By Brigitte L. Nacos
A few weeks ago, Ralph Nader established his 2008 Presidential Exploratory Committee and announced that he aimed at raising $10 million before deciding whether to enter this year’s presidential race. I thought at the time that I would surely make a donation, if I wanted a Republican to succeed George W. Bush as president. After all, even a small percentage of votes in favor of a minor candidate can determine the outcome of a close election. In 2000, this was the case in Florida, where Al Gore would have won outright with the majority of Nader votes. The Supreme Court would not have made the decision in favor of Bush. In short, there is reason to believe that Ralph Nader and his supporters were instrumental in handing the presidency to George W. Bush.
And now Nader and his supporters are at it again. There are reasons to criticize the two major parties, their office holders and office seekers. Nader, like everyone else, has the right to do so. But there is no reason for Nader to enter the presidential race once again, unless he wants to increase the chance, perhaps even the likelihood, of the Republican nominee becoming President Bush’ successor.
As the founder of an effective consumer protection movement Ralph
Nader did a great deal of good for the American public. Following the
publication of his book, Unsafe at Any Speed, the Congress passed the
National Traffic and Motor Safety Act in the mid-1960s. That was only the
beginning of host of other Nader initiatives against the private and public
sector on behalf of the public interest. But his fine record as activist and
crusader for the common good is not matched by his spoiler role as presidential
candidate. Not even the argument that a Nader in the race will bring attention
to issues and problems that the major parties’ candidates do not address has
merit. After all, rightly or wrongly, his low standing in opinion polls keeps
him out of presidential debates.
Until the formation of his exploratory committee, Nader had
not been in the news much for quite a while. But as guest of Tim Russert’s Meet the Press program
tomorrow morning, he will be once again a newsmaker and remain one during this
election year, if he announces his candidacy.
If Nader decides to become a presidential candidate for the fifth time, Republicans have as much reason to rejoice as if they had planted a candidate capable of skimming some of the liberal vote away from the Democratic nominee.
Addendum: As expected, Nader used his appearance on Meet the Press to announce his candidacy. Although his criticism was directed at John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama alike, his candidacy has the potential to help the Republican nominee and hurt the presidential candidate of the Democratic party. Mike Huckabee was quick to recognize this advantage of his party, when he said on CNN on Sunday morning that in the past Nader pulled votes from the Democratic nominee and that therefore "Republicans would welcome his entry into the race."