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July 19, 2004
Democrats Try A Little Extortion On Nader In Michigan

Michigan Democrats have issued an ultimatum to the Ralph Nader campaign in car country -- either withdraw as an independent candidate in Michigan or face FEC charges, tying up the campaign in legal fees and scrutiny:

The Michigan Democratic Party said Friday it would file federal election complaints against Ralph Nader over what it calls illegal and excessive contributions unless Nader withdraws from the Michigan ballot as an independent candidate.

The presidential candidate hopes to get on the state ballot through the Reform Party of Michigan.

But Michigan Republican Party officials handed in 43,000 petition signatures on Thursday -- far more than the 30,000 needed -- to ensure Nader can be on the ballot regardless of whether he gets the Reform Party nomination. Nader has until Monday to withdraw as an independent candidate.

Democrats have a short memory. Twelve years ago, and again four years after that, Ross Perot received all sorts of help from Democrats to get on the ballot and into the presidential debates. Criticism that their efforts were self-serving resulted in sermons about democracy and choice. Now that the shoe's on the other foot, all of a sudden choice and democracy have become poisonous to the delicate electorate in Michigan.

I'm no fan of Republican efforts to support Nader on the ballot, nor do I think it wise of Nader to accept the help. Nader's run is based on crusading purity (to the extent it's based on much at all other than anger), and Puritans who drink from the well of corruption don't get much respect from other Puritans. For Republicans, Nader may siphon votes from Kerry, but I feel the efforts put into supporting Nader would be much better spent on supporting the President instead.

However, in the final analysis, Michigan has 43,000 citizens who want to see Nader on the ballot for whatever reason. That meets the legal threshold for eligibility, and Nader should be allowed on the ballot. Democrats who attempt to extort Nader's retreat from Michigan should instead proffer reasons to vote for Kerry rather than limit the choice of Michigan voters. That they have failed to capture the imaginations of Nader supporters is not the fault of Nader or the Republicans, but of their own party, their own candidate, and the inept campaign both have put together thus far this election cycle.

Blackmailing Nader may give some Democrats a bit of satisfaction for the moment, but it makes a mockery of their repeated attempts to characterize this President as somehow anti-democratic while establishing new democracies in the Middle East for over 50 million people. It renders their "pro-choice" arguments laughable when they attempt to strongarm political opponents off the ballot. It's a public-relations disaster waiting to happen, and happen it will if they do not drop this silly threat.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 19, 2004 12:49 PM

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