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Nader: The Only Thing to Fear Is Fear Itself

In DR's view, Democrats need to get over the obvious fact that Nader's decision to run for president is morally irresponsible, egotistical, betrays the progressive principles he's based his life on, etc. and look the truth squarely in the eye. This guy is irrelevant. He might as well team up with Ramsey Clark and run on the Workers World Party ticket for all the votes he's going to get. He's not going to get 2.7 percent of the vote, as he did in 2000, or even .7 percent of the vote, as he did in 1996. I think we're talking more like .27 percent of the vote, which will put him firmly in the list of splinter party also-rans whose votes are counted but have no real effect on the election. He will join the distinguished company of the American Independent Party, the Citizens Party, the National Alliance Party and, of course, the Libertarian Party, which has averaged a solid .38 percent of the vote in the last three elections. Indeed, as Mark Schmitt points out in an excellent post in The Decembrist, the Libertarian candidate in this coming election will have a more natural constituency on the right, given the distress with Bush among fiscally conservative and libertarian conservatives, than Nader will have on the left and may well outpoll him.

Why is this? Because the fundamental rationale for his candidacy--no difference between the two major parties, so it doesn't matter which one occupies the White House--has no plausibility on the left to anyone outside of, well, the Workers World Party. That's why the left activists and intellectuals who supported him last time are deserting him en masse, from the Green Party to The Nation. Nader will have no organization, no big-name supporters, no money and precious few volunteers. He's likely to fail to get on the ballot in many states and, even where he does, he's unlikely to get more than a handful of votes.

So: be not afraid. Nader will fail and fail big-time. And tell Ralph that Workers World is waiting for his phone call.

Comments

One can only hope you're right. But the only poll I've seen in which Nader is a named candidate -- admittedly a Fox poll and thus not much more than a curiosity -- shows Ralph pulling 4%.

He won't get it, of course, but if the race is suffiiciently close, even 0.25% or 0.50% might be enough to make a difference. Heck, last time around in Palm Beach County, the Socialist Workers Party conceivably pulled enough to make a difference -- leaving aside the "Jews for Buchanan."

And Ralph might well do better than a typical fringe candidate. Part of Ralph's vote, I'm convinced, is inherited from Perot, and even Jesse Ventura -- as witnessed by his unusually strength in 2000 among white voters 18-29 (5%), independent men (7%) and those who said they had previously voted for a third-party candidate (7%). Those votes he may well keep -- which could be enough to put him in the 1-2% range or even higher.

The real question, I suppose, is whether those are votes that otherwise would go to Bush, to Kerry/Edwards, to an alternate fringe candidate, or to no one at all. If Nader draws mainly from the "none of the above" crowd, then he could do reasonably well without having much impact on the election -- other than to marginally increase turnout.

But may be too soon to dismiss the left Naderites all together. Based on the feedback I'm getting on my blog, there is clearly a hardcore of alienated lefties who are simply determined to cut off their own noses (and ours) in order to spite the Democratic face. And they could take a slight bite out of the ABB vote.

In the end, though, it just means the Dems are going to have to do harder what they would have to do anyway, which is to reach out to less affluent voters -- particular blue-collar women -- on economic issues, while hoping that the absence of Bill Clinton helps neutralize the GOP culture war.

And since that's the key to building a lasting majority, maybe Ralph's run is a good thing.

Billmon: FYI: The Fox "poll," which they said indicated that they were keeping us up to date and further indicated that they (i.e. Fox) were doing their job, was taken during 2/18-19 (as indicated on their graphic).

This was reported on Fox sometime *after* Nader's MTP (2/22) appearance.

So much bellyaching on the Nader front.

I think Nader's big overarching message is that he's pissed about the $ effect in politics. If you think that liberty/democracy is being undermined by well healed lobbiest in both parties, then running - even as a spoiler - is justified in my view.

There should certainly be room for an out there third candidate, and if not now, when?

"Yes, but... Bush is so divisive, he lies, ridicously favours the rich, destroys the environment, and is generally scum."

yep,
yep, yep, yep, and yep. agreed.

Would Kerry be better? Hell yea! I'm working on some creative stuff to get him in the White House.

