Insignificant Nader

by Beacon Staff • March 5, 2008

While many believed Sen. John McCain would be this year's most decrepit presidential candidate, it seems that dubious honor will go to 74-year-old Ralph Nader. The consumer advocate, who announced his candidacy on Feb. 24's Meet the Press, is in the midst of another race for the Oval Office. What started as a write-in campaign in 1992 has turned into an obsession of pathetic proportions.

The man faces insurmountable odds in his impossible slog towards the White House, yet he seems firmly convinced that he can be the 44th president of the United States. He is clearly delusional.

One wonders how Nader came to this. Did he just wake up one day two weeks ago and ask, "What can I do today, besides run for president for the fifth consecutive time?" Yes, Ralph, that sounds like a splendid idea-just go and throw yet another wrench in the works. Never mind the absence of any real support, or the uphill financial battle.

In an interview with Roger Simon of Politico, from June 2007, Nader claimed to be considering a run because, "The two parties are still converging-they don't even debate the military budget anymore . I really think there needs to be more competition from outside the two parties."

And now Nader is hoping to be that competition, and he'll do his best to at least get his opinions out there, as he did in 2004. That year, he held a widely-publicized meeting with John Kerry, essentially offering to stay out of the race if the Massachusetts senator would bring some of Nader's top issues to the forefront of the electoral battle against President Bush.

When it appeared that Kerry would not embrace progressive staple issues, Nader threw his hat into the ring, and waged a vain campaign against both Kerry and Bush, siphoning only a few votes from the former candidate.

The question this year, it seems, is no longer why Nader continues to make futile attempts at attaining the top job in Washington, but what consequences-if any-Nader's run will have on the campaign process. Can he make a large enough impact in American voting patterns to affect the election? Perhaps history holds the answer.

His 1992 write-in campaign can be written off. It was not and should not have been taken seriously. The Green Party unofficially nominated Nader in 1996, when he only appeared on a handful of ballots.

But things got a bit more serious in 2000. After realizing that his top concerns were not being addressed in Washington, Nader ran the Green Party and received 2.74 percent of the popular vote, a good amount considering his third party status. Many assert that his above-average performance stole votes from Vice President Al Gore, handing the contentious election to then-governor George W. Bush.

Then, in 2004 things again took a dramatic downswing, when his spiteful independent run only earned him 0.38 percent of the popular vote.

Should history repeat itself, the most Nader can hope to achieve is to hand the election to John McCain. Anyone who would vote for the heavily left-leaning Nader would most likely vote for the Democratic nominee over McCain. So this distraction can only aid the Republicans. Basically, Nader will be a quick blip on the radar screen.

It appears that this new presidential bid is nothing more than a desperate ploy from a man insistent on leaving his mark on history. And we should treat it as such. Give Nader a footnote in the history books, but please leave him off the ballots.,Douglas P. Case