Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Meet" is Nader 

Ralph "more choices, more voices" Nader announced his candidacy for President on Russert's show this morning. That wasn't much of a surprise, of course. What surprised me, though, was how extraordinarily crisp Nader was throughout the interview. He did an outstanding job making his case. Coming in, he had a good idea about which questions would be asked, and he had obviously distilled his best arguments into rich, strong, simple statements: maximum content, minimum words. Efficient and effective. He didn't veer off into tangents. And the only time he seemed to be off his game was when he was plugging his web site (mainly because Nader has never bothered to learn how to really use computers or the internets).

Here's the part of the show that interested me the most, in light of my recent criticisms of Nader-- namely, that he isn't willing to take the political risks necessary to fuel an effective, consequential movement:

MR. RUSSERT: How would you feel, however, if Ralph Nader's presence on the ballot tilted Florida or Ohio to John McCain and McCain became president, and Barack Obama, the first African-American who had been nominated by the Democratic Party--this is hypothetical--did not become a president and people turned to you and said, "Nader, you've done it again"?

MR. NADER: Not a chance. If the Democrats can't landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, emerge in a different form. You think the American people are going to vote for a pro-war John McCain who almost gives an indication that he's the candidate of perpetual war, perpetual intervention overseas? You think they're going to vote for a Republican like McCain, who allies himself with the criminal, recidivistic regime of George Bush and Dick Cheney, the most multipliable impeachable presidency in American history? Many leading members of the bar, including the former head of the American Bar Association, Michael Greco, absolutely dismayed over the violations of the Constitution, our federal laws, the criminal, illegal war in Iraq and the occupation? There's no way. That's why we have to take this opportunity to have a much broader debate on the issues that relate to the American people, as, as, as a fellow in Long Island said recently, Mr. Sloane, he said, "These parties aren't speaking to me. They're not speaking to my problems, to my family's problems."

MR. RUSSERT: But you do see differences between Barack Obama and John McCain on the war, on tax cuts, on the environment, on a lot of issues?

MR. NADER: Yeah. There are differences, obviously.

Here, Nader is arguing that there is "no chance" that McCain will win. He thinks the Dems will landslide in November, and that his candidacy is mainly about "broadening the debate" on issues that the Dems too often ignore (or fudge).

Nader is basically admitting that he's not in it to win it. He acknowledges that the Dems talk a different game than the Republicans, but Nader thinks he needs to run as a political gadfly in hopes of spurring the Democratic candidate to make his platform more like Nader's (single-payer health care, slash wasteful military spending...etc).

But this is not a new rationale. Nader uses it every four years. It's all about partaking in the "national debate". He's not in it to win, per se, because then he would have to judge himself by his electoral results. It's about influencing the agenda. (Where was he last year when the major candidates were actually putting together their agendas?)

So the question becomes... on what basis does Nader think that his quadrennial presidential campaigns will significantly alter the Democratic candidate's agenda? And how many of Nader's proposals would the Democratic candidate have to adopt to satisfy Ralph, so that he would drop out? 100%? Why does Nader believe that getting 2% of the presidential vote every four years is the most effective way to give "voice" to his issues? Sure, it's his "right" to run... but what has he achieved as a candidate thus far? What does he hope to achieve in 2008? Does he have a political plan for his hopes? He praises and criticizes the tactics of other campaigns, while saying that the American public agree with his agenda... but then why shouldn't Nader have to explain why his own campaigns are always mired below 3% of the vote? How can he so casually dismiss the chance of McCain winning, while not being forced to evaluate his own "chances". (For example, if McCain is as weak as Nader says, and if a Democratic landslide is imminent, why doesn't Nader set a goal of capturing 5%+ of the votes this year? Wouldn't that be something to build on?) Perhaps Nader should spend a little more time analyzing his own tactics. Perhaps he should take some clues from fellow septuagenarian Ron Paul, who figured out creative ways to tap into elements of the American electorate who felt voiceless. The electoral system is heavily rigged, but it's not hopelessly rigged. There are more soft underbellies there than people assume. If you told someone in July of 2004 that a black liberal Democrat with a name that rhymes with "Osama" would be the Presidential favorite in 2008, they would have never believed you.

Unfortunately, it seems that Nader is not willing to take the political risks necessary to creatively exploit these openings in a way that could potentially succeed.

Notwithstanding his solid performance on Meet the Press, I don't think Candidate Nader is the best political vehicle for Citizen Nader's agenda.

Update: Also, in other news, "Deception" has been indicated on the Larry Sinclair lie detector test.


18 comments DiggIt!


This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger E, at 2:08 PM  

Whoops, too many type-o's

So much about Ralph Nader crushes my spirits.

What most infuriates me is this:

Where are you in between elections?

You're a perpetual candidate with an occasional campaign.

And you time that occasional campaign to be most damaging to what could be at least marginal progress toward a somewhat similar utopian idea of progressive America.

Where've you been during the Bush disaster you've helped to create?

You're a jackass and I'll never wear a tee-shirt with your face on it. Thanks for getting famous.

By Blogger E, at 2:11 PM  

I voted for Nader for three elections in a row: 96, 00, and 04. I don't regret any of those votes, because I honestly believe the Dems were absolutely pathetic those years.

This time, Nader is just pissing me off.

Also, now that I've seen the Green Party in action, I know what pathetic, ineffective whiners they are.

