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Pollit makes some great points about Nader's candidacy; it does seem like a vanity project. However, even if Nader had the best of intentions, a third-party candidacy will never be successful because of the systematic deficiencies of our winner-take-all two party system.

In the long run, third-parties would be better served if Nader put his resources behind a movement to create an electoral system based on proportional representation. In such a system, if the Green Party received just 10 percent of the vote, they would receive 10 percent of seats rather than no seats at all.

Jim Kiryakoza

San Francisco, CA

Apr 3 2008 - 3:08pm

Web Letter

Ralph Nader Forever!

Nader-bashing is apparently one of The Nation's favoritepastimes. Do any of you people truly stand for any progressivism at all?Katha Pollitt certainly has no clue about the dire political situationin this country. Ralph Nader does. If the Democratic party representsthe salvation of this country, then why haven't they stopped this war?They have a majority in Congress. A majority which the people of thiscountry wrongly thought would make any difference.

As you should know, this country is rapidly tilting toward corporatefascism. The Democratic party--Hillary, Barack and all (except DennisKucinich)--is very much part of that cataclysmic fact.

Ralph Nader points this out. Ralph Nader is not bought off by thecorporations. Both Democratic candidates are frozen by their corporatesponsors and groups like the Israel Lobby. Neither Democrat is going tostand up for anything.

We need a total overhaul of the lock-step two-party system to have anyshot at democracy. Nader recognizes this. He is the opposite of anegomaniac--he's taking hits for the good of the country. Even as Pollittargues the "differences" between candidates, she has to say that McCaindoesn't see a problem with healthcare and Obama wants to insure"almost" everyone. Do either of them challenge the callous inhumanity ofhealth insurance companies that care only about profits? Nader does.I'll tell you what--the Democrats need their "noses tweaked" and a lotmore done to them than that, for totally abandoning any oppositionstatus versus the Bush fascist government. Newsflash--John Edwards isvery far from Ralph Nader--his supporters do not equal Nader's. WithKucinich she might have had something, but Pollitt does not seem to mindabout getting her facts straight, or having much of any clue to therealities of a floundering democracy.

Linda Ford

Madison, NY

Mar 24 2008 - 5:46pm

Web Letter

There are progressives who don't just talk but actually try to do something to make things better (as opposed to settling for not making things worse).

Then there are the progressives whom I call "whatnottodoists," who are better at wagging their finger at the first group and dismissing their efforts as futile, than they are at suggesting a serious alternative course of action. Guess which group Katha Pollitt is in?

BTW, the people of Egypt will be pleased to learn that promoting human rights in their country is, in Pollitt's view, a trivial objective. After all, Islamic woman-haters are acceptable victims! ("First they came for the communists...")

James J. Matthews

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Mar 16 2008 - 11:03am

Web Letter

Thanks for a moment of sanity in this debate. A considerable, highly vocal portion of the far left believes making a point by voting with a candidate they strongly agree with (although isn't Ralph Nader an odd choice if that is your approach?) is more valuable than soberly looking at the terrain of US society and trying to build a movement to change it. There are others, less visible on the Internet, who disagree. I heard not a word about Ralph Nader at the US Social Forum, for example, hardly a hotbed of weaselly liberalism. Perhaps it is time to ignore the Naderites and get busy constructing that movement that combines race and gender concerns with a class-based thrust.

Steven Sherman

Carrboro, NC

Mar 10 2008 - 5:43am

Web Letter

This was the first Pollitt piece in recent memory that I haven't bothered to finish. Obviously her proximity to Eric Alterman has passed his "Nader hysteria" on to her, and it hurts her credibility. When Pollitt wants to make a reasoned argument against Nader running, as opposed to just calling names and making up motives like "sexism" for people who don't like Clinton because of her actions, I'll read it. I'll probably vote for the Green candidate if Clinton steals the nomination, but unlike Pollitt, I won't be excoriating anyone for daring to challenge the DLC's brand of "democracy." I'll have to hold my nose to vote for Obama, in the hope that his own record is just "freshman foolishness," but if I see Clinton's name, with its decades of corporatism and dirty tricks, I just may have to "Ralph."

