Saturday, February 21, 2004

Democrats United in Asking That Nader Not Enter Race

New York Times

The Democrats are so desperate to keep Nader out it's almost funny. In fact, it is funny. Check out this quote:

"'We can't afford to have Ralph Nader in the race. This is about the future of our country,' Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told CNN."

But can you blame them? I think Nader will be less harmful this year, because many Democrats learned their lesson from last election, but he'll still siphon off a significant number of votes.

The larger question for me is: why can't the Democrats bring him under their tent? I think the answer is related to comments I've made before: the Democrats aren't nearly as effective as the Republicans in co-opting politicians. Part of the problem is that really liberal people don't want to be a part of The Establishment, which the Democratic party (or any major party) likely represents to them. The Republicans at the extremes do not have such reservations.

But I still feel the larger problem is the Democrats' scattered vision. You'd think that being all over the place would give the Democrats a wider appeal. That may be true in voter terms (though it has the side effect of lower voter intensity), but not in terms of corralling politicians. Whatever the benefits of being wishy-washy, it hurts the recruitment of people with real ideas.

Nader is such a person. As much as Nader will criticize President Bush in the coming months, he'll also repeatedly remind us of his perspective on the country and the changes he's advocated for years. That kind of approach is in fundamental opposition to the Democratic party's angle this election, which has almost entirely been "Bush is bad, so we must defeat him." That's the Democratic cause. It's about the only thing that unites them (besides abortion). I don't think that's enough for Nader. If he runs again, I hope he'll tell the Democrats as much. We'll find out tomorrow.

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