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Ralph Nader: Back in the Saddle Again?

 
 
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 04:25 pm
The answer, of course, is yes. Mr. Nader announced his candidacy for the President of the U.S. today on NBC's "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert. One could almost hear the collective Democratic national groan which was remarkable because of the simultaneous harmony it formed with that cheering coming from the Republican camp.

Bad news for the Dems and good news for the GOP? Well maybe, but it is good news for American citizens. In this age of ever larger media conglomerates (even William Safire is fearful of this trend), Vanilla presidential candidates, and ever increasing legislative power given to special interest groups, can the emergence of a third party candidate be a bad thing? Perhaps more choices and innovative thinking that exposes naked emperors is desirable.

Ralph Nader is undeniably the gnawing little voice in the American subconscious-- its conscience. To those who say environmental protection is an uneconomical pipe dream, that individual safety and liberty must be sacrificed to obtain a strong economy and a safe American society, and that our foreign policy need not take into account those concerns of other nations, he merely seems to ask them to step back and reconsider. Some might counter "Well isn't that what Howard Dean was all about? Look what happened to him!"

Yes and no. Dean's run seemed almost forced--a shrill, loud, and acute cry against the status quo that both parties have fostered. It seemed a mere ploy to carve out a niche and define his candidacy. But despite those ensconced in Democratic power positions he garnered a following. Some might pooh-pooh this as some inter-net fluke, but what is the internet but another form of communication like letters, telephones, or Fax machines? What is important is what Dean tapped into, not the method.

So, Ralph Nader is just another Dean type trying to use this hidden frustration in the electorate to further his agenda. Right? Well, yes, but that's what elections are all about. However, Mr. Nader's positions show a quality Gov. Dean's lacked-- Legitimacy through consistency. Mr. Nader has held to his beliefs, well, forever. Remember his book "Unsafe at Any Speed" that dealt with safety concerns in autos? That was like in the Stone Age where if you wanted to have seat belts in your car you had to buy them yourself and put them in the vehicle.

There are those that might say Mr. Nader's positions are too liberal or intrusive into the lives of American citizens and that is their right to so say. The vision of our nation directed entirely by Mr. Nader is no more attractive then that directed by President Bush. Mr. Nader's efforts have always been so directed to make Americans not only safer but to keep the system open so that all of us may continue to have not only choices but the ability to exercise those choices.

There are those that would say:" But, James, James, James! Nader can never win the election! Given political realities, a vote for Nader is a vote for George W. Bush!"

But perhaps there are hopeful thoughts which are a bit more nuanced. Can we agree here that a Nader candidacy might force both sides to face issues differently or even different issues? In the process perhaps we might see less spin and more honest dialog and debate seeping through. A desirable side effect manifested as a better picture of each candidate's actual beliefs and a better chance for the voter to clear away the fog of political ambiguity.

I sense the possibility that the Bush camp might start to run into problems when the actual campaign for the White House begins. Just as the Bushies will attack Kerry on his record and lack of presidential experience the Dems will attempt to use Bush's record of presidential performance against him. Bush has become increasing vulnerable.

But returning to the subject at hand, a Nader run at the White house could actually help Americans get a clearer picture of the candidates, force dialogs on a lot of important issues, thereby allowing not only better problem definition but attempts at real world solutions to national issues. Nader could force Kerry and Bush to clearly define themselves.

"But, still, it's a zero sum game! Votes Nader gets are votes Kerry loses!"

But consider Mr. Nader's response to Mr. Russert's question: "If after all your campaigning it is apparent in the polls you cannot possibly win, will you endorse John Kerry?" Mr. Nader quietly said he would consider all options, and wished Mr. Russert would invite him back on the program, given such conditions, so that he could properly respond to the question when it was no longer hypothetical in nature.

So should I go to Mr. Nader's website (votenader.com) and give him a few bucks to start the ball rolling? Would you?