Um, I guess it's take to unregister for the party, eh? Before, you know, they kick me out.

Maybe one day I'll blog about my experience with the local Greens. They should be embarrassed.

By Blogger Mr. Clio, at 4:42 PM  

Nader got 0.38 percent in '04, not 2%. It's a quibble but 2% overstates Nader's 2004 national support by 500+ percent. I have no problem with Nader running (it's a free country) but I do have a problem with the amount of attention that Nader gets in the national press. If Nader is worthy of all of this coverage then so is the Libertarian ticket that got .32 percent of the '04 vote. It's entirely arbitrary that the press goes into these spasms over Nader. The political press should either cover all of the various minor political movements or ignore all of them. Simply giving Ralph Nader a forum isn't the same as reporting on the state of minor party politics. It's the same lazy effort we've come to expect from...Ralph Nader.

By Anonymous joejoejoe, at 6:46 PM  

Ralph Nader said above:

"If the Democrats can't landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, emerge in a different form."

* * *

What form is that, Ralphie? Poisoned, rotting corpses? You don't get it, do you?

By Anonymous desiree.cousteau, at 8:40 PM  

I love this man...thank you Ralph Nader.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:11 PM  

As I stated on my blog, Nader seems to really only care about himself. The only way he gets to remain "relevant" is for the "corporatists" he hates to remain in power, and he best acheives that goal by taking votes away from Democrats.

Any liberal who votes for Nader in this election, especially in swing states, will be to blame if their quixotic quest for the perfect liberal candidate leads our country to "for more years" of the same old same old in the oval office.

By Anonymous Daniel Z., at 11:52 PM  

Nader is so nadir, he has expended his relevance.

I, like him, doubt he has any balance of power or any relevance to this cycle.

He is a sad reflectance on his past.

By Blogger mominem, at 12:53 AM  

I am all for him running I want an effective third party. Even if he is only trying to influence the debate. The Communist party ran the same way for years look at their platform; they were successful and never held any major political office. They did this by influence. We can blame Nader all we want but with as little support as he gets is like blaming ants for a bad picnic. If the ants are bothering you move kill them do something else. Dont just stand there and cry and whine. Be proactive is all I am really saying.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:05 AM  

Anon: That is a horrible analogy. Ants, at a picnic, do things that help them (even though it may annoy the people there). Nader supporters, by voting for Nader, hurt themselves if their actions cause McCain to win the Presidency.

Now, if Nader would run in states that we know Republicans will win and not run in swing states, I would have less of a problem. However, I think Nader's ego is far to large to allow that to happen.

By Anonymous Daniel Z., at 7:28 AM  

Anon: Daniel Z is correct. Horrible analogy. I don't want an effective third party, I want any party that somehow represents my thoughts. Nader doesn't give a flying fuck about creating an effective third party -- he just wants his ego to get a boost.

And Desiree, I've been wanting to meet you for years...

By Blogger Ashley, at 9:59 AM  

Ashley - Did you score* any of Desiree's films?

* - the music, not score a copy from Sticky Videoz

By Anonymous joejoejoe, at 11:18 AM  

Being in politics has to be more than saying what people what to here to get elected, promises of $$ for what ever group is standing there listning to the prostitute standing up up on the podium speaking. We need to demand more from our politicians but we dont. we are lazy and stupid(generally, not specifically; unwad your panties) This is why I have no problem with Nader running even if he gets an unfair amount of press. He has every legal right to be there; and all politicians at the national level are ego-maniacal and self driven power hungry prostitues. Mr Smith Goes to Washington is a joke. Nader will get less than one percent of the vote. If either party cant overcome that kind of edge its not Nader's fault it the fault of the party running that they didnt run harder or better or smarter and it is the fault of the People that we are that closely divided.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:10 PM  

Joe -- alas, no.

Anon: anyone that votes for Nader at this point deserves a huge boot up the arse. What can he possibly represent to anyone? The hypocrisy of never owning a car, but being chauffeured everywhere? The idealism of being a multimillionaire, yet claim to be a consumerist?

Nader represents nothing but Nader's ego at this point, and anyone that votes for him now is a fuckmook. You want change? Write in Guevara.

By Blogger Ashley, at 1:18 PM  

Anon: We can start being less lazy and more intelligent without cutting off our nose to spite our face! That is what a vote for Nader does, especially in a swing state. And in swing states, < 1% nationally can mean electoral college DEATH.

Does Nader have the legal right to be there? Yes! Nobody is claiming otherwise. But is Nader better off not running, and getting a Democrat elected who may support 25% of what he believes in ... or getting a Republican elected who supports nothing.

Of course, the theory i suggested at my blog says that Nader MAY want the Republican to win because that keeps him able to complain about all the nasty corporatists. And he may very well get his wish if the other "cut off your nose to spite your face" liberal voters out there fall for his crap yet again.

By Anonymous Daniel Z., at 2:20 PM  

Is Nader the best person for the job? No, but given the choices, he is lightyears ahead of Obama, Clinton and especially McCain.



By Blogger Tim, at 6:03 PM  

Tim: So of the three, Obama, Clinton and McCain, who is the worst?

By Anonymous Daniel Z., at 12:48 PM  

Tim: So of the three, Obama, Clinton and McCain, who is the worst?

By Anonymous Daniel Z., at 12:48 PM