On the day Ralph Nader announced his bid for the White House the subsequent media coverage didn't examine his policy proposals or his lifelong commitment to consumer protection; they didn't mention Ralph, the champion of populism, or Ralph, the corporate dragon-slayer. No, all they cared to squawk about was Ralph, the spoiler.
CNN interviewed one of Al Gore's campaign advisers who suggested we all ignore Nader. So much for John Stuart Mill's concept of a marketplace of ideas. Many Democrats -- that is to say people who vote Democratic -- are buying into the notion that this is "the most important election of our lifetime". No it's not. A case could be made for the Bush/Kerry 2004 contest, but if you think Clinton, Obama or McCain will introduce any sweeping systemic reforms think again.
Clinton and Obama's milquetoast attitudes toward big business are starkly delineated only when measured against Nader's stances. What do you expect from the Corporate World's first and third (respectively) favorite presidential contenders? Neither will call for the death of Corporate personhood, neither seriously supports impeachment, neither can get us out of Iraq by the end of their first year, neither will repeal the Taft/Hartley Act and restore the power of the unions and neither have the mettle to denounce Israel. Unless you're a CEO banking multi-billion dollar profits each quarter I don't see how you can disagree with Nader on any of these issues.
So why vote Democrat? The real question seems to be are you first a Democrat or a Liberal? Liberalism has been responsible for Child Labor laws, Civil Rights, Birth Control, Workers' Rights, Women's Suffrage and so on, sometimes pressuring the establishment through third parties like the Socialist Party. The Democrats on the other hand have a fine tradition of being mealy-mouthed, ankle-grabbing sycophants.
Ralph Nader is nobody's bootlicker. People complain that a vote for a third party is a vote wasted. Not so. In fact, I submit that a vote for either of the two corporate-bought parties is a vote wasted. When you cast your ballot for an Ass or an Elephant you only legitimize what's already a rotting institution which promotes a sense of helplessness. Why do we keep repeating ourselves hoping for a different result? That is the definition of insanity. Nader offers relief from this political tail-chasing. His presence expands the discourse, and draws the other contestants past their vacuous talking points.