Posted by: Shaun | February 25, 2008

Ralph Nader Redux

Yesterday on Meet the Press Ralph Nader announced he will make another bid for the presidency in 2008.  You can watch Tim Russert’s interview of Nader here:

This time around, the Green machine has dispensed with his “tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum” characterization of the other candidates (or perhaps he’s just waiting until there are only two left) though he still has criticism a plenty for Republicans and Democrats both. His incessant hyping of his campaign website leads me to believe he’ll be trying to mimic the success of netroots candidates like Howard Dean in 2004 and Barack Obama this year.

Of course, the first line of questioning that Russert pursued was related to the charge that has dogged Nader for almost eight years: that his candidacy “gave” the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 by taking votes away from Al Gore in Florida. Since its inception, this critique has prompted a slew of criticism from the left and resulted in widespread opposition to Nader’s 2004 run, often on the part of the very same people that had backed the Green candidate four years earlier (perhaps most memorably when Michael Moore and Bill Maher both knelt before Nader and begged him not to run during Maher’s live HBO talk show).

However you feel about Ralph Nader’s politics, the man has taken a lot of unfair heat for the results of the 2000 election. Sure, perhaps if Nader had bowed out in 2000, Gore would have picked up enough votes to overcome Bush’s razor thin margin of victory (537 votes, to be exact). Perhaps if any of the other third parties that received more than 537 votes in Florida had bowed out, the same would have happened. Perhaps if the Supreme Court had ruled differently in Bush v. Gore the result might have changed. Or maybe, and this is a stretch, if Al Gore’s campaign had been more effective than one for an off year election to city zoning commission, he could have won on his own.

Let’s face it, the 2000 election was Al Gore’s to lose. He was effectively running as the incumbent on the record of a wildly popularly presidency and unprecedented economic growth. And he couldn’t even win his home state. Hopefully this time around rather than whining about the Green specter putting literally tenths of percentage points of the popular vote at risk, the Democrats and other progressives will suck it up and campaign for a candidate on the basis of his or her merits, letting the voters (or at any rate, the Electoral College) have the final say. If we intend to operate as a democracy, it’s time to grow up.



  1. Open the debates! First one is Friday!

    I’m not a bot, I know you care about the democracy of our government, so we need to get this done. There are 6 Presidential candidates this year all of which are qualified and capable of winning, so why are there only 2 people on the debate! Bigotry, two party bias! Let’s flood the email inbox and the phone lines with: Open the Debates.

    It takes 5 mins. Please help me make a difference . Below is a script but please feel free to appropriately modify it to support your candidate .

    Step one:

    Call Barack Obama at 866-675-2008.
    Hit 6 to speak with a campaign volunteer.
    Once connected, politely deliver the following message:

    Hi, my name is …

    I was wondering if Senator Obama, being a believer in equal opportunity and equal rights, could insist that Ralph Nader and other ballot qualified third party candidates be included in the upcoming Presidential debates?
    After all, Nader is on 45 state ballots.
    And he’s polling well nationwide. And he could help Senator Obama challenge the corporate Republicans.
    True, Ralph would critique Senator Obama for his corporate ties also. But isn’t that what democracy is about? Could you please leave this message for the campaign manager? Thank you.

    Step two:

    E-mail Janet Brown, the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

    Here’s a sample e-mail:

    Dear Janet Brown:

    Greetings. You must be busy. Preparing for the first Presidential debate this Friday. So, I won’t take much of your time. Just wanted to let you know that the American people were not born yesterday. We know the deal. Take that little private corporation that you run. Controlled by the two corporate parties. And funded by big business. For the purpose of excluding independent minded candidates. Friday, two Wall Street candidates are scheduled to be in the ring. Barack Obama and John McCain. The one candidate who represents the American people, Main Street, if you will, will be on the outside looking in. So, here’s a simple request. Drop your exclusionary restrictions. And let Ralph Nader into the debates.
    It will be good for your conscience. Good for the American people. (I believe it was The League of Women Voters that called your corporatized debates “campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity, and honest answers to tough questions.”) And good for democracy. Let the American people have a real debate for once. Main Street vs. Wall Street.

    Thank you.

    your name.

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