It’s about time: There is an alliance emerging between the Right and the Left to defeat cronyism and end corporate welfare

 The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State

There many, many things on which Occupiers and Tea Partiers or progressives and libertarians disagree, but Ralph Nader says that there is an alliance forming between the left and the right against corporate welfare and crony capitalism.

Nader, a four-time presidential candidate, recently spoke at the Cato Institute about his most recent book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. He chatted with Caleb Brown about the premise of his book on the Cato Daily Podcast and, perhaps unintentionally, turned into a discussion about campaign finance law.

“Corporate power without government power would have to adhere to market disciplines,” said Nader. “With government power, they can overcome market disciplines. Wall Street damaging Main Street. Big Business damaging small business.”

“I’ve often said that half of what Washington does is an accounts receivable, shoveling out goodies on the backs of taxpayers to business interests,” he continued. “I think even good programs excrete waste. It’s the nature of bureaucracy. It’s, by the way, corporate bureaucracy as well as government bureaucracy.”

Though Nader and Brown agreed on the need to end corporate welfare, the interview grew contentious as the two began to discuss on which the left and the right disagree. The 2010 Citizens United decision and corporate personhood weighed heavy on this part of the discussion, highlighting one of the reasons why a left-right alliance against cronyism would be very limited in scale.

Brown, for example, explained that “has a great power to empower small groups of people banding together to speak to the public,” putting them on equal legal footing with George Soros and Charles and David Koch.

“I think the problem you might be alluding to is a lot of these reforms are gamed by big powerful interests who have lawyers and can pay lawyers, and the little guy is disadvantaged,” Nader told Brown. “[Campaign finance regulations] may irritate the big guys, but the big guys know how to game it. And they can pay for it. And the little guys can’t do that. That’s why people have so few candidates on the ballot, because small-party independent candidates, they just can’t negotiate this web of regulations.”

Oddly, Nader’s complaints about campaign finance regulations don’t carry over to corporate regulations. He said that the Federal Election Commission should mandate that privately-owned broadcast TV and radio give “all ballot-qualified candidates” time to run ads on their stations. “This is not fair! We own the public airways, and we can’t get any time on our own property,” he said. “And that would reduce the need to raise so much money, wouldn’t it?”

The discussion circled back around to the topic of a coalition between the left and the right over corporate welfare. Nader warned that those from all sides who focus too much on their differences become too closed off to certain realities.

“This is what I want to convey on college campuses, because ideology is unbelievably rigid. The students come in and they label themselves: I’m Republican, I’m Democrat,” Nader noted. “And I say, don’t close out reality so fast at your young age.

“And then I give them a lot of examples. How come Ron Paul can work with Barney Frank on the bloated military budget and empire? What? Ron Paul, libertarian? Barney Frank, leftist Democrat? They reflect reality. You do not waste the taxpayers’ dollar, and you do not violate the Constitution with wars of empire,” he added.

Regardless of whether one agrees with his take on certain issues, Nader offers a very interesting viewpoint on what could be a fruitful alliance between the left and the right against corporate welfare and restoring civil liberties. But the differences between two competing ideologies will be difficult, though not impossible, to overcome.


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