Michael Cerkowski

Mechanicville, NY

Mar 9 2008 - 5:16am

Web Letter

Wow. Continuing to blame Nader for Bush defies reason and is truly astounding, and embarrassing. So let's first get through the tired litany of the 2000 election in Florida:

Nader got approximately 97,000 votes in Florida in 2000. According to a number of articles, at least 300,000 Democrats and 191,000 liberals in Florida in 2000 voted for Bush. Why don't you tell those "Democrats" not to vote? Why don't you tell the other third-party candidates not to run-- the ones who "stole" more votes than Gore "lost" by. Heck, why don't you tell the Republicans not to run?

Why don't you berate Katherine Harris for stopping the recount? Which Gore won, in case you hadn't heard. Why don't you rail at the Supreme Court for upholding the decision to stop the recount, thus handing the presidency to Bush. Why don't you browbeat Gore for running such a lame campaign that he couldn't even carry his own state?

These were just a few of the problems with the 2000 election that have nothing to do with Nader. And even if Nader was somehow responsible for all these crimes that put Bush in the White House, you or anyone else suggesting that he shouldn't run is undemocratic, it's political bigotry, and it's unconscionable.

If you don't agree with Nader's politics (you know, single-payer health care, getting corporations out of government, getting us out of Iraq, that kind of thing), then don't vote for him.

And are you kidding about Kucinich? He received hardly any air time, and he was locked out of at least one major debate on MSNBC. To say that people had a chance with Kucinich is weak at best. Most of the people in this country have never heard of him (except maybe as some guy who maybe saw a UFO) nor did they have a chance to hear from him. If he'd received even half the exposure that the media gives to Clinton and Obama, he would have given them both a run for their money and important issues would have remained on the table. The media and the Democrat machine shut him out. There was no choice.

As for Nader's alleged ego, who doesn't have an ego? Ego is what gets people out of bed in the morning. Because he's not giving up on democracy or our country or the Constitution, you imply ("tweak[ing] the noses of the Dems") that he's a nuisance? You belittle the necessity of poking at the frontrunners? Are you insane? Of course they need to be poked at and pestered, they need to answer to the people. While the mainstream media and, sadly, not-so-mainstream media are on the Obama hope train, there are people in this country without food, without healthcare, without resources, without hope. So Nader is in the trenches and on the frontline fighting for them and for you and for all of us, just as he has been doing for the last forty-plus years. Nader doesn't just talk about change, he is change. He's not (as you would like him to be) sitting back on his laurels polishing his legacy because he's got work to do, and so do the rest of us. If the frontrunners would step up to the plate, I'm sure Nader would be happy to retire to third-base coach.

Judy Thurlow

Montpelier, VT

Mar 8 2008 - 6:20pm

Web Letter

Perhaps Katha Pollitt had second thoughts about her opinion when all three corporate candidates assured the Israeli state that they had no problem with the current bombing of the Palestinians. Of course, that "support for Israel no matter what" stance was entirely predictable.

In my opinion the issues on which the corporate candidates disagree with Nader are infinitely more important than the issues on which they disagree with each other.

Even if I knew for sure that without my vote McCain and Clinton would be in a precise tie, I would still write in Nader, or vote a blank ballot in protest, if write-ins were not allowed.

Nader has not stolen my vote from the Democrats!

I will vote my conscience and leave the lesser-evil decision to the connoisseurs of evil. You ask, "What if everyone thought like that?" That's easy: if everyone thought like I do, Nader would be elected with 100 percent of the vote.

Forest W. Simmons

Portland, OR

Mar 8 2008 - 3:46pm

Web Letter

I'm totally sick of Katha Pollitt and her absurd female pig chauvinism. Nader is running because Hillary's not merely an echo of Bush but is even more hawkish, as demonstrated in her insane comments the other day blaming Hugo Chávez for Colombia's invasion of Ecuador! Not to mention Hillary's incredibly racist blank-check support of Israel--but that's OK, because Katha is a Jewess and she can have it both ways. And Katha's apologias for the lame performance of Nancy Pants is the final straw. We should love Pelosi because she is a corporate paid-for fee-male. Gee, why not whoop it up for Ayn Rand or racistGolda "There Are No Palestinians" Meir or Maggie Thatcher? You people with your identity politics have been following the COINTELPRO script since 1970. Screw all of you.

