Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The Cipher: Stephen Green, in this otherwise sharp post, says:
Further fracturing by the Democrats before November is a safe bet, too. With Ralph Nader almost certain to run under the Green Party banner, and Al Sharpton possibly in a position to make embarrassing wedge-issue demands on the party platform. . . it's going to be ugly.
I don't disagree with much of that, except the Nader part. First, I think it's unlikely that he and the Greens come to terms. The Greens used him as a name last time, trying to win some federal money for the party. Nader used the Greens for their national party structure, at the time arguably the best after the Reform Party. But it was a relationship of convenience, and I think they're done with each other.

Even if Nader did find a party to work with, I think he's a non-factor this year. Honestly, he was destined to be a non-factor in 2000, but fate stepped in and made the handful of votes he took from Gore in Florida more valuable than anyone could have imagined. This year, the anger candidate is Howard Dean. He has the anti-establishment cred that Nader has made his trademark, but with a major party structure to work within. That is to say, he appeals to the kids (and paunchy, superannuated liberals) who are Nader's core demographic: the scolds, the left-wing moralists, the PC crowd, the nanny-statists. (The irony is that Dr. Park Avenue Dean is about the most establishment candidate in the race, whatever his rhetoric.) So the better Dean does, the worse Nader does. Right now, it looks as though Dean will get the nomination, though noting is certain. If he does, Nader faces some slim pickings, since (let's face it here) the vast majority of the angry goofball left is looking for a hip and fashionable candidate who has a campaign where he can meet chicks; Nader is a square's square, and a total cipher, to boot. (Imagine Nader at home, in his totally safety-minded house, sleeves rolled up, relaxing by leafing through the CPSC's latest recall reports, orange hi-liter in hand.) Arguably, this makes Dean a stronger candidate than, say, Lieberman, since Dean can claim to marry the base to the moderates (or at least give them a civil union). That is to say, Dean at least has a chance with the soccer moms. Lieberman's gravitational pull on the primary voting base (the nose-ring and leg-hair crowd, and their bumper sticker preaching parents) is miniscule.

At any rate, look for Nader to make a couple of headlines and then disappear. He'll pick up the nut-fudge vote in November, but all the trustifarians and platinum-card ecologists think Dean is anti-establishment enough for them.

No comments: