has that really left governance of a governmental agency with $11 billion in revenues and almost $30 billion in debt to folks without appropriate corporate management experience?

As a starting point, it should be noted that the board, authorized for nine members, currently has just six and two of those have terms that will expire at the end of this year. President Obama nominated Peter Mahurin of Bowling Green, Ky., as a new board member in February, but there has so far been no Senate committee hearing scheduled on his confirmation.

It's thus at least possible the TVA board could lack a quorum of five members for meetings by the end of the year. That, setting aside qualification questions, would raise concern for whether the board could even function.

The one board member who Corker counts as having corporate board experience is Bill Sansom, the chairman. He is the longtime chairman and CEO of H.T. Hackney Co., a Knoxville firm in the wholesale grocery and furniture manufacturing business.

The other five sitting members:

-- Marilyn A. Brown of Atlanta, a professor of energy policy at Georgia Technological Institute and a "distinguished visiting scientist" at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

-- William Graves of Memphis, who retired in 2010 as presiding bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and who served on the board of Memphis Light, Gas and Water.

-- Barbara S. Haskew of Chattanooga, an economic professor at Middle Tennessee State University who previously served as dean of the College of Business Administration and worked for eight years as a TVA manager.

-- Richard Howorth, founder and owner of Square Books, an independent bookstore with two affiliates operations who is a past chairman of the American Booksellers Association. He served eight years as mayor of Oxford, Miss., and chaired the Oxford Electric Authority.

-- Neil McBride, an Oak Ridge lawyer and adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee School of Law who is also general counsel for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

Brown and Graves are the board members with terms expiring this year.

Of this group, it would appear that Howorth might come closest to Sansom in business management background. In a telephone interview, Howorth declined to address Corker's comments directly, but said he does believe his background has provided ample executive experience to oversee TVA's operations.

"If I didn't, I wouldn't have agreed to take the job," Howorth said.

He spent 11 years on the board of directors of the American Booksellers Association, including two years as president and chairman, Howorth said. The association, a non-profit corporation, had a $40 million budget and the position "required a great deal of engagement," he said. Serving as a city's chief executive officer and as chairman of the electric board could also be viewed as the equivalent of corporate board experience, he suggested.

There's also the pending nomination of Mahurin, who is chairman of Hilliard Lyons Financial Services and who serves on five other corporate boards of directors, according to the White House press release announcing his nomination. Hilliard Lyons has 400 financial consultants operating in 12 states, according to the company website.

And some might see Graves' service on the board of MGLW, which serves some 430,000 customers, as providing an appropriate boardroom background though the ministry has been his primary profession.

A call to Corker's office for elaboration on his comments brought a return call from the senator himself.

"This is no way an attempt take shots at anyone," he said. "It's really about the federal process."

For presidents of both political parties, he said, appointment of TVA directors is "a hassle and to some degree an annoyance" that at times seems to involve "just crossing "Ts" and dotting ‘Is’ for political considerations."

"TVA is not that important overall to the federal government and certainly not to administrations of either ilk," he said. "It is extremely important to Tennessee. A big part of our economic future depends on TVA."

Corker said there is a need to "come up with a remedy" that meets needs all people in the TVA valley and indicated he will be engaged in that process, though declining to be specific about what reforms are in order.

The senator did not retreat from his contention that the board today is short on the corporate board experience needed for running an enterprise holding a regional monopoly in power production, though he repeatedly emphasized he was not criticizing anyone individually.

"Who knows? We may have four of five of the most stellar people on earth put forward to run TVA," he said. "But that hasn't happened before."

Corker expressed doubt about whether running a bookstore or even a national booksellers association counts as corporate board experience. As for the pending nomination Mahurin, Corker said "it sounds like he does have some experience" and that he hopes to learn more about the nominee's qualifications and background.

Our ruling

Corker’s point holds up, though we did find some other board members with experience they believe is equivalent to the corporate board experience the senator wants. Since that context was missing, we rate this statement Mostly True.
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:39 pm



In 1969 Haseltine became privy to information suggesting that government officials were suppressing information about the teratogenicity (a cause of bith defects) of 2,4,5-T -- the compound that comprised half of Agent Orange. During the fall semester, Haseltine ran a lecutre series in his department at Harvard, where he hosted Anita Johnson, a young law student and a member of "Nader's Raiders," Ralph Nader's consumer advocacy group in Washington, D.C. In the summer of 1969, Johnson had received a secret report titled "2,4,5-T: Teratogenetic in Mice" from Dr. Marvin Legator, chief of the Genetic Toxicology Branch of the Food and Drug Administration. In September Johnson passed the report to Haseltine, who shared it with Matthew Meselson, professor of molecular chemistry at Harvard and soon to be director of the AAAS Herbicide Commission. Haseltine recalled thinking, "If this stuff causes teratogenesis in animals, it's probably very bad for people. If we can get this story out, maybe that will stop the use [of Agent Orange." With this straightforward logic, Haseltine helped end the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

-- The Invention of Ecocide: Agent Orange, Vietnam, and the Scientists Who Changed the Way We Think About the Environment, by David Zierler
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 1:02 am

Nader's Raiders Finger Six Dyes as Health
Page 62, The Citizen, Ottawa, Wednesday, January 12, 1977



WASHINGTON (UPI) - Ralph Nader's health researchers Tuesday demanded a ban on six more food colors, including those used to dye the skin of oranges, hot dog casings, soft drinks, baked goods and ice cream.

Citing potential safety questions ranging from cancer to allergies, the Health Research Group said the impact may be especially bad for children, some of whom "eat as much as one-quarter pound of coal tar dye each year."

The group, in a petition filed with the Food and Drug Administration, also demanded the agency review non-coal tar dyes in use, most of which are from natural sources such as cottonseed flour or carrot oil.

Coal tar dyes come from petroleum distillates and are "a suspect family of chemicals, some of whose members have already been banned by the FDA for their ability to cause cancer and other injuries," the petition said.

"Approximately 4 million American children, 10 per cent of children ages one through 12, will have eaten over one pound of coal tar dyes in food by the time they are 12 years old. Some will have eaten as much as three pounds," it said.

Those figures include Red Dye No. 2, once the most widely used food coloring in the U.S., which was banned early last year. But Anita Johnson, counsel for the HRG, said other dyes have filled the gap since the ban and there has been no real drop in the amount of dye in the food supply.

One of the six dyes which the group asked be banned is Red 40 -- the last remaining widely used red dye still approved. It is now the second most widely used food coloring.

The Centre for Science in the Public Interest has already asked the FDA for a ban on Red 40, contending it caused lymph gland cancer in test animals.

The other coal tar dyes on which the group requested a ban are:

Yellow No. 5, the most widely used food dye in the U.S., found extensively in baked goods, candy, ice cream and pet foods.

Citrus Red 2, used only to color some Florida oranges to make their skins look as bright as California oranges.

Blue No. 1, used in beverages, candy and baked goods. The group said it has not been proved safe.

Orange B, used extensively to color the casings of hot dogs and sausages.

Red No. 3, used in drugs, cosmetics and some foods.
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 1:05 am

An Open Letter To Ralph Nader
by Naders Raider's For Gore
November 7, 2000



Dear Ralph:

For 35 years, you have stood for the principle that only informed and active citizens can ensure the strength and integrity of our democracy. The hundreds of idealistic young people you brought to Washington-whom the press dubbed "Nader's Raiders"-became the vanguard of these "public citizens." Using skills from law, medicine, economics, and other professions, our mission was to dig hard for facts and speak truth to power. You uniquely personified the idealism and integrity of this effort and are the public trustee of our ongoing legacy.

In this context, we ask you to review the facts and premise of your campaign for the Presidency. To ask voters to support your candidacy on the basis that there are no major differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties is a serious misstatement of fact. No Nader Report would support that assertion. There are major differences between the parties on the environment, social security policy, health care reform, tax policy, and reproductive rights, to name just a few.

The next President will make over 5000 Executive Branch political appointments. Mr. Bush's appointees, unlike Mr. Gore's, will much more likely oppose the full, active enforcement of environmental, consumer protection, and occupational health and safety laws which Nader's Raiders worked so hard to enact. Mr. Gore has a long and distinguished record of commitment to these goals. George W. Bush does not. We are especially concerned about Bush's appointments to the Federal judiciary where so many of the battles over enforcement of these laws are decided. Please remember that President Nixon appointed Mr. Rehnquist to the Supreme Court 30 years ago and his conservative hand still grips American jurisprudence. Please consider that 48% of President Reagan's 379 federal judgeship appointees are still serving today and that George W. Bush, if elected, will have an immediate 64 vacancies to fill as early as January 21, 2001. Bush judicial appointments likely to serve as long as 30 years will be far more likely to deny standing to consumer complaints, to deny or limit discovery, and to limit remedies to expose or rectify corporate errors and abuses. In addition to its influence in the Federal judiciary, the Republican Party currently controls both the House and the Senate. If the White House also reverts to Republican control, the checks and balances against partisan extremism on environmental and consumer issues will be the weakest in 20 years. Executive branch enforcement of environmental and consumer laws and regulations may be passive.

With full respect for you and profound concern over these looming threats to the Nader legacy, we ask you to reassess your candidacy. The attached opinion polls now show that you are drawing between 3 and 8% of the total vote in each of nine states · Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin, a level of support which is equal to or more than the present differences in support for Al Gore and George Bush. More importantly your candidacy has reduced Al Gore's support to between 42 to 45% since most of your likely voters would be in the Gore camp if you were not on the ballot. In an early August fundraiser, in response to a direct request that you withdraw in light of the likely election train wreck you would cause, you declined for three reasons. First, you predicted that Pat Buchanan would reduce the Bush vote by a comparable number. You were wrong. Second, you said you would campaign only where your candidacy would not hurt Gore's ability to carry the state. You now have broken that pledge to us as you have campaigned in Florida and Michigan among other states. Third, you suggested that only "clairvoyance" could predict your impact on the race. It no longer takes clairvoyance. It is now clear that you might well give the White House to Bush. As a result, you would set back significantly the social progress to which you have devoted your entire, astonishing career. You have sacrificed for the benefit of the common good your entire adult life, as we, you friends and colleagues, know well. There have been countless occasions where you stayed in the background when that helped achieve the maximum benefit for others. It is time for you once again to step aside in the best interests of our nation. It would be a cruel irony indeed if your major legacy were to erase the victory from the candidate who most embodies your philosophy, Al Gore, and to give the Executive Branch to the party which has consistently resisted your progressive ideals.

We urge you to ask your supporters, as we do now, to honor your ideas and to vote for the man who is most likely to put them into action - Al Gore.



Former Nader Raiders, Colleagues:
Gary Sellers, Nader's Raider 1969-73
Michael L. Charney, MD, Nader's Raider 1969
Beverly Moore, Nader's Raider 1969-73
James S. Turner, Nader's Raider 1969-72
Peter Petkas, Nader's Raider 1970-74
Harrison Wellford, Nader's Raider 1969-72
Neil G. McBride, Nader's Raider 1972-73
Joe Tom Easley, Nader's Raider 1969-72
Anita Johnson, Nader's Raider 1979-84
Miles Rappaport, Nader's Raider 1979-84
James Dickson, Nader's Raider 1976-78
Ron Plesser - Nader's Raider 1972-74
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 1:13 am

"An Open Letter to Ralph Nader Voters"
by Nader's Raiders
October 22, 2004



Dear Voters,

Many of us - former Nader's Raiders and leaders of his organizations - voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. Many did not.

This November, none of us will vote for Ralph. We believe there is nothing more important than defeating George W. Bush.

Ralph argues that he is creating an independent political voice. In 2000, when he ran as the Green Party candidate, that may have been true.

In 2004, as the candidate of the increasingly reactionary, anti-immigrant Reform Party, and the recipient of financial and political support from right-wing funders and operatives, it is not credible. Unfortunately, Ralph is party to a disingenuous effort to split the progressive vote in key states.

With the major party candidates in a dead heat, Nader is poised to tip the election to Bush - again.

We do not agree with Ralph that there is little difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. We know that the country cannot afford another four years of Republicans controlling the White House, both chambers of Congress, the Supreme Court and the entire federal Judiciary. The price of a protest vote is too high for families who live from paycheck to paycheck, for those concerned about the realities of war, for those who lack decent jobs and access to health care, and for the environment.

While Ralph has pursued politically expedient alliances with the right wing, truly progressive leaders - from peace activists to unions to former Dean supporters - have made substantial progress organizing within the Democratic Party.

United, progressives can build a base for a transformed party funded by small donors, imbued with progressive values and energized by a vision of a democratic majority. Divided, we will give four more years to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Ashcroft. The progressive vote can be the key to this election.

We know Ralph Nader better than anyone else. We were inspired to public service by his vision and his integrity. Now we are disappointed and saddened to see him embrace the support of reactionary forces who oppose everything we and Ralph have fought for and whose real agenda is to reelect George Bush.

Join us. Cast your vote for a progressive future and support John Kerry.

The progressive leadership that led the movements into the Kerry camp was broader than the liberal intelligentsia in the opinion-shaping universities and media. It also included the institutionalized "professional liberals," the paid staff and leaders of the unions and the big environmental, peace, civil rights, women's, gay, and community organizing groups. Selling out to the Democratic Party pays off for the professional liberals in the form of career opportunities and funding. These material benefits flow through social and organizational networks that connect the professional liberals in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to their peers in Democratic administrations and the corresponding party organizations that are built from the top down by Democratic patronage and preferment. Corporate funding -- grants for the NGOs, universities, and progressive media, and campaign cash for the Democrats-- cements it all together, co-opting institutionalized progressivism into the service of the corporate-dominated Democratic coalition. [56]

For the rank and file of the labor, community, people of color, women's, gay, and environmental movements, Kerry and the Democrats offered nothing of substance -- not one single progressive program or policy on any front that progressives could rally around. Seeking swing voters, Kerry ran to Bush's right as a war hawk and a deficit hawk, vowing to send more troops to Iraq, to increase forces in the Army and Marines, to increase the military and homeland repression budgets, and to do all that while bringing the federal budget back into balance. His Bush-like sound bites, such as promising "to hunt down and kill the terrorists," made militarism a non-issue in the Bush-Kerry horse race. Given his militaristic priorities and the tax proposals he advanced, a Kerry administration could balance the federal budget only by slashing social spending. Given these parameters, all the professional liberals could offer in support of a vote for Kerry was a defensive apology that Bush would be even worse.

