Ralph’s Reality Check

The smack-down of Ralph Nader by former acolytes in the opinion media is continuing apace. If Nader had hoped to rally at least a smattering of former supporters, he badly misjudged their response. The constituency that he once claimed as his own continues to fall all over itself heading for the exits. Today MotherJones.com, TomPaine.com and an editor at The Nation all weighed in to cuff Nader smartly about the head and shoulders.

Will Tacy, writing on MotherJones.com, says those who once saw promise in Nader’s message now just see bad timing. “The guy has wonderful politics, and everything he says makes sense,” John Schaeffer, a member of Nader’s Citizens Committee in 2000, tells Tacy. “The problem is, for the first time in most of our lives, the idealism is trumped by politics … It’s just not the same game anymore.”

Tacy also quotes David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation, which last month published an open letter urging Nader to stay out of the race. Corn, who worked for Nader for 20 years, says the decision to run was “a mistake” and pointedly adds that Nader “could make the same critique outside of a candidacy.”

Micah L. Sifry reaches the same conclusion on TomPaine.com. “Political realities change, but not Ralph,” he writes. If the realities of 2004 weren’t reason enough to shun Nader, Sifry offers another tart rationale: “… Nader hasn’t even fulfilled the promises he made in 2000 to keep building an independent political movement.”

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.