The Case for Ralph Nader in 2012
The strong presidential campaigns by the Green Party in 2008 & 2012 could have fundamentally changed the political dynamics of the United States. Unfortunately we all know what happened instead. Let’s not make the same mistakes in 2016.
More of the public agrees with the Greens than the Democrats or Republicans on the key issues of 2012: ending the wars, single-payer health care, economic security for low and middle income workers, restoring our constitutional rights, and a serious renewable energy program to address global warming and peak oil.
In 2016, the Green Party could establish itself as a powerful opposition to the two party system of corporate rule, so credible that it becomes an indispensable part of mainstream public and media debate on the issues.
Ralph Nader is the Green Party candidate who is best positioned to realize this potential. He is still considering whether to run. Here is why we think he should run.
The Time Is Right
Voters are angry and ready for an alternative. The Democrats were elected to majorities to both Houses of Congress in 2006 to end the Iraq war. Instead of exercising their majority power to use the congressional “power of the purse” to vote down more funding for the war, the Democrats have lamely claimed they don’t have the two-thirds super-majorities needed to override Bush vetoes. They have attached plans for gradual withdrawal to supplemental war funding bills that they know Bush will veto.
The Democrats had their chance. The time for the lesser evil has passed. Voters see through the Congressional Democrats’ posturing and now give them the same dismally low approval ratings they give to Bush and the Republicans.
The time is right for an independent Green challenge to both corporate parties that speaks for the majority of Americans who want to get out of Iraq and back into our communities and seriously address the crises of health care, poverty, economic security, infrastructure, energy, honest elections, and our basic constitutional rights and liberties.
Facing a weak Republican field with a base bitterly divided between social moderates and conservatives, the leading Democratic presidential contenders are already running to the right, offering more war, militarism, and the whole corporate agenda wrapped in a “centrist, moderate” Hillary package on the model of the first Clinton administration.
The leading Democratic presidential contenders call for “universal health care” through wasteful corporate welfare for inefficient private insurance companies when the majority of Americans support what Ralph Nader has long advocated: an efficient single-payer national health program.
The leading Democratic presidential contenders refuse to commit to bring all combat troops home from overseas by the end of their first term and continue to “leave all options on the table” concerning a new war on Islamic State (ISIS). The majority of Americans support what Ralph Nader has advocated since before the war began: get US troops out of the Middle East and no war on Iran.
The leading Democratic presidential candidates address global warming and the oil supply crisis with more corporate welfare for “clean” coal, nukes, and the conversion food crops to biofuels that will raise food prices and still emit greenhouse gases. The majority of Americans support what Ralph Nader has long advocated: an Apollo-scale program of energy efficiency, public transportation, and renewable solar- and wind-based energy sources.
The time is right for a high-impact independent Green campaign that the majority of Americans can support without reservation – not a lesser evil, but a positive good.
Why Ralph Nader?
If we want a high-impact campaign that changes the political landscape in 2016, there is no candidate better positioned to make that impact than Ralph Nader.
Name Recognition: Ralph Nader has the name recognition to run a serious presidential campaign that reaches the masses of voters. Most Americans of every economic class and ethnic group know who Ralph Nader is. And what they know about Ralph Nader is that he always stands up for the little people against the big moneyed interests.
Media Presence: Nader has the public profile, record, and stature to command media attention, which he continues to receive today as a prominent public citizen. As a serious presidential candidate who could have a big impact on the debate and outcome, Nader’s coverage will explode when he announces. An historic reunion of Nader and the Greens in 2016 in a unified independent progressive presidential campaign to stop the wars, meet the people’s needs, and save the planet will electrify progressive activists, upset the two corporate party election dynamic, and compel the focus of the media spotlight.
Organizational Capacity: Nader has the capacity to organize and raise the funds for a serious national presidential campaign, as he has demonstrated in his previous campaigns. His many causes and projects over the years have engaged tens of thousands of active citizens across a wide variety of causes and many of them will respond to the call for support in 2016.
Qualifications: As a serious presidential candidate, not the least reason to support Nader is that he is prepared and qualified to be president. Indeed, Ralph Nader is the most qualified and accomplished candidate for president in any party in 2016.
As a prominent progressive on the national stage for over 40 years, Nader has been instrumental in the passage of more significant legislation than all the other presidential candidates combined, including the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Community Reinvestment Act, and the acts creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the National Cooperative Bank.
To help advance the progressive reform agenda, Nader pioneered the concept of citizen action groups with lobbying and litigation capacities. He has instigated scores of civic organizations dealing with consumer rights, energy, environment, union democracy, investigative reporting, corporate crime, women’s rights, racial justice, poverty, fair trade, corporate welfare, cooperatives, watch dogging the legislatures and government agencies, and ending the Iraq war.
Why Green and Independent?
The Draft Nader Committee is urging Ralph Nader to seek the Green Party nomination for two very practical reasons:
Unified Campaign: The best way to build a unified independent progressive campaign in 2016 is the build out from the ballot lines and organizational base the Green Party already has in all but three states. Having a Green and another independent progressive campaign would destroy the potential for an historic electoral insurgency.
Ballot Access: The Green Party starts with 21 ballot lines already secured for 2016, a capacity demonstrated in 2006 to get on 10 additional ballot lines, and a realistic plan and goal of securing a ballot line for the Green nominee in all 50 states and DC.
Provided Nader seeks the Green nomination, the Draft Nader Committee is open to Nader running on additional independent party lines in states where presidential fusion tickets are legal and progressive activists in those states want to do so. One benchmark for the campaign will be the 5 percent vote threshold, which triggers federal funding for the 2020 presidential campaign. Votes received by the presidential ticket on all lines count toward that 5 percent.
The state parties that might want to run Nader in addition to the Greens could include the Peace and Freedom Party of California, the United Citizens and Labor parties of South Carolina, the Progressive Party of Vermont, and the Independence and Reform lines remaining in eight states from the Perot campaigns of the 1990s.
We believe the potential vote for a Nader candidacy is much higher than 5 percent. Public opinion polls show that voters today are more in tune with Nader’s views on public policy than they were with Ross Perot’s views in 1992 when he received 19 percent of the vote as a third party candidate.
Indeed, in the 2000 presidential election, Nader was arguably to most preferred candidate. An analysis of the National Election Study exit poll data by Harvard political scientist Barry Burden showed that only 9% of the people who thought Nader was the best candidate actually voted for him. If people had not voted strategically for the lesser evil, Nader would have had over 30 million votes instead of 2.9 million and might have won the election, especially if he had been allowed into the debates
After the compromise of voting for the lesser evil Democrat in 2000 and 2004, and for a Democratic Congress in 2006, the progressive majority of voters are ready to rebel. The self-defeating lesser evil strategy yielded no gains for peace, justice, the environment, or constitutional rights. The peace movement and the majority of Americans who want out of Iraq are ready for candidate who crusades for their demand. People of color are tired of decades of bipartisan retreat from social justice. Millions of working people are ready for a candidate who will stand up to the corporate assault on job, pension, education, housing, and health care security.
We cannot guarantee that a full-scale voter insurgency will erupt behind a Nader candidacy. We can only recognize the potential and our responsibility to try to make it happen.
Please join our efforts encourage Ralph Nader to seek the Green Party presidential nomination in 2016.