Would Nader be a good president? Hell no! (Sounds of global investment and trade screaching to a halt... yikes)

But, a message to Kerry... Win on your own points, and the publics growing distrust of the Bush/Cheney spin machine.

No whining about Nader in '04!

Ralph is a friend to Grover Norquist and big business these days. Phyllis Shafley begged him to run. He is going to get many millions of dollars from conservatives who want him to take away Democratic votes. And the Deaniacs are so incensed and feel so victimized that they will flock around him.

Someone, and not someone connected to the Dem Party or any of its campaigns needs to tote up the instances in which Republican Money has been identified as coming into Independent or Green opponents in close races. The details are available, but what hasn't been done is pull it all together as one narrative.

I'll get you started. In 2002 the Greens in Minnesota decided in advance of their convention not to nominate a Senate Candidate to run against Paul Wellstone. But at the last minute, a well funded coalition of Urban Indians pushed an endorsement even though Winona La Duke -- the VP candidate with Nader in 2000 -- strongly spoke against it. Then, in the summer appearances, the Green candidate showed up, and it turned out Norm Coleman was paying his transportation and hotel bills for the events. Efforts to get Nader to speak against this went unanswered. Eventually the Greens defeated him in their primary -- but after the election, (and after Wellstone's death) the candidate received a fairly high ranking political appointment in the Department of Interior, Bureay of Indian Affairs.

I know there was one special election for a legislative seat in Washington where the Greens were offered Republican funds -- and the local paper (my memory has it as Tacoma) dug it out, and I believe FEC charges were filed on it, as the donation was illegal under Washington State law. I believe this was in 2001.

Another case was in New Mexico -- but I don't remember the date or details.

What needs to happen soon is to put all this into a national context (yes, the Coleman money came from Rove apparently -- it wasn't local MN money), and the question of deception laid squarely before the RNC and Rove. They are not stupid, they have done this in public, but have assumed that no one will ever connect the dots. I suspect the case is that they learned part of the Watergate lesson -- secret funds can backfire. So now it is just obscure funds that don't get integrated into a national pattern. They assume Naderites can be duped by desception, and to some extent they have been proved right.

But I agree with Ruy -- this time round I don't think Ralph will attract much.

I would agree that the Libertarian candidate will likely get more votes than Nader, even though Fox and other right-wing media will be giving Nader lots of free coverage. But I am concerned that the Libertarians will draw more from the Democrats, even though it is widely assumed that they draw primarilly from Republicans. I am struck by how many otherwise intelligent people I meet seem to think that Libertarian is the same thing as civil libertarian, and really haven't given much thought to the simplistic Libertarian economic philosophy. I would love to see some recent data that reveals which party the Libertarians hurt most.

It seems to me that, in an election year like this, when emotions are running extremely high, just about any third-party candidate can benefit the Democrats by giving disgruntled voters extra choices of whom to vote for besides Bush. Our base should be incredibly motivated this year, and the high stakes will ensure that many folks will hold their noses and vote for Kerry (or whomever), but for the folks who simply cannot bring themselves to vote for him, or to vote for a Democrat, I say let them have a whole menu of alternatives. Give 'em a great Libertarian candidate. Give 'em Nader. Give 'em Roy Moore (please, oh please!).

My opinion, supported wholly by anecdote and conjecture, is that the folks who won't vote for Kerry won't vote for Kerry, whether or not Nader is on the ballot. If Nader doesn't make the ballot in their state, they may write in his name. On the other hand, many Nader voters from 2000 will vote pragmatically for the Democrat, whether or not Nader is on the ballot. Liberals, Greens, anti-war folks, and others are not likely, IMHO, to be swayed by anything as trivial as the names on the ballot when they enter the voting booth. Their ideological views may trump pragmatism or a desire to get Bush out, or vice versa, but in either case I suspect that personal decision-making will matter more than who's on the ballot, or even than who is running.

In effect, we may be looking at an ABB smorgasbord, which could still spell trouble for Kerry if it weren't for what the primaries is showing as an incredibly motivated base. If, for instance, Dean said "Screw it, I'm running too," and Kucinich, Clark, and Sharpton did the same, then enough of the base might bleed away to screw us all. But, to simplify things a teensy bit: Give Kerry all of the Gore voters from 2000 and half of the Nader voters, then give 1% of Bush voters to Kerry and spread 2% more among various other candidates, and voila!, Bush gets has ass handed to him on a platter.

