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Which Modestly Enlightened Rich Person Will Fill Ralph Nader's Shoes?

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Ralph Nader has run for president five times, and maybe even kinda helped make someone president once, although it was not himself. And while he sat out the last round, he's been ruminating on why else he is not currently entering his sixth term as our nation's 42nd president.

The aged rabble-rouser thinks he's figured out what went wrong and why he was never able to become Ross Perot (who, incidentally, has also never been elected president): Money. Despite his recent foray into activist investing, Ralph just never had enough in the bank to get it done.

But he's come up with 20 people who do:

All it takes is a billion bucks and a modest level of enlightenment. People like Tom Steyer, Ray Dalio, Oprah, Jerome Kohlberg, Barry Diller, John Arnold, Ted Turner, Chase Coleman, David Rubenstein, Steve Case, Bill Conway, Stan Druckenmiller, Bill Gates and, uh, Tom Golisano. Yea, that Tom Golisano—perennial quixotic candidates for high office must think alike.

Maybe even Marc Andreessen, even if Ralph's new buddy Carl Icahn thinks the venture capitalist is rife with conflicts of interest. Or that lady who wrote that book. Or Bill Gross—he's got upper management written all over him.

In any event, whichever decide to run, Ralph Nader is ready with a foolproof plan. It might not make you president of the United States, but it could allow you to change politics forever, just like Ross Perot did. Here it is.

Modestly enlightened rich people (MERPs) can persuade the mass media and other definers of the public’s attention that they have the resources to overcome, at least initially, many of these obstacles. Ross Perot did so and after temporarily dropping out in the summer of 1992, still managed to receive an amazing 19 million votes. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg probably could have had similar results had he chosen to run for the presidency….

MERPs should indicate their interest in being candidates in 2014, if only to put constructive forces in motion that send the message to incumbents and their conventional challengers inside the Democratic and Republican parties that competition could be on the horizon.

The first option is to mount an independent or third party campaign.

A second option is for MERPs to challenge the two major parties within their own nominating procedures as Republican Party or Democratic Party primary candidates.
The third option is simply to challenge one Party’s primary candidates (or candidate if a coronation drive is underway) until their Party’s convention in order to reshape agendas….

A fourth option is simply to pose a possible challenge unless some major priority is specifically and convincingly adopted and campaigned regularly by a major party, its candidates and its apparatus….

I sent this proposal to the twenty super-rich ahead of the public release to give them a “heads-up,” so that they can reflect on its aforementioned purpose. Some of them will probably describe any candidacy by them as absurd, impossible, ridiculous and completely outside their most fanciful imaginations. But it is also possible that a few will recognize the strategy behind their selection, and consider playing a part in opening up a closed, stagnant, deadening system that is grinding our country and its future into the ground and depriving our future generations of a robust, open and functioning democracy. As former President Jimmy Carter recently remarked: “America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time.”

Oprah for president? Nader seeks 'modestly enlightened' billionaire to run [WaPo Post Politics blog]


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