Spectator Editorial: The return of Nader

The Old Faithful of presidential campaigns is right on schedule – again.

Consumer activist Ralph Nader declared his intention to run for president as an independent Feb. 24 on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” This will be his fifth attempt at the White House, participating in every presidential election since 1992.

Nader and his supporters need to realize 2008 is going to end up being as disappointing as his previous four attempts for the presidency. His views are simply too far left and too rigid; his funds are too few to have even a remote chance of winning. But the real issue of his declared candidacy is how it will affect whomever the Democratic candidate ends up being. Democrats famously blamed Nader for taking liberal votes away from Al Gore in 2000, costing him the election. Some Democrats fear Nader will do the same thing in November’s presidential election.

But if the Democratic Party believes Nader will cost it this election, then it has problems that run deeper than just a marginal third party candidate stealing votes. After eight tumultuous years under a Republican president, the White House should be primed for the taking for Democrats. Nader will only affect the election outcome if the Democratic candidate doesn’t do enough to earn the votes Nader receives.

Despite not having a chance to win, Nader has an undeniable right to run for president. He’s done so four times before – two of which a Democrat won – so protesting his involvement amounts to nothing since his effect will again be minimal. Having third-party candidates is a long-standing tradition in U.S. politics because any addition to the discourse of ideas in an election is welcomed. Nader becoming president is highly unlikely, but his involvement in the race is nothing but beneficial for democracy.