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The Landmark Case: Nader v.

Venkatesa Muruganandam

Poli 89

At the beginning of the semester, I was a tad frightened as to what I would experience in
this political ideology course. In high school and during first semester, I was often made fun of
for my conservative view points, and I tried not to let it show, but deep down being mocked for
my political beliefs angered me more than anything else. The anger and frustration cumulated to
the point that even I was beginning to question my own beliefs. Was I truly a conservative? I was
having an internal crisis of sorts, so I decided to register for a course that would help me find the
answer. I decided on a seminar class despite the fact that talking in large groups is not my
strength, in fact I feel that I get far more out of sitting back and observing the views of others,
and after countless hours of reading and listening I have come to a definite conclusion. I am most
certainly a moderate conservative.
This realization really hit me while reading the books The Seventeen Solutions by the
notorious Ralph Nader, and A Simple Government by another well-known politician Mike
Huckabee. I was very drawn to Naders book due to his bold nature and because I hold a lot of
respect for him for breaking off from the Democratic Party and running as a member of the
Green Party, albeit unsuccessfully. Nader is also one of the most fascinating people in politics
from the last few decades, especially when considering his role in the circus that was the 2000
Presidential Election. His story is also rather interesting as he comes from a humble family of
Lebanese immigrants, yet despite this fact, he was still able to rise to prominence. Mike
Huckabee is a far more ordinary character as a Republican from a traditionally conservative
Arkansas, and yet I still found most of what he said interesting, although at times a little extreme.
Before I began reading the books, I expected both authors to essentially be in complete
disagreement about most political issues. In my mind, Nader was extremely liberal, in fact, he
was liberal to the point that he had to break away from the Democratic Party because it was too
moderate for him; however, what I found was that Nader is actually fairly moderate, perhaps

even a little conservative leaning, which probably contributed to his split from the Democratic
Party. Huckabee, on the other hand, is very conservative so, as expected, both authors agree on
many key issues; however, the disparity in the degree of each authors conservatism leads to
some disagreement, as expected. Despite the fact that both authors come from vastly different
backgrounds and specialize in completely different fields, both Ralph Nader and Mike Huckabee
agree that the American family as a nuclear entity is in danger and needs to be sustained and
protected in order to ensure American prosperity for generations to come. Both authors also
agree that America needs to go back to being self-reliant by freeing ourselves from the clutches
of evil multinational corporations and reducing the power of the Federal Government by
strengthening local government. Despite these key similarities in viewpoints, both authors have a
major point of disagreement: the role and the scope of the military as it applies to domestic and
international affairs.
Blood Runs Thicker than the Media
When it comes to the importance of family, it is harder to find politicians with a more
definitive stance than Huckabee and Nader; although, relatively speaking, family is a pretty easy
thing to get behind. On page 69, Nader states that family is the most effective unit of human
development and that it shapes the character and personality of our children. Huckabee makes an
equally bold statement saying, the foundation of American power has always been and must
continue to be the American family. As rosy as these statements are, both authors agree that
families are under attack by external forces, and the main force targeting families is the media.
Nader believes media campaigns by large corporations that target small children are the
biggest threat to families, especially with the expansion of television and internet to a very high
percentage of American households. According to Nader, children are no longer as expected to
contribute economically to the household than in past generations, and thus the role of kids in a
household has shifted from producers to primarily consumers. While this opens the door for kids

to focus on getting an education, it also presents an opportunity for corporations to essentially

