What Are Progressives to Think of Ralph Nader?

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nader_voter.jpg Okay, so Ralph Nader has entered the presidential race and all of progressive America is having horrible flashbacks.

All of the criticisms of his 2004 run still hold, and even the left-wing blogosphere is completely against the idea. It’s a narcissistic and, at this point, almost embarrassing endeavor that has only the chance to do harm to the progressive values and ideals Nader holds dear.

But let me suggest a stay of the beating of chests and tearing of garments. The Nader magic had diminished significantly by 2004, and is diminished further today. He is no longer the Green Party’s chosen candidate, and his argument that the two parties are essentially identical doesn’t hold water when one party is running a woman and an African-American. Any call for change that Nader makes this year will be a hollow echo of the calls the Democratic candidates are already making.

Besides, no candidate who took 0.38 percent of the vote in 2004, when the Democratic candidate was dramatically worse than the options available today, is going to see a resurgence in November 2008.

So fret not, citizens of Berkeley, Burlington, and Madison. You’ve made your mistakes with Nader in the past but America can forgive you. Particularly if you ignore him this time around.

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And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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