WYSO

Best of the Book Nook: Crashing the Party, by Ralph Nader

Jun 10, 2019

The presidential contest in 2000 came down to a photo finish between Al Gore and George W. Bush. It was too close to call. The candidate who was awarded the electoral votes for the state of Florida would be declared the winner. The results in Florida were unclear and in dispute. The eventual declaration that Bush had won was finally decided weeks after the election when the matter was finally referred to the Supreme Court. Judge Antonin Scalia cast the key vote that tipped the election to the Republicans. This probably haunted Al Gore since he had voted to confirm Scalia when the conservative jurist was nominated.

Ralph Nader was the Green Party presidential candidate in 2000. Some Gore supporters tried to make the case that the many votes that went to Nader had cost Al Gore the election. I interviewed Ralph Nader two years later and he was far from contrite. In fact he pointed out that when Scalia had been nominated Nader had encouraged Gore to vote against seating Scalia on the court. Those were different times. Scalia was chosen with virtually no opposition or critical comment and that certainly came back to bite Al Gore.

At the time Nader published "Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender" the long-time progressive and consumer advocate was hopeful that after the Enron scandal of that time period that the unbridled power of corporations could be checked. 17 years later things are headed in the opposite direction under President Trump as some of the largest and most profitable corporations in America don't even pay income tax. Then there's campaign finance reform; again, Nader was hopeful that reform was possible. The rightward drift in the Supreme Court under George W. Bush and now Donald Trump has occasioned judicial decisions that have taken campaign finance reform in the opposite direction with a deluge of money pouring into campaigns and political action committees.

Meanwhile Ralph Nader keeps fighting the good fight. When you listen to this interview try to recall when we could feel optimistic about progressive reforms. Nader continues his battle to defend ideals upon which our nation was founded.

The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro LibraryWright Memorial Public Library, and Microsun Lamps.