February 27, 2004

Commentary

Third Party Candidates

By Andrés Lozano

American electoral outcomes show several instances when third party candidates, attempting to win elections, fail to accomplish this, yet tilt the result in behalf of the unlikely suitor. In less than a century, it has happened four times, even more often recently.

1. The 1912 Republican splinter forced Theodore Roosevelt to run as a progressive third candidate, seized in the process the margin of victory from William Howard Taft and made Woodrow Wilson the winner.

2. In 1968, George Wallace running as an independent siphoned crucial votes from Hubert H. Humphrey, the Democratic candidate and landed victory on Richard M. Nixon’s lap.

3. In 1972, H. Ross Perot foiled George H. Bush’s reelection bid. Vote splitting was an asset for William J. Clinton’s success.

4. In 2000, Ralph Nader’s spoiler green-third-candidacy snatched victory from Albert Gore Jr, in behalf of George W. Bush, the Republican contender.

Candidacies, by party, won or lost, as you may wish to see it, were twice by side. This fifth instance will be a tiebreaker.

On February 22, 2004, Ralph Nader announced he would run for a second time, now as an independent presidential candidate. Republicans are ecstatic. Had Nader not been a candidate in 2000, his 97 thousand Florida votes would have gone to Albert Gore to clinch 25 electoral votes needed to win the state and the presidency. The 9/11 tragedy would have occurred under Gore’s watch and, of course, he would have done, with an edge, exactly what Bush did in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Republicans would have backed him up to do away with the Axis of Evil and this would have translated into electoral Democratic gains back in 2002. In all likelihood, Democrats would control the Senate, maybe the House of Representatives too. Internationally, France and Germany would have reacted the same way at the UN, but Mexico would have supported, in lieu of obstructing, the American position. Fox’s handlers, Castañeda and Aguilar Zinser would have induced the chatty and heedless Mexican president to support the liberal intervention with the same logic, or lack of it, as you may wish to put it, with which he brazenly resisted it.

On a roll, and with Republican congressional support, Gore may have even taken the decision to finish off the terrorist-sponsoring governments of Libya, Syria, Iran and North Korea. Facing the 2004, elections Democrats would be unbeatable and maybe, Hillary granted her Southern border wall to hinder Mexicans’ entry. It is naive dissociating the Democrats’ tantrum from the fact that, thanks to Nader, Bush became the beneficiary. The role is upturned from what it would have been if Nader had not stripped victory away from Gore in Florida back in 2000 and this fact has Democrats fuming.

To make matters worse for Democrats in 2004, they face again the Ralph Nader’s candidacy threat. Nader is a one-track-minded environmental zealot. He has garnered fame and fortune fanning ignorance, prejudice and envy among the gullible chicken-little crowd. In the process, hiking-up absurd price increases on consumer goods. Yes, on consumer goods. Automakers in particular, forced to add on mostly redundant features, transfer the extra cost to buyers. Successfully, Nader claims, this or that unproven security device is necessary to protect drivers and passengers. His loyal activists ascertain such entreaties become part of ordinances and regulations, thus, new models price tags increase hundreds or even thousands of additional dollars due to the ‘Nader safeguards’. Gullibility and ignorance entail a hefty price indeed. Nader’s stormtroopers, foster government regulation in everything! These are well-trained and disciplined cohorts with astonishing clatter-making ability, enjoying swift and ready access to the media and largely determining the left’s agenda.

Conservative candidates are largely immune to this leftist activism. Moreover, it tilts in their behalf legion of undecided votes in search of alternatives. However, populist-prone liberal candidates are stuck at the crossroads: If they challenge Nader’s, seemingly consumer-friendly proposals, are charged with backtracking on principles. Thus, are constrained to comply with or outdo Nader’s proposals, a lose-lose situation. Nader is always one step ahead and can extreme positions at will. Consequently, liberal candidates lose fringe votes, but mostly moderate ones after highlighting Nader thrust upon proposals. Then, successfully, conservative candidates contend liberals radicalize themselves. Nader’s candidacy ensnares and leaves Democratic candidates without a way out. Really, the last thing they need facing uphill elections come November.

What is Nader after? Firstly, he is an advocate. For decades now he disputes a protracted war of attrition against corporate America for the simple reason of loathing her. He is also a smooth fringe operator aware of his lack of appeal among mainstream voters. Thus, his strategy hijacks the Democrats’ populist plank with outlandish proposals of his own. Which could be the Democrat’s antidote to Nader? In Poker’s lingo: “Calling his bluff”. Make obvious his propositions are bizarre. Can Democrats afford the risk of calling Nader’s bluff? Unlikely. Whilst calling it they would also show their own very weak hand on topics such as the environment and, by chain reaction, on national defense and taxation. As implied, the Democrats’ misfortune is backing positions they do not truly believe in while painting themselves into a corner in the process.

Andrés Lozano alozanoh@msn.com

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