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Ralph Nader: Calling a Third-Party Candidate a “Spoiler” is a “Politically Bigoted Word”

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In an extended discussion of the exclusion of third-party candidates from the first presidential election of 2016, four-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader argues against the need to vote for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in order to defeat Republican Donald Trump. He argues that instead voters opposed to both candidates should work together to support a third-party candidate of their choice. “The idea of calling a third party 'spoiler,' using the First Amendment right to run for office, is a politically bigoted word and should never be tolerated by the American people,” Nader says. When asked about critics who say his candidacy in 2000 allowed George W. Bush to defeat Al Gore, he says they are “scapegoating.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s talk about some of the issues you’re going to talk about—


AMY GOODMAN: —like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And I want to get your views on both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.


AMY GOODMAN: But before I do, who will you be voting for, Ralph Nader?

RALPH NADER: I never say who I vote for. I’m not—certainly, not going to vote for either Hillary or Trump. Listen, if I don’t have a third party to vote for, I’ll write in my vote. I will never vote for someone who is going to engage in illegal armed force, unconstitutional killing of innocent people, selling Washington to Wall Street and driving our country into the ground, all the time sugarcoating the American people on TV with rhetoric.

AMY GOODMAN: So the idea that some people have, that is very much pushed, about swing state strategy—


AMY GOODMAN: —you don’t agree with?

RALPH NADER: No, because it’s very easy. Let’s say you’re in a swing state, and you think that the least worst candidate is Hillary. What you do is you go with a Trump voter who thinks the Trump voter is the least, and you trade off. You say, “Look, you won’t vote for Trump, and I won’t vote for Hillary. Let’s make a deal, and then we’ll vote for whoever we want to in terms of our conscience, third party or whatever.” There are already computerized systems for this underway you can actually join and network, and that will get rid of that.

But what Bernie Sanders never talks about is, if we had proportional representation, instant runoff voting, all this spoiler stuff wouldn’t be around. And the idea of calling a third party “spoiler,” using the First Amendment right to run for office, is a politically bigoted word and should never be tolerated by the American people, because everyone has an equal right to run for office. Everyone is going to get votes from one another. So they’re either spoilers of one another or none of them are spoilers.

AMY GOODMAN: People refer back to your presidential candidacy in the midst of the Al Gore-George W. Bush race back in 2000—


AMY GOODMAN: —talk about you as the spoiler. You have always said this is absolutely wrong. Why?

RALPH NADER: Well, it’s wrong from a First Amendment point of view, first of all. You should never tell anybody to shut up. And when you run for office, it’s free speech, petition and assembly. It’s the consummate use of the First Amendment. But here—it’s a scapegoating. The Democrats could never get over how they couldn’t beat this bumbling governor from Texas, who couldn’t put a paragraph together and has a horrible record—children and women and pollution, etc., policy, right?

AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking about George W. Bush.

RALPH NADER: George W. Bush. So they scapegoat the Greens. So here’s how it goes: 300,000 registered Democrats in 2000 in Florida voted for Bush—blame the Greens. Thousands of people were misidentified as ex-felons by Katherine Harris, the secretary of state for Jeb Bush, governor of Florida—blame the Greens. The butterfly ballot, which was very deceptive and got people to vote for exactly the opposite candidate in South Florida—blame the Greens. Scalia’s political 5-4 decision, which blocked the Florida Supreme Court’s full recount in Florida—blame the Greens. The Electoral College took the victory in the popular vote from Gore—blame the Greens. Gore loses his Tennessee state, where he represented in Congress for years—blame the Greens. It’s total scapegoating. It’s disgusting that extremely smart people, who happen to be Democratic Party apparatchiks, like Howard Dean, who’s now in a corporate firm that lobbies for the healthcare and drug industry, by the way, and never identified as such by The New York Times and others who quote him—he is now reviving this 2000 nonsense.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion. Ralph Nader, longtime consumer advocate, ran for president four times. He has a new book out; it’s called Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think. And he has a four-day conference next week demanding people break through power. Stay with us.

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