National Press Club

Nader Calls on Liberals, Progressives to Make More Demands on Obama

October 27, 2008 | By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Ralph Nader does not agree with the right-wing of the Republican Party on any issue. But he does admire the way that it makes GOP presidential nominees pay attention to their agenda.

The liberal and progressive portions of the Democratic Party don’t make the same demands of their candidates for the White House, which sets back the causes that have inspired Nader to run as an independent candidate for the third election in a row.

“Votes have to be conditioned,” Nader said at an Oct. 24 Newsmaker.

In Nader’s view, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is getting the support of liberals despite embracing policies that they oppose, such as backing the financial markets bailout, voting for a bill that allows domestic eavesdropping on potential terrorism suspects, and supporting off-shore drilling.

“They will give him a blank check,” Nader said. “The Democratic nominees every four years do not have to worry about any pull or push from their liberal and progressive voters, without whom they could never win an election.”

A consumer champion for more than four decades, Nader’s work has led to the formation of many advocacy groups, including the Center for AutoSafety and Public Citizen.

Nader asserts that “the sovereignty of the people has been subordinated” to business interests and that Obama relies too much on that sector for financial support.

“Barack Obama is about as corporate a candidate as you will get for the Democratic Party,” Nader said. “All he talks about is the middle class…he never talks about the poor.”

But it doesn’t look as if Nader will be able to cut through the campaign din to deliver his message. He maintains that mainstream media are ignoring him.

Since the announcement of his candidacy in February, Nader said he has been the subject of only one New York Times and two Washington Post articles. He has only appeared briefly on network television.

He was especially critical of the National Press Club for not inviting him to address a luncheon. He said it was the first time he had ever been denied the privilege.

“That is clear political bias,” he said. “With all due respect to the people here at this gathering (the nine reporters and technical crew at the Newsmaker), a luncheon is a much more front-and-center event.”

Regardless of media coverage, Nader wants to keep his movement going beyond 2008 by establishing congressional action groups of about 2000 citizens in each district. They would keep pressure on political leaders to address liberal causes.