Nader: Let's let a billionaire buy the presidency, or something

How old am I? I’m old enough to remember when Ralph Nader fought against the corporations, man, and the interests of the so-called One Percenters. Nader ran for the presidency twice on populist platforms that professed to return political power to the people. One of those runs arguably cost Al Gore enough votes in Florida to cost him the election in 2000.

Good times, good times:

Former third-party presidential candidate Ralph Nader wants to shake up the two-party American political system, and he’s got just the person to do it:

Oprah Winfrey … or Bill Gates … or Ted Turner.

Nader, who ran for president as the nominee of the Green Party in 1996 and 2000 and as an independent in 2004 and 2008, is out with a new memo outlining 20 “modestly enlightened rich people” (a.k.a. MERPs) who could run for president and shake up the two-party system.

The Dream Team of MERPs include Winfrey, Gates and Turner, along with former third-party New York governor candidate Tom Golisano, former AOL chief executive Steve Case and hedge fund founder Tom Steyer, who recently suggested he might spend as much as $100 million to help Democrats win the 2014 election and push the issue of climate change.

“Presently, only very rich modestly enlightened people could have a chance to break this introverting cycle of political oligarchy, which unenlightened rich people generally approve of, that sets its own rules, makes its own laws, appoints its own judges and even brazenly forces taxpayers to finance its quadrennial political conventions,” Nader writes in the memo, which was shared with The Washington Post.

The Post’s Wesley Lowery deconstructs Nader’s list of MERPs here. Rest assured, though, that the name “Koch” appears nowhere on it, nor does the name “Adelson.” This auction is only limited to politically-correct billionaires, whose moneyed interests just happen to coincide with Nader’s. Funny, I don’t recall Nader having much good to say about Mitt Romney, even though the Romneys do much good with their wealth. (In fact, a Nexis search shows no Nader comment on Romney at all in the last three years.)

This, apparently, is not satirical, which I half-expected it to be. It is, however, a great demonstration of the hypocrisy in populist politics. The same kind of people who hyperventilate at the mention of “Koch brothers” have no problem with commercial power in elections when it serves their goals. Even the language is hypocritical. Nader speaks of “a chance to break this introverting cycle of political oligarchy” by … electing an oligarch, and having the oligarch buy the election. Nader actually doesn’t mind oligarchs, but he wants to choose the oligarch in question. So much for populism.

If billionaires want to run for the presidency and self-fund, they’re welcome to do so. That would actually be a great demonstration of the folly of current campaign-finance regulation, and a healthy springboard for getting rid of it altogether — and it will be fun to see Nader demand even more such regulation after essentially putting the presidency up for sale. But to have a so-called populist and self-professed advocate for the common man against Wall Street recruit billionaires to buy the presidency is self-satire on the largest possible scale. This call for MERPs is more like a big, huge derp, and should destroy whatever’s left of Nader’s credibility.