by Gabriel Sherman. (Reprinted from The New Republic)
Last year, Ken Cook, co-founder and president of the Environmental Working Group, received a letter from Ralph Nader asking his nonprofit organization to join with him in lobbying Congress on the pending Farm Bill. (Nader was advocating for an increase in the domestic production of hemp.) Cook had known Nader for more than 35 years and had collaborated with him on issues including air quality and pesticide use during the 1980s and '90s. At the bottom of the typed letter, Nader added a handwritten note: "Ken, let's work on this." Cook read the letter, then threw it in the trash.
"I didn't have any interest in working with Ralph Nader on something like that. It would be worse than worthless," Cook recalls. "He doesn't have any credibility or access to people we already have access to. In the public-interest community, he presumes to speak for progressives, and we're left behind cleaning up the shit."
It wasn't long ago that Nader still commanded broad support among the Democratic left. In 2000, Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon headlined a sold-out Nader rally at Madison Square Garden supporting his presidential campaign. Progressive groups embraced him, and he was a sought-after speaker on college campuses.
Al Gore's loss in 2000--and Nader's perceived role as a spoiler by angry Democrats--changed everything. Today, there seems to be an inverse relationship between Nader's political ambitions and his profile as a consumer advocate. Many of the very groups Nader founded, including Public Citizen and the Center for Study of Responsive Law (CSRL), have distanced themselves from his presidential run. Nader personally built the ideological infrastructure of the progressive Washington establishment. But, these days, it's among the Nader faithful that he's least welcome.
[May 7, 2008] Full Story
Ralph Nader Is A Big Fat Mogul
A lot of Democrats are running around wondering why in the world, after succeeding in doing nothing but putting George W. Bush into the White House, Ralph Nader is running for president again. I admit that when I saw the news I nearly dislocated my jaw. He can't hope to win. The progressive agenda he ostensibly espouses can only be hurt by his efforts, which will surely attract the disaffected and discombobulated solely from the blue team.
by Stanley Bing. (Reprinted from HuffingtonPost.com)
As Dr. Phil would say with bald incredulity: What could the man be thinkin'?
The answer is, he's not thinkin'. After years of personal mutation and negative growth, much of it spent inhaling his own fumes, Nader has finally morphed into the final form known to all business people: he has become a big fat mogul.
[February 26, 2008] Full Story
Because Of Nader, President Gore Is Not Finishing His Second Term
by Brent Budowsky. (Reprinted from HuffingtonPost.com)
If the Academy Awards could give a lifetime achievement award for vainglorious pomposity and self-indulgence, the Oscar goes to Ralph Nader.
Had Ralph Nader not run in 2000, President Al Gore would be finishing his second term. The Iraq war would never have happened, Abu Ghraib would have been nothing more than a fiction in horror movies. There would be a progressive majority on the Supreme Court rather than Roberts and Alito.
Had Ralph Nader not run in 2000, President Gore would have received the Nobel Peace Prize for historic global warming policies enacted during his presidency....
[February 24, 2008] Full Story
The Great Impostor
by Larry Durstin. (Reprinted from the Cleveland, OH Free Times)
Nader's 2004 campaign was both dishonest and dishonorable
Anyone who's been closely watching Ralph Nader's self-absorbed campaign realizes that Nader is not a real presidential candidate, nor does he even play one on television. When Nader criticized John Kerry for not effectively appealing to African-Americans, the question that needed to be asked was, "If Nader were actually serious about running for office, why wasn't he himself trying to find a way to appeal to African-Americans?" He's supposed to be a real candidate, so why doesn't he try to get some votes, instead of telling other candidates what they should do?
His smug lecturing rings hollow since, in 2000, Nader got less than one percent of the black vote and has done nothing at all this time to craft a message that might appeal to blacks or any number of groups that may be perceived as being neglected by the major parties.
The national Green Party has totally rejected him, and with good reason. Not only were they furious that he barely mentioned any of their issues during his 2000 campaign -- choosing instead to run on the Big Lie that there is absolutely no difference between Republicans and Democrats -- but in the past four years he has refused to participate in Green Party caucuses, primaries, state conventions or debates. He has barely lifted a finger to help any Green Party candidates or work to advance their progressive causes.
So after getting the boot by the Greens this year, he took his tired act on the road....
