The sight of Democrats rushing to condemn Ralph Nader has become comical. Nader, it seems, has based his campaign upon the central message of the Democratic Party — socialism at any price — but instead of praising him, Democrats heap abuse upon his head. The New York Times declares Nader’s candidacy to be "ego driven," (Gee, aren’t nearly all political campaigns driven by ego?) while the Washington Post pleads with Nader that there REALLY ARE differences between George Bush and Al Gore and a vote for Nader is really a vote for Bush.
Nader, of course, is not accepting that argument. Both the Democrats and Republicans are tools of "corporate interests," he declares, and he is out to truly reform America into the socialist nation that he believes it should become. A large number of young people and disaffected Perot voters also seem to be buying Nader’s candidacy, and he remains a real threat to take votes away from Gore in states that have large numbers of electoral votes. That, not Nader’s ideology, truly has the Democrats worried. In fact, the Gore campaign currently is trying to convince Nader’s people that Gore really is "one of them" and would be glad to implement nearly the entire Nader agenda if only those evil Republicans would allow him to do so.
Of course, the real problem with Ralph Nader is not his campaign. We should have more than two people running for President of the United States. (I, for one, plan to vote for Harry Browne.) Nader’s real problem is that his agenda is absolutely destructive. Ralph Nader is nothing more than a fascist totalitarian that seeks to create what would be one of the most repressive political regimes in history. That, not how many electoral votes he may take from Al Gore, is why this man is and has been a real threat to our freedom.
The Nader message goes as follows: Business corporations are creating products that harm all of us, they are polluting our air, water, and ground, and they deny us the true spiritual benefits of life. Those corporations are also buying politicians who blindly do the will of their evil masters bent upon enslaving all of us and doing us irreparable harm. The only way to stop them is to either regulate them into oblivious or seize their property outright. At the same time, the government must outlaw large numbers of products or use taxation and other restrictions to discourage people from purchasing them.
Take coffee, for example. While many of Nader’s supporters in places like Seattle like to discuss the Greatness of Their Candidate over coffee, Nader himself has said that coffee is a poison foisted upon us by vicious corporations. The only way to deal with coffee, in Nader’s view, is to outlaw it, and the same goes for cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. So while Nader supporters believe that they are part of a movement to "rein in evil corporations," actually they are part of a movement to deprive themselves of things that they enjoy.
Of course, who can forget what catapulted Nader onto the national scene, that being his war against the automobile industry. Beginning with his collection of falsehoods, entitled Unsafe at Any Speed, which was an unjust attack upon the Chevrolet Corvair, Nader was able to portray the automobile industry as a collection of evil monopolists who were trying to dream up new ways of killing their customers.
Nader’s "greatest" achievement in his war against automobile firms has been his successful crusade to force manufacturers to install dangerous air bags. While air bags have saved some lives, other lives have been snuffed — especially those of small children — because the air bag itself explodes at a dangerous rate of speed.
In fact, if one listens to Nader, one gets the impression that businesses do nothing but pollute and kill people. In the World of Nader, none of the products made by U.S. companies have any social use at all, as they are either dangerous or useless (in his opinion).
Let us now look at a nation in which Nader were in control. (Assume Nader were elected president and was able to use dictatorial powers to achieve whatever he wanted.) First, and most important, the private automobile would be outlawed, leaving all of us either to walk or use crowded public transportation. Since trucks and other forms of transportation using internal combustion engines would also be outlawed, prices for goods (the few things Ralph would allow us to buy) would also be frightfully expensive.
It does not take a genius to realize that our worlds would be turned upside down. In order to keep us from clandestinely purchasing things like tobacco and coffee, Ralph would have to increase the vast police powers of the state. In short, a Ralph Nader world would be one of great material and spiritual deprivation. Mass starvation would follow within a relatively short time as crops would fail (fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides would be outlawed) and what was grown would not be able to be promptly harvested and delivered to markets.
Furthermore, we would see an increase in infant mortality and diseases, including sicknesses like malaria, yellow fever, cholera, and a host of other illnesses that had long disappeared from our society. Within a brief time, the United States would become a large Third-World nation.
For those who believe this assessment of a Nader presidency to be too harsh, remember just what our modern, industrial society has produced. The high standards of living that so many of us enjoy have not just happened. They are the results of a highly productive industrial economy that has come about because of institutions like private property and free markets, both of which Nader openly despises and would destroy if given the chance.
We have seen this past century what has happened to societies that abandoned private property and free markets. Famines, wars, oppression, and outright deprivation have been the norm of these societies. Nader’s plans would be just as disastrous.
The tragedy of the Nader campaign is not that he will take votes from Al Gore and possibly tip the election to George Bush. No, the real tragedy is that Nader represents a philosophy of government that is downright destructive to humanity, yet is embraced by so many. The Democrats and their allies have chosen to attack Nader because of the political threat he presents to Gore. That they choose to support his message of fascist totalitarianism tells us volumes about what these folks really believe and what they would do to the rest of us if only given a chance.
William L. Anderson, Ph.D., is assistant professor of economics at North Greenville College in Tigerville, South Carolina. He is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.