The leaders of the big liberal organizations have been delivering their constituencies to the Democrats for decades.

-- Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate, edited by Howie Hawkins

Nader's Raiders,


Brian Ahlberg - Former MN PIRG
Judy Appelbaum - Public Citizen's Congress Watch, Summers 1974, 75
Sheila Ballen - Former Executive Director, PA PIRG
Samuel Boykin - Field Director, NJ PIRG 2000-03
Michael Berg - Congress Project 1972
Robert Brandon - Director, Public Citizen's Tax Reform Research Group 1972-77
Mike Calabrese - Former Director, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1980
Marc Caplan - Executive Director, Connecticut Citizen Action Group 1974-80
Michael Caudell-Feagan - USPIRG 1985-86; Nat'l Assoc. for Pub Interest Law 1986-91
Nancy Chasen - Lobbyist, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1973-75
Sarah K. Chiles - Former Northeast regional coordinator, Americans against Political Corruption
Elizabeth Collaton - Research Director, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1985
Karen Croft - Staff, Center for the Study of Responsive Law1979-80
Gina Collins Cummings - Organizing Director, NJ PIRG, 1984 - 1994
Beth DeGrasse - Former Director, PIRG Voter Registration Campaigns
James Dickson - Director of Organizing, Connecticut Citizen Action Group 1976-78
Angela Di Leo - Staff, Florida PIRG 1984 - 86
Whayne Dillehay - Critical Mass Energy Project 1978-80
Kirsten Dunton - Organizing Director and Staff Attorney, State PIRGs 1989-2003
Joe Tom Easley - Center for the Study of Responsive Law, 1969-74
Larry Eason - Director, Training and Media Center, PIRG 2000-2001
Donna Edwards - Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1990s
David Eppler - Staff Attorney, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1989-92
Sherry Ettleson - Former Staff Attorney, Public Citizen's Congress Watch
Andrew Feinstein - Attorney, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1975-79
Curtis Fisher - Executive Director, NJ PIRG, 1996 - 2002
Mark Floegel - Former USPIRG; Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1980s; VT PIRG Communications Coordinator 2002-2004
Arthur L. Fox - Public Citizen's Litigation Group 1972-90
Pamela Gilbert - USPIRG 1984-89; Staff Attorney, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1989-94
John Gilroy - Nader Difference in '84 Campaign; Organizer, Citizen Utility Board 1985; Executive Director, VT PIRG 1988-92
David Hamilton - National Field Director, USPIRG 1987-90; Energy Lobbyist, USPIRG 1990-92
Stephanie Harris - Center for the Study of Responsive Law; Public Citizen's Health Research Group 1970s
Joan Holt - NY PIRG 1979-88
Anita Johnson - Attorney, PIRG; Public Citizen's Health Research Group 1971-77
Richard Kirsch - Public Citizen 1974-77
Ann Krumblotz - Staff, Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1978-80
Rob Leflar - Public Citizen's Health Research Group 1978-81; Coordinator, Nader's Speaking Tour of Japan 1989
Mindy Lubber - Program Director, Mass PIRG 1976-81
Mark Lynch - Former Staff Attorney, Public Citizen's Congress Watch
Bill Magavern - Staff Attorney, USPIRG 1988-92; Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Project 1992-97
Tim Massad - Center for the Study of Responsive Law; Wisconsin Citizen Utility Board 1978-81
Neil McBride - Aviation Consumer Action Project 1971-72
Steve McCarthy - Executive Director, OR PIRG, 1972-74
Rich McClintock - Former Executive Director, CO PIRG
Chris McGinn - Deputy Director, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch 1991-98
David Moulton - Former Staff Attorney, Congress Watch
Michael Pertschuk - Former Chair, Federal Trade Commission
Donna F. Parsons - Director, Connecticut Citizen Action Group 1981-87
Peter Petkas - PIRG, Corporate Accountability Research Group 1970
Ronald Plesser - Director, Freedom of Information Clearinghouse 1972-75
Rick Plunkett - MN PIRG 1976-81; CA Campus Organizer 1979-80
Tom Powers - Florida PIRG Organizing Director, FFPIR Nat'l Campus Program Director, PIRG work 1986-1995.
Nancy Rader - CalPIRG 1983-87; Public Citizen 1988-90
Miles Rapoport - Executive Director CCAG 1979-84
Neal Ritchie - Former Executive Director, Minnesota PIRG
Marty Rogol - General Counsel, Connecticut Citizen Action Group 1971-73; Director, Nat'l PIRG 1974-78
Adam Ruben -Field Director, USPIRG 1999-2002
Leslie Samuelrich - PIRG 1985-91 - Organizer, Conn PIRG; Director, National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness
Samantha Sanchez - Attorney, Public Citizen's Tax Reform Research Group 1973-75
Kerry Schumann - Former Director, Wisconsin PIRG
Gary Sellers - OSHA Project Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1969
Megan Seibel - Former Executive Director CO PIRG
Bob Shireman - Chairman, CalPIRG 1981-83; Legislative Advocate 1984-86
Lucinda Sikes - CalPIRG 1983-86; USPIRG 1989-92; Public Citizen's Litigation Group 1993-89
Daniel Silverman - Former Nat'l Field Director, USPIRG; Former Vice-Chair, Board of CalPIRG
David Stern - Former Executive Director, Nat'l Assoc. for Public Interest Law
Gene Stilp - Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1980-81
Rob Stuart - Program Director, NJ PIRG, 1984 - 91; Executive Director, VT PIRG 1991 - 93
Tom Subak - State Campaign Director, CalPIRG 1995-98
Andrea Sullivan - Organizing Director, NJ PIRG, 1983 - 84
Thomas D. Sutton - ETS Study Group 1970s; Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1979-81
Michael Totten - Critical Mass Energy Project 1982-83
James Turner - Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1968-72
Ken Ward - Executive Director, RI PIRG 1981-82; Executive Director, NJ PIRG 1983-96
Bill Wasserman - Organizer, CalPIRG 1981-86; Organizer, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1986-89
Kathleen Welch - Former Executive Director, Nat'l Association of Public Interest Law
Harrison Wellford - Center for the Study of Responsive Law, Food and Environmental Safety Project 1969, Executive Director 1970-71
David Wood - Former General Counsel, Public Interest Research Groups
Frances A. Zwenig - Former Attorney-Advocate, Public Citizen's Congress Watch

*Organizations for Identification Only
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:10 am

Minor Parties in the 2000 Presidential Election



Though neither Patrick Buchanan nor Ralph Nader garnered as many votes as some earlier minor-party candidates, they had the potential to affect the 2000 presidential election in ways that their predecessors could not. This is possible because of the sheer closeness of the major-party vote. The popular vote nearly rendered the presidential contest a tie with Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush both winning about 48 percent of the vote. Moreover, the electoral college outcome, which depended on a contentious series of legal battles in Florida, gave Bush the majority by just one vote. Al Gore's 266 electoral votes are the most ever won by a losing candidate. [1] And 2000 was the first time in more than a century in which the winners of the popular and electoral votes were different. In an electoral context as balanced as this one, candidates from outside the two-party system who manage even meager showings can have remarkable effects on the election's outcome.

In this chapter I examine the roles that Reform Party nominee Buchanan and Green Party nominee Nader played in the 2000 presidential election. Using a variety of data from election returns, exit polls, and academic national surveys, I address two questions. First, how did minor-party voters reach their decisions given the great potential for sophisticated behavior in a close election? This requires that we determine the sources of minor-party support and the relationships between their electoral coalitions. Second, what effects did minor parties have on voter turnout and on who won the election? Answering this question requires us to analyze counterfactuals that estimate what would have happened had Buchanan and Nader not been running. The results expand the growing body of theoretical and empirical research on "major" minor parties in America generally as well as help us understand these parties' roles in the 2000 presidential election specifically. [2] The stark realities of this election are sure to force political scientists to rethink some of our conclusions about the dynamics of minor parties.

Minor parties have been of growing interest because their influence appears to have been increasing in recent years. In fact, five of the last nine presidential elections have seen strong minor-party showings. The most dramatic of these was Ross Perot's garnering of 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992 (Jelen 2001). There has also been substantial activity at the sub-presidential level, most notably Jesse Ventura's Reform Party victory in the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial election (Lacy and Monson 2002; Lentz 2001). But if the appearance of new academic work on the subject is an indicator, there appear to be broader forces at work that are conspiring to overcome the standard hurdles facing minor parties at all levels of government (Bibby and Maisel 2002; Herrnson and Green 2002; Sifry 2002). One purpose of this chapter is to explore the role of minor parties in the 2000 presidential election in the light of a burgeoning body of research.

My analysis begins by reexamining the election outcome in terms of social-choice analysis. A simple look at the preference rankings of candidates shows that, for the first time in the survey era, the winner of the presidential election was not the Condorcet winner, as explained in the next section. Moreover, almost no common voting method would have selected Bush as the winner. The analysis also shows than an unprecedented number of party supporters were strategic in 2000. The second section of this chapter analyzes Nader's standing in the polls dynamically by examining the patterns and determinants of his support over the final months of the campaign. Unlike nearly all minor-party candidates, Nader actually rose in the polls over time, even after controlling for the closeness of the major-party vote and support for other candidates. The third section turns to the effects that Buchanan and Nader had on voter participation and the major parties' vote shares. A larger number of minor-party voters would have abstained had their candidates not been in the race. Minor parties, most notably the Greens, increased turnout both directly by mobilizing votes for themselves and indirectly by adding interest to the campaign, for a total effect of around 2.5 percentage points. The next section of the chapter reexamines the possibility that Nader threw the election to Bush. It is clear that Florida almost certainly would have gone Democratic without Nader in the race. Yet it is at least possible that Bush would have won easily in the electoral college without Buchanan in the race. I then turn to examining the sources of minor- party support. Nader voters were more liberal, pro-choice, and educated than other voters on average. The factors that distinguished Nader from Gore in particular were primarily economic in nature. Nader voters disliked the administration's record and took their discontent out on Gore. Aggregate analysis shows that Nader did much better at drawing on his earlier support and Perot's base from 1996. Surprisingly, Buchanan and Nader both performed better where the major-party vote was closer. I conclude by suggesting how this multifaceted picture of results fits with existing work on minor parties in America.

A. Perverse Social-Choice Function

Elections are a key mechanism for aggregating individual citizen preferences into collective decisions. The proper way to do this is a matter of great contention. A prominent line of research focuses on the rationality of voting rules and a society's social-choice function. Though no single method of aggregation is ideal, some appear more perverse than others because they violate common assumptions about how preferences ought to be represented. Arrow (1951) has argued that seemingly trivial characteristics such as transitivity and nondictatorship should be maintained, but he has also shown that no voting system can maintain several such characteristics simultaneously. This "impossibility result" confirms that no vote aggregation method is perfect. Plenty of examples can be generated that produce rather different social outcomes from the same individual preferences simply by altering the aggregation rules. At a minimum, one would hope that some basic principles of fairness are retained that at least make the process, and thus the outcome, appear legitimate to voters (see Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 1995).

Two common voting methods are majority and plurality rule. Majority rule would have failed in 2000 because no candidate won 50 percent of the popular vote. Plurality rule would have elected Gore since he won the popular vote. Neither majority nor plurality rule is more natural than or superior to more complicated methods. Indeed, the Founders purposely created the electoral college to avoid popular election. The question becomes whether this rather unique method of election selected the same winner that other aggregation schemes might have, or whether Bush's victory was an idiosyncratic result of the particular set of institutions and events that put him into office. [3]

One of the most stringent methods of selecting a candidate was proposed by the Marquis de Condorcet more than two hundred years ago. Condorcet argued that a winning alternative ought to be capable of defeating all other alternatives in head-to-head comparisons. That is, A should be the victor only if she beats both B and C in paired situations. Even if some voters choose strategically rather than sincerely -- perhaps due to a combination of mechanical and psychological incentives (Duverger 1963) -- the Condorcet winner should also be the election winner. The Condorcet criterion is an especially desirable method of choosing among multiple candidates because it sets the threshold of victory quite high. In many elections, a Condorcet winner does not even exist.

National Election Study (NES) data from 2000 make it possible to conduct a crude analysis of strategic voting. I follow a long line of research that uses rankings of the candidates on the NES "feeling thermometers" as estimates of the relative ordinal utilities each person has for each candidate. Thermometers are reasonable proxies for respondents' utilities for the candidates and tend to predict voting decisions well (Abramson et al. 1992, 1995, 2000; Brams and Fishburn 1983; Brams and Merrill 1994; Kiewiet 1979; Ordeshook and Zeng 1997; Palfrey and Poole 1987; Weisberg and Grofman 1981; Weisberg and Rusk 1970). Abramson and colleagues (1995) show that the winners of the popular and electoral vote in three notable third-party elections -- 1968, 1980, and 1992 -- were all Condorcet winners. In each of those years the electoral college victor also would have won the popular vote using Condorcet's standard of beating each of the other candidates in head-to-head comparisons. Clinton was easily the Condorcet winner in 1996 as well (Abramson, Aldrich, and Rohde 1998).

It is reassuring that different voting schemes -- simple plurality rule, the electoral college, the Condorcet criterion, and perhaps even approval voting -- all select the same candidate in each of the past four elections with significant minor parties (Brams and Fishburn 1983; Brams and Merril11994; Kiewiet 1979). It is more remarkable that every presidential election for which adequate survey data exist seems to have chosen the Condorcet winner, regardless of minor-party showings. This is satisfying because no voting method is ideal, and the Condorcet method is so stringent.

