The Providence Journal
EDITORIAL: ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL OPTION
© 2000 The Providence Journal
One of the presidential candidates dropped by the Journal to chat with us the other day. No, not George W. Bush or Al Gore. We sat down with a crisply articulate and bright candidate who seemed remarkably, but not arrogantly, well-informed: John Hagelin.
Who? The average person couldn't be faulted for asking.
Mr. Hagelin, 46, a Dartmouth- and Harvard-trained physicist, is the nominee of the Natural Law Party. He is also the candidate of many Reform Party activists who formerly supported H. Ross Perot and cannot abide the man who seized the party's nomination this year: Patrick Buchanan, who is using $12.6 million of taxpayer money to run a harsh campaign attacking immigrants and homosexual rights.
Avid C-Span watchers -- a fairly narrow segment of the population -- may know Mr. Hagelin, but few others do. The obnoxious, corporate-funded Commission on Presidential Debates, set up to advance the interests of Republicans and Democrats, was careful to keep third-party candidates such as Ralph Nader, Harry Browne, Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Hagelin off the stage and out of the national discussion.
That is a shame, because they have ideas that -- while, not to everyone's taste -- are worth hearing and debating. Mr. Hagelin, for example, would work to:
-- Reform health care. Washington spends our tax dollars on acute care and expensive operations, but only diverts a tiny fraction of that money to warding off serious ailments. As Mr. Hagelin puts it, "We don't have a health-care system, we have a disease-care system, bought and paid for by special interests." Education and assistance in exercising, eating right and managing stress could save taxpayers plenty of money and improve all Americans' quality of life, he contends.
-- Bring new and better teachers into the profession by boosting salaries by $10,000 through block grants to the states.
-- Throw out the tax code, eliminate the Internal Revenue Service, and institute a low flat tax. As things now stand, campaign contributors get members of Congress to manipulate the incredibly complex tax code for their advantage.
-- Change U.S. foreign policy by limiting our military involvement in other countries, and increasing our humanitarian assistance, including aid for education, agriculture, business, etc.
-- Stop building military weapons that the Pentagon does not want. Members of Congress often pressure the administration to do so, because they are fighting for local jobs.
-- Keep a sharp eye on genetic manipulation of the food supply. Mr. Hagelin would propose a moratorium on releasing experimental life forms until they can be proven safe. He believes that corporations have far too much say in this matter of profound importance to humanity.
These ideas deserve to be heard and discussed. Third parties bring forward matters that the more staid major parties, beholden to special interests, refuse to discuss. In the past, crusades that originated in third parties, including for women's suffrage and the abolition of slavery, have entered the mainstream and profoundly changed our nation for the better.
Here's hoping that third-party candidates get a better hearing in the next presidential election than they have so far in this one. Meanwhile, we urge citizens to look into the views of such candidates as John Hagelin.