Nader-Buchanan 2000
George Szamuely
New York Press


On winning the Reform Party nomination – assuming he does so – Pat Buchanan should immediately offer Ralph Nader an electoral pact. There does not have to be a formal merger of the Reform and Green parties. But Nader and Buchanan should be on the same ticket.

Who should be the presidential nominee of this Green/Reform coalition? My preference would be for Buchanan. But since Nader currently leads him in the polls, perhaps he deserves to get the nod. However, in return for agreeing to be his runningmate, Buchanan must insist on also being named secretary of state in a Nader administration. A radical administration needs a radical foreign policy. Buchanan has already pledged: "If elected, I will have all U.S. troops out of the Balkan quagmire by year’s end, and all American troops home from Europe by the end of my first term."

A tremendous surge of enthusiasm will undoubtedly greet this electoral alliance. A Nader/Buchanan ticket should have no problems reaching the 15-percent poll support necessary to get into the presidential debates. It is a shame, though, that only one of the two will be able to take part in the debates, while the other is relegated to the vice-presidential contest.

A Nader/Buchanan electoral pact makes a lot of sense. If its support surpasses Ross Perot’s 19 percent of the vote in 1992 – as it almost certainly will – then there is a real prospect of a dramatic realignment of American politics. The ticket should function smoothly. Buchanan and Nader are personally compatible and agree on many issues. To be sure, they disagree on abortion. But Buchanan and Nader hold astonishingly similar views on the condition of American culture. "Through television, the Internet stores, samples and mailings," according to Nader, "companies convey their message to the little ones. They teach them how to crave junk food, thrill to violent and pornographic programming, interact with the virtual reality mayhem. The marketeers are keenly aware of the stages of child psychologies, age by age, and know how to turn many into Pavlovian specimens powered by spasmodically shortened attention spans as they become ever more remote from their own family." Nothing much there for Buchanan to dispute.

On the economy, Buchanan and Nader have been almost alone in pointing out how few benefits most Americans have derived from those spectacular economic growth rates and surging Dow Jones index that media hacks endlessly crow about. "We’ve had 10 years of economic growth," says Nader, "but the majority of the workers are making less today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than they made in 1973 or ’79." The minimum wage, he points out, is lower than it was in 1973. American workers have to work longer hours to maintain their income levels. Here is Buchanan: "Seven years after NAFTA, there are 4000 fresh factories, most of them U.S. owned, in Mexico; and Mexico exports 10 times as many cars to the United States as we export to Mexico. What NAFTA was really all about was letting GM and Ford say adios to the USA..." The corporations are only concerned with shareholder value, which depends on ever-rising profits. They close down factories here and open them wherever there is cheap labor and no health, safety and environmental regulations to worry about.

On the causes and consequences of large-scale immigration into the United States Buchanan and Nader are of one mind: The corporations promote illegal immigration to drive down wages and increase their profit margins. But Nader takes the argument further: "I don’t think this country should be engaged in a brain drain of highly talented scientists and computer specialists from Third World country [sic] that desperately need them in order to bring them here instead of paying American specialists an adequate wage."

Unfortunately, while Buchanan demands strong government when it comes to trade and immigration, he seems surprisingly content to leave almost everything else to the vagaries of the free market. As a result, Nader’s description of the plight of working Americans often sounds far more trenchant. He speaks powerfully of Americans going to work "wondering who will take care of their elderly parents or their children, irritated by the endless traffic jams, stifled by their lack of rights in the corporate workplace, ripped off by unscrupulous sellers and large companies…beset by having to pay for health care [they] cannot afford." Nader calls for universal healthcare coverage, pointing out correctly that Europeans all have it without sacrificing quality or being forced to live in a police state.

On foreign policy, however, Pat Buchanan is clearly Nader’s superior. Where Buchanan is lucid and incisive, Nader burbles incomprehensibly about "preventive diplomacy" and rescuing the "languages of indigenous people." When he denounces the U.S. penchant for bombing and starving countries that do not toe Washington’s line, Buchanan’s is almost an isolated voice. "What is best for America and the world, they tell us, is that the United States should remain a superpower sheriff, the Wyatt Earp of the West, possessed of the sole right to deputize posses, or go it alone if necessary, to discipline evil-doers, wherever our ‘values’ are threatened," he noted sarcastically a few months ago. Buchanan has been eloquent in his attacks on the madness and cruelty of sanctions against Iraq, and has promised to bring the era of cruise missiles and sanctions to an end.

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All articles reprinted with permission from the New York Press

If Buchanan and Nader do not team up, they will end up in single digits in November – and as yesterday’s news. Whatever happened to Ross Perot?

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