Four years ago, I wrote a column titled, "Run, Ralph, Run!" It was in response to consumer advocate Ralph Nader running for president. At the time, no better information could have fallen upon the ears of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in 2004 than the news that Nader was running once again. Similarly, that same news is gladdening GOP hearts again this year.
I still cling to the hope that the prospect of President Hillary Clinton or President Barack Obama sends chills down the spines of enough clear-thinking Americans to prevent either from ever becoming a reality. But just in case, it was with great joy that I welcomed the news that Nader will be running again this year.
Ever since 1965, when he published 'Unsafe at Any Speed,' wherein he pointed out the obvious by exposing the Chevrolet Corvair as a deathtrap with nothing but a gas tank to cushion a head-on collision, Ralph Nader has been the left-wing gadfly in corporate and political America's soup. He says what he thinks, supports what he believes and let's the chips fall where they may.
Nader was the luncheon speaker at a conference I attended a few years ago, sponsored by the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling (NCALG). It was the first time I ever agreed with him on anything, before or since, and I realized at that moment I had a grudging respect for the man. He is almost never correct in his assessment of the political landscape, but he is a principled man nonetheless. And I am a believer that principled men (and women) should be involved in the public political process.
Of course, it is for a far more cynical reason that I would love to see Ralph Nader run for president again this year. He is, quite simply, the Democrats' Ross Perot. In his book, 'Bush Country,' John Podohoretz wrote, "It's beyond dispute that if Ralph Nader had not run in 2000, Al Gore would be president today." With the nation's electorate split down the middle, every vote will be crucial in November. If Nader can convince enough voters on the Left that he is the only real alternative to the political establishment they distrust so intensely, his presence in the race this year could once more make the difference.
This should have liberals worried. Some of those who tried to dissuade Nader in 2004 were supporters of his 2000 Green Party presidential bid. Propaganda "filmmaker" Michael Moore, socialist ice cream tycoon Ben Cohen (of Ben and Jerry's fame) and the editors of the ultra-liberal magazine 'The Nation,' were among those who pleaded with Nader not to run four years ago.
This year, Nader has selected Matt Gonzalez, former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, as his running mate.
"I want someone who shares my sense of justice and opposition to corporate and state control over our society," Nader said Thursday at a news conference announcing his choice.
Although there is no chance this ticket can win even a single electoral vote anywhere, Gonzalez might just give Nader's candidacy the boost it needs among the extremists who make up the far left end of the political spectrum. A small percentage of the vote in a few hotly contested states could make the difference in a close race.
In a perverse sort of way, a Ralph Nader candidacy could save the Republic once again. In fact, anything that prevents Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or any other liberal Democrat from winning the White House is a good thing for America.
Nader has been quoted as saying that it is not his job to elect his opponents. With Democrats screaming, "No, Ralph, No," I count myself among those cheering, "Run, Ralph, Run - Again!"