The 2000 election is not so tidy. Not only did George W. Bush not take the popular vote, but the data clearly show that he was not the Condorcet winner either. This is apparently the first time in the survey era that this has happened. Figure 11.1 shows the pairwise rankings of the four presidential candidates in graphical form. [4] The arrows point to the candidates who lose in each comparison. Pat Buchanan is the "Condorcet loser" because each of the other three candidates beat him in head-to-head comparisons. This is indicated by the three arrows pointing toward his name. Gore is the Condorcet winner, beating each of the other candidates (see also Abramson, Aldrich, and Rohde 2002). In between these two extremes, Nader is preferred to Buchanan but loses to both major-party nominees. Bush loses to Gore but defeats both minor-party candidates.


Several other voting methods would also choose Gore as the winner. Running through the list of voting methods that are commonly discussed in textbooks on the subject (e.g., Shepsle and Bonchek 1997), Gore wins whether one uses a plurality runoff, a sequential runoff, or approval voting procedures. [5] The 2000 election thus represents a highly unusual event in modern U.S. politics, as the electoral college appears to be the only existing nondictatorial method that would result in George W. Bush's election.

The thermometer rankings also show an unprecedented degree of strategic voting. Other presidential elections where strong minor parties ran of course saw strategic voting, but the pivotal roles that Buchanan and Nader played in 2000 took strategic behavior to a new plateau. Table 11.1 demonstrates this by comparing respondents' candidate rankings along with their vote choice and turnout decisions. The data show that a large majority of those who rated Buchanan or Nader as their most preferred candidates before the election actually voted for someone else. Among voters, over 80 percent of people who rated Buchanan or Nader highest did not vote for them. Most of the Nader preferrers who voted chose Gore, with the remainder splitting between Bush and Nader.

This suggests that many voters were deciding which candidate from outside the current administration was worth their support rather than simply whose platform was nearest their ideal points (Cho 2000; Lacy and Burden 2002). It seems that Nader preferrers and Nader voters are two distinct groups. If the Nader camp was comprised mostly of traditional liberals interested in ideological purity, a strategic voter would have chosen Gore. Presumably, a leftist voter who prefers Nader but fears that his candidacy is not viable would turn to Gore as second choice. A sizable contingent of Nader preferrers appear to have felt that way but abstained. Although many Nader preferrers who voted did pick Gore, it remains counterintuitive that so many voted for Bush instead. Many of these voters must have been motivated not just by progressive ideals but by the desire to end the Clinton-Gore reign and decided that Republican Bush was most likely to do that.

Respondents who ranked Buchanan first were even more disloyal, but their strategic votes were cast more in Bush's direction than in Gore's. More interesting are the abstention rates for each of these groups. About one in five Bush preferrers abstained while one in four Gore supporters did. But more than a third of those who favored Nader abstained, and 42 percent of Buchanan's preferrers stayed home.

This is an unprecedented amount of strategic voting among minor-party supporters (see Abramson et al. 1995; Cho 2000; Ordeshook and Zeng 1997). Strategic considerations are even more widespread if strategic "voting" means more than just choosing a candidate who is not one's most preferred alternative. To the extent that abstention is a purposeful activity akin to choosing a candidate (Aldrich 1997; Lacy and Burden 1999,2002), many Americans who preferred Buchanan or Nader found nonvoting a more satisfactory decision than either jumping to a minor-party candidate at the other end of the spectrum or stomaching one of the major-party standard-bearers.


It is noteworthy that abstention rates were highest among voters who preferred one of the minor-party candidates. This lack of participation does not necessarily imply lack of enthusiasm for the candidate, however. The strength of support for a chosen presidential candidate was weakest for Nader. Nader voters said they felt less enthusiastic about their choice than did people who voted for one of the other three candidates. The percentage of NES respondents saying they "felt strongly" was 74 percent for Gore, 79 percent for Bush, and even 83 percent for Buchanan, but only 64 percent for Nader. The fact that so many of those who ranked Nader first abstained suggests that they were not particularly fond of any of the candidates. Those who voted for Nader probably felt tepid toward all of the candidates running and were only willing to cast protest votes because the antiestablishment Greens happened to be on the ballot. This might explain why apparently not many Nader voters regret their decisions. Only one in ten Nader voters say they wish they could change their vote after knowing how close the election was (Jackman 2000). Given the perversity of the election result shown earlier, it is simply remarkable that 90 percent would pick Nader again even knowing that Bush -- often their third- or fourth-ranked choice -- would be elected president.

Campaign Dynamics

Some of the more interesting aspects of minor parties are the changes they induce in otherwise normal presidential campaigns (Rosenstone, Behr, and Lazarus 1996). Among other things, a threatening outsider causes the Democratic and Republican nominees to deal with new issues, distribute their resources differently, and assemble altered coalitions. Strong minor parties introduce a great deal of uncertainty into the campaign and force the major parties to begin foraging about for votes more strategically. As a zero-sum game, any support that goes to third-party candidates effectively reduces the pool of votes available to the major parties. At the same time, the possibility of increasing turnout makes the situation look more like a positive-sum game. However, new voters mobilized by a minor party are relatively unpredictable, which often leads the major parties to shore up their bases.

To examine some of these dynamics, I have gathered trial-heat and tracking polls conducted over the last two months of the campaign. Nader's support in the polls bucks historical trends in one important way: it rises rather than falls. As Rosenstone, Behr, and Lazarus (1996, 41) argue, "Third-party support fades as the election approaches. This pattern of declining support has been apparent since the advent of survey data." [6] Though Rosenstone, Behr, and Lazarus argue that voters are apparently willing to consider minor-party candidates when the stakes are low, the electorate abandons them when the stakes increase near Election Day. They show that this pattern holds for seven different candidacies ranging from Robert LaFollette in 1924 to John Anderson in 1980.

Figure 11.2 shows that this decline does not hold for Nader. [7] Though the raw data points are a bit lumpy due to rounding, Nader's support clearly rises. A spline fit to the data shows the upturn well. Despite the variation around the main trend line, there seems to be about a percentage-point increase over the last two months of the presidential campaign.


Nader's rise in the polls apparently defies history. Not only does minor-party support wane in most polls as the consequences of committing to a candidate rise, but the 2000 major-party race remained close enough that Nader votes could have swung the election. Because of the closeness, one might have expected Nader to fall even faster than minor parties running in more lopsided elections. A "gut check" by Nader supporters late in the campaign should have caused them to waiver and throw their support, however weak, to Gore as the second best. If sophisticated maneuvering does not explain the rise in Nader support, what does?

Table 11.2 reports several simple time-series regression models of Nader support. [8] There are five columns, each of which introduces different independent variables to the analysis. The variables include a simple daily counter, Gore and Buchanan vote percentages, and a measure of the closeness of the race. Closeness is measured as the absolute difference between the Bush and Gore percentages, so higher values indicate a more lopsided race. This is done to be sure that the relationship between time and Nader's support is not spurious. It might be, for example, that Nader's support rises only because the race gets closer.


The first three columns of Table 11.2 examine the relationships between time, closeness, and Nader support. It appears -- both independently and jointly -- that Nader's standings rise later in the campaign and when the race is more lopsided. So Nader does better later in the campaign, even after showing that many of his supporters strategically left him when the major party campaign got tighter. The last two columns reveal how his support interacted with the nearest substitutes, Buchanan and Gore. It is perhaps surprising that Buchanan and Nader appear to do well or poorly together, as indicated by the positive and significant coefficient on the Buchanan variable. In the end, however, this analysis confirms that Nader's unique rise in the polls over the final weeks of the campaign is not due merely to closeness or the standings of the other,candidates. The daily counter remains significant regardless of the control variables introduced. In addition, the size of the coefficient confirms the finding in Figure 11.2 that Nader rose about a point over the last two months of the campaign.

Turnout and Vote-Stealing Effects

Two of the most important effects a minor-party candidate can have are in increasing voter turnout and in altering the major-party vote split (Lacy and Burden 1999, 2002). Minor parties, of course, shake things up in a host of other interesting ways, from altering the campaign agenda to fracturing the major- party coalitions. In the end, however, it is enlightening to know how the election results would have been different without minor parties in the mix. Though one can never answer these counterfactual puzzles definitively by rerunning history (Asher 1995), they are ways of gaining insight on such questions using available data. We must make do by asking how things would have been different with Buchanan or Nader out of the race, assuming that everything else about the campaigns would have remained the same. This is an unrealistic but unavoidable assumption.

Exit polls asked voters about their choices in the hypothetical situation in which neither Buchanan nor Nader was running. [9] Table 11.3 presents a cross-tabulation of these hypothetical questions and self- reported votes. Because minor parties earned so few votes, the aggregate major-party split remains right at fifty-fifty even removing Buchanan, Nader, and the other minor-party nominees.


More intriguing is what individual voters would have done. Nearly all Bush and Gore voters would have remained loyal in a two-way race, as one might expect. This fits with the great consistency between ranking of and voting for major parties shown earlier. In contrast, many minor-party voters would have abstained. Nearly 30 percent of Nader voters and more than 40 percent of Buchanan voters would have abstained without their candidates in the race. About half of Nader's votes would have gone to Gore, the perceived next-best candidate. It might seem surprising that Buchanan's brigade would have switched to Gore at least as strongly as it lined up behind Bush, though I will provide some evidence later that Buchanan drew heavily on the normally Democratic union vote. Regardless, this result should be taken lightly since the number of Buchanan voters is too low (33) to reach firm inferences. The point is merely that Buchanan's bloc would not have all gone to Bush nor would all Nader votes have necessarily gone to Gore.

One can estimate the effects the candidates had on voter turnout by multiplying their actual vote shares by the percentage who would have abstained in a two-way race. For example, 30.5 percent of Nader's 2.5 percent of the popular vote -- or 0.75 percent -- would have stayed home if he had not run. Taken together, minor parties boosted turnout directly by roughly 1.2 percentage points in 2000.

But candidates also have indirect effects on voter mobilization. Whereas direct effects are caused by a candidate mobilizing his supporters in an immediate way, indirect effects occur when supporters of one's opponents are mobilized by systemic changes in the campaign. Indirect effects are caused by such things as increasing closeness, adding color and drama to the race, introducing issues that mobilize new voters, and simply raising voter interest. The percentage of Bush and Gore voters who would have abstained in a two-way race is suggestive of how large these indirect effects might have been. These voters presumably turned out for one of the major-party candidates because a minor-party candidate reminded them about the importance of voting or threatened their candidates' victory. Without Buchanan or Nader in the race to make things interesting, they would have abstained. The percentages of Bush and Gore voters who would have behaved this way are small since most would have voted in a two-way race as well, but they are many in number. Using the same method I used earlier, I estimate that turnout for Bush and Gore would have fallen by a similar 1.3 points, for a total (direct and indirect) turnout effect of about 2.5 points. [10]

These self-reported results are reasonable, but ought to be taken with a grain of salt given the small samples and known differences between opinions and behavior. If the results are reliable, they ought to be replicated in other data. To check this, I turn to aggregate election returns to help develop an understanding of the turnout consequences of minor-party voting in 2000. Because the electoral college operates on a winner-take-all basis within states, the first analysis relies on states as the units of analysis.

The results are found in Table 11.4. The regression models suggest that state electorates with more whites, fewer cities, more education, and higher incomes all have higher turnout. These variables capture interstate differences sufficiently well that southern exceptionalism has disappeared. As expected, the closeness of the race seems to have a positive effect on turnout after controlling for minor-party showings. This could be because closeness per se encourages potential abstainers to turn out or because a closer race causes the candidates to engage in more voter mobilization (Cox and Munger 1989). Buchanan has a negligible effect on turnout, but Nader in contrast appears to have increased voter participation directly.

This state-level analysis, in conjunction with the survey data analyzed earlier, confirms that Nader had an indisputable effect on voter turnout. Many of his supporters were so committed to him -- or dissatisfied enough with every other candidate -- that they simply would have abstained had Nader not run. It is this inverse relationship between voters' enthusiasm and their candidate's vote shares that allows some of the poorest-performing minor parties to have some of the largest direct effects on voter turnout.


Though many would have chosen not to vote in a two-way race, the largest group of Nader voters would have gone to Gore. In fact, many journalists have speculated that the Florida fiasco could have been avoided if Nader had not run since Gore would have picked up enough net Nader supporters to defeat Bush there.

Throwing the Electoral College

The analysis presented so far indicates that the outcome of the 2000 election was perverse. Bush not only lost the popular vote but also failed to be the Condorcet winner. Nonetheless, these findings do not address whether Nader indirectly elected Bush by stealing votes disproportionately from Gore. Though many Nader voters said they would have voted for Gore in a hypothetical two-way race, it is difficult to know how well these responses would predict their actual behavior were that to occur. And the data presented so far are merely national averages that cannot reveal how minor parties affected the major- party vote in particular states.


Florida was the center of attention for over a month following the November 7 election. The razor-thin result there was subject to ballot recounts and a series of legal maneuvers by the parties aimed at starting, stopping, and controlling the recounts. Just a few hundred votes separated Bush from Gore, yet Nader received nearly 100,000 votes. If even a small fraction of his voters had chosen Gore instead, the Democrats would have won the presidency. [11] In fact, Buchanan and six even more obscure minor- arty candidates each received more votes than Bush's margin of victory. Together, these extremely small minor parties account for 250 times the 537 votes that distinguished Bush from Gore in the end. Though Nader's absence might have given Gore a clear Florida win, the absence of a number of right-wing minor-party candidates from Buchanan to Hagelin to Browne might have allowed for a clear Bush victory.

Although issues of ballot design and election law are important, they have overshadowed the kingmaker effects that Nader and other minor-party nominees might have had beyond the butterfly ballot. [12] For a deeper look at this relationship, Table 11.5 shows the results of a regression model that explains the Gore vote. Here the dependent variable is Gore's vote share in each county, though the specification looks much like the state-turnout model in Table 11.4. Nader's support in 1996 and 2000 are included as independent variables to determine how the Gore and Nader fortunes co-varied. In addition to a set of control variables, Clinton's share of the 1996 vote is included to measure general support for Democratic presidential candidates and the Clinton-Gore administration.

