I was halfway into my mocha this morning when I turned on my television and heard the words that no rational person in America really wanted to hear.
"I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States as a true independent."
And I thought, as Ralph Nader hit his stride with his constant references to the "two-party duopoly", that Washington DC is "corporate occupied territory", and that he is running to bring voters into the democratic process, that this is exactly the problem with a candidacy like Ralph Nader's. He has no reasonable answers for the problems that plague the nation.
Four years ago I voted third party. It was an easy decision: I knew that Gore had Illinois won for months leading to the election. I also wanted to vote my conscience, knowing that I couldn't reasonably choose between Gore and Bush. So I voted Libertarian. I was damned if I was gonna throw my vote to the Nader cult of personality.
Ralph Nader is another member of a group I like to call "chicken little liberals." These are progressives and far left leaning liberals who constantly complain that the two-party system needs to be overhauled yet do nothing about it. They're people who can mass up on a moment's notice for protest marches but have no concrete plans laid out if government wants them to sit down and negotiate. They're the people who scream at the top of their lungs that your vote doesn't count for so long that we actually believe it.
Ralph Nader is their Don Quixote, jousting at windmills to the raucous cheers of thousands of people who won't even register to vote.
Already people are touting Nader as a spoiler candidate. Democrats are fearful that Nader's candidacy will siphon votes away from likely Dem nominee John Kerry. Some folks out there apparently still blame Nader's 2000 campaign as the reason the country hasn't gone to hell in a handbasket under Al Gore, conveniently forgetting that if Gore campaigned the first six months with the urgency of his las six weeks the Bush strategy of mass disenfranchisement in Florida would have been a moot issue.
The stakes are higher in this election. Four years of Bush/Cheney have polarized this country like at no other time in recent memory. The strong turnouts for the Democrat primaries have shown that people are truly concerned about the direction of the nation. I don't think that it's far fetched to state that this election could be for no less than the survival of the nation; a "cold Civil War", if you will. For all Nader's bluster about the corporate takeover of the Federal government people are concerned enough about the crass hubris of Bush Administration policy that they'll be at the polls in November. The stakes have been raised so much that this Nader candidacy is no more than an afterthought.