0.27% of the vote in Florida in 2000 would have made a signficant difference in the outcome of the election...

"0.27% of the vote in Florida in 2000 would have made a signficant difference in the outcome of the election..."

Yes, but if Nader had received only 0.27% of the vote in Florida, GORE would have won the election. In fact, if Nader had received only 0.27% of the vote in NH, Gore would probably have won the state and the election. The likely size of Nader's numbers has EVERYTHING to do with how much Democrats should care about him. Unless there's a much bigger seriously disaffected vote out there than I imagine, it's hard to see how he could ever matter.

In a way, Nader is right that Dems should just relax about his candidacy. I know I will -- with perfect comfort about his irrelevance, I plan to kick back and enjoy watching the highly public self-destruction of a guy who no longer cares about anything but his own stinking ego.

Nader's argument that people who don't want him to run for President are advocating "censorship" is ludicrous. I haven't heard anyone say he shouldn't exercise his freedom to advocate for what he believes. Is the only way to do that to run for President?

Nor have I heard anyone suggest he has no *right* to run for President. Many are asking him to exercise his freedom by deciding not to do so.

Of course the Republicans will try to get him in debates and help him in other ways.

I hope this is the last time I write about Nader for a long time. I agree that (after getting out of our systems now whatever we feel the need to say about him, that is :<)) we ignore him and move on.

I buy into the argument that Nader's electoral effect in November will not be as great as feared, and that the response it will effect might actually have some benefits. The 'fear itself' might even offer a blessing in disguise.

For one, it is presenting the opportunity for some additional newsworthy airtime for our guys, which, if handled well, adds productive time to get our message out. Anybody getting airtime to collectively bash W will hopefully seat the uncertainties about him deeper in everyone's minds.

For another, you've gotta ask where Nader's votes this year would be if they weren't going to Nader. After 2000, I'm hard pressed to believe that anyone who truly wants Bush outta there would vote for Ralph. And of the people that are disenchanted enough with all things party-oriented to vote for him, I doubt that many would be coming from the wouldda-voted-for-Kerry/Edwards otherwise.

...and if we can beat the fear drums just enough to perhaps turn out a few more of our own, we might actually end up the unwitting beneficiaries.

...or maybe I'm just an eternal optimist!

It strikes me Nader is more likely to help Dems down-ballot than he is to hurt the presidential candidate (unlike 2000, when he clearly was one of many straws that broke the camel's back). At this point, anyone dumb enough to vote for Nader was pretty much off the table as a Kerry voter, anyway -- the alternative was likely not voting at all. If these people get to the voting booth, at least some are likely to pull the lever for Dem Congressional candidates.

Nader, as it happens, has made this argument -- he's in fact bragged he helped Dems retake the Senate in 2000 via the same method. The question, however, arises: if Dems and GOP are so undistinguishable, why does he find this accomplishment worth bragging about?

My complaint about Nader is not that I think many people will actually vote for him. My complaint is that he will, once again, get an absurd amount of free press to publicize his nonsense about how Kerry (or Edwards, or whoever) and Bush wouldn't govern differently. I think that, due in small part to his drumbeat on that, and in large part to the Reagan-induced cultural cynicism about politicians, a few more people will skip the vote.
That's bad for the Democrat's nominee, of course, and worse for the country.

Redintegro Iraq,
-V.

Nader without the Greens is a big difference from Nader with the Greens. Ballot access is going to be a huge issue for Nader, and I heard the other night it will be hard for him to get on 50% of the states' ballots under current rules.

The Presidential Debate rules that ostracized Nader last time will certainly work agaisnt him even more so this time.

I think the question is not will the Republicans try to get Nader into the debate, is it will the Republicans try to limit Bush to one debate lest he lay an egg on national tv?

I don't expect Nader to do much in the election, but not much, could be enough. The way to minimize his impact at this point is to keep him off the ballots. His website has a list of which states he's planning to go after first, including some important swing states like FL, MI & PA.

That said, if Nader focuses his attacks on Bush rather the Dems (as McAuliffe has said he would), I'm all for GOoPers sending money to support more publicity criticizing Bush.