Michael Hardesty

Oakland, CA

Mar 8 2008 - 1:46am

Web Letter

Hard-left "sexist" voter here: Katha confirms what we folks here on the Left Coast have suspected for a while--that she's taken a fall of Hitchens-esque proportions in Democratic Principles department. All that historically uninformed blather about "tiny, hapless third parties" in American politics. The condescending nonsense about Nader's "dignity" and his "day job"? Embarrassing! Lastly, Pollitt's comment about Sheehan's daring to run against the "powerful" Nancy Pelosi and having the temerity to advocate basic civil rights while in Egypt comes off, to me anyway, as some vague sort of smear.

Oops, my sexist--or, worse still, "true believer" status is showing...

Pollitt's political affection for the Democratic Party in general, and Nancy Pelosi in particular is spectacularly misplaced. We all know the story. In 2006 the electorate handed the Democratic Party majorities in the House and Senate with a clear mandate--a mandate that in poll after poll has only gotten stronger since--to stop the illegal, criminal, $3.5 billion-a-week war in Iraq. To date, under Pelosi and Reid's leadership the Democratic Party's lack of achievement on this score has been nothing short of stunning. A thousand more US dead and still thousands more wounded--and that's not even counting the numberless Iraqis. Thanks in no small measure to Pelosi and Reid, Iraq is now the Democrats war. The Dems sign off on funding bill after funding bill after funding bill. A billion here, a billion there. Why spend it here when we can send it there? Impeachment, says Nancy, is "off the table." Mukasey is an Attorney General with a view of Executive power that actually exceeds Fredo's(!). Torture is still(!) official US policy. Subpoenas are ignored. Meanwhile, the Democrats fall over one another themselves to show how complicit they can be with Bush's lawbreaking. Oh, I get it Harry and Nancy: Why interfere with the holy election-cycle, right?

Better to leave that to the tiny, hapless third parties.

Ernest Fuentes

San Francisco, CA

Mar 7 2008 - 4:17pm

Web Letter

After reading through Katha Pollitt's commentary on Ralph Nader, I'mshocked at the poor or perhaps limited understanding of the politicalarena she demonstrates. Perhaps she is satisfied with a narrow two-partysystem that reviles third party efforts, as it marginalizes dissent andtrue diversity, and purports to be a shining example of democracy. Ofcourse, we can push these supposed leftist fringe players off to theperiphery and be content with the establishment's munificent offeringsof two corporate/militaristic parties. Is it any wonder that in 2004just under 40 percent of the eligible electorate decided to opt out?Though differences obviously exist between the two parties, howeverslight on so many accounts, does this preclude any criticism or outrightrejection?

Completely ignored by the mainstream media during non-election years,despite his constantly churning out important articles, Ralph Nader hasdecided again that the only way people will listen to the issues heholds dear (which most Nation readers share) is by mounting a runfor the presidency. Pollitt insists that instead of disrupting theDemocrats' drive for the White House, Nader should have played "fair" andobsequiously run in the primaries like Kucinich and Gravel. Though bothKucinich and Gravel deserve credit for their stances on countlessissues, each was swept to the side and declared unelectable. Kucinichwas even blocked by MSNBC from the Nevada debate. Furthermore, animportant study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism released inOctober of 2007, titled "The Invisible Primary," illustrated thefutility of those "undesirable campaigns." It found that of the 1,700campaign articles from January to May 2007, there was all of one articleon Dennis Kucinich.

Certainly, there are myriad ways our political system needs to berepaired and mended; sadly, neither the Republicans nor Democrats haveany incentive to explore ways to ameliorate our current situation.Voices such as Nader and Cynthia McKinney, among many others, arenecessary and should be welcomed, not admonished, in joining thedemocratic dialogue needed to improve our body politic. Though I'mperhaps just a part of what Pollitt refers to as that "hard-left sexistvote."

Jonathan McGovern

Charlotte, NC

Mar 6 2008 - 1:49pm

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