I don’t know why there’s such a hullabaloo about Ralph Nader’s announcement that he’s running for President again.
I know a lot of people hold grudges against Nader for Gore’s defeat in 2000, and I’m not going to deny he played some role. But so, too, did Gore himself. So, too, did Katherine Harris. So, too, did the Supreme Court.
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a right to run.
And it doesn’t mean he can’t possibly do some good by running.
One function he could play is to point out how undemocratic our two party system is, how rigged it is against third party or independent challengers. He’s doing that already.
Another, even more important function, is to raise issues that no other candidate is raising, and he’s started to do that already, too.
Nader’s presence is a reminder that Obama doesn’t represent the left pole in American politics, and it is salutary to call Obama on his support for a bloated Pentagon budget, or his reluctance to lead on the issue of Israel and Palestine, or single-payer health care.
Still, Nader serves as a reminder that the Democrats don’t automatically own the votes of those who disagree with the Republican agenda, and that Barack Obama is not as progressive as many of his supporters would hope.
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