December 13, 2011

Ralph Nader: ‘About time’ for Occupy crackdowns

Consumer advocate and four-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader, a trailblazer to many on the American political left, said he’s not particularly upset by crackdowns on Occupy encampments — and he doesn’t think the occupiers are too disappointed either.

“I think it would have been done anyways,” he told The Daily Caller in an interview Monday, “because there were a lot of health problems, and they became magnets for poor people and homeless people concentrating in those areas, and the Occupy people just didn’t have the capacity to handle that.”

“In fact,” Nader explained, “some of the authorities urged homeless people to go down to the encampments and get a meal, or even stay there. So it was about time anyway, the winter is coming and I don’t think they were all that upset with having to find another locale — whether another building or something like upper New York, where Trinity Church has its own square, and if they say okay then the Occupy people can stay there for the duration.”

In a Nov. 23 column, Nader called on governmental institutions to “let them in[to]” the political process. He told TheDC he sees no irony in local Democratic Party officials claiming to support policy objectives of the protesters while also ordering that encampments be dismantled by law enforcement officers.

Electoral politics probably isn’t the movement’s best option at this point, Nader said, describing Congress as a far more preferable target for public outrage.

“I think right now it’s best channeled by having one day called ‘surround Congress’ and surround every congressional office back home — all 535 at the same time — and start putting the heat on Congress,” he recommended. “That’s their principal entry point right now: Congress. That’s where they can begin turning the climate of plutocracy into more respect for democratic processes and policies.”

Although he generally refrains from supporting Democratic politicians, Nader suggested his ideological compatriots support the congressional candidacy of Norman Solomon to represent California’s 2nd Congressional District.

Nader also called congressional Republicans “juvenile delinquents” for blocking the nomination of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“Without a confirmed director, [the bureau] cannot operate in areas such as payday loans — the new areas that are not under old legal jurisdictions. Some of the real rapacious practices that are inflicted on the poor, until they get a confirmed director they can’t really [address] very well,” he said.

Asked for his evaluation of Republican demands for three structural changes to the bureau, Nader expressed incredulity. “Look, Congress passed that law. What are they going to do, every time a clique in Congress doesn’t like what the majority passed, they’re going to hold up the nominees? What kind of recklessness is that?” he asked.

“That’s like saying … we don’t like some judicial decision, therefore we’re going to block interminably nominees to the judiciary? They’re behaving like juvenile delinquents, only they’re adults,” Nader exclaimed.

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