[September 22, 2004] Full Story
The Imaginary Campaign
Nader supporters argue that their candidate is a man of principle -- someone who won't stoop to the pragmatism of compromise (by implication "like the other candidates."). "We should all be held to account, we should all be held to levels of specificity," Nader has said. That idealized image was challenged recently by revelations that the Nader campaign may have been aided by a public charity he created, which is prohibited by tax law. In Arizona critics have charged that his petition drive is funded by a Republican consultant. Meanwhile the candidate continues his unsubstantiated claim that he is drawing more support from Republicans than Democrats.
[June 22, 2004] Full Story
Having failed in his first attempt to get on a state ballot in 2004, in Oregon, Nader tried and failed to qualify in Texas, as well. He promptly sued the state, arguing that the ballot requirements that Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan had managed to satisfy in Texas were unconstitutional. Ironically, later in the month, the party of Perot and Buchanan endorsed Nader.
Early in May, the biggest news story coming from the Nader campaign was that he was not officially on the ballot in any state. His attempt to use a mass-meeting provision of the Oregon election law to collect 1000 signatures at a single event had failed when only 741 supporters appeared. The campaign is now trying to find 15,000 signatures in Oregon over the next three months to qualify.
In Texas the Nader campaign failed to collect the required 60,000 signatures by the May 10 deadline. Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese blamed local ordinances that banned the gathering of signatures at public events. "... [P]etitioners are being blocked by universities and cities," Zeese complained to the Washington Times. "There are a lot of restrictions that did not exist in 2000." Once the deadline passed without enough signatures having been gathered, the Nader campaign immediately sued the state of Texas, challenging the petition requirements for an independent candidate. "Democracy is under assault in Texas," Nader huffed.
A few days later the Nader campaign's sputtering efforts to gain ballot access received something of a boost when the Reform Party announced that Nader would be their presidential nominee. While providing access to the ballot in seven states, Nader's endorsement by the Reform Party, whose platform has little in common with Nader's positions on many issues, called into question Nader's claim of ideological purity.
[May 14, 2004] Full Story
Detroit Metro Times editor Jeremy Voas writes that Nader and Bush have something in common "followers who embrace their heartthrobs' unstinting determination, even denial, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary."
by Jeremy Voas. (Reprinted from the Detroit Metro Times)
If one didn't know his history, one might think Ralph Nader looks more like a candidate for involuntary commitment than a candidate for president.
He's clearly a savant. But aspects of his mien include vaguely frightened, furtive eyes and the kind of pinched brow I've always assigned to serial meltdown artists. His voice has diminished, noticeably reedier than when we last spoke, about nine years ago in Washington, D.C. He is wearing a slightly rumpled suit, and he's got a speck of hummus at the corner of his mouth.
He's just been served a meal at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Dearborn, and he's responding to my questions as he samples the spread before him.
I don't begrudge him his sustenance. It's been a long afternoon. The champion of American consumers is 70 now, and he's just concluded a meeting with a throng of volunteers whose ardor will determine whether his name appears on the Michigan ballot this November.
He has signed copies of his book, Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender. He's chatted one-on-one with the few journalists who've responded to his campaign's entreaties for coverage on this Sunday, April 25. I just happen to be the last to get his ear, and now he's hungry. There are more events ahead in the evening.
I don't really believe Nader belongs in a padded cell.
[May 5, 2004] Full Story
Oregon was Nader's first attempt to get on the nation's ballots in 2004, and he failed to do so. Unswayed by the lack of support in a state where four years ago he had drawn 5% of the vote, Nader declared that he would consider his candidacy a success, even if the Democrats lose. Meanwhile he is seeking alliances with parties as diverse as the Greens and the Reform Party -- a strategy whose pragmatism runs against the idealism of his rhetoric.
"Quixotic and Destructive"
In the first week of April, fifteen liberal and progressive activists, including representatives from Americans for Democratic Action and the Council for a Livable World, sent a letter to Ralph Nader praising his advocacy for consumers but urging him to withdraw from the 2004 presidential campaign. "We call on you to stop this quixotic and destructive effort. The stakes are simply too high.," the letter said. "We cannot afford another four years of George W. Bush, but your candidacy only serves to help his re-election campaign."
Rejecting the plea, Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said "You have to stand for something and I think these liberal groups, with their anybody-but-Bush advocacy, are going to get nothing in return."