The results suggest that Gore and Nader were indeed viewed as near, though certainly not perfect, substitutes, as indicated by the negative sign on the variable for Nader's vote share in 2000. This suggests that although Nader drew some of his support from the Gore camp, a much larger share of it came from other sources. Potential abstainers appear to make up the lion's share of Nader's support. This corroborates the substantial turnout effects found in the state analysis (Table 11.4) and the self-reported estimates in which many Nader voters report that they would have abstained in a two-way election.


However, many Nader voters also stated that they would have supported Gore had their candidate not been running. If the dynamics in Florida were at all similar to this average effect, then it is evident that Al Gore would be president today had it been a traditional two-candidate race. But was Ralph Nader able to drain away enough Democratic votes to cost Gore the presidency?

In the days following the-election itself, the unsettled Florida outcome left the electoral college up for grabs. Gore held 266 electoral votes to Bush's 246. Since 270 are needed to win the presidency outright, the Florida outcome would determine the next president of the United States, as long as the other state outcomes remained fixed. At the same time, four other states were won by razor-thin margins that could have gone either way. Even conceding Florida to Gore, Bush could have won the presidency with moderate vote shifts in Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Collectively, they could have thrown the election to Bush.

As Table 11.6 shows, Gore beat Bush by a small number of votes in each of these four states. In all four states the Bush-Gore margin accounted for less than half a percent of the total votes cast (the same threshold below which Florida law requires a recount). Yet together these four states hold thirty electoral votes, five more than in Florida. [13]

Also, in each of these states Buchanan won more votes than the difference between Bush and Gore. Had Buchanan not been on the ballot it is at least possible that Gore would have lost these states and Bush would have been elected regardless of the Florida outcome. It is difficult, however, to know for certain. All that would have been required was that enough Buchanan voters chose Bush rather than vote for Gore or abstain. Assuming for the moment that no Buchanan voters would have chosen Gore, "enough" is anywhere from a reasonable 13 percent in New Mexico to a less realistic 65 percent in Iowa. Since many Buchanan voters nationally would have picked Gore in a two-way race, the thresholds were higher than this in reality.

One cannot know for certain whether Bush would have won these four states without Buchanan in the race. It appears to be possible but perhaps not likely. National exit polls indicate that about one in four Buchanan voters would have chosen Bush, but the ratios probably vary depending on the state. Unfortunately, state exit polls included too few Buchanan voters to reach firm conclusions. Had Pat Buchanan not been running, it is at least plausible, though perhaps not likely, that Florida would have been subject to less scrutiny and that Bush would have been elected easily with as many as 301 electoral votes.

Sources of Minor-Party Support

According to exit polls, Nader's support came mostly from those who voted for Clinton in 1996 and, secondarily, from those who abstained in that election. Together, they made up 55 percent of the Nader coalition. This confirms the suspicion that he drew mostly from the left and from those less engaged with the system. As a share of previous voters, Nader drew mostly from the Perot camp, though it is only about a tenth of "Perotistas," and this smaller pool makes the total Perot contribution modest. More Perot voters broke for Bush in 2000 than for all of the others candidates combined (Rapoport and Stone 2001).

It is not yet clear what individual-level determinants drove citizens to vote for Buchanan and Nader. To address this question I estimate a vote-choice model using exit-poll data. These data have the benefit of large samples that make it possible [to] analyze minor-party voting. Otherwise rich NES data simply have too few Buchanan and Nader voters to allow firm inferences. The primary drawback of exit polls is that the sample excludes abstainers, but this is an unavoidable trade-off.

I estimate a discrete-choice model that includes a set of explanatory variables generally suspected to influence vote choice. These variables fall into four broad categories. I begin with measures of general political orientation: party identification and ideology. Both are long-term attachments shown to have strong effects on voting behavior. Next are several economic evaluations. Economics and elections are deeply intertwined, and these variables allow for national and personal as well as retrospective and prospective judgments to influence vote choice. The third set of variables measures the sociocultural nature of contemporary American elections. I include a variable that measures attitudes on abortion, a measure of religious attendance, and a variable that weighs whether a person identifies with the religious right. Finally, I include a set of demographic control variables such as race, education, gender, and age. The wordings of the questions are given in the Measurement Appendix at the end of this chapter.


The estimates in Table 11.7 show how variables influenced the choices between each of the other candidates and Nader. Nader is chosen as the arbitrary baseline category since not all pairwise comparisons are simultaneously estimable. Using Nader as baseline allows one to examine the most interesting Gore-Nader and Buchanan-Nader comparisons. Positive coefficients indicate that higher values on the independent variables lead to a greater likelihood that voters support a candidate other than Nader. For example, the significant coefficient of .50 on the female dummy variable reveals that women are significantly more likely to vote for Gore than Nader, all else held constant. But the variable's insignificance in the remaining columns indicates that women are no more likely to vote for another candidate relative to Nader. Some classes of variables affect all of the comparisons with Nader while others influence only one or two of the pairings.

The major factors separating Gore and Nader voters are economic evaluations. Economic variables fail to achieve statistical significance in most other cases, but all three measures are strongly related to the Gore-Nader vote. In all three cases those who are less content with the economy tend to choose Nader over Gore. This might reflect a failed strategy on Gore's part in not associating himself closely enough with strong economic performance during the Clinton years. This was difficult to do, of course, since Gore also wished to distance himself from Clinton the person. It might also be that Nader voters misperceived the strong economy as weak or that they focused on different aspects of economic performance such as inequality. Although most Americans viewed the economy positively in 2000 (see Norpoth, Chapter 3 in this book), those who were dissatisfied with it clearly turned to Nader over Gore.

In accord with earlier work (Cho 2000; Lacy and Burden 1999, 2002), it seems that minor-party candidates owe much of their support to anti-incumbent sentiment. And the substantive effects of these variables are not trivial. For a voter who is undecided between Gore and Nader, viewing the current economy as "poor" rather than "excellent" increases his probability of picking Nader from .50 to .79, a change of nearly thirty percentage points. Though national retrospections turn out to matter more than national prospections and personal retrospections, all three clearly separated Gore and Nader voters in 2000.

Contrast the power that economics has to separate Gore and Nader voters with the weaker effects of the cultural variables. Attitude toward abortion and identification with the religious right have consistent effects on every comparison aside from Gore-Nader. Pro-choice voters are more likely to choose Nader than Bush, Buchanan, and other minor parties. Yet abortion attitudes do not distinguish between Gore and Nader. Again, assuming that a voter is initially torn between the candidates, the probability of voting for Nader rises by anywhere from .27 (Bush) to. 43 (Buchanan) as we move from the pro-life voter to the pro-choice voter. For at least some voters abortion was definitive. The power of these variables to shape the voting decision fits with earlier work on the importance of abortion in modern electoral politics (Abramowitz 1995; Adams 1997). But other cultural issues matter too. Belonging to the religious right makes a person 19 to 36 percent more likely to vote against Nader. These effects are strongest for the Buchanan-Nader pairing, which makes sense given the socially conservative content of the Buchanan rhetoric. Consistent with this, married respondents are far more likely to pick Buchanan over Nader, though marriage has no impact otherwise. In contrast to the denominational differences that drive voting based on sociocultural issues, religiosity itself, at least as measured by frequency of church attendance, appears unrelated to vote choice in 2000 (cf., Gilbert et al. 1999).

Long-term political orientations such as partisanship, ideology, and demographic predispositions have strong effects on vote choice. As one might expect, liberals are almost always more likely to vote for Nader than an opponent, and partisans support their nominees in most cases. The one exception to this is that both Democrats and Republicans favor Buchanan over Nader. This might reflect the fact that Nader, unlike former Republican Buchanan, comes from outside of the conventional party system. This finding reinforces two themes. First, of all voters, Nader voters were the least enamored of the entire slate of candidates. Second, minor-party candidates differ from one another about as much as they differ from their major-party competitors.

Finally, though African Americans and to a lesser degree women favored Gore over Nader, age and education had more systematic effects on the Nader vote. All else remaining constant, younger voters and those with more education were more likely to vote for Nader. This fits with conventional views of party identification and minor-party voting in which the young are expected to support minor parties disproportionately. It is noteworthy that age does not distinguish Buchanan and Nader voters, as young people tend to support minor parties of all stripes. Though income and education are often assumed to run in the same direction because they contribute to a person's socioeconomic status, they sometimes work in opposite directions here. Nader occupied a niche that attracted those with higher educations and lower incomes. Although both Buchanan and Nader raised objections to free trade, union members were more likely to favor the Reform Party than the Green Party in 2000. Whereas Nader seems to have won votes on college campuses, Buchanan collected more in the union halls.

Many Americans knew they might be electing their third-most preferred candidate, so why did so many nonetheless vote for Buchanan and Nader? The vote-choice model revealed that Nader tended to win the votes of white, liberal yet nonpartisan voters who were discontented with the economy. These findings confirm earlier work that found that economic grievances, age, and strength of partisanship are all associated with minor-party support (Abramson et al. 1995, 2000; Alvarez and Nagler 1995, 1998; Gold 1995; Lacy and Burden 1999, 2002; Rosenstone, Behr, and Lazarus 1996). But in addition to understanding why individuals behave as they do, we should also wonder what contributes to minor- party showings at the aggregate level.

Table 11.8 addresses this issue by regressing the Buchanan and Nader county vote shares on a series of political and demographic variables. In addition to a common set of controls, I include measures of Nader's showing in 1996 to measure support specific to his candidacy. But I also wish to see the degree to which Buchanan and Nader drew from Perot's 1996 base and the votes of other minor parties that year. Rapoport and Stone (2001), for example, find that Republicans, not minor parties, were the main beneficiaries of the Perot movement's collapse. It is reasonable to hypothesize that minor parties drew support from the Perotistas as well. Finally, the closeness of the election is included to assess strategic voting.


The results indicate that Nader far exceeded Buchanan's ability to build on his earlier campaigns. Not only did Nader regain most of the votes earned in his lackluster 1996 run for president, but it appears that he drew from the Perot camp as well. Nader took about 15 percent of the 1996 Perot vote while Buchanan apparently pulled in none.

Once again, the analysis shows that differences among minor parties make it difficult to generalize. Much of the literature looks for commonalties in voting for different minor parties across elections (Gold 1995; Gilbert et al. 1999; Herrnson and Green 2002; Lacy and Burden 2002; Rosenstone, Behr, and Lazarus 1996). However, researchers ought to acknowledge differences as well. Nader was more likely to win the votes of those living outside the South, with more education, and with lower incomes. Buchanan did better in the South and among those with less education and those with higher incomes. Buchanan and Nader appealed to quite different kinds of voters.

After including the 1996 minor-party vote shares and controlling for demographics like race, region, and education, the lopsidedness of the election is positively related to both the Buchanan and Nader votes. This confirms a finding repeated throughout this chapter: that minor-party voters were highly sensitive to the possibility of being pivotal in a close major-party contest. The "wasted vote" logic and sophisticated voting were apparently on many Buchanan and Nader supporters' minds.


The 2000 presidential election has done much to enlighten our understanding of minor parties in U.S. politics. At a practical level, 2000 added two fascinating observations to the growing number of cases available for study. In some ways, this research will reinforce earlier conclusions based primarily on Wallace, Anderson, and Perot. For instance, supporters of minor-party candidates are less partisan and less satisfied with the nation's economic performance than other voters. These are the same relationships that helped and hurt earlier minor parties.

At the same time, the Buchanan and Nader candidacies stand apart from their predecessors. Among other things, these candidates could have easily affected who won the election. Gore probably would have won without Nader in the picture, and Bush could have won more easily had Buchanan not been around. These minor-party candidates occupy an important slot at the end of a string of such candidacies. Indeed, five of the last nine presidential elections have witnessed significant minor parties. Nader rather than Buchanan managed to build on these successes by tapping into the bank of Perot's voters. Nader's candidacy is unique in that his standing rose during the final days of the campaign, an anomaly among minor-party presidential campaigns. And despite the closeness of the election, minor-party voters in 2000 were far more strategic than their predecessors. A larger share of Buchanan and Nader supporters would have rather abstained than vote for another candidate. These unusual dynamics led to one of the least satisfying social-choice outcomes of any presidential election.

One of the findings of this chapter is that Buchanan and Nader introduced an unprecedented amount of distortion into the aggregation of preferences. This was possible because of the extreme closeness of the major-party contest. Though eventually chosen the victor, Bush did not win the popular vote and would not have won using just about any other democratic voting method. Nader also made minor-party history by defying the strong tendency of such candidates to lose support in the final days of the campaign. It actually appears that Nader rose in the polls in the weeks preceding election day, this despite the possibility that his presence meant the election could be thrown to many of his supporters' third-choice candidate. Building on earlier work, this chapter also showed that minor-party candidates have effects on both turnout and the major-party vote shares. Buchanan and Nader had surprisingly large turnout effects despite their small vote totals. This suggests that the most meager campaigns might actually raise turnout the most because they bring out diehard supporters who would otherwise abstain. Running as minor-party candidates in the same election, Buchanan and Nader remind us of the great, though often downplayed differences among such candidates. Nader drew support from young voters, the educated, liberals, and those upset with the economy; Buchanan won his votes in the South, from the religious right, and from the less educated. These differences warn against the development of a grand theory of minor-party coalitions.


Exit-poll data were collected on Election Day 2000 by the Voter News Service. Pollsters collected self- administered questionnaires from more than thirteen thousand voters. In Table 11.3, the two-way race question is "If these were the only two presidential candidates on the ballot today, who would you have voted for? 1 Al Gore (Dem), 2 George W. Bush (Rep), 3 Would not have voted for president." The wording of the questions used in Table 11.7 are listed here. Note that several of them were recoded in the ways explained earlier in this chapter.

