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April 3, 2004
Nader: The Magical Mystery Tour Is Dying to Get Off The Ground

The Washington Post profiles Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate-cum-presidential wannabe, who's busy trying to get himself on the ballot around the country. As Brian Faler notes, Nader isn't helping himself with his go-it-alone strategy:

Nader's task would be easier if he accepted the presidential nomination of one of the minor parties that already have spaces reserved on some states' ballots. Some members of the Green Party, which has yet to choose its presidential candidate, want to support Nader. The Green Party nomination would give access to ballots in 23 states, thanks to the party's performance in previous elections. The Reform Party, founded by Texas billionaire Ross Perot, has offered Nader its top spot, along with its seven ballot spots. The Natural Law Party is also considering giving him its nomination and 12 ballot lines, according to John Hegelin, the group's former presidential candidate.

But Zeese said Nader will not accept any of those nominations because he does not want to be too closely associated with any one party, even if it would give him an edge in the chase for signatures. "Ralph sees himself as an independent," Zeese said. "I think what happens is that when you pick one party, you're defined by that party. . . . Rather than being defined by that party, we define ourselves."

Zeese added that Nader hopes to appeal to a broad spectrum of third-party voters and would accept their organizations' support, volunteers and ballot lines. "It's more powerful to have a coalition of third parties come together and say: We are joined together to challenge the duopoly," Zeese said.

So Nader says that he won't run under the banner of any one party -- except in a few states, where he will create a party to ease signature requirements -- but parties are more than welcome to list him as their candidate. What a great guy! He won't represent their parties and he won't lift a finger to promote their parties, but he'll be glad to sit atop their ticket. What's even funnier is that some of the fringe parties are actually considering Nader's suggestion.

Nader could have easily gotten on the ballot by running on the Green ticket, as he did in 2000, but something about his ego just won't allow him to work in an organization that he doesn't own lock, stock, and barrel. One other reason that Nader eschewed the Greens this year comes up at the end of the article, where Nader's campaign talks about their outreach to a very different constituency:

Nader has said he will appeal this year to disgruntled conservatives and independents. Yesterday, he posted an "Open Letter to Conservatives Upset With the Policies of the Bush Administration," inviting them to join his independent campaign.

You can bet that any conservatives who might give Nader the time of day -- all four of them -- would lose interest if Nader fronted for radical enviros like the Greens. Nader's move makes sense only if you believe that conservatives would ever support a candidate that routinely rails against the evils of the open market and proposes government intervention on a scale that far outstrips those of the Democrats -- well, mainstream Democrats, at any rate.

If that's why Nader dumped the Greens, he's wasting his time and energy chasing rainbows, or chasing signatures anyway. He now must build his own organization from the ground up in order to meet the signature requirements in each state. Nader himself estimates that he will need 1.5 million signatures in order to qualify in all 50 states, and he refuses to pay for signature gatherers. That means Nader will wind up spending most of his time trying to find volunteers for the grunt work of politics rather than getting his message out -- not a great way to launch an independent bid.

My guess is that Nader will wind up on most of the ballots, as quite a few states have low thresholds. I'd guess that he'll be on at least thirty ballots, and since Nader will likely concentrate on states where neither Kerry nor Bush have a commanding lead, he'll wind up tilting the election to some limited extent. Nader's existence will, at the very least, allow the Democrats to continue their fantasy that only Nader stood between them and their rightful place in power.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 3, 2004 6:12 AM

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