NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Ralph Nader's Conservative Roots

September 20, 2000

Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader has conservative roots and makes a not implausible argument that he is a conservative, says NCPA Senior Fellow Bruce Bartlett.

Articles published by Nader years ago show some of those roots:

  • In the ultra-conservative American Mercury magazine in March 1960, in an article entitled "Business Is Deserting America," Nader argues against free trade and U.S. corporations moving operations to foreign countries in pursuit of low-wage labor and higher profits.
  • In the October 1962 Freeman, published by the free-market Foundation for Economic Education, in an article called "How the Winstedites Kept Their Integrity," Nader tells how the citizens of Winsted, Conn., Nader's home town, fought successfully against a federal public housing project proposed for their town.
  • Surprisingly, Nader makes a convincing free-market argument against public housing, pointing out that the town was not getting something for nothing from the federal government, because local taxpayers would have to foot the bill for city services provided to the tenants, since no local property tax could be assessed on the federal property.

Today, Nader's campaign consists mainly of attacks on big corporations and he has long advocated expanded government power to protect consumers. However, in his acceptance speech to the Association of State Green Parties in June, Nader appealed to conservatives for support, asking:

"Don't conservatives, in contrast to corporatists, want movement toward a safe environment, toward ending corporate welfare and the commercialization of childhood? Don't they too want a voice in shaping a clean environment rooted in the interests of the people? Don't they want a fair and responsive marketplace, for their health needs and savings?"

Indeed, there is an old-fashioned, small town aspect to Nader's worldview that is conservative. But, says Bartlett, Nader's views are actually more authoritarian than conservative.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, Senior Fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, September 20, 2000.


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