Democrat and Republican: "No matter how you voted today, do you usually think of yourself as a: 1 Democrat, 2 Republican, 3 independent, 4 Something else?"

Ideology: "On most political matters, do you consider yourself: 1 Liberal, 2 Moderate, 3 Conservative?"

National Prospections: "During the next year, do you think the nation's economy will: 1 Get better, 2 Get worse, 3 Stay about the same?"

National Retrospections: "Do you think the condition of the nation's economy is: 1 Excellent, 2 Good, 3 Not so good, 4 Poor?"

Personal Retrospections: "Compared to four years ago, is your family's financial situation: 1 Better today, 2 Worse today, 3 About the same?"

Abortion Attitude: "Which comes closest to your position? Abortion should be: 1 Legal in all cases, 2 Legal in most cases, 3 Illegal in most cases, 4 Illegal in all cases. "

Church Attendance: "How often do you attend religious services? 1 More than once a week, 2 Once a week, 3 A few times a month, 4 A few times a year, 5 Never."

Religious Right: "Do you consider yourself part of the conservative Christian political movement, also known as the religious right? 1 Yes, 2 No."

Married: "Are you currently married? 1 Yes, 2 No."

Homosexual: "Are you gay, lesbian, or bisexual? 1 Yes, 2 No."

Age: "To which age group do you belong? 1 18-24, 2 25-29, 3 30-39, 4 40-44, 5 45-49, 6 50-59, 7 60- 64, 8 65-74, 9 75 or over."

Income: "1999 total family income: 1 Under $15,000, 2 $15,000-$29,999, 3 $30,000-49,999, 4 $50,000-$74,999, 5 $ 75,000-$99,999, 6 $100,000 or more?"

Education: "What was the last grade of school you completed? 1 Did not complete high school, 2 High school graduate, 3 Some college or associate degree, 4 College graduate, 5 Postgraduate study."

Union Member: "Do you or does someone in your household belong to a labor union? 1 Yes, I do, 2 Yes, someone else does, 3 Yes, I do and someone else does, 4 No one does."

African American and Latino: "Are you: 1 White, 2 African American, 3 Hispanic/Latino, 4 Asian, 5 Other?"

Female: "Are you: 1 Male, 2 Female?"
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:21 am


06/21/08: You've Got Issues
Email from
Nader/Gonzalez '08



You've got issues.


But don't we all?

Yes we do.

And by popular demand.

Lo and behold.

The new, improved - and updated - Nader/Gonzalez issues page.

We've got issues.

Twelve Issues that Matter for 2008

Remember, these twelve issues represent the tip of the political iceberg. But they are indicative of the corporate domination of the Democratic and Republican parties.


Twelve Issues that Matter for 2008

Adopt single payer national health insurance

Nader/Gonzalez favors a Canadian-style, private delivery, free choice of hospital and doctor, public health insurance system.

Right now, the United States spends $7,129 per capita on health care—more than twice as much per capita as the rest of the industrialized world.

And yet, the United States performs poorly in comparison on major health indicators such as life expectancy and infant mortality.

While other industrialized nations like Canada and Sweden provide comprehensive coverage to their entire populations, the United States leaves 47 million completely uninsured and tens of millions more inadequately covered.

According to an Institute of Medicine report, 18,000 Americans die because they cannot afford health care.

And inability to pay for medical bills is the leading cause of bankruptcies – they currently contribute to about half the bankruptcies in the United States.

In our current system, there are thousands of different payers of health care fees.

This system is a bureaucratic nightmare, wasting $350 billion—close to a third of all health care spending on things that have nothing to do with health care—overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments, huge profits and exorbitant executive pay.

In addition, there is over $200 billion in computerized billing fraud and abuse.

Nader/Gonzalez support a single payer system that would save the $350 billion and apply those savings to comprehensively cover everyone without paying more than we already do.

All Americans would be covered for all medically necessary services.

Patients would have free choice of doctor and hospital.

Costs would also be controlled in part by the single payer negotiating fees and making bulk purchases.


Physicians for a National Health Program
Healthcare Now

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Cut the huge, bloated, wasteful military budget

Nader/Gonzalez would cut the bloated, wasteful military budget.

Earlier this year, President Bush announced a military budget of over $600 billion.

And that's not counting the full cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The proposed military budget represents 58 cents out of every dollar spent by the U.S. government on discretionary programs - the items that Congress gets to vote up or down on an annual basis.

The Democrats and Republicans have been silent about this rapid escalation in military expenditures, despite many critical reports by the Government Accountability Office and Pentagon auditors.

In fact, they want to increase them.

Barack Obama, for example, has said that he wants to "bump up" the military budget.

Hillary Clinton and Obama have committed themselves to increasing the armed forces by tens of thousands of troops.

John McCain would outdo them both.

As budget analyst William Hartung points out "the United States is already spending more for defense than all the other nations in the world combined."

Hartung points out that tens of billions of dollars are being wasted on systems like the F-22 fighter plane, the V-22 Osprey (a helicopter that can be transformed into a conventional aircraft), the Virginia class submarine, and an unworkable and unnecessary missile defense system.

Right now, the military budget is being used to fuel wasteful, reckless, destabilizing foreign interventions that violate constitutional and international law.

Nader/Gonzalez would cut the military budget to a level needed to protect the country.


Center for Defense Information
Project on Government Oversight
How Much Money Did You Make on the War, Daddy? by William Hartung

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

No to nuclear power, solar energy first

Nader/Gonzalez would no longer subsidize entrenched oil, nuclear, electric, coal mining, and biofuel interests.

Instead, Nader/Gonzalez would invest in an energy policy that is efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Nader/Gonzalez would invest in a diversified and proven energy policy including renewable energies like wind and other solar power.

The American people have been held hostage for too long by the oil, coal and atomic power industries.

Over seventy percent of our petroleum is now imported at a cost of $600 billion a year – the highest rate of dependency ever.

The nuclear power industry is demanding 100 percent federal government loan guarantees because Wall Street won't loan the money for new nuclear plants without those taxpayer guarantees.

We are long overdue for the changes that need to be made.

Nader/Gonzalez would:

• End subsidies of entrenched oil, nuclear, & coal interests.
• Curtail price gouging with strict law enforcement.
• Invest heavily in renewable energies, including solar and wind technologies.
• Invest in more efficient homes, automobiles, businesses and government facilities.
• Put renewable energy before the wasteful corn ethanol.

Last year Big Oil made record profits. The price of oil has quadrupled since Bush took office and the distribution of wealth has become more polarized.

A new clean energy paradigm means more jobs, more efficiency, greater security and energy independence, environmental protection and increased health for all people.

Nader/Gonzalez will work to create an energy policy that is in the best interest of all the people and the environment we share.

Nader/Gonzalez would cut corporate welfare programs propping up the corn ethanol industry.

From the beginning, Ralph Nader has been opposed to the subsidized ethanol industry as inefficient, environmentally damaging, inflationary, and as the primary fuel sustaining the corporate welfare kings.

In September 17, 2004, the Des Moines Register article reported that Nader took on the ethanol industry while he was campaigning in Iowa.

In April 2008, Nader was in Illinois telling students that corn ethanol is devouring huge acreage, shortening the supply of wheat, soy and other food, and resulting in the increased prices being seen in the U.S. and abroad.

Historically, food prices have been a source of consumer revolt. It has toppled governments in other countries.

It takes as much or more energy to create corn ethanol -- the ethanol includes the burning of coal -- than the energy actually derived from the ethanol.

The production of one gallon of ethanol requires between three and four gallons of water. In a world already plagued with water shortages, this is simply unsustainable.

Since February 2006, the price of corn, wheat and soybeans has increased by more than 240 percent. The price of corn has gone from $1.86 a bushel at the end of 2005 to $4 in 2007 to nearly $6 today.

This dubious “food to energy” policy does the American people no good.

This is hardly a green technology, and it is certainly not sustainable.

As the Berkeley Chemical Engineer Tad Patzek puts it, “in terms of renewable fuels, ethanol is the worst solution -- it has the highest energy cost with the least benefit."


The Ethanol Scam
The Case Against Nuclear Power
Nuclear Information Resource Service

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Aggressive crackdown on corporate crime and corporate welfare

Corporate crime costs Americans hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Tens of thousands of Americans are killed each year and hundreds of thousands of Americans injured and sickened each year by preventable corporate-bred violence.

From pollution, medical negligence, procurement fraud, product defects, and financial fraud, to antitrust, public corruption, foreign bribery and occupational homicide, corporate crime is widely ignored by politicians – yet acutely felt by all Americans.

Nader/Gonzalez would crack down on corporate crime and violence with a twelve point program:

• Increase Corporate Crime Prosecution Budgets: The Department of Justice’s corporate crime division and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been chronically and pitifully under funded and therefore do not have sufficient resources to combat the corporate crime wave in the United States. This results in inadequate investigation, settlement of cases for weak fines and ignoring many corporate crime violators completely. There needs to be a strong corporate law and order will in the White House.
• Ban Corporate Criminals from Government Contracts: The US should enact a tough, serious debarment statute that would deny federal business to serious and/or repeat corporate lawbreakers. The federal government spends $265 billion annually on goods and services. These contracts should not support corporate criminals. These standards should also apply to procurement contracts in Iraq.
• Crack Down on Corporate Tax Avoidance: The US should punish corporate tax escapees by closing the offshore reincorporation loophole and banning government contracts and subsidies for companies that relocate their headquarters to an offshore tax haven. The IRS should be given more power and more budgetary resources to go after corporate tax avoiders. Publicly-traded corporations should be required to make their tax returns public.
• Democratize Corporate Governance: Shareholders should be granted the right to democratically nominate and elect the corporate board of directors by opening up proxy access to minority shareholders and introducing cumulative voting and competitive elections. Shareholders should be given the power to approve all major business decisions, including top executive compensation. Shareholders should be treated as the owners of the corporation – since, in fact, that is what they are.
• Expand Corporate Disclosure: Corporate sunshine laws should be enacted that require corporations to provide better information about their records on the environment, human rights, worker safety, and taxes, as well as their criminal and civil litigation records.
• Rein in Excessive Executive Pay: Shareholder authorization should be required for top executive compensation packages at each annual shareholder meeting. Stock options, which now account for about half of the executive compensation, should be counted on financial statements as an expense (which they are). Tax deductions for compensation 25 times above the compensation received by the lowest paid worker in a corporation should be eliminated, as recommended by the famous business guru Peter Drucker.
• Fix the Pension System: Corporations must be held more responsible for the retirement security of their employees. At a minimum we need to give workers a voice on the pension board; not require workers to stuff their 401(k) plans with company stock; and give workers the right to control their 401(k) plans. In addition, an Office of Participant Advocacy should be created in the Department of Labor to monitor pension plans.
• Restore the Rights of Defrauded Investors: Repeal the self-styled securities reform laws that block defrauded investors from seeking private restitution, such as the private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which allowed the aiders and abettors of massive corporate crime (e.g., accountants, lawyers, and bankers) to escape civil liability.
• Regulate Derivatives Trading: All over-the-counter financial instruments, including derivatives, should be subjected to the same or equivalent audit and reporting requirements as other financial instruments traded on stock exchanges. Rules should be enacted regarding collateral-margin, reporting and dealer licensing in order to maintain regulatory parity and ensure that markets are transparent and problems can be detected before they become a crisis.
• End Conflicts of Interest on Wall Street: Enact structural reforms that separate commercial and investment banking services and prevent other costly, documented conflicts of interest among financial entities, such as those that have dominated big banks and security firms in recent years. The recent instability, deception and bailouts on Wall Street provide the immediate reasons for such reform.
• Track the Extent and Cost of Corporate Crime: The Department of Justice should establish an online corporate crime database. Also, just as the FBI issues an annual street crime report, "Crime in the United States," it should also publish an annual report on corporate and white collar crime with recommendations.
• Foster a National Discussion on Corporate Power: Establish a Congressional Commission on Corporate Power to explore various legal and economic proposals that would rein in unaccountable giant corporations. The Commission should seek ways to improve upon the current state corporate chartering system in a world of global corporations and propose ways to correct the inequitable legal status of corporations as "persons." The Commission would be led by congressionally-appointed experts on corporate and constitutional law, and should hold citizen hearings in at least ten cities followed by a public report and recommendations.


Taming the Giant Corporation
The Corporation
Center for Corporate Policy
Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill)

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:24 am


Open up the Presidential debates

Nader/Gonzalez supports the opening up of the Presidential debates.

Right now, they are limited to the candidates from the two corporate parties.

The debates are controlled by the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates, a private corporation which was created by the Democratic and Republican Parties in 1987.

The Commission is headed by Frank Fahrenkopf -- the former head of the Republican National Committee, and Paul Kirk -- the former head of Democratic National Committee.

Fahrenkopf is a lobbyist for gambling interests, Kirk for pharmaceutical companies.

Debate sponsors have included Anheuser-Busch, Phillip Morris, Ford Motor Co., Yahoo Inc., 3Com, among other companies who gave soft money to the two parties’ national committees.

In 2000, some in the press dubbed the debates as the “Anheuser-Bush-Gore” debates.

In a memo by the CPD, the avowed goal for forming the commission was to "strengthen the two parties."

In 1988, the Commission seized control of the debates from the League of Women Voters.

The League had a history of allowing third party candidates to participate in the debates. In 1980 the League invited Congressman John Anderson to join Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in the debates.

Anderson was given a boost from the public debates. At one point the polls had him at 21%. He won 7% of the vote.

When Jesse Ventura ran for Governor in Minnesota he was polling at 10 percent in the polls before the debates. After ten statewide debates he rose to 38 percent and won a 3-way race.

The Commission on Presidential Debates took a different tack from the League of Women Voters.

This Commission/corporation has excluded Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan from the debates.

In 1996 Ross Perot was excluded from the debates. Even with all his money and after having won nearly 19 percent of the vote in 1992 it was determined that he did not have "a chance to win," despite the fact that he even led in the polls at one point in 1992.

