Nader’s Presidential Run 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008. Senate Candidate 2010. Advisor 2012?


UPDATE: After two years, I’m updating this article. I believe its fitting since Ralph Nader updates his political upheaval every four years. My resurrection is to state once again what a spoiler he is. And once again, the stakes are too high.

Too many people are out of work. The gates of poverty are bursting open by a middle-class driven over the edge rushing in. Voting rights are being pushed back to a time akin to the Jim Crow laws of the old south. Women’s rights are being trounced on by a bunch of Dominionists. An entire political party is driving us to economic ruin and Ralph Nader wakes up and tries to and figure out a way to feel important one more time.

Nader knows that his spoiler game won’t work if he offers himself as the person to “make a statement.” Too many people will look at him and say, “been there; done that.” So what’s the next best thing to do when your recognition has diminished? Draw on the destructive negativity of others, taking a page out of the Republican political war manual: dress that negativity up, which seeks to divide and conquer by the other side, a shroud of misplaced righteousness — a primary instead of unity.

A primary would dilute the funds needed to run a serious campaign; that’s what Nader’s prize really is. He’s not a defender of the people, he’s a spoiler. His actions begs the question just whose in his pockets.

So, after a couple years hiatus, let’s all get a refresher course on the real Ralph Nader:

Ralph Nader is no new-comer to campaign races, going back as far as 1972.  Nader, born in Connecticut in 1934, is an attorney, author, lecturer and political activist when he is not running for office.  It all began in 1972 when author Gore Vidal tried to persuade Nader to run for president on the New Party (a splinter group from the Democratic Party) ticket.  Nader declined.  He did receive one vote as a Vice Presidential nominee at the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

Twenty years later in 1992, Nader was a write-in candidate, using “none of the above” in both the Democratic and Republican New Hampshire primaries.  He received 3,054 of the 170,333 Democratic votes and 3,258 of the 177,970 Republican votes cast.  That same year, Nader managed to appear at the top of the ballot for the Massachusetts Democratic Primary (in some towns, he appeared as an Independent).

In 1996, Nader ran for president on the Green Party ticket. Instead of a national nomination, Nader was nominated independently by various state Green parties, appearing in some as an Independent.  Using this strategy, Nader qualified for ballot status in 22 states, receiving 685,297 votes for 0.71% of the popular vote.

In 2000, Nader made his first serious run for president.  He was able to draw 15,000 people to Madison Square Garden, NYC. To his credit, Nader also drew a fair amount of celebrities who spoke and performed at the event including, Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore and other notables. Nader also surprised his opponents with help from The California Nurses Association and the United Electrical Workers; both unions endorsed his candidacy and campaigned for him.

Despite the union support and star power, Nader was unable to achieve the five percent of the popular votes necessary to qualify the Green Party for federal funding in the next election. The 2,883,105 votes he did receive, qualified the Green party to appear on the ballot in many states.

Nader’s impact on the 2000 election will always be a topic of controversy; especially for those in Florida and New Hampshire; critics claim Nader tipped the election to Bush.  Nader disagrees. And while the Progressive Review released a study that year that found no correlation between votes for Nader and votes for Gore, a second study released in 2005 by B.C. Burden (Harvard) showed the opposite. Burden argued, however that “Contrary to Democrats’ complaints, Nader was not intentionally trying to throw the election … He did, apparently, pursue voter support, however, in a quest to receive 5% of the popular vote.”[Ralph Nader’s Campaign Strategy in the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election, B.C. Burden, 2005, Harvard].

After the controversies surrounding the 2000 presidential campaign, when Nader announced his candidacy for president in 2004, it is rumored that top Democratic Party leaders approached Nader in an effort to get him to pull out of the race.  Nader ran anyway, seeking to obtain five percent of the popular vote.  He received 463,653 votes, for 0.38% of the popular vote coming in third place overall, once again.

In February 2008, Nader responds to some Green party members urging him to run. Nader received 738,475 votes, for 0.56 percent of the popular vote, placing him in third place overall, yet again.

Once again, Nader’s name has come up as a possible candidate but this time for Senate in 2010.  Connecticut news Junkie reported on November 27th that:

Following a book signing at the Noah Webster Library in West Hartford, Green Party darling Ralph Nader was asked if he would challenge U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd for his seat … “Well, it’s premature,” Nader said. But in the same breath he also acknowledged the increasing interest from folks that would support his involvement in the race.

While he seems to be interested in a run, Nader, 75, was careful not to tip his hand Friday during a brief media availability prior to his talk … “This is the first time I’ve seen the magnitude in the last few days,” Nader said. “But it’s hard to evaluate. You don’t know whether it’s just a lot of dissatisfaction with the incumbents or the willingness of people to really work in 169 towns in Connecticut for a new breed of political representation in Washington.”[....]

In reviewing Nader’s campaign history, from 1992 to 2008, five times Nader ran for president and never achieved more than coming in third place overall; and he has never received the five percent of the popular vote he campaigned for. While his campaign platform may be appealing to some, it certainly does not measure up to a “new breed of political representation in Washington.” In each of his campaigns, he realized that he was not going to win, but instead his goal was to achieve five percent of the vote in order to gain funding for the next election, which never happened either.  And now Nader is musing over a US Senate run.

I am curious as to what is the strategy here.  Is it if you cannot win the presidency, go for a smaller prize instead?  That is not why we elect someone to public office, I hope.  Sixteen years of five failed campaigns;  the last thing Connecticut needs is Ralph Nader polluting the Senate race.

