Saturday, February 21, 2004

(Not) Blaming Nader

According to Fox News, Ralph Nader is most likely to announce his entering into presidential race as independent candidate. Such announcement is certain to be followed by savage attacks from Democrats. If there is one US politician more despised by Democrats than George W. Bush, it must be Nader. While whole hanging chads business in Florida business is disputed, nobody can deny that Nader's votes did play crucial part in delivering that state and the keys of White House to current US president.

It seems that Democrats, despite encouraging poll numbers, still feel concerned about the way the race could end in November. They are afraid that history might repeat itself and that Nader can again steal the victory from their hands.

I don't think that Democrats should worry about Nader this time. He is not likely to repeat his 2000 performance. Big portion, if not overwhelming majority, of his supporters is going to play it safe this time and give their votes to Democratic candidate. Michael Moore, former Nader supporter who despite his ultra-leftist views endorsed right-wing Democratic candidate, is one of such examples.

But even if decreased number of Nader's votes turn out to be enough for influencing the elections results, this doesn't mean that Nader should be called names and Republican stooge. Nader might be wrong about many things, but he is right about this – Gore in 2000 didn't lose because of Nader, he lost because of Gore.

Calling Nader not to run doesn't make any sense in the country that is supposed to be democracy and in which people are entitled to take part in political process according to their own will. Mere fact of Nader (or anyone else) being ideologically closer to one of two major political parties doesn't oblige him to deprive himself of a single opportunity to express his ideas and stand what he believes in. Accusations of "stealing", "wasting" or "splitting" votes also don't hold merit in the system in which the voters are supposed to be intelligent, well-informed individuals aware that their actions in voting booths might have serious consequences.

In 2000 Nader went into the race knowing that he would increase chances for George W. Bush. But Nader alone couldn't have produced such result. It took hundred of thousands of other people who made similar choice. Democrats who blame Nader should blame those hundreds of thousands and pay more attention to them in 2004 elections. They didn't do it in 2000 and they have only themselves to blame.


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