Walter Cronkite called the presidential debates under the CPD an "unconscionable fraud" because the CPD format "defies meaningful discourse."

In early years the CPD determined who could be in a debate by vague criteria including interviews with columnists, pollsters and consultants who determined whether a candidate could win.

In the year 2000, the CPD changed their criteria for third party and independent candidates -- a candidate now needed 15 percent or more support as measured by the average of five private polling organizations -- which just happen to be owned by several major newspaper and television conglomerates.

In 2000, Ralph Nader was excluded from the debates because the parent corporations that conduct these polls were giving him scant attention.

Without the mainstream media attention there is no moving up, and without moving up, candidates like Nader do not get into the debates and reach tens of millions of people.

In 2000, a Fox poll revealed that 64% of likely voters wanted to see ‘other candidates’ including Ralph Nader in the debates.

Other polls in 2004 showed similar results.

But it didn't happen, thanks to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Independents voices and third party candidates, including the Abolitionist, Women’s Suffrage Movement, Worker Protection, and Farmer Populace Party, have brought about many of the major changes in this country.

When Abraham Lincoln ran for office, the two major parties were the Whigs and the Democrats.

As a Republican, Lincoln was elected as a third party candidate -- even after being left off the ballot in the 11 states that seceded from the Union.

In 2004, 17 national civic leaders from the left, center and right of political spectrum - including Paul Weyrich, Chellie Pingree of Common Cause, Alan Keyes, Tom Gerety of the Brennan Center for Justice, Bay Buchanan, Randall Robinson, former FEC General Counsel Larry Noble, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and Jehmu Green of Rock the Vote - created the Citizens' Debate Commission.

Bolstered by an advisory board comprised of 60 diverse civic groups, the Citizens' Debate Commission goal is to sponsor presidential debates that serves the American people, not political parties, first.


Open Debates
No Debate by George Farah

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Adopt a carbon pollution tax

The best science tells us that the planet is heating up at a rate that, over the next century, will bring disruption to economic and social activity on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.

While the climate is a complex system, there is a simple reason why it is changing so quickly. It is because we use the atmosphere as a free dumping ground for billions of tons of greenhouse gases annually, six billion of which come from the US alone.

We simply cannot stem the free flow of greenhouse gases (GHG) without making them more expensive to emit. If we must pay to pollute, we will opt to pollute less.

Nader/Gonzalez proposes a straightforward carbon tax—set to annual benchmarks to bring, with the expansion of solar energy, US emissions to at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

A phased in initial price of $50 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions would harness $300 billion annually—money that would be put back in the pockets of American taxpayers, and money that would finance a green industrial revolution, providing a boon of 10 million new green collar jobs (in efficiency retrofits, cogeneration, geothermal, solar energy generation, and green grid enhancements) in the first five years.

The carbon tax will be most efficiently levied at carbon bottlenecks, the key points where flows of carbon are the most concentrated—trunk pipelines for gas, refineries for oil, railroad heads for coal, LNG terminals, cement, steel, aluminum, and GHG-intensive chemical plants.

Because carbon is such a pervasive substance, any one country that tries to put a serious price on carbon alone would face the risk of driving its carbon intensive companies and jobs overseas to other jurisdictions that opt to give their companies a free ride on carbon costs.

In order to be fair and effective, the only way that a meaningful price on carbon works is if there is one single globally accepted price. In other, words, if we don’t have the same price on carbon everywhere, it won’t work very well anywhere.

After a long period of obstructing global progress to protect our climate, it is time for the U.S. government to assume the mantle of global leadership to broker a global climate treaty covering all major emitters.

Winning the confidence of the developing nations will require deft diplomacy.

Planting a Global Climate Compact in the foundation of a universal polluter pays principle will minimize the chance for countries to become carbon-pollution havens, while providing developing countries with time and money to tackle GHG reductions in a way that they can accept.


Carbon Tax Center

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Reverse U.S. policy in the Middle East

Nader/Gonzalez would reverse the current policy in the Middle East.

The current political strategy of pre-emptive war in the Middle East is a disaster for both the American people and the people of the Middle East. It has bloated the already wasteful military budget and has cost at present over 4,000 American lives, nearly 100,000 American injuries, and over a million Iraqi civilian lives, plus the destruction of their country.

Nader/Gonzalez propose a rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

A target of withdrawing troops in six months will be set.

Fifty-eight percent of Americans want troops withdrawn from Iraq and a January 2006 poll shows that 72 percent of American soldiers in the field in Iraq wanted the U.S. out of Iraq within six to twelve months.

The war is costing taxpayers nearly $4,600 every second -- and that doesn't include the long-term reconstruction costs.

Nader/Gonzalez proposes that a rapid negotiated withdrawal from Iraq, with UN sponsored elections, is the first step toward delivering peace to Middle East.

On Israel/Paleastine, a recent Haaretz poll showed that 64 percent of Israeli people want negotiations for peace between Israel and Hamas, while only 28% oppose it.

The Israeli people want peace. The Palestinian people want peace.

All kinds of people to people peace groups are forming in Israel and Palestine.

Among them:

• The Combatants for Peace – fighters on both sides of the divide who have put down their guns to join together for a non-violent solution.
• The Bereaved Families for Peace – the brave Israelis and Palestinians who have lost a loved one to the conflict and who are joining together to seek a non-violent solution.
• The Arab-American and Jewish Americans who have stood up courageously together for a non-violent solution to the unending conflict.

And of course, the majority of the American Jewish community want peace.

By a 46-to-43 percent plurality American Jews continue to support the creation of a Palestinian state. Other polls show even higher support, among Jewish Americans, for a two-state solution.

Instead, both Democrats and Republicans reflexively support the militarists in Israel.

Israel has militarily occupied Gaza for forty years. It pulled out its colonies in 2005 but maintained an iron grip on the area -- controlling all access, including its airspace and territorial waters.

Its F-16s and helicopter gunships regularly shred more and more of the areas’ public works, its neighborhoods and inflict collective punishment on civilians in violation of Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Israeli government's blockade of Gaza prevents critical food, medicine, fuel, electricity and other necessities from coming into this tiny enclave through international relief organizations.

The resulting humanitarian crisis is received with predictable silence or callousness by members of Congress, including John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Nader/Gonzalez will continue to speak out about this humanitarian crisis and side with the strong and courageous Israeli/Palestinian peace movements who are working for a peaceful two-state solution.


Washington Reporter on Middle East Affairs
Encounter Point
Palestine: Peace not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter
Jewish Voice for Peace

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Impeach Bush/Cheney

Prominent Constitutional law experts believe President Bush has engaged in at least five categories of repeated, defiant “high crimes and misdemeanors”, which separately or together would allow Congress to subject the President to impeachment under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution. The sworn oath of members of Congress is to uphold the Constitution. Failure of the members of Congress to pursue impeachment of President Bush is an affront to the founding fathers, the Constitution, and the people of the United States.

In addition to a criminal war of aggression in Iraq, in violation of our constitution, statutes and treaties, there are the arrests of thousands of Americans and their imprisonment without charges, the spying on Americans without juridical warrant, systematic torture, and the unprecedented wholesale, defiant signing statements declaring that the President, in his unbridled discretion, is the law. No man is the law. Never in our country’s history have we seen the rule by fiat as we have seen under the outlaw rule of Bush.

In 2005, a plurality of the American people polled declared that they would favor impeachment of President Bush if it was shown that he did not tell the truth about the reasons for going to War in Iraq. Congress should use its authority to officially determine what President Bush knew before going to war in Iraq.

Congressional files and retrieval systems are bulging with over-whelming evidence behind all these five categories. Constitutional duty combined with the available evidence requires the action of Congress. Inaction by Congress -- its Senators and Representatives -- amounts to the suppression of that evidence from constitutional implementation and the erosion of the constitution.

When the Democrats were heading for a net election gain in 2006 in the House of Representatives, many observers of presidential accountability entertained the hope that the House Judiciary Committee would hold hearings on an impeachment resolution. The people were disappointed. The next backup was the belief that there would an impeachment inquiry. The people were disappointed. The next lowered expectation backup was just a hearing on impeachment urged by several present and former Congressional collaborators. So far, we have seen nothing done by Congress. No wonder Congress enjoys the lowest approval rating in 33 years.

The fourth fallback by Congress was simply a hearing on the criminal and constitutional violations of Bush-Cheney by the House Judiciary Committee.

Former Senators George McGovern and James Abourezk, and Representatives Andy Jacobs and Paul Findley, along with Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City – all urged the House Judiciary to consider impeachment.

So far, the American people have seen no progress made by its Representatives.

Since January 2007 – the politically expedient option of doing nothing has triumphed.

Volumes can and will be written, about what can go down as the most serious abdication of impeachment responsibilities by a Congress in its history. No other president has committed more systemic, repeated impeachable offenses, with such serious consequences to this country, its people, to Iraq, its people and the security of this nation before, than George W. Bush.

James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and their colleagues had just these kinds of monarchical abuses and violations in their framework of anticipation.

Declarations by Bush on the somber occasion of the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq this past March 20, 2008 demonstrated his criminal, unconstitutional arrogance and his confidence that this Democratic Congress will continue to be cowed, continue its historic cowardliness, and continue to leave the American people without representation.

The Democratic Party has abandoned its critical role as an opposition Party in this and other serious matters.

More than two out of three polled Americans want out of Iraq, believing it was a costly mistake.

In a January 6, 2008 op-ed in The Washington Post, former Senator George McGovern joined these Americans and wrote an eloquently reasoned plea for the impeachment of George W. Bush.

Repeatedly during the past seven years, Mr. Bush has lectured the American people about “responsibility” and that actions with consequences must personal incur responsibility.

So, why does Congress not hold Mr. Bush accountable?

It is never too late to enforce the Constitution. It is never too late to uphold the rule of law. It is never too late to awaken the Congress to its sworn duties under the Constitution. But it will soon be too late to avoid the searing verdict of history when on January 21, 2009, George W. Bush escapes the justice that was never pursued by those in Congress so solely authorized to hold the President accountable.

Is this the massive Bush precedent we should send to our elected leaders who may be similarly tempted to establish themselves above and beyond the rule of law? Is this the message we should send to future elected leaders in Congress? Do nothing?


Why I Believe Bush Must Go by George McGovern
The National Coalition to Impeach Bush/Cheney
Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table /Off the table

Repeal the Taft-Hartley anti-union law

For sixty years, the American people have lived under the anti-union Taft Hartley law.

It's passage was a great blow to democracy.

The law was drafted by employers.

The law impedes employees' right to join together in labor unions, undermines the power of unions to represent workers' interests effectively, bans secondary boycotts and authorizes an array of anti-union activities by employers.

The political damage of Taft-Hartley was just as severe.

The law kicked off an era of red-baiting with the American labor movement which led to harmful internal division. A now-invalidated provision of Taft-Hartley required union leaders to sign anti-communist affidavits.

The Taft Hartley law sent a message to employers: It was OK to bust unions and deny workers their rights to collectively bargain.

Taft-Hartley entrenched significant executive tyranny in the workplace, with ramifications that are more severe today than ever.

Union membership is at historic 60-year lows, with only 8 percent of the private economy's workforce unionized.

Employer violations of labor rights are routine, and illegal firings of union supporters in labor organizing drives are at epidemic levels.

Nader/Gonzalez would abolish Taft-Hartley and not concede this monumental employer usurpation, during this period of giant multinational corporate power and massive job exports.

It is past time for the repeal of Taft-Hartley. That would be one important step in restoring workers right to organize into unions, achieve a living wage in the Wal-Marts, McDonald's and other workplaces, and in revitalizing American democracy.


Labor Notes

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Adopt a Wall Street securities speculation tax

Nader/Gonzalez favor a securities speculation tax.

Securities speculation -- buying and selling blocks of derivatives to profit from rapid fluctuations in price -- is one cause of the escalation in oil prices at the pump, the mortgage industry meltdown, and the bust.

A securities speculation tax would reduce speculation in the markets and increase stability.

Noble Prize winning economist James Tobin proposed a similar tax on currency transactions (The Tobin Tax).

As economist Dean Baker points out, the securities speculation tax would make the tax code more fair since most financial speculation is conducted either directly or indirectly by wealthy people.

"Just as poor and moderate income people pay taxes when they gamble at a casino or buy a state lottery ticket, a financial transactions tax would simply be applying a comparable tax to gambling in financial markets," Baker observed.

Nader/Gonzalez would apply the significant revenues raised by the securities speculation tax to the pressing needs of the American people, including lower income taxes on workers.


The Feasibility of a Unilateral Speculation Tax in the United States by Dean Baker

Nader / Obama / McCain
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:31 am


Put an end to ballot access obstructionism

Nader/Gonzalez favor one federal standard for federal ballot access in all of the states.

Right now, each state sets its own standards and third party and independent candidates must spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours for a chance to get on the ballots of the various states.

In some states, it is fairly simple to get on the ballot.

For example, in Louisiana, Nader/Gonzalez writes a check for $500, line up electors—and we’re on the ballot.

But that’s the exception.

Check out the requirements in these nightmare states: (And remember, we need to collect double the number required in each state because many are arbitrarily invalidated.)

• Texas, requires 74,108 valid signatures between March 5 and May 8. Deplorably, anyone who has voted in the primary cannot sign the petition.
• Oklahoma, requires 43,913 by July 15.
• North Carolina requires 69,743 by June 12. In 2000, it cost Pat Buchanan $250,000 to collect enough signatures for ballot access in that state.
• Indiana requires 32,742 by June 20.
• Georgia requires 42,489 by July 8th

Ballot access was much easier in the nineteenth century. Voters had more candidates and small parties to choose from. Ballot access is much, much easier in other Western democracies.

As a result small parties were able to pioneer the great social justice movements such as abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote, and protections for workers and farmers.

Currently, ballot obstruction can consume upwards of a quarter million dollars in a federal campaign’s budget to get on the ballot in one or more states.

Without candidates’ rights to be on the ballot—in a country where ninety percent of House districts are one-party dominated heavily due to gerrymandering—voters are becoming further disenfranchised.