While stopping short of "blaming" Bush's victory on Nader, the letter also referred to Nader's effect on the 2000 election:
You have done great things in your career as a consumer advocate and we applaud your work, but your presidential race in 2000 led to the most destructive administration we can remember in our 200-plus collective years of progressive advocacy.
Nader has consistently dismissed suggestions that he bears any responsibility for the Bush victory in 2000, although in a speech on April 2 at Shenandoah University in Virginia he conceded "Al Gore slipped on about 18 banana peels and maybe the Green Party was one of them."
[April 8, 2004] Full Story
Nader's 2004 candidacy was fraught with irony and contradiction. When he announced his run for the presidency he claimed to represent third parties everywhere, yet he quickly rejected overtures from the Green Party, saying he would run as an independent. And even if he drew half the votes he received in 2000, that could still have helped elect a candidate whose administration has tried systematically to undo many of his achievements on behalf of consumers, workers and the public.
My Enemy, Myself
Chicago Sun Times columnist William O'Rourke speculated in a February 29 column that Nader's campaign would likely receive clandestine support from Republicans, similar to the way Al Sharpton's campaign received assistance from Republican operative Roger Stone. Stone was exposed during the Watergate scandal for having infiltrated the McGovern campaign, and, according to Village Voice political reporter Wayne Barrett, "has been a player in virtually every major GOP scandal, from aiding the contras to the mob shutdown of the Miami/Dade County canvassing board during the 2000 recount." Initially without the knowledge of Sharpton's campaign manager, Frank Watkins, Stone arranged for hundreds of thousands of dollars to be contributed to Sharpton's nonprofit National Action Network. " Minor parties are often pawns the two large parties use in the chess game of elections, both local and national," O'Rourke observed. "They are invented if necessary, or made more viable than they would be naturally, like Sharpton's campaigns."
[March 22, 2004] Full Story
Writing in a student-produced newspaper at the University of Minnesota a columnist urged his readers not to vote for Nader in 2004.
For the good of the country, don't vote for Nader this year
by Neil Munshi. (Reprinted from the Minnesota Daily)
Ralph Nader has decided to throw his tattered, broken hat into the ring once again, giving the American people yet another "choice" and "voice." He employs the rhetoric he is best known for -- that of the corporately corrupt Washington and the kind of idealism that young voters eat up like so many gel tabs in the lot before a Phish show -- which is all well and fine.
But not this year.
Geez, Ralph, not this year....
[March 1, 2004] Full Story
International and Public Affairs scholar, Wallace Ford, wrote that Nader's 2004 candidacy recalled the athlete who sadly stays in the game long past his prime because his life is empty without it.
Nader: A vanity campaign for the ages
by Wallace Ford
When I look at the current iteration of the Saga of Ralph Nader, I am reminded of the old adage -- Those who the gods seek to destroy, they first make mad. I have too much respect for the achievements and accomplishments to think that Mr. Nader is crazy. So I offer a different adage -- Those who the gods seek to destroy, they first allow to grow old.
There is a certain poetic sadness to Mr. Nader's misbegotten run for the presidency, a sadness born of his accomplishing so much so early in life that he has never been able to summon an encore worthy of his opening act....
[February 26, 2004] Full Story
Having gained national visibility championing public safety and consumer rights, Nader was a write-in undeclared candidate for president in 1992, and was the Green Party candidate in 1996. Despite disagreements with party organizers he was again their candidate in 2000. The 3% of the vote he drew would have been enough to turn the 2000 election had those votes gone to Democrat Al Gore. In the context of repressive measures at home, and an elective war abroad, many of Nader's former allies did not support him in 2004.
Ralph Nader gained national attention in 1965 with the publication of his critique of US automotive design titled Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile. According to Nader's web site (nader.org) the "pioneering insight" of the book was that the main cause of car injuries was not operator error, but "the inherent engineering and design deficiencies of the motor vehicle." Nader's efforts led to federal auto safety legislation, and at least indirectly, the establishment of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nader went on to investigate the meat and poultry industries, natural gas pipelines, radiation emissions from television sets and X-rays, and the working conditions in coal mines. Many of these efforts led to laws reforming industry practices. Using a task force of law students, dubbed "Nader's Raiders" by then Washington Post reporter William Greider, Nader turned his investigative eye on the Federal Trade Commission. His efforts led to a major reorganization of the agency, which then promptly launched investigations of the food industry.