become child predators by targeting children with aggressive advertising campaigns in order to
entice them into buying their products and consequently get these children hooked on their
products for life. Nader explains that kids from all kinds of households, whether it is single
parent or traditional two parent, experience what is now known as the corporate week which
refers to the 40 hours a week children are exposed to corporate products. To make matters worse,
the corporate marketing gurus have created a culture in which parents now feel bad about not
being able to spend time with their kids, so to make up for this parents buy kids luxury items
such as video games and toys that further cut in to family time. This creates a vicious positive
feedback loop in which kids ask for products being marketed towards them, and parents feel too
guilty to say no and give in to their kids misguided desires. The threat posed by corporate
marketing campaigns has tangible consequences, and these can be seen in the newfound
widespread acceptance of violence as a result of desensitization caused by violent TV shows and
videogames, and the increased rate of obesity in adolescents as a result of the proliferation of
junk food to children. According to US news, the number of instances of violence in schools has
risen over the last 15 years, and even more alarmingly, there has been a sharp increase in the
percentage of teachers who have been violently threated by students (Bidwell). The fact that this
rise parallels the expansion of violent first person shooter videogames is no coincidence. In a
study by the CDC, 17% of adolescents between the ages of 2-19 are obese, and this is three times
the percentage of kids who were obese in 1980 (Nader 79). It is clear that the marketing
campaigns conducted by corporations are effective, but unfortunately it is to the detriment of our
Huckabee, too, believes the liberal media is the real threat to American families, but he
believes so because it has forced upon our society the ideal that nontraditional family is no big

deal, when in reality, it may be far more dangerous than any terrorist ever hopes to be. Huckabee
explains that during the Bolshevik revolution, the communists purposely set out to destroy two
institutions that they found powerful enough to undermine their authority: religion and marriage.
The Bolsheviks banned religious ceremonies and turned marriages into a meaningless piece of
paper by encouraging adults to be polygamists, thus undermining the importance of each family.
In addition to this, the government sanctioned abortions, which essentially undermined the
importance of children. All of these policies were intended to throw families into chaos which
would lead kids to be loyal to the state, rather than their families. Of course these policies failed
as the Bolshevik regime collapsed merely 100 years later, and yet, despite this fact, our society
seems to be adopting these policies while expecting good things to happen.
Across his entire career, Huckabee has always been vehemently against gay marriage. He
states he has no doubt that gay parents love their kids just as much as heterosexual parents do;
however, he believes love is not always enough. It order to be a fully functioning member of
society, one has to witness first-hand the dynamic between man and woman while parenting,
which only happens in heterosexual households (19). By expanding the title of family to gay
households, Huckabee believes this is devaluing the American family, and this will eventually
lead us to the same fate as the Bolsheviks. In addition to the growing acceptance of gay
marriage, Huckabee blames the liberals for the growing acceptance of fatherless households,
which are perhaps worse than gay households because they are causing a more tangible problem
in the US economy by increasing the US debt by $300 billion due to increased welfare payments
to single mothers. In addition to causing economic harm, fatherless households leave children
that are five times more likely to live in poverty and twice as likely to drop out of school, than
households with both parents.

A theme of conservatism that Mike Huckabee harps on time and time again is the
importance of self-reliance. When discussing fatherless households, Huckabees main problem is
that they are a detriment to society for two reasons. The first is that fatherless households are an
economic burden on America, and the second, and most important, is that they require
government assistance, which in turn increases the power of the federal government. According
to Huckabee, power is a zero-sum game, meaning the only way one party can gain power is if
another party loses it, thus every time the federal government signs a bill appropriating funds for
a project, it just gained power, and we as a society just lost it (28). To combat this, Huckabee
suggests we recalibrate the balance of power closer to the Madisonian ideal, which gave state
governments powers that are numerous and indefinite (29). This, however, seems easier said
than done as every conservative president in power since Reagan has failed to achieve this goal.
Nader has similar ideas concerning self and community reliance; however, Nader differs
in that the villain in his eyes is not the federal government, but instead large multinational
corporations. The way Nader feels about big corporations parallels the way Huckabee feels about
big government; both feel that they are wasteful, unnecessary and ultimately detrimental to
society. Nader believes that large corporations are greedy and are only driven by profit margin
instead of caring about the people they serve, which is in stark contrast to the way a small
business would operate. With large corporations taking over the national market, local consumers
are being whipsawed by price manipulation and speculation by faraway entities with no stake in
their communities. Some prime examples of this are the price of gasoline, manipulated by the
New York Mercantile Exchange, health care and pharmaceuticals, which are owned by billion
dollar drug companies, and most notably stock prices, which are manipulated by the notorious
stock brokers on Wall Street. All these industries are essential for a modern, first world economy,
and yet we allow them to be dominated by greedy individuals who only care about profits, thus

