July 10, 2004

Battle For The Left

The Dems sent their big lefty enforcer out to tangle with Nader and it looks like he swung pretty hard but didn't connect with anything.

Lots of people make a huge deal about Nader from both sides of the aisle this year. Personally, it just doesn't keep me up at night; I leave that to the cold I've been nursing for a week now. Listen, it's a pretty solid bet that at the actual voting booth Nader's not going to do better than a percent. Yes, this is going to be a close election. Yes, having a third party candidate on the left is never a good thing for a Democratic candidate and especially if the election is going to be decided in a small number of battleground states. I don't know, I guess I'm still holding out hope that Nader's going to drop out of the race in October. Maybe I'm not being realistic enough, but I'd rather have Kerry/Edwards and the rest of the Democrat machine focussed on stealing percentages from Bush by showing the country just what a crappy president he's been than fighting for that one percent Nader's clutching at. I know the country's pretty polarized right now, but there have to be more voters that Kerry can steal from Bush than he can from Nader.


Drew said...

What gets me riled up about Nader is the free media he gets. This can be partially blamed on Democrats for continually kvetching about him, but there's also a chicken/egg problem here. Dems are worried about Nader because the media covers him, and the media covers him because the Dems are worried.

But there are other third-party cadidates running for President this year that the media never mentions. And they're right-wingers. Some liberal blogger (I forget who) detailed an audacious plan for Kerry to neutralize the Nader factor.

Kerry should publically demand that any candidate who is on the ballot in at least x states (where x is some significant, non-trivial number, but less than 50) should be included in one of the three presidential debates. This has a number of good effects:

1) It appeals to people who vote third-party as a protest to the two-party system. It is inviting of third-party candidates, and it is an acknowledgement by a major party candidate that third-party candidates have a role in the national debate.

2) It gets Libertarian and Religious Right candidates into that debate, in addition to Nader. Assuming Nader is a good boy and focuses his ire mainly on Bush, it's a huge win for Kerry. Even if Nader gets snippy about free trade or something, he won't do too much harm, because most people really hate him anyway.

3) Beyond simply appearing in the debate, it gives the Libertarian and Religious Right candidate the same level of media coverage Nader is getting, or at least at lo more than they're getting now.

Politically, it's a brilliant move for Kerry, and it's also morally right. As long as the standard for getting into the debate is high enough to prevent the really marginal candidates from getting in, I think the national discourse would benefit from something like this.

Unfortunately, it would provide support to the eventual development of some bona fide third-party down the road, and the two major parties just won't accept that.

MosBen said...

That's about the best idea I've heard for the Nader problem. A lot better than have Terry McAuliffe do the talk show circuit bashing Nader and in the same breath pleading with Nader to help him out by dropping out of the race.