Too busy to say as much as I would like to say about Ralph Nader’s announcement that he will run for President in 2008. Eventually, I hope to get around to it. For now, just links to two posts with which I heartily agree, followed by some quick comments:
I took Nader seriously in 2000, not because I thought that he had a chance to win, but because he was engaged in real party building. And I am not one who is concerned about whether Nader siphons votes one way or another. Indeed, my basic position is that people should vote for whom they please, if that vote is their sincere democratic expression. Now, there are issues that can be said about strategic choices, but I do not think that one has any other moral obligation when voting aside from utilizing it as a means of democratic participation.
Ralph has decided to run again, and heâ€™s getting a beating for it. The argument goes like this: Green-leaning candidates “take” votes away from Democrats. This particular election is so critical that “we” canâ€™t afford to lose. Nader therefore should do the “right” thing and withdraw.
I want to make the case for Naderâ€™s candidacy. This is not an endorsement of the man or his program. His decision to run urges consideration of structural â€˜democracy problemsâ€™ in America. 2008 may be more critical than 2004, 2000, 1932, 1896 or even 1796, but that doesnâ€™t mean we should ignore our democracy problems. Run-of-the-mill condemnation of Nader reflects a choice to do just that.
…To blame Nader is to shoot the messenger. The conversation should be about lasting solutions. Browbeating Greens to depress their turnout, if doable at all, is not a lasting solution.1
As I have said here before, I was genuinely excited to vote, now almost a month ago, for Barack Obama in the first “meaningful” presidential primary election that I can recall ever participating in. But, having jumped on the bandwagon, I expect to have to hang on tight or else be tossed off by some hard lurches to the right in the months to come. And I am a dues-paying Green Party member. None of that should provide any clues as to how I might vote in November,2 as I genuinely do not know. But I certainly do not believe the Democrats own my vote just because they have better (to me) policies and are better at governing than Republicans.3 Nor would a potential vote for a third-party or independent presidential candidate be my way of saying “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference” between the two big parties. These standard narratives of voting decisions are caricatures, and the sooner we recognize that, the greater the chance of having a meaningful debate about the future of democracy in America and about policies that actually work for Americans, and for those on the other end of America’s formidable power abroad.
Update: jackms, in his other persona as Jack (a frequent propagator here) also posted the DK entry at TDP, where there is a discussion ongoing in the comments.
- By the way, jackms was banned from DailyKos, which tells you about all you need to know about the “Democratic” netrooots. But it is unsurprising, and typical. After all, Ron Paul supporters were banned from Red State some time ago. (And I should add that jackms is explicitly not endorsing Nader, but rather making the case for candidacies outside the two-party mainstream–much as Steven does.) [↩]
- Actually, it might, inasmuch as it is not yet clear whether Nader wants to run as a Green, or if the party even wants him. There was a bit of a dust-up on that front in 2004, when he ran a very different campaign from that of 2000. [↩]
- Nor do Greens “own” my vote just because I invested modestly in the better future I could envision if the Green Party USA could be built into a significant political force. [↩]