Opinion staff consider Nader’s impact on presidential race

AT ISSUE: Ralph Nader, an independent candidate, is joining the presidential race – again. Do you think his rapid entry into the campaign will prevent the victory of presidential hopefuls Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., or Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.?

Nader needs to learn when to back down

Cheycara Latimer

Here we go again. With just nine more months until the 2008 presidential election, a wrench and potential threat has been handed to the Democrats. That’s right a wrench: Ralph Nader, who will be running for the fifth consecutive time since 1992. It seems that every time Nader runs for president the voting tallies are thrown off center. Even though he has had a sizable following in previous elections, he doesn’t generate enough votes to even be a solid threat to either party; even though Nader, perhaps more so than the other candidates, really is for the people.

A consumer activist since the ’60s, Nader’s values and platform have always been about the people and their needs. One might even consider him the lesser of the three evils. However, considering his track record with presidential elections, particularly the 2000 election, why would anyone really consider trusting him as our president?

We all know Democrat Al Gore could have won the 2000 election if it had not been for Nader. It seems like he’s playing a game of cat and mouse: he enters the middle of the race as soon as the next round of primaries is about to start. He’ll even fight to draw in as many votes as he possibly can from both parties. Then, at the last minute, when he realizes there’s no way he can possibly win, he pulls out of the race. What kind of politician is he? Where is the careful planning and preparation for the campaign? At least former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., and others realized early that perhaps this isn’t their time. Why can’t Nader?

Nader’s few votes won’t make a difference

Omar Bonilla

Ralph Nader’s presidential bid should not really hurt any of the hopefuls, and their statements in that direction are no more than electoral paranoia and desperation. The fact that he is entering the race this late will certainly be over-read and exhaustively analyzed by conspiracy theorists; however, the balance of blame can tilt in any direction for all candidates who could possibly benefit from the swirl of public attention that Nader has already caused. The Democrats’ claim that Nader stripped them of vital votes in 2000 could very well have been the Republicans’ argument had they lost.

History is often written by the winners, but excuses are always written by the losers.

There is little evidence that Nader’s supporters would have voted for a certain candidate or party in the past. His platform has been so removed from the regular and accepted standards that most of them would probably just stay out of the polls while others split between the remaining candidates.

Even if the whole 3 percent of Americans who voted for him last time moved en-masse to one party or the other, would it have really made any difference? He is expected to get even fewer votes this time. The candidates would do better in concentrating on their campaign and the viability of their proposals by not hedging their competence and actually working on the issues they claim they will change.

With Obama and Clinton in the race, a repeat of 2004 is unlikely

Hillary Corgey

Many people are sick and tired of the two-party system. There is no "best candidate," but instead "the lesser of the two evils." Although Ralph Nader provides a good alternative to the Democrat and Republican system, his chances of getting elected are next to nil. In the 2000 election, Nader prevented Al Gore from becoming president, not just because he pulled in nearly 3 percent of the vote, but also because the majority of people who voted for Nader overwhelmingly supported Gore.

But Nader will not keep the Democrats from winning the White House this time. Gore was not a rock-solid figure like Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D -N.Y., are today. It is doubtful that another group who wants to subvert the vote would air pro-Nader ads. In 2000 we were still reeling from the Bill Clinton scandal, which put a serious stain on the Democratic Party. Nader did not receive as many votes in 2004 for that exact reason; the collective memory of Americans is nearly erased after every presidential election, only to be stimulated by propaganda ads.

The climate is just not right for Nader. Obama and Clinton are charismatic enough to win over the ambivalent independent candidate. Their platforms appeal more to the common voter who realizes that a third-party candidate will never be elected in the current winner-take-all system. Voting for a third party candidate is largely a symbolic gesture, and one that will not be prominent in this more pragmatic election climate.

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