Why did God send Ralph Nader? Or, perhaps as Democrats might ask, why didn’t God take away Ralph Nader somewhere around 1999? We all know that Ralph Nader’s Green Party candidacy for the presidency in 2000 siphoned away progressive voters that otherwise would have voted for Al Gore, essentially allowing George W. Bush’s “victory”.
He ran again in 2004, to the chagrin of Kerry supporters, but carried a less significant portion of the vote. Now, Ralph Nader’s rhetoric threatens another bid for the White House in 2008 should Hillary Clinton earn the Democratic nomination. Even one of our favorites because of his non-partisan analysis, Dick Polman, is unable to hide his disdain for the man. Certainly, much of this has resulted from the poor performance of the president “who Nader helped propel to power in the first place”.
Partisan Democrats hate Ralph Nader because he “cost” them electoral victories.
He did this by earning the support of independent progressives who felt as though the Democratic Party had become more interested in the business of winning elections than representing a pragmatic and progressive platform for action. Ralph Nader is criticized the types of Democrats being nominated, the corruption of the party structure by corporate interests. He was disparaging the Democratic establishment that had become entrenched after brokering power over the course of the
Nader’s target, that same Democratic establishment, has since lost some of its hold on intra-party politics. The Party’s incompetence at mounting a challenge to George W. Bush’s policies led to further defeats on subsequent election days. Grassroots criticism of the Party began registering in 2004 as Howard Dean became chairman of the DNC as an outsider. In 2006, the progressive grassroots challenged the Democrats to take back Congress and they did. While the degree to which independent progressives have stamped the platform of 2006 Democratic nominees can be argued, it is clear that new non-insider leaders are emerging within the Party (i.e. Obama). These new leaders reflect the progressives that Nader was trying to reach with his anti-establishment criticism of the Democratic corporatism that dominated the Party.
This is not to argue that young guns like Barack Obama and John Edwards have completely clean hands when it comes to corporate influence. Hillary Rodham Clinton, however, clearly represents the old-guard corporate Democratic establishment to Nader and to many other independent Democrats and progressives that will be working against her during the primary season. That is why Nader has threatened an independent run for the presidency against Hillary Clinton but not against the other early front-runners, Barack Obama and John Edwards and why these two