Respectfully,

JM
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 2,926 • Replies: 28
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 05:14 pm
See this Jim?
http://www.ralphdontrun.net/

The speed of dark
0 Replies
 
JamesMorrison
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 07:14 pm
farmerman, Darkness indeed.

Yes, Tim Russert's interview with Mr. Nader began with this. Ralph responded correctly. Who is anybody to tell him, me, or anybody else how we must behave towards the powers that be (as long as no laws are broken).

That, of course, is the basis of Howard Dean's, John Kerry's, G.W. Bush's or even David Duke's bid for presidential election. This is a country where the power of free speech is guaranteed even though it subsequently guarantees controversy. (I will not divert to the subject of the present administration's attempt at setting up democratic rule in Iraq, although, given our values it is strange in addition to being difficult.) Democracy is messy; the only thing that makes it work is the rule of law.

David Duke's candidacy did not survive the harsh Klieg lights of truth. I could continue but it would be an exercise in tautology. I argue only for Mr. Nader's right to express his opinions...truly a safe position in theory, but can the American system tolerate said opinion? Yes, of course it can but Mr. Nader is not the bad guy here. He is merely the messenger.

I guess some might view my post as agreeing with not only Mr. Nader's views but his right to express them. They would be half right. I am not a zealot, my position of demanding all the information about a candidate and his views is simply rooted in my desire to make a wise and informed decision. To those of a scientific background this is second nature. Those lacking in such training requiring such skepticism are at a disadvantage, but this is not to say they do not wish the same information to help them come to a rational decision. Mr. Nader's arguments in the forum and context of a presidential debate may well supply all us citizens with the desired facts.

So, we can only thank you for your posting of the anti-Nader video!

Thanks again,

JM
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 07:25 pm
Very well written JM.

I am very glad that Nader is in the race. I hope the Democrats figure it out soon. Instead of whining about Nader, they should be working to earn our votes by addressing the issues that many of us who voted for Nader care about.

Farmerman,

I disagree with the premise of your site. Gore lost my vote in 2000. When the Democrats start taking the blame for their loss and addressing the issues that drive many of us away, they will be able to start winning us back.

All this whining not only insults our democracy, it also insults the very voters that you are trying to attract.

Nader is a reality, Nader is right, and Nader represents many of us.

Deal with it.
0 Replies
 
JamesMorrison
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 12:15 am
e-brown,

I do not interpret farmerman's posting of the anti-Nader video as implying his endorsement of such narrow minded and defensive media efforts, and I am sure neither do you.

But, I must profess ignorance as to exactly who is responsible for this advertisement. I had assumed a Democratic type organization and my original post was so directed, but what if its source was Rovian? Well, I just re-checked the site in question and it claims "progressive...Democrat(ic)" origin, which is sad. Had it been of Republican origin I could have easily dismissed the serious implications as merely political.

So we have an organization using the moniker "Democratic" (of or pertaining to the broad masses of people) lobbying said masses to ignore a specific candidate for what reason? What is curious is that said Democratic organization has launched a campaign begging, literally, Ralph Nader to "Cease and desist" his consistent message. This is revealing. After all, what is the traditional power relationship between beggar and him/her so begged? Given this implication, what gives Mr. Nader such power?

Alternatively, this could be a literal "gold mine" for the Dems if they could just harness the indignation energy that both Dean and Nader has recognized and capitalized upon. Next step would be to refocus this energy using compromise and political alliances. This process may seem to be "Rocket Science" to Iraqis but, as of this writing, the Afghans have made compromises to effect their Constitution. Is it possible the Dems can accomplish the same towards a simple party nomination under less dire circumstances?

Make no mistake; this is the Democratic Party's challenge to legitimacy, revisited. They can do the Middle Eastern post Ottoman Empire Arabic thing and use blame deflection via Florida Republican's unfairness, or perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court's unkind judicial "legislative" decisions, or even Ralph Nader's negation of Gore's White House bid in 2000. But, to me this is un-American, at best. They (those of the Democratic Party) must use the impetuous of Gov. Dean and the legitimacy of Ralph Nader to push their case.

