Rumor has it that Ralph Nader plans to run for President once again. As most people will recall, Nader is often credited with keeping Al Gore out of the White House by “stealing” away votes that would have otherwise gone to Gore. Naturally enough, many conservatives are pleased that Nader is running. They know that although he might cost McCain a few votes, he is more likely to pull votes away from the Democrat’s candidate.
The Nader situation presents something of a dilemma.
On one hand, there is good reason to think Nader should run. By doing so, he provides a third party candidate and brings a greater degree of choice to the election. America has long had a two party system, thus leading to a feeble joke I recall from my undergraduate days:
Q: What’s the difference between Soviet and American politics?
A: One party and one candidate.
For those who grew up in a post Soviet world: the Soviets had a one party system in which everyone up for “election” was a communist and there was only one candidate per office.
While some independents do get elected from time to time, the United States is effectively a two party and two candidate country when it comes to many elections. You can pick anyone you want…just as long as s/he is a Democrat or a Republican.
It is ridiculous to believe that even most Americans fall neatly into one or the other parties in terms of their political views. As such, the two party system does not really provide Americans with a proper range of choices and representation. As such, having more alternatives seems desirable.
Obviously, building an effective party takes time (and money). Nader and any other third (or 4th) party candidate will certainly not win the upcoming election or any Presidential election for quite some time. But, without that building up period, there can be no viable 3rd (or 4th or 5th) party. Hence, it could be concluded that Nader should run.
On the other hand, since Nader has no chance of winning perhaps he should not run. By running, he will no doubt be pulling votes away from the Democratic candidate and thus aiding the Republican candidate. Thus, by voting for Nader, people are more likely to help McCain get into office-something his supporters would presumably oppose. After all, Nader’s views are generally closest to the Democrat’s party line. Thus, ironically, by voting for what they believe in they could end up helping put someone in office they disagree with. Of course, the Republicans will probably think Nader should run-for exactly these reasons.