Comments: Ralph Nader: shitbag or fuckwad?

Um, however valid your opinion of Nader, this article doesn't actually "reveal" anything of the kind about his intentions. It makes an argument, and it quotes a lot of other people making the same argument, but the evidence is old and circumstantial at best. You could easily point to all the same evidence and say that Nader's "real goal" was get as much attention as possible for himself and his ideas and that he didn't feel that the ground rules of running for President should include not trying to win votes if your opponents also want those votes.

Posted by dlr at May 31, 2004 04:40 PM

The quote from Milleron was new to me (although I may have heard it when it was current and forgotten about it); given that he was a close advisor of Nader, his statements sound much more like fact than opinion, don't they?

Posted by Francis at May 31, 2004 10:07 PM

The greatest problem with these arguments is the basic assumption that a third-party candidate cannot possibly ever win the presidency and must, therefore, be running for some other purpose. Of course, running for the presidency without trying to win is a massive, massive waste of money.

And, as was pointed out when this article was first published. It is logical that a Green Party candidate would target registered Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents for a win. Because targeting Republicans and Republican-leaning independents isn't going to lead to a lot of votes. I mean, if Nader strategists thought that sending him to speak at gun rallies and conservative Christian colleges would help him win, I'm sure we'd see it. But that's not likely to happen. So the focus is to sway Gore's votes--all of Gore's votes--to Nader. In that respect, Gore could be seen as the extremely successful spoiler for Nader.

And I'm not even that sure that the "make the Democrats pay" argument is credible. I mean, if Karl Rove had said it, we wouldn't be surprised, because the Republicans want to win, and that includes beating the Democrats.

Posted by Tablesaw at June 1, 2004 12:35 AM

It would be lovely if a third-party candidate won the presidency someday. I believe it's possible. I also believe there's no chance in hell that person is going to be Ralph Nader.

Although the de facto two-party system is obviously suboptimal, our system is not well set-up for anything else at the moment. Luckily for us, there is a solution: instant runoffs. Will it ever go national? One can hope.

Posted by Francis at June 1, 2004 01:01 AM

But Tablesaw, how long does it take to realize that you've been spoiled? Certainly by late October Nader was no longer harboring any illusions that he would actually win the election.

Posted by Ugarte at June 1, 2004 07:37 AM

The Milleron quote is "Because we want to punish the Democrats, we want to hurt them, wound them." That could mean all sorts of things -- we wanted to show them that they can't take the allegiance of progressive voters for granted, for example. Hurting someone by taking votes "away" from them doesn't necessarily mean "our real goal is to make them lose."

I'll agree that Nader has clearly proven since 2000 that he has no interest in building a third party (and that IRV would be great) and therefore doesn't deserve anybody's votes, but that's hardly the same as saying that the only reason he ran was to get Bush elected.

Posted by dlr at June 1, 2004 09:47 AM

>I mean, if Nader strategists thought that >sending him to speak at gun rallies and >conservative Christian colleges would help >him win, I'm sure we'd see it. But that's not >likely to happen.

"Nader's Virginia campaign coordinator, Jim Polk, knew where to find a mother lode of registered voters willing to put their names on a Nader petition. "Truck pulls," Polk said, patting his well-traveled clipboard as he suggested a quintessential red-state event. "People think they're doing George Bush a favor if they sign these. I've had some of my best luck at truck pulls."--Time

Posted by dlr at June 1, 2004 09:50 AM

Vis-a-vis the truck pull thing, isn't that the opposite of Nader trying to get votes from these people? He's not getting their votes; he's merely getting a statement from them that they think his candidacy will hurt Kerry, and the Naderites seem happy to take advantage of that. And he's getting the signatures by proxy. Nader himself isn't courting those voters in any way.

Posted by Francis at June 1, 2004 01:38 PM