It is clear to me that when Democrats like New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson says of Ralph Nader that his run “is an act of total vanity and ego satisfaction” they do so out of pure conviction, not because they have used polls and focus groups to fashion an attack on an opponent.
It is nice to see Democrats like Richardson not only raise the caliber of debate, but continue the tradition of calling Nader an egotist that Senator Harry Reid of Nevada began in 2000. Why come up with new attack ideas when old ones will do?
The crucial point about Richardson’s attack is that it rings so true. Nader has selfishly spent his career saving over a million American lives by crusading for auto safety and mandating the seat belts and air bags that so many American families appreciate for keeping their loved ones safe. Selfish bastard! How narcissistic of Nader to fight for legislation that reduced injury and death for coal miners. His seminal role in passage of the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts was a monumental act of egotism.
When you think about it, Nader should have selflessly committed himself to public service in the fashion of Governor Richardson, Senator Reid and other federal officials. It takes devotion to the commonweal to endure endless rounds of fundraisers, junkets and foreign sojourns, and to award oneself-- as Congress does -- life-time pensions and health care that ordinary American can only dream of. Damn that Nader: Doesn’t he know how to play the public service game? If every politician acted like Nader, the catering, golf and cruise industries in this country would go to hell.
Even worse, Nader continues the same selfish nonsense when he runs for office. While the Democratic and Republican candidates altruistically fly around the country on jets provided by corporations and take contributions from any corporate political action committee willing to pony up, Nader actually refuses corporate money. And he travels coach, at the senior discount rate. Do you realize what Nader could do to the private jet industry if his style of campaigning caught on? And what would all those lobbyists do if they couldn’t dispense contributions to self-effacing Democratic and Republican politicians?
Even worse than an egotist, the Democrats rightly label Nader a “spoiler.” Just think of how much Nader spoiled the country back when he led the fight against insurance companies and won, requiring them to roll back auto insurance rates by 20%. Only a self-centered S.O.B. would force the impecunious insurance industry to disgorge profits to those fat-cat American consumers. He spoiled everything for corporations when he was the first to raise questions about multinational companies shipping jobs overseas. And he really spoiled things for the job market in American by creating hundreds of public interest groups that work to stop medical malpractice, dangerous drugs, discrimination against minorities and women and despoliation of the environment. These people could have had real jobs in the private sector if Nader had not wrecked things.
Now, in his most dastardly act, Nader is set to spoil the 2004 presidential campaign. Damn him. This should be a campaign about important issues to ordinary Americans like whether Kerry had an affair with a twenty-four year old intern or whether George Bush served in the National Guard thirty years ago. But no; Nader has the temerity to raise all these trivial concerns like why the Democrats and Republicans keep signing trade deals that ship American jobs overseas. How dare Nader spoil the race by suggesting that the two parties and the debate commission are in hoc to their corporate paymasters? Can we really expect the system to withstand Nader’s intentional efforts to destroy and maraud when so much is at stake?
Astoundingly, Nader doesn’t use focus groups and polls. Doesn’t this guy Nader understand that politics is not about ideas and principles, it is about “message” and “positioning” and “selling” a candidate, much like cereal and baby food are sold. Doesn’t Nader get this? Nader actually raises complex issues and doesn’t talk down to the people. His website, www.votenader.org, is so filled with accomplishments, ideas and articles and books Nader has written or sponsored that it promises to spoil everything if Americans are encouraged to take their country back.
We can’t let that happen.
Carl J. Mayer, a lawyer, is the author of the book Shakedown: The Fleecing of the Garden State and formerly served on the Town Council of Princeton, New Jersey. He is the Treasurer of the Nader 2004 campaign. He can be reached at: Carlmayer@aol.com.