If Ralph Nader were to run for president for the fourth time and nobody listened, would his candidacy make a sound?
The reaction to Nader's announcement of his fourth bid for the White House last week, this time as an independent candidate, was mixed. The many Democrats who loathe him because they believe he played spoiler in 2000, siphoning off enough votes from Al Gore in Florida to deny him the election, still are angry.
Republicans who see Nader stealing votes from this year's Democratic nominee in November are quietly rejoicing. And Nader devotees, members of the Green Party and those who think Nader enhances the national debate welcome his candidacy.
We think Nader has some interesting things to say. And we think he has a perfect right to run for the presidency if he chooses.
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But we do question what motivates someone with zero chance of winning the presidency to embark on such a quixotic quest. Why waste the time and money? And why waste a vote on such a candidate?
Clearly, Nader was wrong in saying, as he did in 2000, that there was no difference between George W. Bush and Gore. Voters had a real choice then, and they will have a real choice again this election.
We wonder why people such as Nader don't run for an office they have a reasonable chance of winning. He could run for the House or Senate, for governor of a state or for mayor of a major city. As an elected official, he would have a real chance of implementing the policies he advocates.
We suspect that the prospect of actually holding an elective office has little appeal to him or others who make symbolic runs at the presidency. Too much work.
This year, however, perhaps he won't function as spoiler. After three futile runs for the White House, he looks less like a noble crusader than the latest incarnation of Alf Landon.
Reaction mixed to the announcement of another run for president by Ralph Nader.