Don't Worry about Ralph Nader

Following up on Melissa's post: so Ralph Nader is considering another White House run. Only bloggers will notice.

There's no point getting upset about this. Nader has the right to run if he wants. Anyone who wants to vote for him has the right to do so. In a democracy, any persons may seek public office for which they are legally qualified; and people may vote in any way they wish, for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reason. There's no point complaining about it, or pretending that the Democratic Party or any of its candidates are somehow owed anyone's vote; they never are. Votes always have to be earned, every time. That's the way democracies work. (N.B.: I'm not saying that Melissa has argued against any of these statements.)

There is also (and I realize this will be more controversial) no point in going over Nader's role in the Florida 2000 debacle again, as some of us will surely be tempted to do. Of course, Nader's candidacy was a factor in how things turned out there. So were the candidacies of about a half dozen other third-party candidates in that state that year, each of whom pulled more votes than the narrow distance between Bush and Gore.

But more importantly, going over Nader's role in Florida 2000 obscures the real lessons to be learned from that bizarre case: that the modern Republican Party will do anything to win, including breaking the law with gleeful abandon; and that they've got lots of help where it counts. Consider the defective butterfly ballot; a national media that refused to believe that Gore might have a case; the throwing of thousands of black voters off the rolls illegally; the Brooks Brothers riot; Katherine Harris and Brother Jeb their own selves; and the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the Florida Supreme Court when it had no business doing so. Amid all this Republican cheating, it seems odd to single out Nader or the Greens. And of course, when Nader ran again in 2004, he had no significant impact -- and yet similar shenanigans happened in Ohio, even with him more or less out of the picture.

So, let him run. Don't worry about it, and don't get distracted from the real problem, which is that there are going to be GOP dirty tricks everywhere this year, in a way that will make Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 pale by comparison. And if McCain is the Republican nominee, as I think he will be, the media will attempt a coronation so undemocratic it would make James Baker blush with shame. There's your problem, not Ralph Nader.

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