Ralph Nader announced on Meet the Press today that he was running for President. I think Democrats like me are supposed to quiver… I’m not. It’s sort of like Groundhog Day to me actually. Every four years, Ralph will wake up, realize there is nobody running that is near as pure and well-intentioned as he is, and decide to make a run for it. His glory days were the 2000 election, when he garnered 3% of the vote. That was a different time — the issues of the previous few years had been so petty, that people felt contented enough to cast a protest vote. He sold people on the idea that there was no difference between Bush and Gore… a case that is difficult even for the most dedicated Nader partisan to acknowledge today. In fact, when Gore’s book, “An Inconvenient Truth” came out a year or so ago, Nader waited in line to get it signed and to thank the man. Hard to imagine him doing the same for Bush.
Last time out he got 3/10 of a percent of the vote — and that was with John Kerry as the Democratic nominee. But in fairness, that was the election of Bush or Not Bush.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Ralph has ever actually taken a look at the events that propelled him to “prominence” eight years ago. I think he hears his supporters, clamoring for another run, disparaging the potential nominees of the two parties, and I think he believes he is hearing the voices of multitudes of Americans. I think Obama had it right today, painting Nader as a man with a heroic past, but an insatiable ego (sorry, I don’t have a quote on that, and I may be paraphrasing to a great extent). I actually think the man has a decent message. He’s anti-corporate, and he’s stuck by that no matter the hot-button topic of the day. Unlike a lot of his allies, he doesn’t seem to have gone off the deep end, endorsing random lefty causes of the day like releasing political prisoners, etc… He’s coherent, and probably sincere, despite also being narcissistic, and a bit closed-minded.
A couple of months ago, Nader had pseudo-endorsed John Edwards in the Primary, but that didn’t work out, apparently prompting Nader to start an “exploratory committee” – which basically seemed like a period of a few weeks when he wanted his supporters to tell him why and how much they loved him.
In any case, the man is 73, and has already sold his message to the American people. Barring any other weird twists in this campaign, I can’t imaging Nader getting more support than he did in 2004.
It also appears that he is running as an independent, and not seeking the Green Party nomination. He could still win the endorsement of the GP though, with no strong front-runner. Presently, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is running for the GP nomination, and is certainly the best-known of the announced candidates. But she certainly doesn’t seem to score very high on that likability-meter. She is every bit as egotistical as Nader, and seems to operate on an even shorter fuse. Her supporters believe she lost her seat in Congress because she was “too bold” in challenging the Administration, and the political Establishment. Well, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt the first time she lost her seat. But I’ve canvassed Atlanta. I know a lot of people who know and have worked with her. And, I don’t think its her politics that brought her down — at the very least not the second time. She strikes me as a bit paranoid, and it’s no wonder she bolted the Democrats for the Green Party. It wasn’t based on principle — if she supported the GP platform on principle, why didn’t she become a Green while still in Congress? Naa, she’s angry she lost, and she KNOWS it isn’t her fault. Must be the Democrats’ fault.
My brother, a Green Party activist, is advising the Jesse Johnson campaign. Johnson is challenging McKinney (and Nader?) and is currently working to win the caucuses in Maine. Apparently, he’s doing well up there, and GP-wise, it is a delegate-rich state. Jesse seems like a pretty good guy. He’s from West Virginia, and ran for governor there on the Mountain Party ticket. He seems to be a bit more media savvy than most Green Party candidates, which could get him far, if he ever gets the actual attention of the media. Issue-wise, he’s a bit too libertarian for my liking, and he gets way more fired up about Constitutional issues than any other issues I’ve heard him talk about. Seems like that’s a thing with many Green Party activists/candidates/supporters right now, and probably why they are drawing an uncomfortable (in my estimation) number of Ron Paul supporters to their cause.
There are other candidates as well, although none likely to win the nomination. Because of my brother, I tend to be fairly well-informed about the Green Party. They have just as many intra-party spats as we do on the Democratic side, which seems odd to me, because it doesn’t seem like there would be as many people around to fight about this stuff. Overall, I’m a pretty big advocate for democratic reform in this country, but I’m not necessarily a believer that a multi-party system would bring us those reforms. Even if we had such a system, I’d probably still be a proud Democrat. Oh well, that’s a tangent for another day… for today, let’s just deal with Nader’s last hurrah…