Nader Again?

It seems Ralph Nader is contemplating another run for the White House. I remember when he sought the Green Party’s endorsement in 2004. (He didn’t get it, by the way. I should know, because I was there.) Anyway, back in 2004 his supporters pitched his candidacy as “one last run.” I guess it’s hard to stay on the sidelines when the country is going down the toilet, but Bloomberg seems to be the independent to watch.

Votes per Dollar

My friend Jason Neville put this together from data collected at opensecrets.org and CNN. He couldn’t find a vote total for Peroutka, but I found a number on the candidate’s website. I thought it put an interesting perspective on the 2004 presidential race.

Candidate Votes Money Raised Votes-Per-Dollar
Cobb 104,087 $133,576 0.78
Badnarik 373,729 $841,498 0.44
Peroutka 129,255 $654,757 0.19
Kerry 55,546,066 $317,788,245 0.17
Bush 59,106,230 $360,651,752 0.16
Nader 391,330 $3,950,963 0.10

Update — Perhaps the point is better made by figuring dollars per vote:

Candidate Votes Money Raised Dollars-Per-Vote
Cobb 104,087 $133,576 $1.28
Badnarik 373,729 $841,498 $2.25
Peroutka 129,255 $654,757 $5.07
Kerry 55,546,066 $317,788,245 $5.72
Bush 59,106,230 $360,651,752 $6.10
Nader 391,330 $3,950,963 $10.10

Nader or Cobb?

Greens all around the country are gearing up for the national convention this week, myself included.

My first-round vote is committed to Jonathan D. Farley, but it’s clear at this point that Farley does not have enough delegates to win the nomination.

The choice seems to be narrowed to Cobb or Nader or no one.

Four years ago, we heard the refrain “A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.” Now I’m hearing that “A vote for Cobb is a vote for Kerry,” that is, that supporting Cobb means you’re a crypto-Democrat. The idea is that since a Cobb candidacy would undoubtably be far weaker than a Nader candidacy, it helps Kerry by diminishing the “spoiler” effect. Some Greens might agree with this, and I can’t say I entirely blame them. Bush is dangerous; Bush must go. But that has nothing to do with my opinion on Nader.

I feel the best and most balanced article on the subject is “Time of Testing for Green Party.” Ted Glick lays out the positives and negatives for both Nader and Cobb. He doesn’t come to any conclusions, which is a luxury we won’t have at the convention. I’d encourage everyone interested in the question to read it and weigh his points carefully.

Here’s my personal opinion:

I would really love to believe in a Nader candidacy. After all, I supported Nader the last two times he ran for president. All the positives in the Glick article apply, and I agree with that assessment.

But I keep coming up against the same objection. Nader could have sought the nomination of the Greens, but he did not. He could have announced his independent candidacy and still sought the Green nomination, but he didn’t. Furthermore, despite a rather sizable effort within the Greens to draft Nader, he has stated repeatedly that he will not accept our nomination. He’ll accept our endorsement if we decide not to run a candidate of our own. The distinction between nomination and endorsement is significant.

Why has Nader chosen this path? The answer seems obvious to me. He is more interested in running an independent campaign in 2004 than building a party for the future. I disagree with this strategy. Greens need to think long-term. That means building the Green Party identity in this country as a movement that people identify with our values. And that, in turn, means not running the same candidate every four years.

Therefore I’m inclined to be skeptical about working with Nader in 2004. I think it would be better for the Greens to run one of their own. Practically speaking, that means Cobb.


There’s so much more I’ve been thinking about. The rhetoric is really ratcheting up and there are lots of ugly rumors circulating. But right now XY and I need to hit the road and start the long drive north. I wanted to at least record some of my thoughts before the convention.