About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Ralph, just go away
Nader did run again in ’04, though he did not have a significant causal role in the defeat of Kerry: the Dems simply chose the most inept candidate they had available, and this time George W. won almost square and fair (almost because there are still issues about significant voting “irregularities” in the pivotal state of Ohio, but that’s another story).
Nader, of course, is right in the substance of the comments he made last Sunday, when he announced his candidacy. Of Hillary Clinton he said that she is “the Democrat most loved by big business,” and chastised Obama for not speaking out about “the economic crimes against minorities in city ghettos.”
The two Democratic candidates’ responses weren’t that convincing. Clinton said that Nader -- who ran for the Green Party -- “prevented Al Gore from being the greenest president we could have had.” As I said, this is a very partial truth, the major fault for that unfortunate outcome must be laid at the feet of a passive Democratic party and of activist judges on the Supreme Court. Obama’s comments were not that different from Clinton’s (just as much in their platforms is not that diffeent), saying that “[Nader] thought that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush, and, eight years later, I think people realize that Ralph did not know what he was talking about.” Again, partially true, but I doubt one can find many Democrats who would have guessed back in 2000 just how wrong Ralph was on that count.
Nonetheless, Ralph, it’s time to go away. You are 74, for one thing, which means that even McCain is statistically more likely to make it alive to the end of the first term. Moreover, this is the fifth time you've given it a try; I admire the persistence and your love of a good fight for a good cause, but knowing where to draw the line is a sign of wisdom, which apparently you lack.
The main reasons you shouldn’t run, Ralph, include that this time the Democrats do have good solid candidates -- if nowhere near the kind of person both you and I would like to see running the country. More importantly, the United States and the planet simply cannot afford yet another war-mongering, anti-environmental President, who would keep increasing the gap between rich and poor and make life for everyone on earth a bit more miserable than it already is, and a hell of a lot more miserable than it could be.
Yes, of course you have the right to run, as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg keeps reminding us. It is a free country, especially if you have Bloomberg’s money. But you also have the moral duty to look at reality in its face: you don’t stand a chance to win, and unfortunate as that fact may be, it comes with a corollary: you’d be doing a big favor to our worst enemies, all those who fight so hard to stop the force of liberal progress. So, Ralph, just don’t.