JM

P.S. A Totally irrelevant question: Did anybody recognize the voice on this "progressive Democratic" persuasion vehicle?
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 01:14 am
ebrown_p wrote:
I hope the Democrats figure it out soon. Instead of whining about Nader, they should be working to earn our votes by addressing the issues that many of us who voted for Nader care about.


I'm sure that most people wouldn't mind a candidate more closly tailored to their personal preference.

But there are also those who do not wish to exclude the possibility of representation through the desire to have more accurate representation.

In other words, I think what you sare saying is that the Democratic party should more accurately represent your position even at the cost of the larger Democratic group losing their representation altogether.

Quote:

All this whining not only insults our democracy, it also insults the very voters that you are trying to attract.


Then stop whining! ;-)

This is a tactic I am prone to use sometimes, ultimately I think your characterization of it as whining is meaningless though (as frequently is mine), especially when you do so under the banner of democracy.

What you call "whining" is just as inherent an element of democracy.

Quote:
Nader is a reality, Nader is right, and Nader represents many of us.

Deal with it.


We do deal with it. This is not incompatible with the desire to voice dissent. We lament the short-sightedness of what may of us consider idealistic matrydom.

Making a point at the cost of a presidential election is something some agree with and others think wasteful.

Some think the point needs to be made, others think it does not.

Some hold it as an idealistic dream, others as an idealistic nightmare.

Some think it's egotistical others think it's noble.

Some think it's idealistic martrydom others think idealism is worth this form of martrydom.

Some think it's not martrydom at all.

Personally I think it's wasteful idealistic matrydom. I think this is no less a "democratic" position than the "martyrs".
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 01:18 am
BBB
In the 2000 election, it was a mistake not to allow Ralph Nader to participate in the presidential debates, which was something he very much wanted to do. It would have added intellectual depth to the vapid debates that proceeded without him.

I wonder if Nader is invited to participate in the 2004 presidential debates (after all Kuchinich and Sharpton don't have a chance to win the nomination either) that he would be more open to endorsing either Kerry or Edwards?

BBB
0 Replies
 
eoe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 08:58 am
I'm convinced now, once and for all, that Nader really works for the Republican Party.
0 Replies
 
eoe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 08:58 am
Sad
0 Replies
 
Fedral
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 09:38 am
I think it is a sad reflection of just how loose a grasp on their votes the Democratic Party has when the candidacy of one man can tear enough votes away from their man to potentially loose them the election.

This is not a direct slam on the Democratic Party, it should be a wake up call for them to listen, evaluate and address the issues that the Nader supporters find so important.

A party is built on a coalition of peoples with differing specific views but the same general outlook on direction. Even in my Republican committee meetings, you never saw a more argumentative group of people pulling in different directions. But in the end, we shake hands and get on with supporting the candidates that the majority voted on. Sometimes compromises have to be made to get everyone together on specific people but in the end, those decisions are hammered out and everyone walks away satisfied that their views have been given a fair hearing.This is what makes a party strong... UNITY.

And until the Democrats learn to listen and take this section of their Party seriously, this will always remain as a weak spot in their armor.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 09:38 am
"They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
For trying to change the system from within
I'm coming now, I'm coming to reward them
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin"
L. Cohen
0 Replies
 
eoe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 09:47 am
You're absolutely right, Fedral. Not only is it a shame that this one tired ass third party candidate can be such a threat, it's a DAMNED shame and doesn't say much for the Dems candidates at all.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 10:08 am
Craven,

Let me clarify my position here.

First, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Democratic party.

I am an independent (and an idealist) and that is how I vote.

When you use the phrase (cost the election) you are assuming that I am partisan (since if I were a Repubican than I would have *won* the election). I am neither Democrat nor Republican and resent the implication that I owe my vote to anyone.

