Kudos to the City Club of Cleveland for herding three of the major independent candidates for President into the same room for an hour last Thursday. Ralph Nader barely arrived on time but held his own with Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr in an encounter noteworthy for how little Barr and Nader, in particular, differed on major issues. It wasn't until late in the debate, when the subject turned toward taxation and the responsibilities of government, that Nader and the Libertarian really differentiated themselves, Nader (in my view) scoring better by noting how the bankrupted European nations after World War II somehow managed to establish national health care and other benefits while the allegedly richest country on earth couldn't manage it, presumably because of the ideological scruples of people like Barr. Otherwise, however, the two men were very much on the same page. Nor did Baldwin exactly dissent much. His was a difference in emphasis that isolated him as more of a fringe candidate. He clearly meant to define himself as the anti-immigration candidate, going so far as to challenge Barr and Nader to account for illegal immigration as a factor in the financial crisis. Barr answered by calling for more "robust" but legal immigration, while Nader suggested withdrawing American support from corrupt regimes and unfair treaties that drove people across the border for jobs. All three oppose the Bailout, NAFTA and all related treaties, and the war. But they insist on their differences, Baldwin especially flaunting his "traditional" values, when challenged from the audience to pool their resources behind a single candidate. Barr said that would be fine if he were the candidate, while Nader perhaps betrayed his ego by saying he preferred a debate among many parties. Baldwin at least said that if Ron Paul had continued his campaign rather than cling to his seat in Congress, he would gladly have supported him. Overall it was interesting, especially to see Barr, the Libertarian, insisting on corporate accountability to the point of Congressional hearings and prosecutions for fraud, and Nader, of all people, expounding the fundamental rules of capitalism and how current practices culminating in the Bailout violated them. All three men, however, ought to think about overcoming ego and achieving common ground in 2012, and they probably ought to bring Cynthia McKinney into the discussion as well.
Here's a clip from the debate from YouTube. Unfortunately, Barr is cut off in mid-comment at the end of this approximately five-minute clip. If someone has something that lets him speak more completely, I'll add it later. Also, if you get sound but no picture, pause the clip and restart it and you should see what they're saying.
Here's a link to the video of the full debate.