Marty Kaplan on the pros and cons of Ralph Nader’s candidacy

February 25, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More

Marty Kaplan, a research professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, repeatedly raises important points relating to our dysfunctional news media. He posted today on his ambivalence with the recently announced candidacy of Ralph Nader.

Nader, who skipped the primaries, says that his third-party race will inject into the fall campaign issues like single-payer health insurance, labor law reform, Pentagon waste, corporate crime, “the illegal occupation of Palestine,” and impeachment — issues he says Clinton, Obama, and McCain have taken off the table…

It’s a shame that to get five minutes of the nation’s civic attention, a person has to either be a billionaire, or to raise and spend a billion of other people’s dollars, or to do something as potentially lethal the country’s ultimate well-being as to mount a quixotic run for president. Maybe we already possess the communications technology for a modern-day Tom Paine to reframe the national political debate without at the same time landing another George W. Bush in the White House. The irony is that the candidate most likely to focus on the barriers to success standing in the way of that technology — the concentrated, corporate control of the media — is the same Ralph Nader whose presence in the race may turn out to cast the darkest shadow on its outcome.

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Category: Communication, Media, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    Progressive radio today pointed out that if Nader genuinely cared about the issues he claims to care about, he'd do a whole lot more than declare himself a candidate for president every four years. Like run for Congress, for example. That's what separates him from the serious candidates: they do it because they actually want the job, Nader just does it for the ego trip.

  2. Erika Price says:

    I really disagree. Nader has fought for his myriad pet causes for decades, and I think he has really no other choice but to forge his independent and unpopular path because he has such devout beliefs against…well, almost everything typical of mainstream politics. As to the question of "what he does" other than run for President, well, that's not a bad question. As far as I can tell the last big thing he did was set up a couple of non profit organizations in 2001 and write book after book. Those activities count for something if you ask me. But the question is still reasonable- why doesn't he run for another office?

    My conclusion is less that he is an ego maniac, but that he runs as a way of sending a message, of making himself into a symbol. He represents the people who are very liberal but very jaded with the way the Democratic party plays the political game, glosses over things for public relations and satisfices, or chooses the path of least resistance. You have to moderate to succeed, after all.

    Ralph Nader represents, I think, those who don't want to have to moderate, who want to actually speak for their true positions rather than a position easier to market. I think people like that play a very necessary role- let him "siphon off" all the Democratic votes he can. The votes of all liberal people do not "belong" to the Democratic party, and the party ought to recognize that they should have to WORK for their votes, rather than expect them to trickle in from every liberal voter like some commodity "owed" to them.

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