November 28, 1948 - May 30, 2009
Richard Nadler, a leading political theorist, researcher, activist and personality, died unexpectedly at his home in Overland Park on Saturday, May 30, 2009. Mr. Nadler earned national prominence over the last decade with several works on political theory and policy. He pioneered analysis of the “investor class” – a large segment of American society whose wealth is tied to equity investment and who have personally or institutionally acquired a large ownership share in American business. Nadler elaborated the idea in The Rise of the Investor Class (Cato Institute; 1999). This concept played the key role in the second Bush administration’s attempt to promote an “ownership society,” in which private ownership of assets would substitute for government control and stewardship. More recently, Mr. Nadler gained national attention by his opposition to right-wing attempts to tighten immigration quotas and deport resident illegal aliens. Nadler pointed out that immigrants, both legal and illegal, play a key role in such U.S. sectors as agriculture, hospitality, construction and food service. Harsh regulatory measures intended to limit immigration have hampered the conduct of business in those industries; mass deportations would have even worse effects. Not surprisingly, Nadler contended, election results decisively show that voters have rejected Republican candidates who embraced a “deportationist” line. Nadler outlined his hypothesis in Border Wars (2006) and the 2008 National Review symposium and follow-up, “The Great Immigration Shootout,” as well as in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Mr. Nadler’s most ambitious project was his ongoing outreach effort to recruit black and Hispanic voters to the conservative position. In 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008, Nadler wrote, produced and directed hundreds of political-issue ads that were placed on radio and cable television in over thirty key states. The ads did not promote the Republican Party or Republican candidates. Indeed, the Party expressed no interest in supporting or endorsing the ads. Since Republican candidates were usually the ones supporting the conservative position, however, they were the presumptive beneficiaries of the ads’ persuasive power. Nadler’s careful follow-up research showed that, almost invariably, the black and Hispanic vote shifted in a conservative direction in markets affected by the ads. He summarized his findings in research documents compiled after each election. Although it will require time to fully evaluate this landmark experiment, analysis conducted at the University of Virginia supports Nadler’s evaluation of its results. Prior to 1995, Mr. Nadler concentrated his efforts at the local level. He had founded the Missouri Taxpayers Watchdog Association in 1983 in order to insure that members were apprised of the true voting behavior of state legislators. Until the Association disbanded in 2001, he compiled an Annual Legislative Ratings Guide, which exhaustively detailed the voting behavior of individual legislators. Mr. Nadler edited and published (and wrote large parts of) the KC Jones newspaper from 1988 until 2003. Along with its sister publication, the St. Louis Arch-Rival, it included editorials, features, essays, reprints, movie and music reviews and occasional advertisements. The paper’s editorial stance was consistently and outspokenly conservative; it opposed Democratic policy initiatives at the national level and high taxes, business subsidies and wasteful government spending at the local level with equal ferocity. Mr. Nadler’s public persona emerged not only in his writing but through his many appearances on radio and television, often in conjunction with his latest research. Local residents came to know him through his work as panelist on “Ruckus,” the public affairs program broadcast by the local PBS-affiliate station. His efforts helped the program earn a regional Emmy award. In 1995, Nadler published The Perils of Pat, a critical look at the principles and policy proposals espoused by Pat Buchanan, then-current Republican presidential candidate. That book included a historical review of U.S. commercial policy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He followed up with a straightforward political biography of another Presidential candidate in his 1996 book, Gramm, a profile of Phil Gramm. In 2004, Mr. Nadler published Feticide and the Birth Cycle in Me’am Lo’ez, writing under his orthodox Jewish name of Reuben-Lev ben Herschel. The book, a scholarly examination of abortion from the perspective of the Torah and traditional Jewish law, was praised by its small but select audience of reviewers and readers. Richard Nadler was born in St. Louis in 1948. He dropped out of high school to pursue his first career as a professional musician. That culminated with his role as violinist for the famous rock/jazz group, Pavlov’s Dog. Nadler’s repertoire, however, included classical as well as contemporary music. He left the group in the 1970s and obtained a GED. Eventually, he became a consultant with the Department of Education during the Reagan administration. Education remained a lifelong specialty. Support for education vouchers and denial of a link between increased education spending and better education were two recurring themes of his editorials, articles and public appearances. Mr. Nadler’s other activities included foundations and 501(c)3 committees created to advertise the success of the war in Iraq and oppose the upcoming oppressive regime of climate change-related legislation. In addition to National Review and The Wall Street Journal, he wrote for public-policy think tanks such as Cato Institute and Heartland Institute. He served as consultant to Missourians for Academic Excellence and as Chairman of Missourians for Strategic Defense. Nadler’s relentless and uncompromising style and remorseless logic in debatebelied his vast stock of charm and generosity. All of these qualities won him universal respect even from his political opponents. They also won him the undying love of his friends and associates. Among his professional protégés were Ramesh Ponnuru, cum laude graduate of Princeton University and now editor and columnist at National Review magazine, and John Berlau, now an associate at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Rich Nadler’s devotion to his wife, Barbara, was as complete as it was inspiring to all who knew them. She can take the only consolation available in the face of such a stunning and irreparable loss – the memory of an extraordinary life whose only real failure was that it was too short. Survivors include Barbara LeClerq, his wife, of the home; his mother, Sarah Nadler, of St. Louis; and his sister, Rae Marjorie Nadler-Olenick (Walter), Austin TX. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Richard Nadler Library at Torah Learning Center, 8800 W. 103rd St. O.P., KS 66212; Kansans For Life, P.O. Box 4448, O.P. KS 66204; or Americans For Tax Reform, 722 12th Street NW, Washington, D.C 20005.
Richard Nadler, a leading political theorist, researcher, activist and personality, died unexpectedly at his home in Overland Park on Saturday, May 30, 2009. Mr. Nadler earned national prominence over the last decade with several works on political... View Obituary & Service Information
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