I agree with many of Marty Kaplan's thoughts about Nader's candidacy:
Nader's ideas aren't bad; I agree with many of them. Like Kaplan, I wish we could debate Nader's "issues like single-payer health insurance, labor law reform, Pentagon waste, corporate crime, 'the illegal occupation of Palestine,' and impeachment."
But despite Nader's wishful thinking, we don't have a parliamentary system. Any votes he attracts will be drained from the Democratic nominee and conceivably cost an Electoral College victory; they will not result in a new government being forced to enter into a coalition with his supporters. Nor, I think, will his presence in the race reframe the issues, refocus the choices, or push the envelope of the campaign...
What troubles me, though, and what his bid throws a spotlight on, is how hard it is for anyone in America to shape the national conversation on anything. One way or another, it takes big money -- the fortune to run for office, the cash to buy full-page ads in newspapers, the bankroll to own a network, the marketing budget to create a celebrity's star power.
But Barack Obama reminded me that Nader went a little too far in 2000: "He thought that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush, and eight years later I think people realize that Ralph did not know what he was talking about."
Had I been blogging in 2000, I don't think I would have called Nader a bastard before the election. Gore seemed likely to win anyway, so I didn't mind Nader and the Greens trying to draw attention to some issues. I could not imagine there were enough dolts in the United States to elect someone as obviously unqualified as George W. Bush. Of course, I was wrong.
Being much more politically involved and astute now, I don't want to see a replay of 2000 this November. That's why I'm calling Nader a bastard at the first opportunity. And if he doesn't go away, I'll probably do it again.