Ralph Nader said Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat Katy Perry praises Taylor Swift for diving into politics Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE is unfairly winning the Democratic nomination with unelected superdelegates and closed primaries that shut out independent voters who prefer Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Bernie Sanders' age should not disqualify him in 2020 Small-dollar donations explode in the Trump era 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 TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE to provide “more voices and choices on the ballot.”

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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 GoreVoting mentality of seniors shifting ahead of midterms, says Morning Consult editor Nikki Haley powerfully rebuts Trump No, civility isn't optional MORE, effectively handing the presidency to George W. Bush.   

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation Graham: Saudi’s findings on slain journalist not 'credible' 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.