Tuesday, February 24, 2004Ralph Nader's declaration to run for President this year comes at an interesting stage in the election process. He's a long-time "dark horse" candidate with views well-known to the public, and he's managed to avoid the primaries' early-rush stage until the strongest of the Democratic contenders have been revealed. You have to hand it to him on strategy. Arriving late to a shindig is a great way to save on parking, if you're the least bit cheap: you may miss out on the cocktails and the soup, but you still get to try dinner and dessert.
He is making Democratic candidates and their supporters nervous by recalling the "Spectre of 2000," the belief that his campaign was somehow responsible for the very close election results that ultimately led to the infamous Hanging Chad Affair. However, thinking that Nader was the culpable spoiler four years ago is rather similar to the idea that Steve Bartman was the "goat" responsible for the Cubs losing last year's World Series.
"It ain't necessarily so." Nader may be sticking his mitt in the 2004 election field, but if he catches a couple of outside balls, that doesn't make him responsible for who wins or loses the game. He garnered about 3 percent of the vote in 2000, but where did that 3 percent really come from?
Because his nontraditional viewpoints tend to be perceived as pulled from the "liberal" bag, many people think Nader's voting base is composed exclusively of disaffected Democrats or disconnected extreme-left fringe voters. I personally do know Republican voters who have voted for him - but that's just me - I might be the only person that knows Republicans-who-voted-for-Nader, but I suspect that's not the case. If Nader is a spoiler, he may be more of an equal-opportunity spoiler than many think. Truthfully, I don't know how many people who vote for Nader do so because they truly like him as a candidate - or if he ends up being a symbolic "None of the Above" protest option. Multifarious Musings has an interesting look on the Nader bid.
Make no mistake, I think Decision 2004 is going to be one of busiest and most contentious elections of recent memory with plenty of involvement on both ideological and economic fronts - but even if Nader somehow managed to triple his 2000 turnout and collected 10 percent of the vote, the other 90 percent is still more than enough to focus on considering what's at stake.
I don't feel as if I have the luxury of taking my chances on a "dark horse" this year - even if he is a candidate that openly supports gay marriage, an important issue for me. Important, yes - but one issue of many, and quite honestly I would feel like I had wasted my one vote of 2004 in protest if I voted for Nader for that reason alone.