Former third-party presidential candidate Ralph Nader is urging the super rich like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates to run for president in 2016.
Nader pitched 20 billionaires for president, saying the super rich are the only ones that can break through the barriers to third-party candidates in the presidential election process.
“Modestly enlightened rich people 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,” Nader wrote on his website.
Ross Perot, who ran as a third-party candidate in 1992 and captured 19 percent of the popular vote, broke through briefly, Nader said. And former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could likely do the same.
Nader said the billionaires he picked have participated at least somewhat in civic engagement and are not afraid to enter the political debate.
Along with Oprah and Gates, Nader named Tom Steyer, who has donated millions to Democratic candidates in the last election cycle and has vowed to do the same in 2014 while advocating for environmental issues; media owner Ted Turner; and the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg, who wrote the book Lean In.
Nader said the best option would be for a billionaire from the list to mount a third-party candidacy. But the candidate could compete for either the GOP or Democratic nomination in order to reshape the agenda, or simply threaten to run unless a major issue position of their choice is adopted.
Nader admitted the scenario is unlikely and pointed out he does not endorse any of the potential candidates mentioned. It is not unlikely the billionaires listed would describe the proposal as “absurd” or “ridiculous” but a few might recognize the merits, he said.
“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,” he wrote.
Nader’s complete list, with his brief description of them, is below in no specific order:
1. Thomas Steyer – former Hedge Fund entrepreneur, and a determined, environmental advocate especially on climate change.
2. Ray Dalio – heads the country’s largest hedge fund and is an engaged philanthropist.
3. Oprah Winfrey – founder of the Oprah Winfrey Show, advocate, actress and philanthropist.
4. Jerome Kohlberg – co-founder of KKR – large leveraged buyout firm, contributes to education and has funded campaign finance reform.
5. Barry Diller – media, cable business, believes in the public airwaves as a public trust.
6. John Arnold – former energy trader, now promoting the Giving Library connecting philanthropists with nonprofits, among many other projects.
7. Ted Turner – cable television business, philanthropy includes $1 billion to the United Nations and other major donations to environmental, peace and population control programs that he advocates.
8. Thomas Siebel – software company creator, heads several companies in software, real estate and agriculture, and creator of the annual educational Siebel Scholars program.
9. Chase Coleman – successful money manager and creates venture capital firms.
10. Marc Andreessen – supports Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and advances all-investing-partner philanthropic commitments.
11. David Rubenstein – former, energetic White House assistant to President Carter and co-founder of a successful venture capital firm – the Carlyle Group – expanding philanthropist and convener.
12. Steve Case – former CEO and chairman of AOL and exuberant philanthropist for innovative projects.
13. Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook, author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and a co-founder of the Lean In Foundation which supports women in reaching their career goals.
14. Bill Gross – leading bond mutual fund manager, supports, among other organizations, Doctors Without Borders.
15. William Conway – co-founder of Carlyle Group – whose priority philanthropic mission is to generate job-producing activities.
16. Stanley Druckenmiller – investment firm manager, now giving to medical research, education and the fight against poverty.
17. Abigail Johnson – President of Fidelity Investments, trustee of the Fidelity Foundation which has provided over $200 million to nonprofits in the United States and Canada.
18. Tom Golisano – former independent candidate for Governor of New York, founder and Chairman of the Board of Paychex.
19. Bill Gates, III – co-founder of Microsoft, now more of a philanthropist with emphasis on prevention of infectious diseases and education.
20. George Kaiser – chairman of BOK Financial Corporation, and advocate for renewable energy and tax reform.