When I heard the announcement that Nader was running yesterday morning, the sound byte was immediately followed by an official from the DNC commenting that this would be bad for the Democrats in November, and she ended with "Please don't run."

I hate Bush so much- but what does Bush have that draws him to the American voters? Bush deals from a position of strength. Though that strength comes from sources like Karl Rove and a military/industrial complex- Bush is carrying himself like he is a winner and acts like he is going to win.

Democrats! Let's stop complaining about Nader, because we're only showing our weakness, we're showing that we're scared to death that Bush might win. Instead of fretting over Ralph Nader, let's band together and draw in those disaffected voters- there's room in the Democratic Party.

Nader is not running as a Green and this will give the die-hards from 2000 an excuse to drop him. While his 2000 run did more than anything to put the Green Party on the map, abandoning it now for an independent run will probably antagonize what's left of the Green Party.

So, relax. History will not repeat itself. There are bigger fish to fry.

--Dan

Living in a country where the majority think Bush is the Arch Terrorist I can under stand you wanting to do what ever is possible to rid yourself of Bush.
However New Zealanders believe strongly in a
Democracy.
Everyone has the right to vote or stand as they see fit.
Many of your writers are not much better than Bush's lot.
Attack the policy, not the person

Adam in Mass-

It wasn't just Florida. Gore won NM by something like .06% and Wisconsin by .22%. In fact, a small handful of states (4 or 5) that Gore won were by less than 1%.

And that's why I'm (slightly) worried about Nader. Ruy's right that he's not going to get many votes. And I think that for the most part, anyone voting for Nader this time wouldn't vote for the Dem anyway. But, there are a *few* who would. And this election could be so darn close that those few are enough to tip the balance.

So I wish Ralph weren't running, but I think there are much more effective things we can do to get votes than fretting about Ralph.

Too many people are missing Ralph Nader's main
point which, to my mind, is that if the Democratic
candidate does not stand out and speak out loudly
regarding the deceitful nature of the Bush administration, then that candidate is not doing enough to distinguish himself from Bush. For too
long now there has been only the most meek
effort on the part of too many elected Dems to
stand up and vociferously denounce the Bush
administration's draconian efforts. The people who
are most closely associated with the DLC are most
guilty in this regard. Dennis Kucinich and Howard
Dean have drawn attention because they have
made a little more effort than the rest. For some,
yet indistinct, reason Dean has run out of steam
and Kucinich has been unable to blow hard enough
on the embers of discontent smouldering in this
country.
For either Kerry or Edwards to now effectively
carry the standard of those who recognize the dire need for change they will need to make it immenently clear to the voting public that the main
issue in this presidential election is the deceitful
nature of the Bush administration. They need to go
into some detail about the hubris and ideological
rantings of the highest placed members of this "get
rich quick" club. Nader is all too right when he
rails about the failures of our current and recent governments to meet the needs of all Americans
rather than just the priviledged. This can't be
stated too often nor too loudly. The average citizen
likes a good fighter, and if neither Kerry nor Edwards is willing to meet Bush at center ring and
start hitting him hard with the facts of his failures,
then Nader will be right and no amount of whining
about his playing the role of a spoiler will have an
ear from the voters who are sick of George W. but
unimpressed by the so-called New Democrats.

Too many people are missing Ralph Nader's main
point which, to my mind, is that if the Democratic
candidate does not stand out and speak out loudly
regarding the deceitful nature of the Bush administration, then that candidate is not doing enough to distinguish himself from Bush. For too
long now there has been only the most meek
effort on the part of too many elected Dems to
stand up and vociferously denounce the Bush
administration's draconian efforts. The people who
are most closely associated with the DLC are most
guilty in this regard. Dennis Kucinich and Howard
Dean have drawn attention because they have
made a little more effort than the rest. For some,
yet indistinct, reason Dean has run out of steam
and Kucinich has been unable to blow hard enough
on the embers of discontent smouldering in this
country.
For either Kerry or Edwards to now effectively
carry the standard of those who recognize the dire need for change they will need to make it immenently clear to the voting public that the main
issue in this presidential election is the deceitful
nature of the Bush administration. They need to go
into some detail about the hubris and ideological
rantings of the highest placed members of this "get
rich quick" club. Nader is all too right when he
rails about the failures of our current and recent governments to meet the needs of all Americans
rather than just the priviledged. This can't be
stated too often nor too loudly. The average citizen
likes a good fighter, and if neither Kerry nor Edwards is willing to meet Bush at center ring and
start hitting him hard with the facts of his failures,
then Nader will be right and no amount of whining
about his playing the role of a spoiler will have an
ear from the voters who are sick of George W. but
unimpressed by the so-called New Democrats.

