Very close readers of AOTG and friends of mine are possibly aware that, early on in college, I was a Green Party supporter, so it is appropriate that I mark his entrance into the race with a post.
I really think it's time for Ralph to shuffle off the stage of politics. He now has the feel of a comedian who doesn't realize that his act stopped being funny 30 minutes ago and that the audience is beginning to squirm in their seats. I don't fear, however, that Nader's presence in the race will be a serious threat to a Democrat getting elected in 2008. Absent a Florida 2000-like scenario where one candidate's victory over another is so small that it could reasonably attributed to a near infinite variety of sources (poorly designed ballots, a badly run campaign, a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon), I don't believe we'll be waking up on the Wednesday after Election Day shaking our fists at Nader. Sure he may get some votes, but so won't the Prohibition Party and whatever candidate right wing crazy pissed off fringe Republicans run against McCain (here's your chance Dick Cheney!).
I am beginning to tire though, of liberals who are now ripping Nader apart as some sort of selfish fraud who gave them George Bush. Let's be clear: the man who gave us George Bush more than anyone outside the Bush campaign was Al Gore. Al Gore is great now, but in 2000 he ran a weasily milquetoast campaign that wasn't inspiring anyone. Remember John Kerry? Al Gore looked worse and less principled in 2000. Even Al Gore has shown us how clearly he regrets that campaign by being exactly the opposite of 2000 Al Gore from the moment he gave his concession speech.
Nader in 2000 ran a principled campaign based on issues that simply were not being addressed by either party: universal healthcare, workers rights in a rapidly globalizing economy, and environmentalism (yes, even Al Gore, Mr. Nobel Prize, did not make environmentalism a centerpiece of his 2000 campaign). What Nader voters saw in 2000 (not me, I was 16 at the time and probably would have voted for Gore) was a Democratic candidate who mainly supported giving more drugs and more money to old people and a Republican candidate who supported those things except with tax rates that would cripple the budget and judges who might overturn Roe v. Wade. I think it was perfectly reasonable at the time to support neither of those two choices.
I am of the opinion that we who believe the system is broken and corrupt should never shout down people for saying that the system is totally broken and corrupt and needs to be run against, simply because it hurts our chances in the next election. For many years, Ralph Nader stood up for ideas to which mainstream Democrats have only recently begun to champion, and it's because of people like him that the Democratic party is now arguing not whether to use the government to achieve universal health care, but how to do it. Shame on those who now want to kick him to the curb for actually acting on his belief that the two parties are hopelessly controlled by big money.