After I emailed a close friend last week that Ralph Nader was considering another run to be U.S. President, my friend wrote back:
a smart Democratic supporter told me when Nader’s name came up, that if Nader knew he could not win, that it was about ego and was nothing but a spoiler without his running Bush would not have gotten elected.
I wrote back to my friend:
First, I don’t believe that Nader is responsible for Gore’s loss. The dems could have challenged the election results, they didn’t. It’s sad to watch the footage of House members pleading with Al Gore from the floor of The Senate for one Senator to come forward and challenge the results (that’s all that was needed), no one stepped forward.
Secondly, I wouldn’t expect any other answer, except perhaps insults and name calling (speaking from experience), from someone who has thrown their everything into the Democratic Party. People like Ralph Nader are a real threat to them, as a critic Nader threatens damage to the Democratic base so he must be stomped out – even if what he advocates is good for our country. To party regulars it’s more important to protect the party than our country. See for example: http://www.democracynow.org/2000/10/17/naders_speech_at_madison_square_garden
As for ego, ask that dem supporter to name one U.S. President in the last 100-years who did not have a big ego? The trick is to find someone who can put their “ego” to good use and behave in a reasonable and pragmatic manner. Ralph Nader has not swayed in his advocacy for the common citizen since he started way back when. The results of his work, and the people who were inspired by him is quite visible. Mandatory seat belts, airbags, The Consumer Product Safety Commission, The Clean Air Act, and the list goes on and on.
We will never have anything but a 2 party system in this country if your friends observations are taken to heart. At some point ideology has to trump “realpolitik.” Sure, it will be painful, some bad people will probably be elected – but in the end we and our nation would benefit by having more than 2 parties (2 parties that more often than not seem to agree on legislation that is not in our best interest).
The Republicans and the Democrats closed ranks to keep Nader out of the debates, as you’ll probably recall. They did this because both parties knew Nader had traction with their constituents and because, if allowed to participate in a nationally televised debate, Nader might have convinced some of the viewers that the nominees were corporate whores who didn’t really give 2 hoots about citizens; that of course would have been unacceptable to the corporate backers of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Noam Chomsky and many others have pointed out that while you can say anything you want in the United States access to media “markets” (hence the citizenry) is denied to those who are truly critical of the ruling elites. We recently have witnessed similar media responses to John Edwards when, sincere or not, the large media corporations ignored what he was saying because it had a populist bent (don’t want to upset the sheep you know). I guess it’s kinda funny that I know more than a few Republicans (more to the right than most) who voted for Nader.
The behavior of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party over the past 12-16 years has been shameful. Both are responsible for the mess we are in now: corporate control of our government, jobs going overseas, the balance of trade, etc. etc.
You might want to watch the film, “An Unreasonable Man” (2006) I think it’s out on DVD see: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0492499/