Ralph Nader enters the race!

In what will likely be a disaster for the Democrats, Ralph Nader has entered the US presidential race.

You political historians out there will remember Ralph from such events as the 2000 and 2004 Presidential races. This is a pretty contentious issue, but there are many many people out there who believe that his mere presence in the race is what cost Al Gore the election. The logic behind this is that that the people who choose to vote for a self-proclaimed consumer advocate are statistically more likely to emerge from the Democratic base than from the Republicans.

This would mean that he was taking votes away from poor Gore all over the US. Considering that Gore lost by very slim margins in more than one state, logic would dictate that Nader may have given Bush the presidency.

Now this is not to say that this is necessarily a bad thing. Even if you are not a fan of George W, you would still probably feel that democracy is the important thing. Having more than two parties represented in the race of president is a positive thing, and may even be healthy for the country. More candidates means a diverse array of views, and creates an atmosphere that promotes public discourse on major issues.

All of a sudden you may not be forced to vote for one party just because you don’t like what the other party stands for. You may actually be able to vote for someone you honestly believe in.

Or not. Maybe Nader’s presence will further fracture an already weak Democratic party. The Obama-Clinton feud appears to be heating up even further. I don’t think this will reach the levels of the South Carolina race card situation, but the recent spat about Obama’s characterization of Clinton’s platform, and Clinton’s cries about Obama’s alleged plagarism are continuing to highlight the party split.

A Party divided against itself cannot stand, especially in the face of a Republican party that appears to be coalescing around McCain. Nader’s entrance may further distract left-wing Democrats who face a tough enough choice as it is.

It appears as if the Democrats themselves agree with this statement, because Clinton has come out to say that this is unfortunate because she cannot think of anyone who would vote Republican but who would now vote for Nader. Obama was a little nicer, saying he does respect what Nader has done for consumers, but also that he believes that Nader is a bit of a nutjob.

Obama also criticized Nader earlier this weekend. “My sense is that Mr. Nader is somebody who, if you don’t listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you’re not substantive,” he told reporters when asked about Nader’s possible candidacy.

“He seems to have a pretty high opinion of his own work.”

Overall, I don’t think this can help the Democrats. If they hope to beat McCain, a Republican who appears to appeal to moderate voters in general, they must make sure to try and minimize Nader as early as possible. This may mean introducing more liberal aspects to their platforms, which could actually be a good thing for the country as a whole. Perhaps an increased focus on the environment or on consumer rights.

It is early to be guessing like this, but we’ll have to wait and see if the “Jeffersonian revolution” brings any kind of positive result.

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