Ralph Nader said Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDHS secretary: No sign Russia targeting midterm elections at 2016 level Twitter suspends Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks accounts after indictments Elon Musk donated nearly K to Republican PAC, filings show MORE is unfairly winning the Democratic nomination with unelected superdelegates and closed primaries that shut out independent voters who prefer Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOcasio-Cortez to campaign with Bernie Sanders in Kansas Sanders: Trump should confront Putin over Mueller probe indictments Booker seizes on Kavanaugh confirmation fight MORE.

“If he had an open primary, he’d have beaten her,” Nader told The Hill in a Facebook Live interview on Monday. "It should be open to all voters. And that helped her; that gave her a big advantage."

"The Democrats years ago didn’t want an insurgency like Bernie Sanders, so they rigged it," he added. "They’re called superdelegates. They’re members of Congress, they’re Democratic governors, they’re party hacks. ... Hillary’s cronies, mostly."

Clinton leads Sanders among superdelegates, 524 to 40, according to The Associated Press. She's also leading him by nearly 300 pledged delegates and by more than 2 million votes.

Nader, a consumer advocate who ran one of the most successful third party candidacies in recent U.S. history, said he wishes that Sanders would mount a third-party bid against Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpReporters defend CNN's Acosta after White House says he 'disrespected' Trump with question Security costs of Trump visit to Scotland sparks outrage among Scottish citizens Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE to provide “more voices and choices on the ballot.”

ADVERTISEMENT
But Nader said it’s probably too late for an independent Sanders candidacy and that “it’s not in him to do it.”

“He is a Democrat, let’s face it,” he said. “He has a committee chair in the Senate, he has a status in the Senate. He doesn’t want to jeopardize that.”

Sanders, who was elected in Vermont as an independent, is the ranking member of the Budget Committee, putting him in line to become chairman if Democrats win back the Senate in November.

Nader said he will be casting a protest vote in November and believes the Clinton forces will have a hard time winning over progressives who supported Sanders in the primaries — even if Sanders urges them to vote for her.

“[Hillary Clinton] has never met a war she didn’t like; Hillary’s never met a weapons system she didn’t like. Why should we support somebody like that?” 

In a wide-ranging interview with The Hill, Nader talked about the “dilemma” Sanders now faces. 

The Vermont senator has built a nationwide progressive movement but is now being pressured by Democrats to drop out of the race and rally behind their likely nominee, who Nader describes as "Hillary the hawk" and a "dyed-in-the-wool corporatist."  

Nader said he has known Sanders for more than a quarter-century but hasn’t spoken to him about an independent run as they have fallen out of touch. 

“He’s always been a lone ranger as a senator, and he’s come a long way without our advice,” Nader said. “He hasn’t returned my calls in 17 years.”

Sanders, he added, should expect the same “treatment” Nader received when he ran on the Green Party ticket in 2000 and was blamed by liberal Democrats for siphoning progressive votes away from Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreAl Gore warns of 'ominous' record-breaking heat Colbert to Kennedy on retirement: Don't tell me your mind's going because 'you never had one!' Budowsky: Obama remains AWOL for Dems MORE, effectively handing the presidency to George W. Bush.   

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyHillicon Valley: Hacker tried to sell military docs on dark web | Facebook fined over Cambridge Analytica | US closer to lifting ZTE ban | Trump, Obama lose followers in Twitter purge | DOJ weighs appeal on AT&T merger Demanding accountability from private companies detaining children FCC proposes overhaul to comment filing system MORE (D-Ore.), who is the only sitting senator to have endorsed Sanders, used Nader as a cautionary tale for why Sanders should under no circumstances run as an independent — an idea Trump is mischievously pushing. 

“Bernie went into this and he said there’s no way I’m going to be Ralph Nader,” Merkley told CNN’s "New Day" on Monday morning.  

“We’re not going to split the party. We’re not going to empower the Republicans. He understands the damage that Bush did to this nation, and he’s not going to allow Trump to follow on and do even more damage.” 

Nader argued that American voters deserve better than a binary choice between Clinton and Trump, two candidates he finds so loathsome that he refuses to say who is worse. He said Trump is a bigot and a sexist and called Clinton “corrupt” and a “finger to the wind politician.”

But while he had nothing positive to say about Clinton, he acknowledged it was “a bit refreshing” that Trump had taken on the mainstream media and “churned things up” by putting into the mainstream opposition to international trade deals and Wall Street cronyism.

Nader also said it looks like Sanders is being set up to be manipulated by the Clinton forces, who he expects will give lip service to Sanders's progressive ideals but nothing concrete in return for his endorsement.  

It's “naive” for the Sanders campaign to think they’ll extract meaningful concessions from the Clinton team through platform changes at the convention, Nader said, saying that party platforms “aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.”

“If he becomes a mascot [for Hillary], a lot of hard-line Bernie voters stay home,” he said.