And so, after Bill Clinton's second term, Ralph Nader launched his third-party effort -- a quixotic exercise that had no discernible positive long term impact on the political landscape but did help usher into power one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.
Undeterred, Ralph Nader continues to be unsafe at any speed. He is unapologetic, myopic and arrogant as ever. For him, the system is corrupt, there are no lesser evils, and any compromise that might entail voting for a less-than-pure candidate is nothing short of unconditional surrender to corruption. For him, there was no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush. For him, there apparently is no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Nader rails against Clinton, using the kind of incendiary rhetoric that feeds into the frenzy of Sanders supporters convinced that she is stealing the election: "She's going to win by dictatorship. Twenty-five percent of superdelegates are cronies, mostly. They weren't elected. They were there in order to stop somebody like Bernie Sanders, who would win by the vote."
And he praises Trump for bringing important issues to light, all but dismissing what could be a real dictatorship and discounting the dangers of electing a reckless, ignorant vulgar talking yam: "He's questioned the trade agreements. He's done some challenging of Wall Street - I don't know how authentic that is. He said he's against the carried interest racket, for hedge funds. He's funded himself and therefore attacked special interest money, which is very important."
Thanks, Ralph. You can crawl back under your rock now.
I have no issue with Sanders campaigning until the end of the primaries to amass as many delegates as possible. And I agree that the more delegates he gets and the more states he wins, the more influence he should have on the party's platform, on changing the rules on how the Party should nominate a presidential candidate in the future and on pursuing progressive policies going forward.
But the reality is that when the last primary is held next month, Clinton will have amassed the most votes and the most pledged delegates, and she will have won the most primaries (including more states where independents were permitted to vote). Super delegates generally go to the candidate with the most pledged delegates. That is Clinton, not Sanders.
Thankfully, Sanders is no Nader, and he understands what is at stake in this election. It is hard to imagine that he would willfully undermine a Clinton candidacy. But what is critical is that he communicate this to his supporters. He needs to make sure that what happened in Vegas stays in Vegas.
In case you missed it, the Democratic State Convention in Nevada spun out of control when unhinged Sanders supporters harassed and threatened the Party Chair, and then threw actual chairs. They rushed the stage yelling obscenities and screaming about a conspiracy when, by more objective accounts, they were simply out organized by a Clinton campaign that understood the rules.
In a formal complaint lodged with the DNC, the Nevada State Democratic Party ("NSDP") expressed the fear that "the tactics and behavior on display here in Nevada are harbingers of things to come as Democrats gather in Philadelphia in July for our National Convention." The NSDP was justifiably alarmed, after "having seen up close the lack of conscience or concern for the ramifications of their actions – indeed, the glee with which they engaged in such destructive behavior," that Sanders activists will engage in "similar tactics at the National Convention in July.”
Bernie Sanders has articulated better than anyone the myriad problems with how we elect our political leaders and hopefully he will remain engaged after the election to help fix it. But Ralph Nader's recent appearance is a timely reminder of what happens when progressives lose sight of the greatest threats to our democracy. At present, that would be the election of Donald Trump who among many other things would have the power to nominate the next justice on the Supreme Court (and probably more after that).
Let's hope that Sanders will ensure that his supporters understand what Nader still fails to see.