Thursday, June 21, 2007

Go, Ralph, go!

Great news from across the pond: Ralph Nader has announced that he is considering standing for President. "The two parties are still converging. I really think there needs to be more competition from outside," he told the newspaper Politico.

If Nader does enter the race, don't swallow the guff about the 'progressive' vote being split. None of the Democratic Party candidates, with the exception of Denis Kuchinic can accurately be labelled 'progressive': and the least progressive of all of them is the front-runner, the pro-war Hilary Clinton.
"She is a political coward. She goes around pandering to powerful interest groups on the one hand and flattering general audiences on the other. She doesn't even have the minimal political fortitude of her husband." is Nader's verdict on the Democrat the neo-cons would most like to see in the White House.

The Project for the New American Century gang thought they had this race all stitched up; that it would end up as shoot-out between McCain or another Republican hawk and Clinton- a win-win scenario for them. But a Nader candicacy will pressurise the Democrat candidates to move leftwards- and adopt a much more strident anti-war stance. Nader supports the rapid withdrawl of US troops from Iraq. The Democrat candidates will have to follow suit or risk losing votes.

US politics has suddenly got interesting.

3 comments:

rosignol said...

But a Nader candicacy will pressurise the Democrat candidates to move leftwards- and adopt a much more strident anti-war stance.

Not even close.

What will happen is that the anti-war vote will be split between Ralph and whoever the Democrats nominate, leaving the pro-war Republicans and hawkish independents to support McCain.

I am astonished that someone who apparently makes a living by reporting on politics could make such a basic error.

Neil Clark said...

I don't agree. Nader will help shift the debate leftwards. Obama can avoid the progressive vote being split by 'stealing Nader's clothes', so to speak. Or by simply asking Nader to be his running mate. Gore failed in 2000 because in the end he failed to come out unequivocally as as progressive- opting for a fanatically pro-war hawk like Lieberman. John Kerry failed for similar reasons- working class voters stayed at home-because they didn't feel that, on the most important issues Kerry was radically different from Bush. If Nader does split the vote, the fault won't be his, but the Democrats for not coming out more decisively against the war and not adopting a more progressive domestic programme.
Nader hasn't taken the decision to stand lightly- he's only taken it because he feels no candidate is taking a truly progressive anti-globalist, anti-war position.
The ball is very firmly in the Democrats court.

rosignol said...

I don't agree. Nader will help shift the debate leftwards.

Nader is far enough out of the American political mainstream that any effect he has on the debate will be miniscule. What he is going to do is siphon a few anti-war voters away from Obama. The interesting thing is that Obama and Clinton are polling so closely that this may tip the Democratic nomination.

Obama can avoid the progressive vote being split by 'stealing Nader's clothes', so to speak.

Obama won't gain any votes by doing that. In American elections, candidates generally run away from the center during the Primaries to gain the support of the hard core party activists, and then move towards the center during the general, to attract the votes of independents and moderate members of the other party.

Or by simply asking Nader to be his running mate.

That is politically impossible. Many, many Democrats in the US still blame Nader for tipping Florida to Bush in 2000. They will never forgive him for this. Nader might as well be radioactive, nobody on the left benefits from standing next to him.

Gore failed in 2000 because in the end he failed to come out unequivocally as as progressive- opting for a fanatically pro-war hawk like Lieberman.

Gore failed because he's a fool who ran as a "I'm going to change the intolerable status quo" populist during an economic boom. If he'd run a "Keep the good times going" campaign, W. Bush would still be the Governor of Texas. That error is entirely the fault of Al Gore.

Lieberman was an attempt to distance a Gore administration from the scandals of the Clinton Administration- Lieberman was one of the biggest critics of Clinton who was not a Republican.

John Kerry failed for similar reasons- working class voters stayed at home-because they didn't feel that, on the most important issues Kerry was radically different from Bush.

Kerry failed because he's an empty suit. Bush is a mediocre candidate, ran a mediocre campaign, and is responsible for an unpopular war... and Kerry still lost. A candidate who had his $hit even slightly together would have won.

If Nader does split the vote, the fault won't be his, but the Democrats for not coming out more decisively against the war and not adopting a more progressive domestic programme.

Before Nader jumped in, all of the anti-war voters were going to be going to the Democratic nominee (or stay home)- the only competition for those votes was within the party. So the Democrats didn't come out more decisively against the war because there was no need to do so- if anything, being more anti-war would make it more difficult to attract the independent votes you need to win an election in the US.

Nader hasn't taken the decision to stand lightly- he's only taken it because he feels no candidate is taking a truly progressive anti-globalist, anti-war position.

I suspect Nader thinks that the great political re-alignment he hopes for won't happen until things get much worse than they are, and that he is trying to bring it about.