David Kopel, who is normally a pretty level headed libertarian, has written an article for National Review arguing that the best presidential candidate for those who want to reduce the size of government is the Green Party’s Ralph Nader.
Here’s his reasoning: Republican George Bush and Democrat Al Gore are both big government liberals who will expand the size of the federal government, so they’re out. Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne is unlikely to get even one percent of the vote nationwide, and besides some libertarians are upset at Browne’s fund raising tactics and moves he’s made with the national party.
Nader and the Green Party, Kopel argues, while they are certainly wrong about most things at least are willing to a) fight corporate welfare and b) end the drug war. Where Nader and the Green Party have ridiculous statist views, Kopel writes, the difference between them and Bush/Gore is one only of degree. Help the Green Party wean corporations off of corporate welfare and soon corporations will do more to fight the size of government as well.
There are plenty of flaws with this argument. First, even if his claims about Nader were correct, Nader is in most ways far to the right of the Green Party as a whole. It is very unlikely that the Green Party would nominate Nader again as their nominee in 2004, and is much more likely to choose a much more left candidate who is willing to fully embrace their socialist vision.
Second, to the extent that Nader has a few pro-freedom views, a) they are extremely weak, and b) they are more than counter-acted by his anti-freedom views. Can Kopel have one without the other?
Take corporate welfare. It would be great ot have a president willing to denounce corporate welfare at every turn, but along with denouncing corporate welfare Nader would be there denouncing violent and sexual books, magazines, video games, movies, etc. Yes Nader disagrees with Bush/Gore on this point only in degree, but only in that Nader is far more anti-freedom than either Bush or Gore.
A similar problem is Nader’s support for decriminalization of marijuana. First, marijuana and the drug war are largely off of Nader’s radar. If you look at Nader’s web site, his issues page doesn’t even have a listing for drugs, the drug war or crime. The main thing Nader has talked about in speeches is legalizing hemp for industrial use.
A search on marijuana turns up only 9 hits at Nader’s web site, the only one of which deals with legalization issues merely says that Nader would spend more money on education than on the drug war. And don’t forget that the Green Party platform would create a super drug war, since it allows local municipalities to vote to ban any substance for pretty much any reason (and Nader and the Greens have a long list of substances he wants banned).
For Kopel the drug war is perhaps the most important issue and yet he’s willing to support a candidate whose major policy statements on the issue are small concessions to appeal to the hemp activists among the Greens. I think that’s a pretty lousy argument given the other anti-freedom positions of the Green Party and Nader.