Oh, Ralph, you've done it again!
Yesterday, on NBC's Meet The Press, Ralph announced his candidacy for the presidency. To no one's surprise, this nasty little bit of news sent the Democrats into a positive hissy fit. The general consensus of opinion seems to be thus: "He's going to cost us the election just like he did in 2000!" Note to the Dems: 2008 is not 2000. But it could be....
First a little background:
I supported Ralph Nader's run for the White House eight years ago. As I've stated in these pages before, at the time it seemed like a safe, even responsible thing to do. Eight years of Bill Clinton had moved the party of Franklin Roosevelt so far to the right, they were being called Republican lite. When the Democrats nominated Al Gore over Bill Bradley, a man who was at least talking like a Democrat, I bolted the Dems and registered as a member of the Green Party. I ran for the position of Supervisor of the town of Goshen, NY that same year and, two years later, ran for the New York state Senate. I lost both races handily.
In 2000 Al Gore won the political lottery. As luck would have it, the Republicans that year nominated a hideous, half-witted little frat boy named George W. Bush. Casting a vote for Ralph Nader didn't seem like too much of a gamble in New York - a state that Gore was expected to (and did) win easily. Who would have thought that so huge a segment of the American electorate would actually be foolish enough to vote for a corrupt, mentally unbalanced little piece of shit from Crawford, Texas? Who would have even dreamed in a million years that the Bush Mob would be able to steal the state of Florida by illegally removing 57,000 African Americans from the list of eligible voters? Who among us could have possibly imagined that so thoughtful and intelligent a man as Al Gore would run one of the dumbest campaigns in American political history?
It would be easy to blame Mr. Nader for the Democrats' defeat eight years ago - easy but unfair. Ralph Nader didn't lose the election for Al Gore. Al Gore did that all by himself. The former vice-president, to his credit, has admitted as much.
When he ran again in 2004, the Nader campaign was not a factor in the results. John Kerry, like Al Gore before him, ran a jaw-droppingly stupid campaign. He would have lost with or without Ralph in the running. Which brings us to the sixty-four dollar question: Will a Ralph Nader candidacy mean certain defeat for the Democrats in 2008? Maybe yes. Maybe no. That all depends on whom the eventual nominee is. As I've noted in earlier postings, one of the noted attributes of the Democratic party in recent years is their positive genius at taking a bottle of fine, twelve-year old scotch and turning it into donkey piss. Ralph Nader's entrance into the race yesterday morning has given them an opportunity to turn a bag of nasty tasting lemons into a nice juicy glass of thirst quenching lemonade.
The plans are now in the works to steal the nomination from Barack Obama by having the so-called "super delegates" vote for Hillary Clinton. The Clintonistas are also trying to get the Michigan and Florida delegations seated at the Democratic convention this summer. Having moved their primary dates ahead in violation of the rules put forward by the Democratic National Committee, the people of those two states were told that their votes would not be counted. That being the case, many of them stayed home on primary day. The fact is that Hillary Clinton's victories in those two states were accidental! Had the voters known that their delegates were going to be seated, the result might have been very different indeed. The delegates of Michigan and Florida should not be counted because not everybody had a chance to participate in the primary. End of argument.
What the Democrats need in 2008 is a candidate who will inspire the base - the ideological heart of their party - to turn out at the polls en masse on November 4. Ralph Nader's appearance in the campaign will once again inspire those who are fed up with the corporate overthrow of this once-great nation that has been going on since the people foolishly sent a feeble-minded "B" movie actor by the name of Ronald Reagan to the White House a generation ago. For real progressives, Barack Obama is an acceptable (if depressingly imperfect) alternative to Ralph Nader. Hillary Clinton is not. If she is nominated this summer a lot of pissed off Democrats will flee to Nader - or just stay home. If she is the Democratic nominee in 2008, count on President John McCain taking the oath of office on January 20, 2009.
I don't hold anything against Ralph Nader for wanting to seek, yet again, the presidency. New York being such a reliable blue state, I might even vote for him again. If Hillary is nominated, I'll definitely vote for him. I think he has actually been a real plus for the Democrats. Why? Because he is forcing them to come face to face with serious issues and problems that they have been ignoring for decades. It has been Nader, alone, who has held up a mirror to the sick and hypocritical face of corporate America. He is not doing what he is doing to satisfy his ego. He is forcing all of us to face the sick and unsettling reality of what America has become. For that he does not deserve our scorn, but our eternal thanks.
The United States has been sold down the pike to the lowest corporate bidder. The Democrats could have stopped this prior to 1995 when they were in the majority and yet they stupidly let it happen. That is the reason I said "Later" to that party almost a decade ago. I left and never looked back (OK, occasionally I take a little peek but that's all, I promise). The ensuing years have only re-enforced my decision to leave. Their cowardly behavior since re-gaining a majority over a year ago can only be described as disgusting. And now many of them seem hell-bent on nominating a woman who has been able to win only a small handful of primary contests. And don't forget that it was Hillary Clinton who thought that it was just a dandy idea to give the First Fool and Dead-eye Dick the authority to invade a country that was a danger to no one but itself. Trust me on this one, campers, the very last thing this country needs is another four or (Heaven forbid) eight years of a Clinton White House.
If history teaches us anything, it is this: When given the choice between a real Republican and a phony Republican, the electorate will choose the real one almost every time. True, while the Democrats are taking a decided roll of the dice by nominating Barack Obama, giving the nomination to Senator Clinton is the equivalent of throwing the dice out the window. All I can say to anyone who seriously believes that she can defeat John McCain in the general election is, "Have another sip, Bub." The fact that she is being beaten so soundly by a virtual unknown in her own party's primaries should tell us that she is unelectable. If I had it my way, John Edwards would today be the nominee. Since that's not going to happen, I'm sticking with Barack. All thoughtful progressives should stand behind him.
We are literally on the verge of a new era in this beautiful but troubled country. The new direction we need to take will only come from Barack Obama (or Ralph Nader). Why he has inspired so much enthusiasm across the country is perfectly clear: he is telling people not just what they want to hear, but, like Nader, he is telling them what they need to hear; what they have to hear if this country is going to survive. The hopes of a country divided are wrapped up in the words of this one, lone voice, just as they were one-hundred and forty-eight years ago by the words of another obscure statesman from Illinois....Hey! That's a pretty good analogy - Not bad, Degan!
The entrance yesterday of Ralph Nader into the race may very well be (for purely accidental reasons) the best thing to happen to this country in a long time. Then again it might mean certain disaster. That's up to the Democrats.
An Unreasonable Man: The Life and Times of Ralph Nader
available on DVD