Resource: Ralph Nader http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Nader
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3 comments

  1. The Homeland Security funding that Dodd is able to land for his home state through the SAFER and FIRE acts you mentioned is necessary and no less than should be expected from a U.S. Senator serving his home state. That said, Dodd has been fundamentally wrong on banks and financial regulation. Its a big problem for working people, no matter how you slice it.

    Dodd did vote to repeal the Glass-Steagal act, and even help craft the final bill. He therefore bears some responsibility for current financial crisis. Working people like myself care about the financial crisis and feel that elected officials, like Dodd, who helped create the crisis should either move to reverse the damage done through excessive deregulation or get out of the way.

    Now, Dodd is proposing limited reforms to the financial markets, but does not go so far as fellow senator Bernie Sanders’ proposal, for example, which I believe to be closer to Nader’s proposals.

    There is a comparison of Dodd’s banking reform bill to the similar house bill sponsored by Barney Frank here: http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/11/10/dodd-reg-reform/

    Links to Bernie Sanders’ proposal is here: http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=b8b8fce1-60b9-4a4b-9bd8-a774761b2182

    You can read Nader’s opinion piece on Frank’s legislation here: http://nader.org/index.php?/archives/2144-Barney-Frank-and-the-Planet-of-the-Banks.html#extended

    In fact, Nader has a long record of recent attempts to engage Dodd and Frank in debate on policy issues, as you can see by searching his website here: http://nader.org/index.php?serendipity%5Baction%5D=search&serendipity%5BsearchTerm%5D=dodd&serendipity%5BsearchButton%5D=%3E

    Frankly, your arguments seem to consist mainly of scare tactics. Using language like its more important to “keep a roof over your families head” than critique a sitting senator, particularly one who bears a lot of responsibility for the banking crisis, isn’t reasonable debate. Looking at policies supported and fixes endorsed, Dodd still has a long way to go. The positions of Sanders and Nader are a lot better here and now than Dodd’s ever were or will be.

    Earlier this year, people were fed up with Corzine and Christie in New Jersey so 20 to 25% made up their minds to vote for the independent candidate Daggett. Negative attacks on the idea of voting for an independent from Christie and the spoiler argument from Corzine kept motivated voters from the polls. People in NJ are no less disgusted with unaccountable politicians than they were before, but a lot of them are even more disengaged thanks to the negative politics of the two party campaign.

    I’ve included those links to the Dodd, Frank, Sanders and Nader material so that you can get educated on the differences between the two and vote in your own best interest in this very important topic. A truly non-partisan or independent grassroots organization would push for the proposal that most benefits the working people first and not trail after the proposals of a sitting politician without even acknowledging his role in the financial meltdown.

  2. Nader is a spoiler because none of his campaigns created any value whatsoever. I left a great deal out of the article. His flip flopping back and forth between Independent and Green smacks of being disingenuous when comes to bringing about change. Moreover, in the 2008 campaign, I found his comments despicable and rude at times. Now he may have other matters that he has spent a life long quest to build but the only achievement I see when looking at 16 years of campaigning (forget the Vidal push in 1972) is how can I get in the limelight for a few minutes and spoil and the soup.

    Espousing one’s ideology will not pay one’s mortgage or put food on the table or stop a judgment for strict foreclosure once the bell tolls. People for the most part are weary of it all, progressives, liberals, left, right and all those in between. It is the economy and unless you are going to listen to the voices on the ground and fix the economy, no one is listening to you.

    Nader has no track record. Dodd does. Moreover, a quick review of the legislation that Dodd has either authored or co-authored or worked to get passed, you can see a trend. His legislation is economy and people centered. Dodd wrote the credit card act. He wrote the medical leave act, the FIRE and SAFER act (pouring billions into training firemen and first responders and providing them with updated equipment); the Child Care and Development block grant program. Dodd also consistently pushed to get and keep jobs in CT’s defense industry. These are issues that working families relate to.

    Some folks may disagree about our state’s reliance on defense contracts but if you live, work and are raising a family in Groton or a similar defense industry town, you don’t want to hear about someone’s ideology particularly in these stressful economic times. All you want to know is how you are going to keep the lights on and a roof over your family’s head.

    The only track record of Nader’s that I see is his being a spoiler for sixteen years.

  3. Nader is more likely to push for the reinstatement of the Glass Stegal Act. Dodd has been in the pocket of the banking industry and will remain there. That would be one concrete and progressive improvement of Nader over Dodd.

    Your post doesn’t deal with policy issues, choosing instead to reduce politics to a horse race. That’s well and good for game theory, but doesn’t move us any closer to, for example, a well regulated banking industry or single payer health care. In order to get what we want, we’re going to have to work toward these things while openly supporting them. Its easier to tail a “winner” like Dodd through campaign cycles, racking up feel-good victories while accomplishing no larger progressive goals.

    If progressives actually voted their politics we still wouldn’t be there, but we’d be closer.

    I encourage you to take a look at this analysis of the recent Daggett NJ gubernattorial campaign in NJ. The author asks why Daggett performed so far below his polling. In essence it is because his lack of visibility and the relentless denigration of his campaign as a loser/spoiler affair in the media kept 45% percent of his vote at home on election day. Half of the rest voted, but for their second choice, in an even split between Corzine and Christie. Only 5% of the total vote in the end went with Daggett against the two party system in NJ.

    The point of the analysis isn’t really about Daggett or Nader, it is about how negative campaigning limits choices to the lesser of two evils. If you’re going to defend Dodd, GroundHog, then do so proactively in taking up his positions against Nader’s, especially regarding banking and finance regulation. If you can’t do it, and you find yourself more in agreement with Nader’s positions than Dodd, then you owe it to yourself, those positions and the people who would benefit by them to endorese those positions publicly.

    cite: http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2009/12/what_happened_to_chris_daggett.html

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