TCS Daily

Why Nader Should Run

By James D. Miller - January 14, 2004 12:00 AM

Citizen Nader, as much as Republicans such as I appreciated your 2000 Presidential run, it wasn't enough because America needs you to run again in 2004. Indeed, the justifications for your competing in the next presidential election are even stronger than they were for the last.

Howard Dean, the likely Democratic nominee, represents your supporters' greatest threat: an unprincipled politician who has emotionally captured the far left. True, to maximize his chance of winning the Democratic nomination Dean is currently playing radical to placate his party's activists. But remember, when governing Vermont Dean played at being a fiscally responsible centrist. Obviously, poser Dean is willing to do whatever it takes to win, and to win the general election Dean will need to run right.

This, Citizen Nader, is why you must run. A strong leftwing candidate would deter Dean from moving too far right in the general election because Dean would have to compete with you for the leftwing vote. If Dean stays left, you will probably get few votes, but will still have had a big impact. If Dean ignores your threat and moves right during the general election, you can capture his leftwing base and show to all Democrats the risk of abandoning the loony far left.

As Andrew Sullivan has written, Hillary Clinton is transforming herself into a hawk to better position herself for 2008. The only way you can stop Hillary's rightward drift, Citizen Nader, is to prove in 2004 that Democrats who run right lose the left. If you run and do well, Hillary will devote the next few years to winning over your supporters. If you don't seek the Presidency, Hillary will spend her time trying to win over Middle Americans, the types who drive SUVs and believe in the U.S. unilaterally fighting terrorism.

Furthermore, Hillary's decision not to run in 2004 provides evidence of why you should. She knows Democrats will have a hard time beating Bush, especially given how much the President's tax cuts have helped our economy. Therefore, the 2004 election is unlikely to be close enough for your entry to make a difference; thus, in 2004, unlike in 2000, the left won't be able to accuse you of being responsible for Republicans winning. Furthermore, since the last presidential election was so predictably close, many people voted for Gore when their hearts really belonged to you. If on election eve Dean seems likely to lose big, members of the far left won't feel obligated to cast a strategic vote for the Democratic candidate.

Dean's thoughtless tongue, however, provides you, Citizen Nader, with the most compelling reason to run. Admittedly, if you seek the Presidency in 2004 you likely won't do better than third in the popular vote. But Dean has been making some strange and politically hurtful comments lately, such as appealing to Confederate flag flyers and hinting that President Bush implicitly consented to the 9/11 attacks. Just possibly, the verbally undisciplined Dean might self-destruct after he wins the Democratic nomination, perhaps giving you a shot at achieving second place and thereby making your "movement" a serious and permanent rival to the Democrats.

Some press reports indicate that you are strongly considering running in 2004. No doubt many journalists will urge you not to run. You can't trust the liberal mainstream press on this issue; however, for they desperately want the eventual Democratic nominee to win, even if he wins on a platform a Republican would be proud of.

James D. Miller writes The Game Theorist column for TCS and is the author of Game Theory at Work.


TCS Daily Archives