Ralph Nader's decision to enter the 2004 presidential race has some Democrats a bit uneasy, and it's possible the Dems have reason to be. Many of them think votes that otherwise would have gone to Democrat Al Gore went to Nader in the 2000 election, indirectly sending President George Bush to the White House. Their biggest fear is a repeat performance. To say Nader influenced the 2000 election isn't an exaggeration. Any candidate who can draw 2.7 percent of the vote nationwide will have some effect on the overall outcome of a close election. But to say Nader was directly responsible for Gore's defeat is a stretch, and so are efforts to discourage his participation in the political process. Which, by the way, supports Nader's contention that there are only two political choices and it's getting more and more difficult to distinguish between the two. ...
Yep, Nader's marginal candidacy has the Democrats anxious, but that's just part of the political game. No doubt they'd rather Nader stay on the sidelines, but it is his right however fanciful to be a player in that game if he so chooses. Trying to keep him on the bench is a pretty good way of proving his point about lack of choice in American politics.
Texarkana (Texas) Gazette - Feb. 24
Give Ralph Nader high marks for fidelity
to his political beliefs. On political strategy, however, he flunks.
Mr. Nader, 69, announced on Sunday that he will be a candidate for president, and will seek to get on the ballot in all 50 states as an independent. ...
Democratic leaders and the leadership of the Green Party, whose banner he carried in 2000, urged him not to run. Many in the consumer organizations he founded 50 years ago likewise don't want him to run. Even the progressive magazine The Nation, which first published a car-safety article by him in 1959, urged him not to run in a long editorial headed ''Dear Ralph.''
... Without party backing, his blip on the political radar screen will be dim and fleeting. The likelihood of him affecting the November outcome is smaller than four years ago.
So, this is more like good, clean fun than a crisis for the republic. Damage done will be mostly to Mr. Nader's own reputation and message.
... For now, he fosters the belief that he will risk seeing President Bush be re-elected for the sake of his own campaign. That tells Democrats that the process he prescribes is more important than the result or product exactly the charge he laid at the feet of the unscrupulous in business and government all those years ago.
The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa. - Feb. 24
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