Nixing Nader

Ralph Nader can claim a decent slice of the credit for much of the good that’s been done in Washington in recent decades; his Public Citizen advocacy group helped pass benchmark legislation like the Freedom of Information Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, and was instrumental in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If he’d quit while he was ahead, he’d have gone down in history as an environmental hero.

But then came the 2000 election. One shouldn’t blame Bush’s victory exclusively on Nader, of course: Kathy Harris must shoulder some of the blame for the fiasco in Florida, and Al Gore’s campaign team didn’t exactly cover itself with glory. But the fact remains that the 97,000 votes cast for Nader in the Sunshine State put Bush in the White House and ushered in eight long years of environmental neglect.

That left many greens feeling betrayed by Nader, who had inexplicably broken his pledge not to campaign in swing states. Embracing his spoiler status, Nader had the temerity to argue that by helping Bush take the White House he was actually advancing the green cause: After all, how better to galvanize a movement than providing it with a powerful opponent to rage against?

Nader’s self-serving logic led him to dismiss as “servile” those greens who didn’t agree with him, and to accuse Al Gore of being a corporate stooge and “environmental poseur”. Gore has already shown that argument for the tripe it is: Rebuttals don’t get much more convincing than winning a Nobel prize. The inconvenient truth, which Nader still hasn’t acknowledged, is that a Gore presidency would have brought greens into the political mainstream while keeping America from becoming an environmental pariah state.

This time round, too, the Democratic hopefuls have set out detailed and ambitious environmental platforms: Both Clinton and Obama have made clear that if elected, they’ll do all they can to roll back the damage done by the current president. Unfortunately, that’s not enough for Nader, who has once again launched a quixotic third-party presidential run.

One shouldn’t begrudge Nader his right to take a shot at the White House; in America, everyone’s entitled to ride their egotism as far as it’ll take them. But we should say as loudly and clearly as we can that with so much at stake, greens should back a major-party candidate: This year, more than ever, a vote for Nader is a vote wasted.


See more articles from Political Climate


TrackBack URL for this entry:


Hmmm... tell me, how many people voted for Gore-LIEBERMAN because Nader's views drew them a little bit to the left? Quite arguably, Gore only came as close as he did because Nader ran in 2000. And if you're looking for "excuses" for the loss (if he/they even lost at all), I could easily come up with several better ones than this idle speculation about Nader.

Those who blame Nader for Gore's pathetic loss in 2000 know nothing about democracy or mathematics.

Vote for whomever you would like to lead this great country, for crying out loud. And don't let anyone tell you to do otherwise.

Great magazine, but this myth HAS TO END.

Post a comment

Issue 25

Sign up for Plenty's Weekly Newsletter