By 1970 Nader had founded the Center for Auto Safety, which continued to look for defects in US automobiles, the Project on Corporate Responsibility, which advocated a greater role for consumers and shareholders in corporate policymaking, and the Public Interest Research Group, which undertook legal actions related to public health. In time the focus on health and safety concerns broadened into efforts to organize a "consumer movement" to combat abuse of consumers and work to reform corporate power. Nader was joined in 1970 by Harvard Law School graduate Mark Green, who would become "a close confidant and protege." Green became director of Congress Watch, Nader's consumer lobbying group, in 1972. (Green left Congress Watch in the late 70s and moved to Manhattan where he continues to pursue his own political career, including a recent run for mayor of New York City.)
[February 25, 2004] Full Story
Run From Reality
by Micah L. Sifry. (Reprinted from TomPaine.com)
Watching Ralph Nader announce his unsurprising decision to run for president as an independent, I didn't hear anything new. There was no sign from him that he understands that there might be some differences in the political context of 2004, compared to 2000. All of his arguments were the same: the need to address the "democracy gap;" how Washington is "corporate-occupied territory;" how we have too many solutions to problems that aren't being adopted as a result. "The two parties are ferociously competing to see who's going to go to the White House and take orders from their corporate paymasters," he declared at one point. He gave both parties flunking grades: a D- for the Republicans and a D+ for the Democrats. Which is amazing, considering his fierce condemnation of Bush's illegal war-mongering and call for his impeachment. Political realities change, but not Ralph....
[February 23, 2004] Full Story
Governor Dean's statement on Ralph Nader
(Reprinted from Blog for America)
When I announced last week that I am no longer actively pursuing the presidency,meizitang I urged my supporters not to be tempted by any independent or third party candidate. I said I would support the nominee of the Democratic Party, because the bottom line is that we must defeat George W. Bush in November, whatever it takes....
[February 23, 2004] Full Story
On January 29, 2004 the editors of the progressive journal The Nation, whose editorial pages have voiced support for many of the calls for reform that Nader advocates, nonetheless published the following.
An Open Letter to Ralph Nader
(Reprinted from The Nation)
According to the latest news reports, you've pushed up your self-imposed deadline for announcing your decision about an independent 2004 presidential campaign from the end of January to mid-February. We're glad to hear that, because maybe it means you're still not sure about the best path to follow. For the good of the country, the many causes you've championed and for your own good name--don't run for President this year....
[January 29, 2004] Full Story
More than a month before consumer activist and two-time Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader announced he would run for president in 2004, Norman Solomon, who helped launch Nader's 1996 campaign, argued that his run would not help defeat Bush.
Running on Empty
by Norman Solomon. (Reprinted from TomPaine.com)
Ralph Nader plans to announce this month whether he'll be running for president in 2004. Some believe that such a campaign is needed to make a strong political statement nationwide. But if Nader does run this year, what kind of support -- in the form of volunteers, resources and votes -- could he reasonably expect?
Results of a nationwide survey, released in late December, provide a stark look at the current inclinations of people who've been part of his electoral base. After receiving about 11,000 responses from readers on a core e-mail list, the progressive online magazine AlterNet reported back: "While 27 percent of you voted for Nader in 2000, only 11 percent say you would vote for him in 2004."
This year, Nader would be lucky to receive 1 million votes -- a far cry from his 2000 total of 2.8 million.
Dire as the AlterNet numbers are for a prospective Nader run, they probably overstate the extent to which he would retain voters from 2000. The survey tally came before Nader publicly ruled out being a Green Party nominee in 2004. Last time, one of the main reasons given for supporting Nader as the Green presidential candidate was a desire to build a truly progressive party. This year, many who buy such reasoning may opt for the Green Party's presidential candidate rather than get behind an independent Nader campaign.
Hours before Nader made public his decision not to seek the Green Party's nomination in 2004, the national coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics Network, Ted Glick, commented in an essay: "It is hard for me to see how such a decision would work for Nader." Glick went on: "Who does he expect to attract to an independent campaign other than Greens? I know of no moves to leave the Democratic Party on the part of any bloc of Blacks, Latinos, labor, women or any other progressive constituency. The Reform Party is virtually defunct. I assume Ralph is not going to try to attract large numbers of disaffected Republican conservatives as his petition gatherers and organization builders. Who else is there?"
If he goes ahead for 2004, Ralph Nader will be in conflict with countless allies who have stood alongside him in many battles -- including his previous presidential campaigns....
[January 7, 2004] Full Story