...Despite the fact that he is registering barely 1 percent in national polls, Nader is indeed perfectly positioned to cost Kerry the election. Consider Kerry's current road to 270 electoral votes. The number of true toss-up states has dwindled to eleven: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. Nader is on the ballot in all of these states but Pennsylvania and Ohio, where his access is still the subject of litigation. Each of these states is close enough that Nader could make the difference, and the damage he could do to Kerry becomes more obvious when one looks at the combination of states Kerry is likely to need for victory. Assuming Bush wins Florida and Kerry wins Pennsylvania, Kerry must then win Ohio and some combination of three to five of the remaining eight small toss-up states. These eight states have two things in common: in each, the race is almost a dead heat, and, in each, Nader is polling between one and four points. In other words, Nader is doing best in the most closely contested states....Hey, a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do. If some lefties prefer Nader to Kerry, what are we supposed to do, shoot them in the back as they stand in a polling booth?
In his pitch to students in San Francisco and Berkeley, Nader talks about the importance of organizing and getting involved in the political process. He notes that politicians only respond when people are mobilized. "It's very important for the rumble of the people to come back," he says. It is a bizarre statement in the context of liberal politics in 2004. On the left, there probably has not been as much energy and organization since the nuclear freeze movement of the 1980s. Bush has helped create the foundation for an entire New Left counter-establishment. From Moveon.org to the Howard Dean campaign to the liberal blogosphere to Air America radio to new think tanks sprouting up around Washington, D.C., an entire new network of exactly the kind of activists that Nader has long praised is suddenly being born. Their singular goal is to defeat Bush. At 70, Nader's last great act as a public citizen might be to scuttle all their work. Not even the LaRouchies are that irresponsible.
Ain't democracy great? So it takes a bite out of liberty every once in a while, but sometimes liberty bites back.