The Providence Journal
October 20, 2000
3RD-PARTY HOPEFUL WARNS AGAINST SPECIAL INTERESTS IN GOVERNMENT
Natural Law Party's John Hagelin, a Harvard-trained physicist running for president, speaks at a news conference at The Westin Providence yesterday.
By SCOTT MacKAY
Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE -- John Hagelin ... brought his fledgling campaign to Rhode Island yesterday with a pitch for disaffected voters to use his Natural Law Party as a vehicle to push the special interests out of the U.S. government.
Hagelin, 46, a Harvard University-trained physicist, held a news conference at The Westin Providence hotel to call for an overhaul of the nation's campaign-finance system and the need to shift our health-care system from one focused on treating disease to one based on preventive medicine.
"We're attempting to provide a new voice to take back our stolen democracy from the special interests and the parties they own," Hagelin said, "by providing common-sense solutions."
Hagelin sounds like a hybrid of Ralph Nader, the Green Party's candidate for president, and Ross Perot, the Reform Party candidate in 1992 and 1996. Hagelin wants to eliminate political action committees, so-called unregulated "soft" political money and corporate control of politics.
And he supports fair-trade policies that do not dislocate workers; environmental protection; a health-care system that promotes preventive measures rather than just high-technology cures; a shift to renewable energy reources, and an end to the "two-party stranglehold" on U.S. politics.
Hagelin traces the looming winter fuel shortage and soaring costs of petroleum products to the alliance between the country's major political parties and energy companies.
"The Republican and Democratic candidates for president are both heavily invested in the oil industry," Hagelin said. ...
Hagelin had none of the typical campaign events a presidential candidate holds when he or she comes to the state; he did not meet and greet voters, appear on television or hold a fundraiser among supporters.
There were reminders of the Byzantine world of third-party politics; Hagelin was accompanied by Russ Verney, a former top official of the Reform Party, who was close to Perot. Verney has split with the Reform Party over that party's presidential nomination of Patrick Buchanan, a former Republican White House aide to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
If he minds playing second fiddle on a third-party ticket, Hagelin doesn't let it show. He takes solace, he says, in the knowledge that many of the country's most cherished political institutions grew from ideas conceived by third parties. Among those achievements: the abolition of slavery in the 19th century and women's suffrage, Social Security and workers' right to organize unions in the 20th century.
"Most of the innovations we cherish in our country came from third-party candidates who did not win," Hagelin said.
His campaign slogan this year is "anything's possible."