Ralph Nader recently announced his intention to run for president of the United States again. As someone who voted for him last time, I'm urging him to reconsider.
I had a chance to hear an interview with him
Monday morning on Democracy Now!, a nationally syndicated news hour available on the Pacifica Radio Network, which took place a day after he made his announcement in Washington. He laid out his standard platform, along with some of his commitments to his campaign supporters.
By and large, I agree with his views and projected policies - after all I wholeheartedly endorsed him last time - and I appreciate that his decision to join the race as an independent generates more dialog about what policies are important which add to the national consciousness. In short, his candidacy forces the media, and other candidates to look at and take a stand on important issues such as the influence of corporations in policy making, the role of cash in campaign finance, and the state of the environment. For this I applaud his contributions to this campaign.
I also don't believe that he cost Gore the election in 2000. As much as I search for answers as to how George W Bush became president, and how he managed to derail this country and lead America down a dangerous path with little public scrutiny or objection, I know that Nader was not the reason for his victory. If you look at the numbers, Pat Buchanan's candidacy threatened W's numbers in New Mexico and Wisconsin in a much more meaningful way than Nader affected Gore's.
This time, however, there is too much at stake.
One of Nader's strongest campaign themes in 2000 was that both candidates and parties were essentially the same. Those of you who remember Rage Against the Machine's 1999 video for "Testify" - which was directed by Michael Moore - will remember the visuals of Gore and Bush morphing into a singular being, along with clips of speeches from each of their campaigns that were nearly identical.
At the time, this was true, and many Americans on the left were understandably searching for a third way, if at least to force the Democratic party to stay true to its origins by threatening to cast their votes to the Green party.
Now the country is polarized, and there is a discernible difference between those who support Bush and those who don't. For this reason, we cannot afford to split our opposition, even if its only common theme is "Anyone But Bush." We must choose the most "electable" Democratic front runner this year, even if his gamut of policies are less than completely desirable. Voting our conscience is not an option this time, voting our lives and the lives of our descendants is of infinitely greater importance.
Ralph, I admire everything you've done for this country, and everything that you have contributed to the national dialogue over the years, but please sit this one out. I admire your stance that you will stay in the race until the end, as a tribute to your campaign volunteers and contributors, but please reconsider. You will be rewarded in 2005. I promise.