Last weekend (January 8), I was watching Tim Russert's self-titled hour-long interview show on MSNBC (or CNBC) and his guest for the entire hour was Ralph Nader. Toward the end of the interview, Russert asked Nader who (besides himself) he'd most like to see as President; the first name Nader mentioned was Henry Waxman...and the next was, yep, Russ Feingold. (He also said Ted Kennedy would have been a good president.) Nader later mentioned that he was going to be meeting with some Democratic senators, including Minority Leader Reid, Barack Obama, and Feingold.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find a transcript or video clip of this show online-if someone else can, please email me
. However, I was able to find this old 1998 press release
where Nader endorses Feingold for reelection. It's a pretty powerful statement on Feingold's behalf, and was made after Nader had already made his first run as a Green Party candidate in 1996.
I know a lot of Democrats, from all parts of the party, wish Nader would just shut up, but that's not gonna happen. And there is still a significant number of people out there who admire Nader, and vote for him, for the Greens, or don't vote. While some of these people are far-left ideologues would never vote for a Democrat, most of them would be Democrats-if the Democrats had a candidate who solidly stood up for their traditional values.
Some of Nader's issues are weird, but most of them-the environment, corporate responsibility, fair trade, worker's rights, universal health care-are traditionally Democratic issues. I think that Feingold is the best candidate who could appeal to Nader's followers while also appealing to more moderate voters, with his fiscal conservatism and personal integrity. Many Democrats would just like to ignore or berate Nader's followers, Greens, liberal independents, etc., but they should be reminded that having a "big tent" party can't just mean reaching out more to the center-right.
And now for the exciting personal disclosure part...in the 2000 election, at the age of 19, I cast my vote in the state of Missouri for Ralph Nader for President. Some of my reasons for doing so seem dumb and naive (I supported Bradley in the primary and didn't like the way Gore treated him; I actually thought the Greens could become a national third party) some I feel are still legitimate (Nader talked about issues like poverty and corporate power that I care about-and that Gore basically ignored; the exclusion of third party candidates from the Presidential debates is disgraceful).
Soon after that, I realized that in order to win in modern American politics you have to be in one of the major parties-and you can't change things if you don't win. Since then, I have worked for Democratic campaigns for Senate, President, and Congress and have voted for the Dems in all elections, save a few city offices.
But still...I WAS A TEENAGE NADERITE! Feel free to blame all your problems from the last four years on me.