Ralph Nader is running again for president.
After four previous bids, mounted in varying forums and with varying goals, Nader is used to the slings and arrows that will be tossed his way. He is conscious and committed. He will not back off.
He knows how to campaign in the face of a firestorm of criticism.
Above all, he knows how to make himself heard — even when almost everyone who guides the political processes of the nation wants to shut him up.
The latter knowledge will serve him well in a 2008 contest where the man who is either a national treasure or a national frustration, or perhaps both, may find himself more marginalized than ever before.
Nader is running for the same reason he has run in the past: Because the likely nominees of the two major parties do not begin to meet the standards that might reasonably be asked of progressive contenders in 21st-century America.
Fundamental issues — Wall Street-defined globalization, rampant and frequently deadly corporate crime, out-of-control military spending and an imperial foreign policy — are not going to be addressed in a realistic let alone definitional manner by the Democratic nominee (be he Barack Obama or be she Hillary Clinton) or by Republican John McCain. And that, says Nader, will leave millions of Americans feeling frustrated and disenfranchised.
“You take that framework of people feeling locked out, shut out, marginalized and disrespected,” he explained on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the same forum where he announced his 2004 presidential run. “You go from Iraq, to Palestine to Israel, from Enron to Wall Street, from Katrina to the bumbling of the Bush administration, to the complicity of the Democrats in not stopping him on the war, stopping him on the tax cuts.”
Nader’s points are all well taken.
And they come from a man who is quite rational in his awareness that he will not be sworn in as president on January 20, 2009.
While Nader has yet to determine whether he will run as the Green Party candidate, a Green-backed independent or a genuinely unaffiliated independent, he is clear about his chances.
The arc of history bends toward Obama and the Democrats, not his candidacy, acknowledges Nader.
After eight years of George Bush and Dick Cheney, he said, “If the Democrats can’t landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, emerge in a different form. You think the American people are going to vote for a pro-war John McCain who almost gives an indication he’s the candidate for perpetual war?”