To think that there was a time when I admired Ralph Nader! But I was young then, and he seemed credible. I thought he was a selfless champion of the consumer. I didn’t realize he was a star struck megalomaniac. Not only that; he is also a danger to democracy.
Nader (photo at right) cannot resist the urge to hog the limelight, so he insists on running for president again and again. It can be argued that he cost Al Gore the election back in 2000, although we know other factors also were to blame – hanging chads, Katherine Harris and the U.S. Supreme Court to name a few. And had this election been close, he could have sabotaged Barack Obama’s chances. At last count, Nader attracted 684,577 votes nationwide, which may not sound like a lot but you know every vote can make a difference. If Missouri had been the critical swing state, for example, Obama would have lost the presidency to McCain by the grand total of 5,868 votes (0.1 per cent), and Nader polled 17,769 Missouri votes that probably would have gone to Obama.
This is how close it was:
John McCain, Sarah Palin REP 1,444,289 49.4%
Barack Obama, Joe Biden DEM 1,439,321 49.3%
Bob Barr, Wayne A. Root LIB 11,370 .4%
Chuck Baldwin, Darrell Castle CST 8,190 .3%
Ralph Nader, Matt Gonzalez IND 17,787 .6%
Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente WI 983 .0%
Total Votes 2,921,940
OK, so there was a spoiler, the Libertarian Bob Barr, who presumably took votes from McCain, but his total was 11,370 and that was 6,417 fewer than Nader got. Furthermore, there was an ex-Democrat named Cynthia McKinney in the race. (I would call her unpleasant names if she had not been married to a Jamaican at one time and lived in Jamaica). She got 983 votes, which would almost certainly have gone to Obama.
There was another candidate, a guy named Chuck Baldwin, who got 8,190 votes. He represents the Constitutional Party, but I defy you to figure out what his voters want. After reading their platform I am surprised that these people are smart enough to vote. They start out with the declaration that they’re the party of Jesus Christ and go on to propose pay cuts for Congress and to oppose the draft. One of their main supporters is a crackpot named Jerome R. Corsi, who spearheaded the infamous Swiftboat advertising campaign that torpedoed John Kerry’s presidential bid. Among other rantings, he insists that Barack Obama should take a drug test.
I am at a loss to explain why these minority candidates offer themselves for election. They know they will get no media exposure and collect almost no campaign funds. And they must know they don’t have a hope of winning – not this election, not next election, not ever.
The possible exception is the Libertarian Party, which is headed by a credible former Republican congressman. As I wrote in an earlier blog, the imminent disintegration of the Republican Party could catapult the Libertarians into major-party status. But the Constitutional Party will never be anything but a footnote to history. And as for the Wisconsin Green Party? Come on, be serious!
Even at the age of 74, Nader has enough people who remember his glory days to throw a monkey wrench into presidential elections. If he really cares about his country he should slink off into the sunset. He is no longer the caped crusader of the consumer movement; he is a cranky old coot who thinks he can pull off a rebel-without-a-cause shtick. He went on Fox News on election night and used the racially offensive term “Uncle Tom” to describe the kind of president Barack Obama might be. He fudged it by saying Obama could “either be Uncle Sam or Uncle Tom,” but the slur was inescapable. When he was called out on the slur (which he initially uttered in a radio interview) by Fox News anchor Shepherd Smith, Nader refused to take it back. He rambled on about Obama accepting campaign contributions from corporations and voting for the Wall Street bailout, and implied this made the President-elect an “Uncle Tom.”
Well Ralph, it’s easy to be defiant and judgmental when you have nothing to lose. And ol’ buddy, you haven’t got a damn thing to lose – not any more. So why don’t you just get lost?