Ballot Access News

Nader / Obama / McCain
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Work to end corporate personhood

In 1886 the Supreme Court, in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, was interpreted to have ruled that corporations were “persons”—before women were considered persons under the 19th amendment to have the right to vote.

Ever since, corporations have enjoyed most of the same constitutional rights granted to real people.

But corporations are not humans. They don’t vote. They don’t have children. They don’t die in Iraq.

The people who work for the corporations are of course real people, but the corporate “entity” should never be given equal constitutional rights to real human beings.

Even Business Week magazine, in a 2000 editorial, declared that “corporations should get out of politics.”

We cannot have equal justice under law between real people and corporations like Exxon Mobil.

Multinational corporations can be in 1000 places around the world at the same time obstructing governments, states, buying and renting politicians, and going to Washington to get bailed out by taxpayers.

Congress did not legislate corporate personhood. The courts performed this jolting display of runaway activism all by themselves.

The courts destroyed the semblance of equal protection under law because there is no way even an individual billionaire can approximate the raw power of these large corporations with their privileged immunities, and their control over technology, capital and labor.

Nader/Gonzalez will work to end corporate personhood.

Nader/Gonzalez will work to subordinate the artificial corporate entity to the constitutional sovereignty of the people.

Right now it is the reverse. The sovereignty of the people is subordinated to the sovereignty of the giant multinational corporations.

But the constitution still reads, “we the people”, not we the corporations.

Corporations were chartered in the early nineteenth century by state governments to be our servants, not our masters.

They are now are masters.

Time to restore the supremacy of real people.


Unequal Protection by Thom Hartmann
Taming the Giant Corporation
The Corporation
Center for Corporate Policy
Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy

Nader / Obama / McCain
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Shift the Power

To illustrate how little has changed in four years, other than conditions becoming worse, the 2008 Nader/Gonzalez campaign is posting these policy positions on various injustices, necessities, and redirections that were prepared initially for the 2004 Nader/Camejo campaign. Such a short historical context should give our supporters and viewers an even greater sense of urgency to stop the corporate interests' and the corporate governments' autocratic control -- and the resulting deterioration -- of our society and country.

Affirmative action


After more than 300 years of de facto affirmative action to benefit white males, we definitely need affirmative action for people of color and women to offset enduring historic wrongs as well as present day inequalities. Affirmative action programs should not be based on quotas. Race and gender should not be the predominant factor in choosing qualified applicants. A good affirmative action program uses a variety of methods to achieve the goal of increasing diversity, including using race and gender as one of many factors in evaluating the suitability of an applicant.

More structural solutions are required to promote economic and educational equality, including a long overdue and practical Marshall Plan to eliminate poverty in the United States, and an education-focused restitution trust fund.

However, affirmative action remains an important opportunity-enhancing tool, as Americans for a Fair Chance, a coalition of civil rights organizations, has demonstrated. At the federal level, authentic minority set-asides and affirmative-action arrangements are a modest way to support the growth of businesses owned and controlled by people of color. Affirmative action is a modest means for businesses to redress historic discrimination. Affirmative action at universities is an important tool to promote campus diversity and educational equality.

On June 23, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its landmark ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, concerning the admissions policies at the University of Michigan Law School. In a 5 to 4 decision, the majority ruled that student body diversity is a compelling state interest that can justify using race in university admissions. On the same day, in Gratz v. Bollinger, the Court ruled, in a 6 to 3 opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist, that the undergraduate university's use of race was too broad to achieve the university's asserted interest in diversity and needed to be recast.

The federal government should maintain its commitment to affirmative action -- even though such arrangements may violate the rules of the World Trade Organization binding on the US. We believe the WTO's powers to be unconstitutional. The Justice Department should intervene to oppose judicial rulings against affirmative action in higher education and other spheres.



American agriculture is being dominated by two contrary trends in the 21st Century. First, conventional family farm agricultural production is being destroyed by low prices and lack of market access due to mergers, acquisitions by big agribusinesses and their monopsony power over farmers. Second, there is a boom in more sustainable agricultural production and consumption due to increased consumer awareness and demand for healthy, fresh, and nutritious food. Federal policy must focus on the farm and food system as a continuum that provides many benefits. We must advance the production, marketing, use and disposal of food and fiber in accordance with consumer, environmental, worker and family farm standards of justice and sustainability. Additionally, we must challenge misallocation of resources caused by the growing concentration and wealth by agribusiness, chemical, biotechnology and financial corporations over the food and fiber economy. This entails shifting government policy to provide research and information relevant to independent food producers, organic farmers, insuring open and competitive markets, promoting new food infrastructures, and preventing pollution and degradation of natural resources.

Department of Agriculture Devolves into the Agribusiness Industry Department

Ralph Nader concurs with USDA, Inc.: How Agribusiness has Hijacked Regulatory Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report illustrates how an agency that President Lincoln once described as the "People's Department" has become the agency for Agribusiness over a series of Administrations during the last several decades supporting big corporate farming that destroys the environment, produces often unhealthy food, and undermines traditional farming, families, and their rural way of life.

USDA Inc. highlights what occurs in many federal agencies: appointees are representatives of industry and trade associations, their lawyers, and lobbyists. It is a prime example of how Washington, DC has become corporate-controlled territory. The Department of Agriculture epitomizes this big-business takeover of government. For example:

• Current USDA Secretary Ann Veneman previously served on the board of biotech company Calgene (later taken over by Monsanto)
• Veneman's Chief of Staff, Dale Moore, previously served as director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen's Association
• USDA Deputy Secretary James Moseley was a co-owner of a large factory farm in Indiana, Infinity Pork LLC
• Deputy Under Secretary Floyd Gaibler, was the executive director of the dairy industry-funded National Cheese Institute
• Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations Mary Waters was a senior director and legislative counsel for ConAgra Foods, one of the country's largest food processors.

The voices of consumers, environmentalists, and family farmers have been shut out. As a result of this agribusiness takeover, the short-term profits of a few economically powerful companies come before protection of the environment and the family farm, production of healthy food, and the interests of consumers. USDA has:

• Blocked Regulation for "Mad Cow Disease": USDA has resisted strict safety measures and testing procedures (recommended by most independent experts) and blocked efforts by meatpackers to install their own testing mechanisms, for fear that consumers might come to think meat from other meatpackers unsafe. USDA has also prevented country-of-origin labeling, preventing consumers from having information relevant to their food purchases, after a breakout of mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in Canada.
• Allowed Captive Supply in Meatpacking: Meatpacking is dominated by a handful of giant corporations, forcing ranchers into one-sided contracts favoring the packers. USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration is required to guard against anti-competitive practices but has looked the other way. GIPSA Administrator Donna Reifschneider previously served as president of the National Pork Producers Council.
• Weakened Meat Inspection Policies: Despite a resurgence of problems like E. coli bacteria, listeria, and other hazards, USDA has endorsed a watered-down version of the meat trade association proposal, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), while at the same time relying on the questionable procedure of irradiation for dealing with contamination.
• Advocated for Biotech Foods: USDA Secretary Veneman has been a strong advocate of biotech, vilifying critics, downplaying safety concerns by scientists, and falsely claiming that biotech's opponents are blocking solutions to world hunger. See USDA leaderhsip has continued the previous Administration's opposition to the overwhelming desire by consumers to have genetically engineered food products labeled in the supermarkets.
• Promoted "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations": Massive livestock facilities, which house and feed 1,000 or more animals in closely confined conditions, contribute greatly to agricultural pollution. These factory animal farms produce enormous quantities of manure, polluting water, air, and land. USDA has promoted factory animal farms with little concern for the impact on the environment or smaller farms. The official in charge of regulating these massive livestock facilities, Deputy Secretary James R. Moseley, was a partner in Infinity Pork LLC, a factory animal farm that raised 50,000 hogs annually.

The Nader Campaign endorses the proposals of the Organization for Competitive Markets:

• Re-appraisal of ethics rules, in order to prevent government officials from overseeing policies that directly affect the interest of their former employees
• Enhancement of Congressional oversight over regulatory appointees
• Independent evaluation of the viability of USDA's dual role as both a promoter of U.S. agricultural products and a regulator of food safety
• Further research on revolving-door conflicts-of-interest at USDA

The past and future financial interests of many regulators (who usually return to their industries) are getting in the way of effective legislation, effective regulation that advances protection of the environment, the public health, and a diverse farm economy. With each decade the perspectives of family farmers, consumers, and environmentalists are being increasingly shut out of USDA and being replaced by the destructive policies and demands of giant agribusiness corporations.

• For a PDF of the report: USDA, Inc.: How Agribusiness has Hijacked Regulatory Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, visit
• See also the Organization for Competitive Markets, at

Food Safety

The Nader campaign is concerned about food safety in the United States. Agribusiness has taken control of the Department of Agriculture, ramping up advocacy for biotech food and support for agribusiness production approaches, while weakening inspection policies and limiting regulation of food. At the same time, increased consumer awareness and demand for healthy, fresh, and nutritious food is resulting in the production of more healthy, organic foods.

Federal policy must focus on the farm and food system as a continuum that provides many benefits. We must advance the production, marketing, use, and disposal of food and fiber in accordance with consumer, environmental, worker, and family-farm standards of justice and sustainability. The Nader campaign favors shifting government policy to provide research and information relevant to independent food producers and organic farmers, thereby insuring open and competitive markets, promoting new food infrastructures, and preventing pollution and degradation of natural resources. We support the following campaigns of the Center for Food Safety (CFS):

• Genetically Engineered Food
• Food Irradation
• Mad Cow Disease
• Aquaculture
• rBGH/Hormones
• Sewage Sludge, and
• Organic Foods

These issues are described by the CFS below.

Genetically Engineered Crops

The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Already, this novel technology has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops.

By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, "super" pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment.

Currently, up to 40 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as is 80 percent of soybeans. It has been estimated that upwards of 60 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves--from soda to soup, crackers to condiments--contain genetically engineered ingredients.

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.

Despite these long-term and wide-ranging risks, Congress has yet to pass a single law intended to manage them responsibly. This despite the fact that our regulatory agencies have failed to adequately address the human health or environmental impacts of genetic engineering. On the federal level, eight agencies attempt to regulate biotechnology using 12 different statutes or laws that were written long before genetically engineered food, animals and insects became a reality. The result has been a regulatory tangle, where any regulation even exists, as existing laws are grossly manipulated to manage threats they were never intended to regulate. Among many bizarre examples of these regulatory anomalies is the current attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate genetically engineered fish as "new animal drugs." Yet, at the same time, the FDA claims it has no jurisdiction over genetically engineered pet fish like the Glofish.

The haphazard and negligent agency regulation of biotechnology has been a disaster for consumers and the environment. Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled genetically engineered foods, despite a finding by FDA scientists that these foods could pose serious risks. And new genetically engineered crops are being approved by federal agencies despite admissions that they will contaminate native and conventional plants and pose other significant new environmental threats. In short, there has been a complete abdication of any responsible legislative or regulatory oversight of genetically engineered foods. Clearly, now is a critical time to challenge the government's negligence in managing the human health and environmental threats from biotechnology.

CFS seeks to halt the approval, commercialization or release of any new genetically engineered crops until they have been thoroughly tested and found safe for human health and the environment. CFS maintains that any foods that already contain genetically engineered ingredients must be clearly labeled. Additionally, CFS advocates the containment and reduction of existing genetically engineered crops.


Mad Cow Disease

For over 30 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have been flirting with a mad cow disease epidemic. The public has largely been kept in the dark about regulatory decisions leading toward this potential public health catastrophe and even about the dangers associated with eating contaminated meat and meat products. Recently, some of the glaring deficiencies in the regulation of the U.S. meat production system were revealed when a cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in Washington.

Mad cow disease, or BSE, belongs to a group of related brain-wasting diseases known as "transmissible spongiform encephalopathies" (TSEs). While TSEs are known to occur spontaneously, they also are spread through cattle herds by feeding infected nervous system tissue to other animals. Beginning in the 1970s, the meat rendering industry began processing dead, dying, disabled, and diseased animals for use in livestock feed--and pet feed--as a way to increase the protein consumption of cattle, pigs, sheep, and poultry (cattle can get the disease by eating less than one gram of diseased meat and bone meal fed to them as a protein source). Consequently, these quasi-cannibalistic feeding practices quickly spread the fatal TSE diseases, resulting in hundreds of thousands of diseased animals, some of which ended up in the food supply in Britain and Europe. Over 140 people in Britain have been infected with vCJD from contaminated beef.

Humans who eat contaminated beef products are at risk of contracting the human version of mad cow disease known as new variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (vCJD). The disease slowly eats holes in the brain over a matter of years, turning it sponge-like, and invariably results in death. There is no known cure, treatment, or vaccine for TSE diseases.

Tissue from infected cows' central nervous systems (including brain or spinal cord) is the most infectious part of a cow. Such tissue may be found in hot dogs, taco fillings, bologna and other products containing gelatin, and ground or chopped meat. The process of stripping every last piece of meat from a cow carcass, including connective tissue from bone, can contaminate this meat with infected nervous system tissue. Transmission of vCJD between people has also occurred in over two-dozen cases as a result of transplants or injections of body tissue from infected people.

Despite the adoption of additional safeguards following the discovery of mad cow in the United States, the FDA still allows the risky practice of recycling animal offal into feed: ruminant animals (cattle, sheep, goats, deer) are fed to non-ruminants (pigs and poultry), and these non-ruminants are rendered and fed back to ruminants. Such practices are banned in Britain and Europe. Also, in spite of the wake-up call the FDA and the USDA recently received, only a small percentage of slaughtered or soon-to-be slaughtered cows are tested for BSE in the U.S. By contrast, Britain tests 70 percent of its beef cattle and Japan tests 100 percent.

