Most of us would agree that a viable third party candidate for president would be good for the political process. Ralph Nader is not this candidate.
In the Sept. 18 issue of The Hatchet, Michael Sieburg wrote an editorial in favor of Ralph Nader’s inclusion in the October presidential debates. Nader should not be included. Sieburg argues that Nader is different from Al Gore and George W. Bush, a voice that needs to be heard. Every election year dozens of candidates run for the presidency and are not given the opportunity to participate in the presidential debates because they are not viable candidates.
Nader has about three percent in the polls. Pat Buchanan has about one percent, yet few argue that Buchanan should be included in the debates. Though most would not support Buchanan’s ideas, the margin from three percent to one percent is not large compared to the leap between Nader’s three percent and the 15 percent in the polls required to participate in the presidential debates. If Nader is included in the debates, where is the distinction between who belongs and who does not?
Like Nader, Sieburg criticizes both of the major party candidates on various grounds including the unfair perception that Democrats and Republicans are alike. Nader and Seiburg use information that is misleading, incorrect and unfair.
Nader claims that the two candidates are so corrupted by corporate interests that there is no opportunity for the will of the people to be done. His argument is one of guilt by association. The culprits are the lobbying firms, corporate interest groups and the political action committees, not the candidates. The vice president supports a ban on soft money donations and is not taking any money from unregulated political action committees. Ralph Nader’s Web site has a link for making donations online and then offers donators a way to get around the $1,000 personal campaign limit. If you would like to contribute a total of $2,000, we can accept an additional $1,000 if you make a check out to: `The Nader 2000 Primary Committee, Inc.’ For better or for worse, Ralph Nader relies on the same money to run his campaign as do other presidential candidates.
Al Gore and Ralph Nader agree that gay rights need to be protected under the law. The vice president has enforced civil rights laws and will expand existing hate-crime laws to include sexual orientation and disability. According to Gore’s Web site, As president, Gore will work to increase the country’s understanding that dignity and fundamental rights for all Americans must include homosexuals. Al Gore supports an end to racial profiling and affirmative action. Nader cannot claim that Gore and Bush are similar in this regard.
Al Gore, like Ralph Nader, supports universal health care. Gore will expand the Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program. As president, Al Gore will move us step-by-step towards universal health coverage for everyone in America – the children, the elderly and their families. Though a main tenant of Gore’s platform, Ralph Nader argues that Gore does not support universal health care.
Ralph Nader has done many good things for America. He should not, however, be included in the presidential debates for the simple reason that he does not have enough public support. He does not have enough support because his campaign is based on perceived differences from the major party candidates.
He has been inexplicably and irresponsibly silent on issues such as gun control and education (where is his plan on education or health care?), and he has misrepresented others’ positions on issues. While Nader’s intentions at slaying the White Whale, corporate America, are commendable, he is misguided when he characterizes Al Gore as similar to ultra-conservative George W. Bush. Furthermore, if Ralph Nader is included in the October presidential debates, then surely Pat Buchanan and a plethora of others must also be included.
-The writer is a senior majoring in history.
This article appeared in the September 28, 2000 issue of the Hatchet.