Although we have disagreements with him on many issues, we welcome Ralph Nader into the 2004 presidential race. We long have favored giving voters more choices than those offered by what he derides as the Republican-Democrat “duopoly.”
Nader ran in 2000 on the Green Party ticket and helped shave votes from Al Gore. This upset Democrats and led The Nation magazine to plead in a Jan. 29 “Open Letter to Ralph Nader,” that President Bush’s “defeat is critical. … The media will frame you as The Spoiler.”
This time, Nader is not running with the Greens but on his own as an independent. He also seems to be framing much of his campaign as a way to show how hard it is for a third-party candidate even to get a chance at victory. His Web site said he plans “to bring out more Independents and nonvoters who don’t want to identify with any party. …
“The ballot access laws in some places are draconian. … Some of these laws impose strict signature requirements … and there are plenty of petty and arbitrary disqualification procedures. It’s absurd.”
Indeed it is, but so, alas, are many of Nader’s policy positions. He favors a tax on stock transactions (which would dampen investment and thus new jobs creation); new anti-poverty programs (on top of the many that already exist and thus further create welfare dependency); protectionist “equitable trade” (which could spark a trade war that would reduce exports and raise costs of imports; universal education (when the real problem is stifling federal control over local schools); and an end to “silent environmental violence” (through more assaults on the rights of property owners).
But he’s good on some issues, too. He opposed the war in Iraq and has been proved right by events. He wants to restore civil liberties that have been “eroding due to the ‘war on terrorism’ and new technology that allows easy invasion of privacy.”
And he wants to end the “war” on drugs and urges, “Law enforcement should be at the edges of drug control not at the center. … Ending the drug war will dramatically reduce street crime, violence and homicides related to underground drug dealing.”
Agree with him or not, these are important issues that need to be discussed. He doesn’t have a chance of winning, but maybe his campaign can lead to reforms that make it easier for future third-party candidates to challenge the duopoly.