In an e-mail to supporters just leaked to the press Ralph Nader outlines the task before the next president as "Cutting the huge, bloated and wasteful military budget, adopting a single-payer Canadian-style national health insurance system, impeaching Bush/Cheney, opposing nuclear power - among many others."
Why would Ralph Nader be outlining goals?
Because he's about to run. -Yeah, I know.
Now I don't agree with Eric Alterman (of The Nation) and others who maintain he cost John Kerry the election (The numbers don't add up, kerry's losses are not corrected/increased toward a win when you throw Nader's numbers in), but I do believe he had a hand in Gore's defeat in 2000.
While I have always believed that 3rd party candidates raise issues and concerns that are otherwise swept over by the Democrats and Republicans as their respective "messages" are further honed into smaller and smaller sound bites (the 3rd party candidates tend to get increasingly specific as their end nears), I don't see what Nader can accomplish in that regard, except possibly to illustrate how effectively 3rd party candidates can be shut out of debates.
In the last month, Barack Obama has shown that he can take supporters thought to be part of Hillary's locked-in base. Hillary Clinton, for her part, has not shown an ability to siphon away any elements of Obama's perceived base, with the possible exception of getting the Reverend Calvin Butts to endorse her in New York. However, I believe in Ralph Nader. I believe wholeheartedly in his power to disrupt and fracture voting blocks. As I have said in this blog before, the next president will have a chance to determine the posture of Supreme Court, for a generation or two. We simply cannot afford another Social Conservative president, or worse one who feels he has to act like one (Read: John McCain). If you think Ralph Nader can't ensure a Republican victory by driving wedges, however small, across states I ask you to think of how fragile the support for a black man or a woman is in this country. Really think about it.
There is a tremendous amount of rancor and anger since the last two election cycles on the American Left. Ralph Nader is still embroiled in lawsuits from 2004, when Democrats, who believe he prevented Al Gore from winning in 2000, kept him off many state ballots.
Ralph Nader thinks managing the military budget, national healthcare, nuclear power, charging and prosecuting Dick Cheney are not at the forefront of either of the Democratic hopefuls' agendas. I'll tell you who else isn't thinking about it at all: the Republicans.
So here's my letter to Ralph Nader, actually my plea:
Dear Ralph Nader,
Stay home. Stay home and fight. Get back to work. It's where we need you, in your office-for-life, as the world's preeminent consumer advocate.
I would love to see you take on the credit card industry and their lobby. Someone should remind Americans that usury used to be illegal in the United States. Someone should point out that interest rates should never, ever be double the rate of inflation or more. Someone should defend the average working person who is being destroyed by the runaway greed of the transnational banking system. Someone should remind every working person that while we pay 30 cents out of every dollar we earn, the rich pay half of that, thanks to the 8 cent cut that President Bill Clinton instituted in the 90s, and the subsequent 5 cent cut that President George W. Bush gave the rich.
That somebody is you, Ralph Nader.