To: Ralph Nader

From: Jude Wanniski

Re: Attracting Republican Votes

I watched your appearance on “Meet the Press” Sunday and, as usual,
found myself agreeing with a lot of what you had to say in your latest
run for the White House as a third party candidate.

I was also surprised when you said you thought you would draw some
votes away from the Republican candidate, when Tim Russert kept asking
if you would feel bad if your votes threw the election to George Bush. I
think you are right in saying most of your votes will come from folks
who would otherwise not bother to vote — because both major political
parties represent the same political establishment, which has its heart
set on the status quo. While I’m leaning toward George W. Bush at
the moment, I continue to watch your campaign in hopes you will broaden
your message and at least force Governor Bush and Vice President Gore to
break out of the box and deal with you as an agent of change.

You may know that for several months I was helping Pat Buchanan,
hoping he would get enough traction to force a genuine debate in this
quadrennial opportunity ordinary folks have to influence the course of
the nation. Pat was sure that by playing his broken record at an
ever-increasing volume, he would get into double digits in the polls and
wind up in the debates. Alas, I finally threw in the towel when that
became clear. He has so far been a waste of time. The fact that you will
be on all 50 state ballots for the first time, and because the political
analysts will watch to see who you take votes from as we head into the
backstretch means you might be the fellow who makes it to the debates,
not Pat.

I have a lot of ideas for you that would fit with a populist
campaign. The clearest is that I think you should advocate a gold-based
dollar, something the Big Boys do not want any part of, because it
closes off their ability to manipulate our national currency for fun and
profit. I’ve never understood why you have shown so little interest in
monetary issues when they are at the center of the corruption of our two
parties. If you would raise that banner, I assure you the electorate
would push you past the 15 percent marker and put you into the debates
this fall.

Ordinary people always benefit when their nation is forced to keep
the money honest, and you would soon build up a following. It is a lot
more positive than simply complaining about NAFTA and the World Trade
Organization, which is Pat’s broken record anyway.

Take up the call for a simplified, flatter tax system — which
neither Gore nor Bush will touch, and by gosh you will have my vote …
and the votes of a lot of friends who are now planning to hold their
noses while approaching the voting booth in November. Here are two
places where I already find myself in complete agreement with you:

    Russert: Are you in favor of a missile defense system?

    Nader: It’s not workable. The American Physics Society
    indicates that it’s very easily decoyed. It’s not workable. Any nation
    that tries it is going to commit suicide. There are far more
    devastating, insidious ways to bring in nuclear weapons and other
    weapons into the country, the so-called suitcase approach. We’ve spent
    $60 billion as a nation now dealing with missile defense, and have come
    up with nothing. It’s a program designed to enrich the giant munitions
    corporations who are really behind it all, in addition (to) some

    Russert: One of the obligations of a presidential candidate is
    filing a financial disclosure form, which you have done. And much to the
    surprise of many, it says that Ralph Nader is a millionaire worth nearly
    $4 million, with over a million dollars of Cisco stock. … (Cisco) has
    … focused on passing legislation to issue more H1-B visas to foreign
    workers, while Nader has taken a strong stand against visas. With your
    million dollars in Cisco stock, have you insisted with Cisco management
    that they not pursue policies that you have publicly found

    Nader: First of all, I have opposed those policies, vis-a-vis
    all companies, not just Cisco. I don’t think we should engage in a
    massive brain drain in this country, taking talented people from other
    countries, for example, when we’ve got talented people in this country,
    even though (they) would have to be paid a little more by these

Great stuff, Ralph. I was of course a great advocate of a
missile defense system during the Cold War, even knowing it almost
certainly would not work, but it would complicate life for the Soviets.
When the Cold War ended, I shifted position and have argued for a much
reduced effort on the kind the Russians are now talking about, designed
to deal with tinpot dictators.

On the visas for foreign workers, I am in total agreement. If their
countries have trained them to be topflight scientists, let our
multinational corporations go to them if they are not interested in
training Americans to do that kind of high-value-added work. We have 2
million American men in the prison system, and neither Bush nor Gore are
talking about training them to do anything but make license plates.

I’ve enjoyed talking to you in the past, Ralph, and would be happy to
lend a hand to your effort if you are interested. You have the
inflammatory rhetoric down pat. You only need a few good positive issues
to hammer on, and I think you would surprise yourself at how much
influence you would have on this sleepy system. The electorate knows the
country is not headed in the right direction and tells that to the
pollsters, despite the chatter about the stock market and low
unemployment rates. It is not headed in any direction at all.

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