|Nicholas Confessore in "The American Prospect" (June 19-July 3) speculates
on how Ralph Nader might influence the November election:
"...However many of the disenchanted Nader draws back into politics,
though, the one person most likely to be affected by his campaign still is
Al Gore. SInce March, Gore has lost the slim post-primary lead he held in
some polls; he now consistently lags behind George W. Bush by one to eight
points. Some evidence suggests that these votes have gone not to Bush in
the middle, but to Nader from the left...."
"Assuming Nader gets between 5 percent and 10 percent, a few different
electoral scenarios are possible. One is that the Buchanan-Bush-Gore-Nader
ballot will be a replay of the 1948 election, in which fed-up progressives
rallied behind Henry Wallace and against the too-centrist Harry Truman,
while the Dixiecrats, under Strom Thurmond, came at Truman and
establishment Republican Thomas Dewey from the right. In this scenario,
Nader might give Gore a good scare but not hand the election to Bush,
while boosting turnout among liberals, who would likely vote Democratic
down-ballot and help that party take back the House. The result could be a
significant realignment in American politics--the generation of enough
turnout among progressive nonvoters to, perhaps, turn the Democratic Party
back toward the left.
"Another possibility is that Nader could siphon enough votes to put Bush
in the White House but also help carry the House Democrats to a decent
majority---bad for the Democrats, but not wholly catastrophic. Still
another scenario would be for Gore to lose and for *Bush* to carry
down-ballot Republicans and, thus, the House. This scenario might be good
news for the Green Party. It might also, potentially, be good news for
opponents of the Clinton administration's stance on trade issues. And it
would be horrible news for Gore and the Democrats.
"But there's an even worse scenario, for Democrats *and* liberals: The
Greens win 10 percent in 2000, and again in 2004, 2008, 2012, and onward--
carving out a sustainable niche among left-liberal voters, failing to ever
inspire the allegiance of a greater swath of the electorate, and
consigning Democrats to permanent minority status. This describes the fate
of the British Labour Party and the German Social Democrats during long
periods of postwar history. To regain power, these nominally left parties
had to recreate themselves, paradoxically, on the center-right.
"Pushing the Democrats even further right would be an odd feat for the
Greens. It's possible, of course, that the Greens will usefully move the
Democrats in the direction of a newly activated progressive base, and then
fade as the Perotistas have. But the Greens tend to see the Republicans
and Democrats as indistinguishable, a myth that is as sustaining to their
campaign as it is fatuous. Nader,too,seems disinclined to think of his
campaign as mere leverage, and is of the opinion that a Bush presidency--
with its likely efforts at national tort reform and environmental
rollback, and its three to five Supreme Court nominees--would be nothing
worse than 'a cold shower for four years' for the Democratic Party. Fine.
But what about the rest of the country? 'He's done a lot of good things in
his life,' says former Clinton aide Paul Begala. 'But helping elect George
Bush would not be one of them.'"