Sorry for the double post. I must have clicked
twice. Maybe a thinly disguised effort to drive
home an important point.


I don't care what it takes, but the Democrats and whoever doesn't like the policies and actions of this president and his party need to vote Democrat because they are the only party that should win. We need to make this president a one term president. We are looking at a dangerous road ahead if we have another four years of this presidency. The Democrats must hammer away at whatever the Repblicans do wrong to any and all constituencies in this country. The war was wrong , the economy is a mess, our civil liberties are being jeopardized, America is on a down hill spiral and W will continue to tell us all is well that we should run and hide before the big bad terrorists will come and get us while Cheney and him destroy us anyway. George may be a moral man but what he's doing to our economy and the young in our military is immoral and he says we should continue to follow his lead because he's a patriot . I hope beyond hope that the American public wakes up and sees this administration for what it truly is BAD for America. I fear for the future of this country. I believe the Democrats need to vote against any Republican authored bill in Congress or it will just get worse , send a message to them they are all wrong. The war, the economy, and now Social Security! What next? The big bad wolf ate Grandma now he's after Goldilocks. I would hope that if anyone cares at all for the future of Social Security they will vote Democratic and consider an increase in the sales tax across this land to make up for the loss and then reign in federal spending. In the disaster four years ago it was Florida , Florida, Florida , I would think this year it will be the Midwest, Midwest, Midwest . People who have lost jobs and opportunities should be the ones who vote this President out of office.

I find the bashing of Ralph Nader appalling. Every commentary I read accuses Nader of running for purely egotistical reasons. I find this to be an absurd basis for attacking a presidential canidate. Do his critics believe that anyone who wants to be the president of the US isn't egotistical? If so they are either very naive or exceptionally poor students of the human condition.

I have no problem with pragmatic Democrats that argue that Nader may weaken the chances of the democratic canidate, but I take exception to those who call him immoral for doing so. Ralph Nader has spent most of his life crusading to protect the average American citizen. I sincerely doubt that most of his critics can claim to have made contributions to the betterment of our country that compare to his. Given his record, I find the personal attacks on him by democrats to be repugnant. I personally agree with Nader that the two parties are much too similiar in how they govern. The two parties embrace diametrically opposed positions on a few issues in order to differentiate themselves while agreeing on maintaining the status quo (i.e. whoring themselves to special interests) much too frequently . I still believe that the Democrats are slightly better than the Republicans, but it is only by a slim margin. I will probably choose to vote pragmatically for the democratic nominee but I'd vote for Nader if I voted my conscience.

No Democratic candidate deserves a "lock" on our vote simply because he/she is not George Bush.
Granted that Bush II is far and away the most
deceitful president we have ever had, and granted that his administration is a disaster to the average citizen. This will not be sufficient
motivation for the average voter to choose an alternative. Voters need motivation and direction. The effective candidate must give the
voter a reason to vote for, rather than expect a voter to vote against. And this is Mr. Nader's
central theme. Give us someone who will inspire
our confidence that the "winds of change" are not
just more political hot air.

I want to know one thing. Who is the genius in the Democratic Party who decided that this anti-Nader's-ego campaign is the way to show that Democrats are different from Republicans? Nader supporters know the difference between ego and conviction.

I'm one of the 6% of voters who supported Nader in 2000 and the 3% that compromised my convictions and voted for Gore. What did the Democratic party learn from 2000? Attack Nader. Sorry, but Nader supporters are going to walk away from a Democratic Party that is now clearly anti-Nader.

If you folks liked 3% in 2000, I know you will love 6% in 2004. Keep up the good work. Nader is thriving on your negative campaigning.

Although people who are politically active may well desertNader this time and thank goodnesss they do, I'm still worried. Who the hell were those 97,000 Nader voters in Florida/ I checked the county by county totals and most of the Nader votes came from swamp, rural counties. So, he got a lot of not-so-sophisticated liberal voters.