Democrats have been losing sleep over it. Republicans have been helping to fund it. No, it isn’t the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth advertisements. It is the Ralph Nader Presidential campaign.[nader2]
Ralph Nader emerged as threat to Democrats, especially considering his candidacy in the 2000 election. Nader is on the ballot in nine of the twelve states that have been labeled as “swing-states,” including Michigan. Nader could tip the ballot in any one of these states, which could mean a loss for John Kerry. Since the winner is reliant on electoral votes and not the popular vote, Nader’s presence makes Kerry and the Democrats very nervous.
Despite pleas from the left urging Nader to throw in the towel, he continues his campaign, asking voters to vote for their conscience. He focused much of his campaign on college students. When he spoke at Wells Hall on September 13 he explained: “I’m concerned about Bush and Kerry taking votes away from our insurgent candidacy. Americans want more voices and more choices. Kerry is taking liberals for granted, he’s letting Bush pull him in his direction.”
This marks a drastic change in campaign rhetoric for Nader. When he visited Kerry at his campaign headquarters in May, he praised Kerry for being “very presidential.”
However, Nader support appears to be very small nationally. In recent weeks he has polled from a fraction of a percentage up to one percent. Yet history has shown that even the tiniest amount of Nader vote can make a big difference. In 2000, when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore, Nader’s vote was larger than the difference between the other two candidates in eight states: New Mexico, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Iowa, Oregon, Wisconsin and Florida.
Web sites like are dedicated to motivating progressives to actively support John Kerry instead of Ralph Nader. The website claims that while everyone has a right to run for office, that does not necessarily make it right to run for office. With a nation as polarized as ever, many on the left consider the stakes too high to vote for Nader.
Gloria Totten is a strategic advisor for said she was glad to see the exchange of new ideas in the presidential campaign, but she thinks that Nader is going about recruiting voters the wrong way.
“Nader doesn’t just ‘express’ ideas,” Totten said. “He is actively challenging liberals and Democrats. This is giving a pass to the Republicans. Even worse, Nader has been accepting funds from right-wingers who want to sabotage the Kerry vote to help Bush win the election.”
Mark Johnston, a member of MSU Students for Nader, thinks the need for bringing new concepts into the campaign outweighs the importance of electing Kerry.
“If people continue to worry about Nader stealing votes away from Kerry or Bush, we will probably never develop a legitimate third-party in this country,” said Johnston. “We need new ideas in this election, I think that everyone is tired of the same old rhetoric. Every voter must ask themselves, ‘Do I really think that John Kerry is the best alternative to Bush?”
Johnston added that he believes Nader’s long-term goal is to destroy the two-party dominance in this country.
“In essence, as Nader has said himself, we lose to win,” Johnston said. “We will continue to fight and lose, until we win.”

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