We all know that politics make strange bedfellows. But this is ridiculous.
Some VDARE.COM readers have been urging us to interview Ralph Nader, now that he has declared for President, because they think that his anti-corporate, labor-oriented populism might inspire him to raise the issue of mass immigration—and especially to oppose the wholesale importation of "temporary" technical workers through h-1b and L-1 visas.
Needless to say, given Nader's stated priorities, opposing immigration would make perfect sense—but it would also make perfect sense for the environmentalist organizations to oppose immigration too, and they never do. Liberal coalition discipline is just too strong. (Witness the hysteria of the Sierra Club staff because their grass-roots membership might dare to interfere in their own organization's policies by electing immigration reform board members. For today's smear, courtesy of the Ithaca Journal's Jennie Daley, click here).
Still, one reader supplied this arresting quote from Nader in 2000 (click here and read first item):
"We cannot have open borders. That's a totally absurd proposition. It would depress wages here enormously, and tens of millions of people from all levels, including scientists and workers, would be pouring into this country."
Of course, reading the other quotes collected in 2000 by the non-partisan On The Issues site, you can also see some Nader nervousness on the issue. But our reader quite rightly comments: "Sure sounds better than anything from Bush or Kerry." (Indeed, "tens of millions of people from all levels" is pretty much what Bush's crazy temporary worker plan would do.)
Our reader also notes that, in 2000, the loony Left was already worrying that Nader was showing interest in a tacit alliance with Pat Buchanan and his voters ("Both men have joined with the Teamsters union leadership in the latter's racist campaign against the entry of Mexican truck drivers into the US…").
And our reader points out that Nader's nephew and strategist, Tarek Milleron, has explicitly argued that in 2004 Nader can draw Republican rather than Democratic votes: "For Nader…this will be the year of the Elks Clubs, the garden clubs, meetings with former Enron employees, the veterans groups, Walmart employees."
And the year of VDARE.COM readers? Judging from our email, there's no doubt that some unlikely people would vote for Nader—if he raised the immigration issue.
All of which puts me personally in an odd position. In 1990, my beautiful and brilliant co-author Leslie Spencer and I published a long cover story in Forbes Magazine (September 17) entitled "Ralph Nader Inc." You can read it—first time available online!—by clicking here. Basically we argued that Nader was not "Saint Ralph," as an uncharacteristically credulous Michael Kinsley once called him, but a tough politician who had built a wealthy non-profit empire by pressing the law to the limit and making a number of brutal bargains, notably with the labor unions and the trial lawyers.
There was surprisingly little evidence that Nader's activities had benefited the public interest. But they had certainly benefited Nader—he had long lived, for example, in an expensive townhouse in ritzy NW Washington D.C. rather than, as he was then still absurdly maintaining, that legendary rented room near his office.
Nader is known to be a serious believer in punishing his enemies. (A number of them—devout liberal ex-colleagues who would otherwise never go near Forbes—contacted us with horror stories after our article appeared.) But he was unable to refute our research, despite the usual huffing and puffing.
Nader had refused to talk to us, but a few years later I ran into him in Washington. "Ralph will want to meet you!" an enthusiastic staffer assured me as he dragged me over—I hope correctly, for his sake. I couldn't tell, because Nader just glared as we shook hands and made a curious low rumbling noise in his throat.
Immigration will inevitably break into politics. Even the New York Times recently noted [Outcry on Right Over Bush Plan on Immigration, By Rachel L. Swarns, February 21, 2004] that the issue is surfacing in primaries in California, Illinois and elsewhere. But it is meeting, as always, with entrenched, hysterical, unscrupulous resistance.
So what do I think of Nader now? Ruthless. Cunning. Opportunistic. Hard-driving. Egomaniac, with an iron will to match.
Could be the man for the job!
VDARE.COM will ask him for an interview. I'll risk the rumbling noise.
Heck, to get immigration into the public debate, I'd even risk the trial lawyers.
Peter Brimelow, editor of VDARE.COM and author of the much-denounced Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster (Random House - 1995) and The Worm in the Apple (HarperCollins - 2003)