Sticking Up For Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is running for President again. As expected, the announcement of his candidacy has sparked a wave of angry criticism from the left. Those who are speaking out against Nader are concerned that, as it may have done in the 2000 election, his presence in the race will siphon votes away from the Democratic nominee and allow McCain (presumably) to narrowly pull out a win. They are calling for Nader to drop out of the election, accusing him of running more out of hubris than concern for the nation. But whatever fears Democrats may have about his influence this November, those demanding that he end his campaign should stop for a moment and think about the idea that they are subscribing to: namely, that because a third party candidate may prevent the outcome that they are hoping for, he has no right to run.
The danger in taking this position is obvious. If there is to be anything resembling a democracy in this country, any significant third party should have the right to enter a candidate into the presidential election, regardless of its effect on the outcome. As much as this pains Democrats, the alternative is far more dangerous. If you argue that Nader does not belong in this race, you are arguing that the only two positions that can ever be legitimately taken are those of the Democratic and Republican parties. The third parties, as seemingly irrelevant as they are now, are important to this country in their ability to highlight issues that are not even being discussed among the main party candidates. If we eliminate their capacity to do so, eventually ideas that huge numbers of Americans actually care about, ideas that are already in many cases largely ignored, will fade completely from the political discourse. Ralph Nader knows that he will not win this election, and that it’s very unlikely that he will win even one state. But he is talking about things that John McCain and Hillary Clinton wouldn’t dream of and Barack Obama seems increasingly hesitant to bring up. He deserves to be heard. And if he forces the Democratic nominee to be tougher and more articulate on certain issues, then we all benefit.
The videos below are from the Meet The Press interview during which Nader announced his candidacy. Speak up if you disagree, but I think its hard to argue with his logic.