Unstoppable by Ralph Nader

By Jim Sullivan

unstoppableMost of us see the liberal and conservative political camps as mutually exclusive.

Philosophers call this a Manichean view of reality because it entails seeing things in black and white. So in the Manichean view of the world, liberalism and conservatism are seen in black and white, or as mutually exclusive. This stark, simplistic view of the liberal/conservative camps exists in large part because extremists on both sides want us to see it that way either because they are hard core dogmatic ideologues or because they have a hidden agenda.

Extremist views of liberalism and conservatism are not simply a false view of reality. They are also damaging to our country and to Americans because they lead to lack of cooperation on important real-world issues and ultimately to gridlock as we have witnessed in Congress for almost eight years now.

Nader’s view of reality is far different from the Manichean view because, as he convincingly shows in his book Unstoppable, there are many areas where liberals and conservatives could work together to improve the lot of the American people without violating core principles. Nader calls this Convergence because he has identified areas where liberal and conservative ideas and needs converge.

Mr. Nader also undertakes to document the rise of corporate statism in the U.S. Corporate statism is when corporations use their very large financial resources to influence voters and politicians to primarily serve the interests of corporations. They do this in the service of increasing corporate profits at the expense of the people and the planet.

A real-world case in point is the Koch brothers, owners of the second largest privately held company in the U.S., Koch Industries. Koch Industries is an American multinational corporation involved in core industries such as the manufacturing, refining and distribution of petroleum, chemicals, energy, fiber and other commodities, as well as in ranching, finance and other business activities. Koch Industries was named the largest polluter in the United States in 2012.

The Koch brothers (David and Charles) are extreme conservative multi-billionaires who are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the outcome of the current Presidential race so that a conservative who they favor wins. In addition, the Koch brothers promote conservative and libertarian organizations in order to further “free enterprise.” And they fund climate change deniers. They are considered a rival to the establishment wing of the Republican Party.

The original Koch brothers-favored presidential candidate, Scott Walker, has left the race. Should another Koch brothers-favored conservative win the Republican nomination and the presidency, one can only imagine the lengths to which the new president and the Republican Congress would go to reduce corporate and individual taxes and weaken or do away with business regulations in the service of increasing corporate profits. This would be a very clear instance of corporate statism.

Author Nader has identified 25 specific real-world areas for convergence and cooperation between liberals and conservatives, ranging from promoting efficiency in government contracting, to adjusting the minimum wage to inflation, to ending corporate personhood. He groups these 25 areas of cooperation under 6 headings:

1. Economics in connection with such matters as the government’s relationship with business contractors and the minimum wage (7 of 25 items);
2. Increasing democracy (6 of 25 items);
3. America’s relations with foreign governments and globalized companies (2 of 25 items);
4. Corporate abuses (5 of 25 items);
5. Our health and the health of the planet (4 of 25 items);
6. Diffuse (spread and increase) Convergence (1 of 25 items).

In addition to the 25 specific areas for convergence between liberals and conservatives, Nader also discusses, among other things, 10 obstacles to convergence and how to overcome them.  A special treat is Nader’s discussion of famous conservatives like Adam Smith, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Edmund Burke and others, and how their thinking supports the idea of convergence and cooperation between liberals and conservatives.

American voters are clearly fed up with the gridlock and dysfunction we have seen in government for several years now.  Ralph Nader’s book Unstoppable with its theme of convergence is a well thought out real-world antidote to that condition.  As a retired businessman I am glad to see a practical solution proposed to this sad state of affairs and urge you to read this valuable book.


Jim Sullivan is a Citizen Journalist and retired  businessman with graduate degrees in political science and business.  He lives in Ventura with his wife Juliette and two family cats.

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