have no one to blame but themselves.
year ago, you might have thought that the Democrats would at least
nominate someone who hadn't voted in favor of the PATRIOT [sic] Act and
for giving George Bush carte blanche in Iraq. Sadly, you would
have been wrong.
If enough Democrats had really wanted Ralph
Nader to not run, they could have prevented it. They should have
thought twice about throwing their support behind Kerry, Edwards,
Gephardt, Clark, or "Republicrat"
Joe Lieberman. If Kucinich or Dean were
poised to win the nomination, Nader would have chosen to sit this
one out. After all, Nader
virtually endorsed Kucinich, and expressed admiration for
what Dean was doing.
If Nader ends up "throwing the election to Bush,"
which seems monumentally unlikely at this point,
then I will blame the Democrats for pursuing the
wrong strategy, namely, selecting a nominee and platform unfit to ward off
an independent Nader candidacy on their left flank.
It's not as if universal healthcare is an
unpopular proposal. It's not
as if fully funded post-secondary education for young Americans (or child
care, or even
decent preschool for that matter)
would turn people off. And it's not as if people wouldn't want to stop
global warming if they were
told the truth about the threat it poses to them. If the Democratic
party would just make these sorts of issues central to its platform and
nominate a candidate who would
make them a centerpiece of his or her campaign,
it would surely make Nader more
amenable to deferring to the Democratic nominee if things are looking bad
come November. More importantly, it would make a Nader candidacy that much
less attractive to progressives and other
decent folk, and hence that much less threatening to the Democratic
nominee in the first place.
other words, now that they know Nader is going to run, the Democrats have
ample time and opportunity to do what needs to be done between now and
November to make sure that Nader does not pose a serious threat to their
chances of taking back the White House. It is perfectly obvious what
needs to be done. There is no excuse for being unable to see this
right now and to start taking the necessary precautions right now.
If they fail, they have no one to blame but themselves. And it's
difficult to overestimate the potential costs of failure this time.
Being a thoroughgoing pragmatist about matters political, I'm perfectly
willing to throw my support behind the Democrat,
and encourage others to do the same, if circumstances dictate. For
example, if (when?)
Karl Rove decides that it's time to yank Bin Laden out from his
mountainside abode in Pakistan, all bets are off.
Setting aside such possibilities, as things stand right now, I intend to
vote for Nader if his name is on the ballot (unless Kucinich somehow ends
up as the Democratic nominee). I intend to support his candidacy unless
and until the following scenario presents itself as likely: the election
comes down to who wins Rhode Island (where I live), and Rhode Island is
not clearly in the Democratic column. Needless to say, this is also
monumentally unlikely, so I don't foresee myself donning "Kerry '04!" or
"Edwards for President!" paraphernalia anytime in the next 8 1/2 months
(or anytime thereafter, for that matter).
the meantime, I urge Ralph Nader and those of us supporting him to keep
the following principle in mind, proposed
of late by a respected political philosopher. Let's call it "the spoiler
principle": "Progressive challengers should run with vigor, but throw
their support to the Democrats if it becomes too likely that they could
swing the election (in this case, to Bush) without any serious chance of