No thanks, Ralph

I'm not voting for Ralph Nader for president.

Why not? Glad you asked.

For starters, I've got a longer memory than many of Nader's Junior Raiders. I remember well the 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. in the White House. And I'm not looking to relive the Reagan Era with four years of Bush Jr. The Nader theory seems to be that his grand 5 percent finish this time will lead to a Green Party groundswell four years from now. I doubt that. If we end up with four years of Bush Jr., we'll all be desperately looking for a Clinton clone come 2004—a moderate Democrat who can actually win the office, something Ralph isn't ever going to do.

The Nader folks are naturally grumpy that their candidate isn't getting the sort of press interest that Ross Perot's reformites received eight years ago. But the reason is that Perot's approach was far more interesting. Rather than assemble a coalition of fringe elements (left of the Demos or right of the Republicans), Perot went for the mythic American center. Perot spoke to average Americans who worry about growing government payrolls and rising taxes, and share his libertarian bent towards letting people live their own lives without government interference. If Perot had been a stronger candidate, he might well have won.

Naderites say he's a serious candidate for president, until you start asking too many questions about his positions on issues. When you do, suddenly Ralphie is a protest candidate again and you're a nitpicker. Let's risk insulting the guy by taking his candidacy seriously.

Nader's platform is a hodgepodge of noble ideas the public doesn't support, swipes at globalism and corporate power many people like even if they don't understand his solutions, and various bits of recycled Socialism. He wants the government to provide free health care, free child care, a guaranteed living wage, and a 30-hour work week. He wants to soak the rich through 100 percent taxes above a set income limit.

He's got a few good points, perhaps, but the guy's solutions are just too left wing for most voters, myself included. Many people don't appreciate the ever-growing power of corporations, but they aren't willing to dismantle our economic system to stem the tide. Realistically, Nader's aims could only be accomplished through massive tax increases and a larger, more intrusive government. Nader claims he can both grow the government exponentially through his welfare state programs and decentralize it. Not likely.

And, as long as Naderites insist on holding Gore's conservative votes as a US representative from Tennessee against him, why isn't anyone looking back four years at Nader's bizarre 1996 run for the presidency? If you can call it a run: The "candidate" refused to campaign, acted annoyed by any contact with his acolytes, and seemed to be waiting for a coronation. This is our next president?

A leading psalm in the Nader Bible goes something like this: There isn't any difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. I respectfully disagree: I tend to like the Democrats way better.

Sure, some Republicans are fine people, but send 'em to Washington, DC, and they keep doing odd things, like pushing school vouchers and thinking up new restrictions on abortion. Our own Republican US senator, Slade "Skeletor" Gorton, has distinguished himself most recently through his creation of an outrageous "private law" granting polluting powers to an Eastern Washington mine and his continued efforts to strip Native American tribes of their treaty rights. And then he runs his reelection campaign on the slogan "Slade Gorton works for me." (For the record, I don't recall asking Slade to do either of those things.)

And our Republican-run Senate isn't just an obstacle for good judges seeking confirmation. It also held up the confirmation of Ambassador James Hormell (on the grounds that he's gay) and assistant attorney general for civil rights Bill Lann Lee (on the grounds that he's pro-civil rights, and Asian American to boot).

Ralph Nader is a serious candidate. He needn't apologize because his candidacy might lead to the defeat of Vice President Al Gore. And, yes, Nader (and fellow fringe candidate Pat Buchanan) should have been included in the televised presidential debates.

But not only isn't the guy likely to get elected president, I don't want him to win. Vote Gore.

 
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