So far, none of the vCJD cases diagnosed in the U.S. have been linked to domestically-produced beef, but this fact may have little bearing on the reality of the situation: the disease has a long incubation period and few dementia-related deaths in the U.S. are investigated. Creutzfeld-Jakob disease is not yet a reportable disease with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CFS seeks to make CJD a reportable disease so occurrences can be tracked, and to plug the loopholes that still exist in FDA and USDA regulations, i.e., require testing of all cattle over 20 months of age and ban all animal products from feed.


The farming of fish and seafood, often referred to as aquaculture, is the fastest growing sector of the world food production industry--and one of the fastest growing threats to our water environments and native species. More than 100 fresh and marine water species are farm-raised in open-water net pens, land-locked ponds and fully enclosed land-based systems. Rapidly increasing demand for fish and fish products has outpaced our regulatory agencies' ability to manage emerging environmental and human health threats from the burgeoning aquaculture industry. The exponential growth in the industry has created enormous pressure on fresh water and marine environments and native, non-farmed species. In the absence of minimal state and national regulatory standards, this country's 4,000 aquaculture facilities are largely left to their own designs.

The environmental problems arising from the industry are altering the biodiversity of entire ecosystems. Some of the impacts include the introduction of non-native farmed fish species that diminish or replace indigenous fish populations; the propagation of deadly fish diseases; and the over-fishing of vast quantities of non-commercial fish to feed carnivorous farmed fish, such as salmon. Yet fish are not the only organisms affected--federally protected marine mammals and birds are continually harmed by entanglement in net pens and by the concentration of harmful wastes and industrial drugs and chemicals escaping into open waters.

Consumption of aquaculture-bred fish is raising serious human health and food safety concerns as well (almost all the catfish and trout, and close to half the salmon and shrimp sold in the U.S. are raised in aquaculture facilities). Farmed fish often receive large doses of antibiotics to protect them from disease and are exposed to a variety of pesticides used to kill parasites and body fungi--all of which accumulate in the fish's tissues.

CFS is working to activate and educate federal agencies, consumers, chefs, grocers, fish retailers and legislators on the need to protect seafood consumers and our water environments from the dangers posed by existing aquaculture practices.


With little regard for the cows or the humans that eventually eat them, the beef industry pumps growth hormones into upwards of 80 percent of beef cattle raised in the U.S. each year. These hormones are intended to boost growth rates and increase body mass--think cows on steroids. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not allow producers to treat chickens or pigs with hormones, the agency does permit the practice for cattle and sheep.

In addition to hormones used to increase milk production (see rBGH), there are six hormones approved for use in beef cattle. Two of these hormones, estradiol and zeranol, are likely to have negative human health effects, including cancer and impacts on child development, when their residues are present in meat. Concerns about these potential health impacts have left many scientists doubtful of the safety of hormone use in meat production.

The negative environmental impact of hormones entering waterways from livestock feedlots also is cause for alarm. Researchers have found that fish can exhibit significant effects from this pollution, e.g., females begin to exhibit male characteristics, and vice versa, in areas of high hormone concentrations.

The European Union has criticized the use of hormones in meat production since the 1980s due to strong concerns about their safety. The EU prohibited the use of hormones for non-therapeutic purposes in 1985, and banned the importation of U.S. beef in 1988 to avoid importing hormone-treated meat. Since then, there has been a heated dispute between the United States and the EU over the ban, and, in a 1999 ruling, the World Trade Organization (WTO) decided in favor of the US. However, in April of that year, the EU's Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health (SCVPH) released a report indicating that the use of the six growth hormones posed a risk to consumers. The EU ban remains in place.

Sewage Sludge

Every time you flush your toilet or clean a paintbrush in your sink, you may be unwittingly contributing fertilizer used to grow the food in your pantry. Beginning in the early 1990s, millions of tons of potentially-toxic sewage sludge have been applied to millions of acres of America's farmland as food crop fertilizer. Selling sewage sludge to farmers for use on cropland has been a favored government program for disposing of the unwanted byproducts from municipal wastewater treatment plants. But sewage sludge is anything but the benign fertilizer the Environmental Protection Agency says it is.

Sewage sludge includes anything that is flushed, poured, or dumped into our nation's wastewater system--a vast, toxic mix of wastes collected from countless sources, from homes to chemical industries to hospitals. The sludge being spread on our crop fields is a dangerous stew of heavy metals, industrial compounds, viruses, bacteria, drug residues, and radioactive material. In fact, hundreds of people have fallen ill after being exposed to sewage sludge fertilizer--suffering such symptoms as respiratory distress, headaches, nausea, rashes, reproductive complications, cysts, and tumors.

The compounds added and formed during the sewage treatment process create an unknown and unpredictable product, one that should fall under the category of hazardous waste. Monitoring and regulating the content of these dangerous combinations has fallen terrifyingly short of protecting public health and the environment. Currently, no records are kept on the date or location of these lethal land applications, allowing these toxins to enter the soil of our nation's cropland untraced.

Despite the apparent danger of using sludge in food production, federal regulations are woefully lax. The EPA monitors only nine of the thousands of pathogens commonly found in sludge; the agency rarely performs site inspections of sewage treatment plants; and it almost never inspects the farms that use sludge fertilizer. Regulations governing the use and disposal of sewage sludge have been criticized by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Research Council, as well as numerous medical professionals, engineers, and activists.

CFS seeks to end the use of sewage sludge as an agricultural fertilizer--first through an immediate moratorium on its application to croplands. CFS strongly suggests that the government launch an independent investigation into all specific claims that sludge has caused harm to people, animals, and the environment.


Organic and Beyond

An historic struggle is currently raging in this country over the future of food in the 21st century. A grassroots movement for organic, ecological and humane food is now challenging the decades-long dominance of "industrial" corporate-controlled agribusiness. While industrial agriculture still dominates our crop fields and supermarkets, organic agriculture is now expanding faster than any other sector in U.S. food production. It is now a $9 billion industry growing at 20 percent per year. Moreover, thousands of farmers and producers are even pushing beyond organic to establish food production systems that are locally based, humane, and socially just and that encourage biodiversity.

Despite organic agriculture's positive growth, it has reached a critical juncture in its struggle for a more sustainable food future. On October 21, 2002, national organic standards became law. While these standards are worthy of celebration, they are not the final word in the protection and promotion of organic food systems.

Unfortunately, the future of organic food is in the hands of an Administration and a regulatory agency -- the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) -- that are backed by powerful agribusiness interests, all of which are openly hostile to the organic and beyond alternative. In less than a year from passage, the Bush administration has sought to seriously undermine the national organic standards in a number of significant ways, including creating numerous potential loopholes that would allow placing unacceptable chemical materials on a list of substances approved for organic use; a number of unapproved additives to be used in processing organic foods; eliminating outdoor access requirements for poultry; eliminating the requirement that livestock feed be 100 percent organic; and forcing small-scale, farmer-based organic certifiers out of the program. If the Bush administration's current policies are continued, the integrity of all organic food could be fatally compromised, and this crucial alternative to industrial agriculture would be lost.

CFS seeks to maintain strong organic standards that live up to the quality and integrity that consumers expect from organic foods while evolving the ethic by promoting agriculture that is local, small-scale and family operated, biologically diverse, humane, and socially just. The ultimate goal of the Organic & Beyond campaign is to replace the industrial agriculture model with a new vision of farming with the natural world.

Hemp: A Plant that is Consistent with a Sustainable Future

In September 2004, the Bush Administration decided that it will not appeal to the US Supreme Court a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision (February 6, 2004), Hemp Industries Association v. DEA. The decision allowed the sale and consumption of hemp food products in the United States. Three years ago the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a rule attempting to ban hemp food products. For more information on the decision, visit:

Nader's Position on Hemp

Ralph Nader supports industrial hemp as a renewable resource with many important fuel, fiber, food, paper and other uses. Industrial hemp is a commercial crop grown for its seed and fiber and the products made from them such as oil, seed cake, and hurds (stalk cores). Industrial hemp is one of the longest and strongest fibers in the plant kingdom, and it has thousands of potential uses. In need of alternative crops and aware of the growing market for industrial hemp - particularly for biocomposite products such as automobile parts, farmers in the United States are forced to watch from the sidelines while Canadian, French and Chinese farmers grow the crop and American manufacturers import it from them. Federal legislators, meanwhile, continue to ignore the issue. They have failed to hold a hearing or introduce a bill that would remove industrial hemp from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration list of illicit substances. The United States should implement a licensing system, similar to the one that Canada has in place, that ensures only legitimate farmers are allowed to grow industrial hemp from seeds certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The certified seeds would guarantee that the psychoactive substance in the plant is so low that it has no effect (analogous to the negligible amount of psychoactive material in poppy seeds).

Grown in rotation, industrial hemp increases the yields of future crops grown on the same field. Because it is weed resistant, hemp production is less reliant on herbicides, and because it is naturally bright, paper made from hemp requires no chlorine bleach, which produces environmental toxins, in addition to its rail transportation risks.

As a fast-growing plant, it can be a good candidate for biobased fuel blends, helping to minimize our reliance on petroleum. This is why James Woolsey, former head of the CIA strongly supports legalizing industrial hemp agriculture. It is already making automobiles more sustainable by replacing toxic and difficult to recycle glass-filled car parts.

One of the most promising technologies to come from the hemp plant is bio-composites -- plastics reinforced with natural fiber. Already, more than 2 million automobiles made in the United States by Ford and DaimlerChrysler contain interior parts made from hemp fiber. These parts are lighter, cost less to manufacture and recycle more easily than conventional fiberglass-reinforced parts. Although they are the most promising large market for industrial hemp, biocomposite automobile parts are not the only products that could rely heavily on industrial hemp. If a domestic supply of industrial hemp were available, Interface, Inc., the largest commercial carpet company in the world said it would produce industrial hemp carpets. And, the clothing manufacturer Patagonia would be able to use domestically produced hemp rather than hemp from China. Other opportunities for industrial hemp use exist in the beauty products, clothing and paper markets.

Hemp seed is one of the very few significant dietary sources for omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid, which is chronically deficient in the American diet. Alternative sources for omega 3 are increasingly important as fish and fish oil supplements. These traditional omega 3 sources, have been found to be contaminated in many cases with unhealthy levels of mercury and other environmental contaminants.

The U.S. government is waging an expensive and unnecessary war against industrial hemp. In 1999, the U.S. Customs Service seized a shipment of hemp seed from Canada, intended for use as bird feed. The New York Times called this "one of the more bizarre episodes of Washington's campaign to curb illicit drug use." In October, 2001, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a rule banning the sale of foods produced from industrial hemp. The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) sued to force the DEA to rescind its rule, and last February they won their case in a unanimous 3-0 decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a continuing waste of taxpayer money, however, the U.S. Department of Justice has petitioned for a rehearing of the HIA v. DEA decision by the full Ninth Circuit, asserting that the three-judge panel misread the law.

In March 1998 a petition was filed with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Agriculture by a coalition of farmers, businesses, environmental groups and others seeking the enactment of regulations permitting the domestic production of a crop known as industrial hemp. Groups petitioning included Essential Information, Resource Conservation Alliance, AHA - Vote/ American Hemp Association, The Body Shop, Co-op America, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Joe American Horse, North American Industrial Hemp Council, Patagonia Inc., Penokee Mountain Products Co., Preston Parish, Farmer, Rainforest Action Network, Real Goods, Rethink Paper, Tierra Madre Co., Neal Jorgenson, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, U. of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin Agribusiness Council, Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives, Wisconsin Fertilizer and Chemical Association, Wisconsin Industrial Hemp Initiative, Wisconsin National Farmers Organization, Ohio Hempery, Deep E Co. Interface Inc. Without addressing the substance of the issue the DEA denied the petition during both Clinton and Bush II administrations.

Even more shameful is the government's ongoing assault on First Native American sovereignty in the persecution of Alex White Plume for growing industrial hemp on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota in accordance with Oglala Sioux Ordinance No. 98-27, under which growing hemp is legal and growing marijuana is not. In 2000 the DEA raided South Dakota's prime ridge Indian reservation, near the Black Hills. The DEA used helicopters and agents spread across White Plume's property on the Pine Ridge Reservation to uproot the growing plants. These Native Americans were trying to eek out a living in an area that is one of the poorest in the nation with a per capita income of one-quarter the nation's average. The Lakota claim they have the right to grow hemp on their land under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty that encouraged the Oglala to take up farming as a way to end their nomadic travels across the plains. The treaty gave each family the right to take up to 320 acres for farming, and promised free seeds and supplies.

U.S. farmers, universities, and workers should be allowed to benefit from the research development of bio-composites and from the other outcomes of growing industrial hemp in the United States. These benefits can only be realized with reasonable regulations.

More and more state legislatures are recognizing the importance of hemp as a cash crop. State laws concerning research on the use of hemp, the economic impact of hemp and decriminalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp have been passed in Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia. For a detailed review of legislative activity on hemp see:

There are a lot of companies, large and small, involved in importing hemp and hemp products in the U.S. Among them are Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Johnson Controls, Wal-Mart, Michaels, The Body Shop, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Living Tree Paper Company, and the list goes on and on with all kinds of manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and Mom & Pop's. See for a listing of members of the Hemp Industries Association. The North American Industrial Hemp Council, a trade association, is made up a variety of corporations including International Paper, Booz Allen Hamilton, Interface Research Corp., as well as government officials, academics and researchers to advocate for hemp production in the United States. See

Hemp has long been demonized by the DEA, other government agencies, and non-governmental organizations to advance their dragnet agendas -- and their budgets -- to the detriment of legitimate U.S. businesses and consumers. In September, 2003 the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture passed a resolution urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to "collaboratively develop and adopt an official definition of industrial hemp that comports with definitions currently used by countries producing hemp." The Canadian Mounties, the British Bobbies, and the French Gendarmes have all found a way to address the law enforcement issues associated with industrial hemp while allowing their country's farmers to grow and profit from the crop. U.S. law enforcement officials should be able to adopt similar reasonable standards.

For additional information on the hemp food ban and industrial hemp in general, visit:

• The Hemp Food Industry Association
• Vote Hemp
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