Ralph Nader’s recent announcement of his running in the 2004 presidential race as an independent candidate proves two things: Nader’s egomania knows no bounds, and the former consumer crusader is a Republican’s best friend.
The left has been fighting a tooth-and-nail battle to reclaim the White House, with the Democratic establishment eventually throwing early contenders like Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt to the side in favor of the reliably centrist John Kerry. But Nader does not get that the stakes are higher than the lesser of two evils in this election.
Four years of President George W. Bush’s “Mayberry Machiavellis” in the White House have led to a ruinous economy and a foreign policy that has undone 60 years of coalition building. More and more individuals find themselves with low-paying service jobs -if they have a job at all. And even conservative stalwarts like Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge have criticized Bush’s clumsily-handled moves abroad.
The importance of booting Bush out of office is based in what he is. Bush is an ideological conservative incapable of seeing subtleties; his worldview is that of Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, hardline conservatives who never met a school prayer or foreign invasion they didn’t like.
There are moderate Republicans out there, but our President is not one of them. Congress has plenty of Republicans opposed to a neo-Conservative foreign policy and Sen. Arlen Specter is hardly Richard Nixon. Bush’s actions are so deeply rooted in ideology as to be unforgivable that they ignore real world considerations.
But Nader is a narcissist. For Ralphy, an election without him just isn’t an election. Against all common sense and logic, Nader has decided to remake himself into a poster child for pot-smoking hippies and idealistic college students everywhere. His platform magically promises all things to all people – Universal health care, an end to the electoral college, a renewable energy policy and the abolition of the death penalty. It reads off like a wish list of an ideal government, a great exercise in political science class but a sign of delusion in a presidential candidate.
By running, Nader is benefiting Bush more than a million miscounted Florida ballots or another six months to disappear from military service. There are undoubtedly those out there who will vote for Ralph Nader because this world is full of idealists who have yet to learn that their actions have very real consequences. Nader has the misfortune to be an idealist in his advanced age – The poor guy is unable to realize that his Quixotic political aspirations make him a best friend to the corporate machine he hates the most.
Make no mistake about it. Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 election. In several crucial states Bush seized, the margin of votes for Nader would have been enough to let Gore win those states. But Nader continues to run, basking in the glow of being the father figure of the left’s lunatic fringe. Too bad he is the secret weapon of the right’s lunatic fringe too.
Neal Ungerleider can be reached at N_Terminal@yahoo.com.