Secondly, people keep saying that Nader cost the election for Gore. This charge is simply ridiculous.

I voted for Nader because Gore lost my vote. If Gore was not a weak candidate who ran a weak campaign he would have had my vote (and I imagine the votes of at least a few more people who think like I do).

You are asking me to support a weak candidate because of Bush?

Perhaps you have a point, but this type of thinking is problematic. The fact that "electibility" is one of the top reasons for supporting Kerry leaves a bad taste in this voters mouth. How the establishment dealt with Dean is a good example of what happends when peopel accept this line of reasoning.

I don't know how this election is going to pan out. I may yet vote for Kerry, if (and only if) he runs a campaign remarkedly different from Gore's.

But I am an independent and I vote indendently. Nader is doing a great service to those of us who think independently and for the country as a whole.

The idea, expressed here and elsewhere, that this makes me or Nader in cohoots with the other party is pure foolishness.

---------------
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
- George Bernard Shaw
0 Replies
 
eoe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 10:32 am
ebrown_p wrote:
Nader is doing a great service ...for the country as a whole.


How?
0 Replies
 
Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 10:34 am
Of all the democratic candidates running this primary season John Kerry has been my least favorite. The undistinguished senator from a neighboring state he was not even on my political radar until this fall. Dean got more consistent press coverage in New England over the last eight years as governor of Vermont than did Kerry as senator. The two arguments made for his candidacy is that he is an insider (experience) and he is "electable" (what ever that is). Neither of these arguments address issues of substance and so far neither has the Kerry campaign. from my perspective he has done little other than mouth generalized platitudes and attack other candidates. At the moment the main issue seems to be "what did you do in the Vietnam War" as if a conflict thirty years ago had any current relevance. As much as I disagree with Nader's run (and I voted for him in 2000) I can see his point. The democratic primary race is moving away from a discussion of significant issue towards superficial strategic considerations and Nader is trying to pull it back.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 10:40 am
By giving people a choice. People like ebrown_p and myself who don't care for either candidate. To give a third party a chance in someday making a difference.

Would you rather have people like me voting for Bush or Nader?
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 11:04 am
Nader!

What stats I have found, though, indicate that far more of those who would vote for Nader would otherwise be voting for the Dem candidate.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 11:13 am
... and

By making sure that the two-party establishment (duopoly as Nader calls it) does not have the ability to railroad the debate.

I guarantee you that Nader will change the debate. Nader will bring up issues that one party or the other would rather not discuss.

If you accept that the two-party system we have is the best way to run our democracy (and this is a very dubious proposition to me) -- then you need to accept that each party has a responsibility to its "consituents". The two party system holds each party accountable because if a party does not represent enough voters, it will lose power - period, end-of-story, tough luck, that's how the system works.

The fact that those of us who are sympathetic to Nader's message tend to be to the left should make you ask yourself why it is the Democrats who are alienating a portion of their base.

If the Democrats listen, it will certainly be a great service to our nation.

Even if they don't, more debate and open discussion is always good for a democracy. To me this is much more important than partisan politics.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 11:18 am
Debate = good.

Open discussion = good.

Getting Edwards or Kerry into office = priceless.

If I really felt that Edwards/Kerry was roughly equivalent to Bush, I'd agree with all of that. However, I don't, I think Bush is some scary a$$ sh!t, and needs to get OUT of office by any (legal) means necessary. That's the bottom line, for me.
0 Replies
 
eoe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 11:54 am
Same here soz. I've voted for Angela Davis and Ross Perot in the past but we've got a different ballgame being played right now. In another time, I'd be all for Nader and whomever else wanted to throw their hat into the ring but for me, with this election, the goal is to get Bush out. Period. And anyone outside of his crew standing in the way of that is, in all actuality, a part of his crew.
0 Replies
 
 

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