Complete Score: 30 / 42 = 71%
In the interests of full disclosure, please note that I will vote for Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez on November 4, 2008. Having gotten that out of the way, it’s clear that I believe Ralph is the best presidential candidate, but by no means does that mean Ralph is a perfect candidate, or even a great one at that. In my personal humble opinion, he’s the best candidate in this field because his stance on the issues is closest to what I think the correct course of action is. Even if elected, Ralph might not be a great president, as some of his ideas would prove difficult to enact without the full support of congress and the American people (though of course if elected it would show there is a large amount of support for him, which would in effect greatly change our political landscape for the better).
If Ralph Nader’s record has proven anything, it’s that he would clearly be the most valuable president ever (if his past performance extends through to his presidency). As a private citizen Ralph has helped enact more laws than many career politicians. Ralph has pushed congress to enact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Wholesome Meat Act, Freedom of Information Act, and Safe Drinking Water Act, and the list goes on and on. He’s helped start and organize over 100 non-profit organizations designed to help consumers and citizens. He’s done all of these good things for our country as a private citizen, imagine if he was paid to lead this country how much more he could accomplish.
On a value principle, Ralph Nader would clearly return more bang for our buck than any other presidential candidate. Whereas in my review of Cynthia McKinney I argued that she is too abrasive to work with others to enact actual legislation, Mr. Nader has proven over and over again that he can work with everyone in order to better this country. Over the years numerous organizations, corporations and individuals have tried to shut Ralph down but every time he’s overcome these obstacles to continue fighting. Assuming Ralph continued working hard once President, the amount of positive, progressive change he could enact is mind boggling. The only reason Mr. Nader does not receive a perfect score here is because past performance does not predict future returns. There is a chance that once elected Mr. Nader would for once in his life relax, though it seems highly unlikely.
Score: 4.5 / 5
Photo credit to ragesoss.
Charisma and the ability to inspire and motivate people is a big part of leadership. Having taken a graduate level leadership course at the University of Massachusetts, I know that in the end leaders simply do not have that big of an impact on the individual nor the organization. Instead leaders can guide an organization, good leaders take the group in the right direction, while bad leaders get the group lost. However, in the end the followers all have a choice whether to follow the leader or not, and because of that choice leaders simply cannot have a huge impact (at least not huge enough to rationalize some CEO’s salaries) and followers cannot shirk responsibility for their own actions, or inactions as the case may be.
Sure, George W. Bush and countless other leaders have shown that one man can poke a lot of holes in a ship, but to sink it all by oneself is an extremely difficult task. We the people are responsible and complicit for many of Bush’s actions. By not actively fighting and protesting and lobbying, we all must take some responsibility for the decline of this country. We all have jobs and families to attend to that prevent us from actively participating in our own government but that does not excuse our responsibility.
To bring this tangent back to Ralph Nader, my point is that good leaders, via their charisma or knowledge, will guide followers down a correct path. Ralph has proven that he is capable of using his intellect and strong beliefs to aid Nader Raiders to help others and themselves. So the question is not whether Ralph Nader has what it takes to be a great leader, for he has already proven he does, but whether he has what it takes to be a great national and international leader. It is here that the potency of a Ralph Nader presidency begins to unravel. As much as I agree with the majority of Mr. Nader’s platform, he simply is not charismatic in a mainstream sense. To a certain extent, Matt Gonzalez compensates for this weakness inherent in Ralph, but the true public face of a Nader administration would be Ralph so there is only so much Matt’s charisma can do.
Watching a recent debate between Chuck Baldwin and Ralph Nader, and other public appearances, it became clear that Ralph is showing the wear and tear of decades of public service. He’s overly arrogant and is simply not as sharp as he once was. The gravity of our current economic and political situations, and the fact that Ralph has long argued we were heading this way, seems to weigh heavily on Ralph now. I cannot blame him, but the one thing the Obama campaign has gotten correct is that this nation does need an injection of hope. In the immortal words of Red from The Shawshank Redemption, Hope is a dangerous thing, but as Andy points out, it is also a good thing, and right now this nation needs some good. It also needs a realistic and critical look at itself, which Ralph provides but he lacks the charisma to energize an entire nation.
Score: 3 / 5
Photo credit to 1115.
A big flaw in Nader’s campaign is a lack of creativity. For instance, Ralph has constantly berated the two party system, especially the lack of equal and fair access to debates. However, only recently has Ralph helped organize an alternative debate to the mainstream one. If Nader had begun debating his fellow third party candidates earlier in the election season all of them would have received more attention and gained more voters. Instead, Ralph has proclaimed that the current debate system is flawed and corrupt, but continued to try to gain access to it rather than working from the start on an alternative.
Still, his campaign has show spurts of creativity. For instance he recently broke a Guinness World record for most campaign stops in one day here in Massachusetts, which earned him plenty of attention in the local mainstream media and some national attention too. He also stood in unison with Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Cynthia McKinney to support their commonalities. He’s also shown lots of innovation in his approach to solutions to our issues, such as a derivatives tax that would easily pay for the recent bank bailout. Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez are creative individuals, and would surely be innovative leaders, I just wish they brought more of that creativity to their campaign.
Score: 2.5 / 5
Ralph has continuously proven through his career as a private consumer advocate that he can impact society positively. We’ve discussed above the legislation Ralph helped pass, but he’s also started a ton of non-profit organizations and encouraged others to do the same.
Many people cite Ralph Nader as a reason why Al Gore lost the 2000 elections but such a statement is ignorant and rash. Al Gore himself has stated that Gore is the reason the Democrats lost, not an outside party. Consider that over 200,000 registered Democrats in Florida voted for George W. Bush and the few votes Nader got in the state become to pale in comparison. I’ve said many times that blaming Nader for Gore’s loss is like blaming the Green Bay Packers for the New England Patriots loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
Besides, Al Gore cost Ralph Nader the election.
As an Arab-American, Ralph Nader has an intimate understanding of some of America’s most challenging foreign policy issues. His ethnic background could play a key role in helping repair our poor relationship with some Middle Eastern countries. Nader’s platform is also closely tuned into what the real problems are in the United States of America and the world and solid solutions to those issues. He’s against “safe” nuclear and “clean” coal because those technologies are dangerous and dirty and no amount of empty rhetoric will change that fact. Instead Nader favors investment in wind, solar, geothermal and tide energies to increase their efficiencies, thus weaning America off foreign fossil fuels and protecting the environment. Other important issues are opening up the political process to all parties and people, impeaching Bush and Cheney, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and instituting universal health care.
Score: 4 / 5
Overall, Ralph Nader has already accomplished enough for this country to be named one of Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential Americans of the 21st century. He’s already accomplished more good for this country than John McCain could ever hope to, and is the progressive proletariat that Obama claims to be. Simply put, Ralph Nader has the correct stance on the most important issues of our time, unfortunately he does not have the charisma and corporate connections to catapult him into the spotlight to make an effective run at the presidency.
Too many people incorrectly blame him for Al Gore’s loss in 2000, and too many people think voting for a third party is a wasted vote. In a truly democratic and free society, Ralph Nader would have debated Barack Obama and John McCain in national broadcasts and would easily obtain at least 10-15% of the national vote. Unfortunately for Nader and ourselves, our society is simply not truly free and democratic.
Score: 16 / 22
You can read more about Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez at Vote Nader.
Complete Score: 30 / 42 = 71%