UPDATE: Nader announced yesterday on Meet the Press that he was running. It is a sad day for anyone who views themselves as progressive in this nation. I was trying to think of historical analogies to this act of rash, egomaniacal foolishness. The Charge of the Light Brigade and Pickett’s Last Charge come to mind. But the most apt is Gen. George Armstrong Custer’s utter idiocy in riding his 300 men into the path of 10,000 Native American warriors. You’ll recall that Custer deliberately broke his force in two in order to gain some kind of imagined advantage. That act and not waiting for a reunion with these men before riding into the Little Big Horn caused the fool to meet his fate.
Ralph Nader too is dividing up the nation’s progressive forces and thereby giving Bush the best shot he’s had in months of continuing the right-wing coup d’etat against our beloved democracy. Shame on him.
Ralph likes to think of himself as sole champion of progressive values on the campaign trail. No doubt, he thinks constantly of his legacy. Well, I’ve got news for him. He won’t be remembered (if he’s remembered at all) as the savior of democracy, but rather as the man who cemented the right’s vise like grip on the levers of American power.
In case anyone doubts the man has a huge case of meglomania check out this quotation from the New York Times’, Relax, Nader Tells Democrats, but the Math Says Otherwise:
His support will come largely from “conservatives and independents who are very upset with Bush administration policies,” Mr. Nader said, and he urged “the liberal establishment to relax and rejoice.”
Nader also is quoted as saying “This candidacy is not going to get many Democratic Party votes.” If he honestly believes any of this crap then he’s lost his political bearings and possibly his mind.
I have a better suggestion: why not a Bush-Nader ticket? Hell, there might as well be one. Ralph Nader cinched Bush’s victory last time and it looks like he’s trying for the quadrennial double by doing it again in 2004. What I want to know is what this guy’s smokin’? Ralph wants you to believe that a Nader run would “benefit the Democrats.” Right. You have to devise some weird calculus to figure that one out. But here goes according the New York Times story, Nader Says a Run Would Benefit Democrats
Mr. Nader, says defeating him [Bush] and ending Republican control of Congress are his chief goals. And those goals are more achievable, he says, if he joins the race.
That may be a hard sell to many Democrats, given the effect he had on the 2000 election. He finished with 3 percent of the national electorate and won more than 97,000 votes in Florida–thereby denying Mr. Gore the state, even if, as in Mr. Nader’s calculation he won as many votes from Republicans as from Democrats. Mr. Bush won Florida by only 537 votes, and with it the presidency.
By hammering away at populist themes like a higher minimum wage, union rights and occupational health regulations, all of which he says have been neglected, he would force the leading Democratic contenders to move left. That, he says, would expand the party’s base, drawing out more liberal voters, some angry enough at him about 2000 that they would vote for the Democratic nominee instead, and many who would vote Democratic in close House and Senate races.
That’s beautiful logic. What the Democratic Party needs to win the presidency is a move to the left?? Pardon me while my blood pressure hits the ceiling.
Don’t get me wrong. I place myself strongly to the left within the Party. But even I am not such a fool as to think that if the Democrats moved left they’d carry anything, let alone the presidency. Ralph Nader may be a brilliant thinker (he reminds me in some ways of Noam Chomsky’s steel-trap mind). He may expound wonderfully progressive views on the major issues confronting this country. If this were the best of all possible worlds maybe Nader would make a great candidate. But we’re down here in the salt mines of the real world while Nader and his allies are flying high in the sky like the luftmenschen they are. It is unfortunately true that “you can’t always get what you want” as the Rolling Stones instructed us so memorably in the late 1960s. But if you try sometime–and make a few compormises that enable you to create a viable centrist candidacy (as I believe Howard Dean is doing)–then you just might find you get what you need–which is a Democratic President in 2004.
Ralph Nader is a positive danger to Democratic chances in the next election and thereby to the nation as well. I say this because another four years of Bush will seal so many more nails in the coffin of the progressive Democratic agenda. If he runs, there must be an energetic, dogged and vociferous effort to foil his campaign at every opportunity. I say to the Democrats, take off the kid gloves. Do some negative research. Go get this guy. Whether his intentions are good and honorable (and there’s no reason to believe they aren’t) or not, he will do irreparable harm to this nation by running. He must be stopped with every intellectual and political weapon at our disposal.