DC at Night

DC at Night

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Left-Right Alliance Would Be Unstoppable, Ralph Nader Says

Over the next few days we will officially be unveiling By the Book DC, another companion blog to The Prices Do DC. The new blog will offer posts about the Washington book scene, including entries about local DC authors, new books about politics, vital national issues or DC life, discussions by authors from around the country who visit DC institutions to deliver book talks, or important American books (Washington, DC is the nation's capital after all) you should have read or should be reading regardless of when or where they were written.

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Today, we have long-time public advocate Ralph Nader talking about establishing a liberal/conservative coalition to work for a better America, which he details in his new book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State . This post will appear both here and in By the Book DC in full.

We hope you like By the Book DC and here's to you, good books, and great reading.

Ralph Nader speaks at Cato.
While it wasn't as dramatic as seeing pigs fly or hell freezing over, it was extremely different. Ralph Nader, the long-time consumer advocate and associated with leading some of the most progressive, liberal causes in contemporary America was preparing to take the podium at the Cato Institute, the DC think-tank recognized as the bastion of free libertarian thought.

"The popping sounds you are hearing are heads exploding all over DC," Brink Lindsey, vice president for research at Cato joked as he introduced Nader to the packed auditorium. "Ralph Nader is speaking at Cato". 

Actually the odd-couple pairing did make perfect sense as it matched the theme of Nader's most recent book Unstoppable:The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.

"Power structures believe in dividing, ruling, and polarization," Nader said. "It is true that the left and right disagree on many thing, but there are extraordinary numerous and extremely fundamental things on which they do agree."

As an example, Nader cited crony capitalism which allow the rich and corporations to control government. "The constitution says we the people, not we the corporations. Corporate welfare. Crony capitalism. The people fear that Wall Street is going to crush Main Street once again," he said. "The sovereignty of the people is being subordinated to the power of the corporations."

Another area of agreement, Nader believes, is addressing what he calls "suite crime" as aggressively as street crime. "In the financial crisis, nobody was prosecuted and nobody went to jail. Crony capitalism is inextricably linked to a double standard in the enforcement of the laws. The immunity and impunity of corporations brings down the very principle of the law" Nader charged.

Nader credits group like the Occupy Movement with calling attention to problems that a left-right alliance could help solve. "They raise the alarm, but it doesn't get visible," he said.

"So the questions becomes - how do you turn large scale majority opinion into operation?" the advocate said.

Nader acknowledged the process will not be easy. "Gridlock and paralysis make it more difficult. We'll have to ask ourselves issue by issue," he said. "It's very easy to elicit disagreement, but we now need to agree on where we need to turn for operational change for our country. At a high level of abstraction is where you get the most disagreement. But there is a lot we already agree on."

"People define themselves as powerless and they take themselves out of the equation. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy," he added. "The people have no idea how powerful they are". 

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