Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Ralph Nader has formed a presidential exploratory committee, and said in an interview Wednesday that he will launch another presidential bid if he's convinced he can raise enough money to appear on the vast majority of state ballots this fall.
Nader, who ran as an independent candidate in each of the past three presidential elections, told ABCNews.com that he will run in 2008 if he is convinced over the next month that he would be able to raise $10 million over the course of the campaign — and attract enough lawyers willing to work free of charge to get his name on state ballots.
Nader makes a good point that the truly "progressive" candidates - Kucinich, and to a lesser extent, Edwards - have dropped out. Nader making a run would basically be an outlet for the far left. By bleeding off some of that fringe, Nader would actually free the Democratic nominee to tack back from the far left and settle more comfortably in left-of-center, which will improve their broad-spectrum appeal (especially against McCain).
Note that Nader poses zero "spoiler" threat as he did in 2000, because after 9-11brought the GOP's latent authoritarian streak to the forefront, no one can credibly claim that there's no difference between the parties anymore. Nader argued in 2000 that Bush and Gore were the same, and that he was the only genuine liberal alternative. Now, as in 2004, he is reduced to arguing that the Dems are merely liberal, and he is the only progressive. In so doing he has moved too far left to draw much support from the liberal mainstream.
Personally, I don't subscribe to the Progressive label because the social and domestic issues advocacy is redundant with traditional liberalism (of which both Hillary and Obama are admirable scions). Where I part ways with Progressivism is in its rigid embrace of left-wing orthodoxies. One example: knee-jerk opposition to nuclear power. Another: total and absolute withdrawal from Iraq as fast as possible (and incidentally, may I remind the reader that no Democratic President will leave Iraq?). Another: disdain, condescension, and hostility towards spirituality and religion. The bottom line is that Progressives make great allies but on certain issues they can be as unyielding as evangelicals to the right.
The winning strategy for a transformation of American politics is not to try and pull the country ever further leftwards and deeper blue, but to broaden the tent, using purple rhetoric (Obama's staple) to create a true American Majority. I agree with the progressives at myDD that Democrats are more representative of the American majority than the Republicans, but the Democrats are a true majority yet. To attain that status, Democrats have to convince Independents to make a longer term commitment, and also peel off Republicans as well. Obama has alluded to this in his own comment about Reagan, which were seized upon as blasphemy by the progressive netroots. However, Obama's actual comments are hardly idolatrous and simply acknowledge that Reagan built a coalition of voters that transcended party affiliation:
transcript of his remarks courtesy of Matt Stoller:
I don't want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what's different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980 was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.
Obama's point is clear here - Reagan attracted Democrats because the party affiliation had become less meaningful. The same thing is happening today, after 16 years of bitter partisan warfare, and Obama's message is resonating because of it. If the public was genuinely hungering for a hyper-partisan, progressive voice, then Edwards would be where Obama is, but he isn't.
In some ways I am making a mirror-image critique of the progressive movement that they themselves make of the DLC. The DLC's approach is to try and pull the party further right, almost right of center. From where I sit, a broad coalition centered on a position left of center is the true center of mass, but still include progressives at the far left and DLCers at the right. Going too far beyond those boundaries however is diluting the majority appeal, not strengthening it. Not tent can be infinitely wide. In that context, Nader as a release valve has genuine utility in helping craft a true governing majority.
I really enjoy reading your blog, it always has great insight. But I am very frustrated with the media’s lack of questions to the presidential candidates about global warming. Now that it is down to just a few candidates I would think that this would be a bigger issue.
Live Earth just picked up this topic and put out an article ( http://www.liveearth.org/news.php ) asking why the presidential candidates are not being solicited for their stance on the issue of the climate change. I just saw an article describing each candidate’s stance on global warming and climate change on earthlab.com http://www.earthlab.com/articles/PresidentialCandidates.aspx . So obviously they care about it. Is it the Medias fault for not asking the right questions or is it the candidates’ fault for not highlighting the right platforms? Does anyone know of other websites or articles that touch on this subject and candidates’ views? This is the biggest problem of the century and for generations to come…you would think the next president of the United States would be more vocal about it.
Obama 2008 - I want my country back
Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.