I only read a couple of liberal / progressive webjournals, but I’ve already seen plenty of hand-wringing and venom-spitting over the news that Ralph Nader is entering the Presidential race.
From Making Light:
Okay, everyone. Help save America. Work to keep Nader off the ballot in your state.
From Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns and Money:
Reactionary vanity candidate Ralph Nader is apparently pleased enough with record of the man he put in the White House that he’s running again in hopes that we can get four more years of similar policy outcomes.
All I can say to that is thank God. People are now freely admitting that running a candidate who accurately reflects the will of a substantial portion of the American people takes a back seat to getting a Democrat into the White House. It’s not about what citizens or progressives or socialists or liberals want – it’s about shilling for the century-old multi-million dollar corporation we call the Democratic Party. Better that a Democrat get elected than some dirty old Independent. But not a particular Democrat, no: just anyone who happens to have the “D” tag next to their name. Meaning, anyone who has the blessing of the superdelegates, the party machine, and the giant companies that finance this and every other election. Just anyone but him.
Let’s presume, for the sake of argument, an acknowledged fiction: that Ralph Nader will garner enough popular support in this election to seriously threaten $DEM_CANDIDATE’s chances at the Presidency. This won’t happen. But if it did, which would be the more moral choice: for the Democratic candidate to tailor their views leftward to accomodate Nader’s base of support, or to do whatever it took to keep Nader from being heard? To paraphrase: would it be better for the Democratic candidate to acknowledge the will of his constituency or to use the millions of dollars and thousands of bureaucrats at the Party’s disposal to silence the upstart?
I have to be missing something here, because the idea of fighting a Nader candidacy strikes me as not just immoral but so contrary to the supposed spirit of the Democratic Party – they’re the progressives, the populists, the ones sticking up for the little guy – that the idea that anyone could seriously be mad at Nader baffles me. If he’s so unpopular that he won’t make a difference, then what do you care? On the other hand, if he’s popular enough to take votes from your favorite candidate, doesn’t that indicate how weak your candidate was? Or would you rather have an election with as few candidates as possible, just so those gullible idiots in the Midwestern states don’t get confused? Hell, let’s just abolish the opposition party and have single candidate elections from now until the Germanic tribes sack Ravenna.
So please, someone: help me out. If you’re as mad at Nader for the craven audacity to run as Jim MacDonald or Scott Lemieux are, please explain to me what I’m missing. Say “I think it’s less important that people have a chance to vote for a candidate they prefer than to put a Democrat in the White House in 2009 because …” and then go from there. I’ll hear you out.
(And I don’t like Nader at all. The man’s got all the reactionary charm of Pat Buchanan but without the naked aggression. So if you’re opposed to Nader entering the race because you despise his ideas, that’s fine. But that has nothing to do with why every progressive I’ve read since Sunday wants him swept under the rug)