Looking very much like the physics professor he once was, Natural Law Party Presidential Candidate John Hagelin took the podium at UC Berkeley’s Valley Life Sciences Building Wednesday to address Alan Ross’ Election 2000 class.
Accompanied by Nat Goldhaber from Oakland, a former CEO of Cybergold, Inc., the two touted their “Natural Law” platform to a room of 200 enthusiastic students.
“Third parties supported
a woman’s right to vote, the abolition of slavery, and advocated ideas that are now taken for granted in today’s public mainstream,” Hagelin said.
The candidate invoked former World Wrestling Federation champion Jesse “The Body” Ventura as a model of third party success.
“Jesse won, with one-fiftieth of his rival party’s budget. It shows that while most third parties die out after their ideas have been co-opted by the political duopoly, we now have an opportunity to do more. We have entered a moment when third party candidates can win seats at the national, state and local level, affect change in policy, and take back democracy from the special interest groups who have stolen it from the people.”
Hagelin, a resident of Iowa, called the two party system a “political duopoly.”
“The Republicans and Democrats strangle third party voices. We can’t wait four more years to have a representative democracy. We need a peaceful revolution at the ballot box today.”
A split in the Reform Party left Hagelin out of the running for $12 million in campaign funds. The Natural Law Party and Pat Buchanan’s coalition splintered the fledgling party once dominated by Ross Perot. A court ruled that Buchanan is the true Reform Party candidate.
But such developments were not discussed at all.
Instead, Hagelin focused on his candidacy, and introduced his running mate, Nat Goldhaber, currently a member of the UC Berkeley Executive Board.
Both men are academics. Hagelin is a quantum physicist with degrees from Harvard, and Goldhaber is a graduate from UC Berkeley with a masters degree in education.
Both are also graduates of Maharishi University. Founded by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the university teaches a philosophy of natural law, from which the Natural Law Party takes its name. Hagelin explained the principles of the party to the students.
“We want policies in harmony with natural law. Take health care. Now the debate is ‘Who will pay for whose disease?’ which leads to squabbling in a zero sum game that really doesn’t get at the root of health-care problems. We should seek prevention-oriented solutions, that harness the natural laws of life.”
Defining natural law as “sustainable, common sense solutions to human problems” Hagelin added that applying natural law to policy would lead to commensurate compensation for teachers, sustainable agriculture, a foreign policy germane to the post-cold-war world, including no “corporate welfare” for the defense industry, and a crime prevention policy based on decriminalizing non-violent drug offenses.
His most concrete plan was to build a dozen model schools “to showcase what works and what doesn’t.”
“School districts could then pick and choose what works for them at the local level,” he said.
And for the school funding, Hagelin brought up the need for a different set of priorities. “We could give block grants to up the pay of all teachers $10,000 a year just by using the money for 5 B-52 bombers - and I mention the B-52 because it is the kind of obsolete technology that the Pentagon doesn’t even really want anymore.”
With 1,000 candidates on ballots across the nation, Hagelin called his party the fastest growing third party in the nation.
“Issues like global warming, the genetic manipulation of food, the need for sustainable energy, these are not being addressed - and that’s why we have the lowest voter turnout of any democratic nation in the world.”
Blasting the two-party system, Goldhaber added, “We are at an opportune moment for an infectious and irreversible political turning point. We are sick and tired of an unresponsive duopoly. We need to return democracy to the people and make politics relevant to every person in this nation.”