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