What Makes Nader Run?


Published February 28, 2008, issue of March 07, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

When Democrats discuss Ralph Nader’s new presidential bid, the conversation is usually studded with emphatic assertions of what the aging activist surely “must realize” and what he “couldn’t genuinely believe.” It seems as though liberals with memories of the 1960s and of Nader’s glory days as a consumer advocate can’t bring themselves to believe he is consciously doing this to America, and to himself. He must have something else in mind. But the discussion is a dead end. Nader knows what he’s doing, and he means what he says.

Nader, we tell ourselves, must surely realize by now that his 2000 presidential run went a long way toward making George W. Bush president. He couldn’t genuinely believe, after eight years of Bush, that there is no difference between the two main parties. He must realize that his latest candidacy threatens to return a Republican to the White House, at a time when America and the world badly need change. He couldn’t possibly believe that he is advancing his issues or building a real movement for change.

Nader says he is entering the race because the big parties are dominated by corporate interests and deliberately ignore the issues. He has spelled out a daunting list of issues that he thinks he needs to bring from the darkness into the open: the war in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the lack of universal health care, Bush’s tax cuts, energy policy, union rights, the Enron and Katrina scandals. “You have to ask yourself as a citizen,” he said to NBC’s Tim Russert, “should we elaborate the issues that the two are not talking about?”

In fact, almost every single issue on his list has faced exhaustive scrutiny during the course of this campaign. On nearly every score, the Democrats promise to move the country closer to the position that Nader and his acolytes favor. True, as Nader complains, Barack Obama has an imperfect health plan that could leave as many as 15 million people uninsured. Nader thinks the Democrats should be advocating a state-sponsored single-payer system. We’d like to see that happen someday. But the current reality is that Nader’s plan would leave 47 million uninsured, because it wouldn’t get through Congress. In fact, even the most timid Democratic plan won’t become law unless a Democrat is elected next fall.

If Nader proceeds with his campaign, he’ll add nothing to the public debate. He’ll merely siphon off votes from the Democratic candidate, making progressive change just a tad less likely. But Nader doesn’t seem interested in the harsh realities of politics, any more than he cares about the realities of legislating or diplomacy. He likes to look at problems, come up with the ideal solutions and then attack anyone who doesn’t recognize his wisdom.

He has a right to run, but he ought to recognize how destructive it is.

Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.