Many believe Ralph Nader’s joining the presidential race will have little effect on the election, but if one looks at the issues and ideas bolstering Democratic support it seems 2008 may be a particularly Nader-friendly season. The Democrats–particularly Barack Obama–need to worry about votes potentially lost to this strange, old antagonist.
Today’s Democratic climate is in some ways a product of the anti-corporate, pro-outsider zeal that’s defined Nader’s public presence. The Democrats’ change mantra, pacifist imaginings, demand for universal healthcare, anti-lobbyist fervor, environmental hysteria, and young voter turnout all spell good news for Nader. Additionally, the somewhat widespread acceptance of a fringe thinker like Ron Paul is an indication that the 73-year-old election spoiler is entitled to, as Obama might say, his audacity of hope.
Yes, Ralph Nader is old and marginalized. But his organization is packed with bright young dreamers (Obama having been one for a brief time). It’s fair to suspect a coming viral push, followed by some sort of groundswell. If Nader’s 2.7 percent of the national vote was enough to douse Al Gore in 2000, things could get interesting.