Okay, I'm going to do my best now to invite the ire of the left and right of this country down upon me.
First of all, I voted for Barack Obama in the NY primary, and I will vote for him, or Hillary Clinton, in the general election. I am actually excited about a presidential election for the first time in almost three decades. (I basically gave up on national politics with the two elections of Ronald Reagan and the parade of dry-mouthed wimps put up year after year by the Democrats against ever-increasingly evil or moronic Republicans.) Like Michelle Obama, I, too, am proud of our country in a special way this year for the first time in my adult life.
Nonetheless, I welcome the entry of Ralph Nader into the presidential race. Why wouldn't I? As Bob Herbert points out in his otherwise pathetic plea today against Nader running, Raplh Nader is "one of just a handful of people over the past century with a legitimate claim to the designation 'great American.”
(See Herbert's piece in the NY Times at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/26/opinion/26herbert.html?ref=opinion)
Mr. Herbert then goes on to list SOME of Nader's contributions to the well being of our citizenry.
According to Herbert, Mr. Nader is: "owed thanks for seat belts and air bags and cars that hold the road better, that don’t flip or crumple up or catch fire as easily as earlier models. As the nation’s premier consumer advocate, he has waged war with remarkable success against tainted meat, air and water pollution and dangerous food additives. He was a major driving force behind the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Freedom of Information Act? Thanks for your help, Ralph. Food-labeling that’s clear and informative? Thanks again. And, oh yes, it was Ralph Nader who fought for and won compensation for airline passengers bumped from overbooked flights.
Mr. Nader, who will turn 74 on Wednesday, either founded or inspired an astonishing array of public-spirited organizations and citizens’ groups, including the public interest research groups know as PIRGs. He’s waged titanic battles against corruption in government and the unchecked power of giant corporations. I could go on for a few more days, but you get the idea."
Yet, somehow, in the same breath, Herbert says Nader shouldn't run for president because it might hurt the Democratic nominee. Well, I'm sorry, but if Nader running for president creates a challenge for the Democratic nominee, how is that Nader's fault? How is it that a true American hero who wants to (again according to Herbert) express "outrage over the ballot-access difficulties of independent candidates, and the iniquities of the Bush administration, which, in Mr. Nader’s view, is 'the most impeachable presidency in modern history,' wants to talk about a single-payer health plan, 'full Medicare for all,' and a national mission to abolish poverty, and the waste, fraud and corruption that has turned the military budget into a world-class destroyer of taxpayer dollars, and corporate crime" should be told not to run for president?
It a very real way, the reason we finally have two strong candidates running historic races this year on the Democratic side is partially because of Ralph Nader. Al Gore ran an insincere, two-faced campaign in 2000, and John Kerry was so undercharged and disconnected, I don't even know how he got out of bed in the morning. That any Democrat could have lost to George W. Bush, the most sophomoric, uninspiring, intellectually limited and emotionally challenged candidate in modern times is somehow Ralph Nader's fault?! No, maybe Nader's "threat" has helped the Democrats wake up, and put up for a change.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are great candidates, with a great purpose, running for president. Ralph Nader is a uniquely great American, also running for president. Hooray!
Ain't that America?