causing them to undergo phases of severe depression, leading to major issues for the consumers
who rely on them.
Guns and Roses
Despite these two issues that Nader and Huckabee agree on, one issue they could not
disagree more on is the role of the military. Huckabee, as a conservative, believes military
funding needs to be expanded saying in an interview that the military spending needs to go back
to the amount during the Ronald Reagan era, which was roughly 6% of the nations GDP. He
slams liberals, specifically President Obama, repeatedly for their inability to take actions that
keep our nation safe from terrorists, saying the war on terror ended when President Obama
took office (147). He criticizes President Obama for the debacle that occurred in Afghanistan,
saying the easiest way to inspire the enemy is to tell them exactly when you are leaving. In
addition to President Obama, Huckabee criticizes liberals for being more concerned with being
politically correct than facing facts pertaining to our enemies. In an exchange between a
congressman and Attorney General Holder, a member of Obamas staff, the congressman asked
point blank if Holder believed the notorious underwear bombers actions were inspired by radical
Islam. Despite the entire nation knowing the attempted attacks were in the name of Jihad against
America, Holder still gave sheepish responses such as I dont want to say anything negative
about the religion (148). How do we expect to fight our enemies if we cannot even address them
properly? Huckabee agrees that, although the department of Homeland Security is expensive, it
is the duty of the federal government to protect the citizens and fight them abroad while it is the
duty of the citizens to comply with safety regulations at home, namely pesky airport procedures,
in order to fight terrorism at home.
For every penny Huckabee would add to the national defense budget, it is likely that
Ralph Nader would slash one. In Naders mind, conservatives are unnecessarily paranoid about
threats that do not exist, but spend enough time and money combatting these imaginary threats to

go to sleep at night. He explicitly states that the military-industrial complex in this country is
way out of control, and to make matters worse, due to their lobbying power, it is very difficult to
regulate defense companies. As of 2012, the military budget of $806 billion represented 56% of
the governments discretionary spending, and this is with no enemies in the world, according to
Nader. He claims that the 9/11 attacks were the perfect opportunity for Americans to overreact
and expand what he refers to as the American Empire, and he gave a somber warning telling us
that over the course of history, every empire eventually over expands and crumbles.
Despite coming from very different backgrounds and being associated with completely
different political parties, there are definitely interesting parallels in the political views of both
the staunch conservative Mike Huckabee and the far more ambiguous Ralph Nader. Mike
Huckabee represents the views of the stereotypical conservative, and in many respects his views
are quite boring since the content in his book can be found in just about any book by a prominent
conservative author. Ralph Nader, on the other hand, offered a refreshing, and somewhat
surprising, balance of both conservative and liberal ideals that were certainly a pleasure to read.
Nader sounded very conservative when he discussed the value of the nuclear family and the
necessity of going back to community reliance; in fact, he sounded shockingly similar to Mike
Huckabee, whom I would never expect him to run in an election with. However, his liberal roots
can be easily identified when examining his rhetoric pertaining to the military and how it needs
to be scaled down. Regardless of political ideologies, both politicians are fascinating, and are
exceptional authors.

Works Cited
Bidwell, Allie. "Report: School Crime and Violence Rise." US News. U.S.News & World Report, 10
June 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Huckabee, Mike. A Simple Government: Twelve Things We Really Need from Washington (and a
Trillion That We Don't!). New York: Sentinel, 2011. Print.
Nader, Ralph. The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. New York, NY: Harper,
2012. Print.