Ralph Nader’s Candidacy Should Not Be Discouraged
Joseph P. Diaferia
February 24, 2004

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Will he be a spoiler? Will he hurt the Democrats’ chances of defeating Bush? Did he cost Gore the presidency in 2000? These are inevitable questions whenever the subject of Ralph Nader’s presidential aspirations arises, and now that he has declared himself a candidate in the 2004 presidential contest, a chorus of “please don’t run Ralph” has already emerged among many rank and file Democrats. While a united front against the Bush regime is necessary, a Nader candidacy should not immediately be deemed incongruous to such unity.

Ralph Nader—while hardly a radical political figure—is likely to address issues that Democrats have not had the courage to, for fear of red baiting, liberal baiting and charges of non-patriotism.  Such an approach as the one Nader is likely to take might expose both the fascist orientation of the Bush administration, and what amounts to complicit prostration on the part of the Democrats. More simply, by exceeding (somewhat) the limits of  “acceptable” or “permissible” opinion, Nader could create both the climate and unity necessary to defeat Bush.


Many Americans blame Ralph Nader for Bush Jr.’s accession to the presidency because Nader received some 97,000 votes in the state of Florida, while Bush’s margin of “victory” there was a mere 537 votes. To hold this view is both politically unsound and irresponsible as it lends legitimacy to the 2000 presidential “election” and the massive fraud that led to its damnable outcome. Ralph Nader is not responsible for Gore’s defeat for the very simple reason that the 2000 Election was stolen by the criminal syndicate that currently occupies the White House.


However, even had it not been for the Florida flimflam that enabled the Bush restoration, America’s anger should not have been directed at Nader’s legal and legitimate candidacy, but rather, at the very system that made possible, the installation of a president in spite of his losing the national election by over 500,000 votes. A national campaign for the abolition of the Electoral College should have been established immediately (Note: If one has been established, this writer apologize for the oversight). 


Moreover, it is time for America to explore the adoption of a parliamentary system where members of the Legislative branch of the federal government would appoint the Chief Executive. Countries such as Canada and Great Britain have parliamentary systems, and here in the U.S., municipal governments whose daily operations are conducted by city or village managers are similar to parliamentary systems. In addition, congressional elections should no longer be conducted based on winner take all—as is presently the case in the U.S.—but rather, on the basis of proportional representation. Under proportional representation, each participating political party would receive a number of seats in the national assembly (whether we were to call in Congress or Parliament) based on the percentage of the vote it receives in the national election.  This would give voice to smaller political parties that currently do not have the resources to compete among the established political parties. As a result, more political parties and ideologies would be involved in policy formation and in the selection of the Chief Executive.


Granted, such a major constitutional overhaul would be difficult and could take generations to accomplish. Nevertheless, it is not an impossible undertaking, and it would replace a system of government that was intended by its founders (indeed, by their very admission) to limit the power of the people.


However, for right now, we must allow all willing political parties and candidates to participate in the electoral process, especially at this critical juncture. Ralph Nader’s candidacy or any other independent candidacy should neither be shunned nor discouraged.  Indeed, for every new candidate entering the presidential race, there will be a series of new issues; and for every new issue brought into our political discourse, Americans might have one more reason to defeat Bush.


Joseph P. Diaferia is a writer living in New York.







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