People say that it was Nader’s “ego-powered” campaign that cost Gore the presidency. I could as easily make the case that: if the US Supreme Court hadn't interfered with the Florida count & let democracy run its course, or if popular votes rather than electoral votes were used to determine the outcome, or if Gore had run an inspiring campaign touting the great Clinton/Gore economic record or using his own environmental knowledge & fervor to inspire voters, or if he chose a decent running mate, or if the elections were run completely fairly, etc., Gore would’ve won. Don't lay it on Nader. His candidacy was a response to the failure of the major party candidates to address the critical problems facing the nation, which by the way were greatly exacerbated by the candidate selected by SCOTUS & are as bad as ever now. (By the way, I voted for Gore & am deeply sorry his win was voided by the Supreme Court.)
3rd party candidacies rarely seem to have much of an effect on the general election results. In the following 4 cases the 3rd party candidate garnered far more votes than Nader ever did.
In 1912, former Republican president Theodore Roosevelt formed the Progressive Party to run against his Republican successor & incumbent William Howard Taft & the Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson, Wilson won & Roosevelt came in second. Since Roosevelt was far closer to Wilson on the ideological scale (even more progressive on some issues), it is very doubtful that he changed the outcome.
I believe it was 1968 when segregationist southerner George Wallace bolted the Democratic Party to form the American Independent Party against Democratic vice-president Hubert Humphrey & Republican Richard Nixon. The vote was very close, with Wallace winning some of the southern states, & Nixon narrowly defeated Humphrey. The southern states had been a reliable Democratic bloc, but were already drifting Republican & would henceforth become a reliable Republican bloc (except during Carter’s first presidential run). Since Wallace was to the right of Nixon on many issues, & there was a definite anti-incumbent mood among the voters due to the Vietnam War, it is likely that Nixon would've won by even more had Wallace not run, but that's unclear.
In 1980, moderate John Anderson left the Republican Party to run against Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter & Republican conservative Ronald Reagan. Anderson was essentially in the middle of the political spectrum among these 3 candidates, & it appears he didn't affect much the outcome, in which Reagan won handily in the wake of the Iranian hostage crisis & high inflation.
I think it was 1996 (correction: it was actually 1992) when Ross Perot ran as an independent against Democratic incumbent (nope, challenger) Bill Clinton & Republican challenger Bob Dole (nope, incumbent George HW Bush). There was a brief moment when Perot was actually leading the polls. His prescient warnings about high deficits & jobs being sucked away from the US to foreign lands due to trade pacts like NAFTA resonated with Americans. His position on the ideological scale was pretty unique, about equally different from both Republicans & Democrats, & it's doubtful he affected the outcome, in which Clinton ended up winning.
Gore should've won handily in 2000, considering the strong economy & his lame opponent, but for his aimless & faltering campaign. Stop blaming Nader. Blame the Republican Supreme Court who stopped the ballot count, blame Jeb Bush & his complicity in the shabby conduct of the Florida election process, blame Joe Liebermann, the uninspiring running mate of Gore, or blame Gore himself for his weak campaign or for giving up the Florida ballot count & fight for the White House.
I voted for Gore, not Nader, because I knew his record & where he stood on the issues, & it was obvious that Bush would be a catastrophe if elected, but most people aren't as politically aware as I, so a campaign must be run well enough to persuade the unsure.
I don't blame Nader for Gore's defeat, & I won't blame Sanders or Warren if Clinton fails to make it. I will blame Democrats for failing to see that candidates like Sanders or Warren or even Gore (but let's hope he's learned his lesson) are who we need as president at this time.
Sorry, for the late edit. Thanks, Rosalie907 & Dr. Swig McJigger for setting me straight, and everybody else for your comments & votes.
Comments are closed on this story.