Or why we should have more than two parties
Last Sunday, Ralph Nader declared his candidacy for president this coming election. This has started a hail of denigrations and personal attacks on him, largely from Democrats and other groups on the left.
All I can say to these groups is shame on you! You stand up for civil rights, but when someone else exercises their civil rights in a way you don't like, you want to revoke them. The tactics taken on their behalf to remove his name from the ballots in key states back in 2004 were horrible. Everyone, whether as part of a party or not, has the right to be a part of the election.
As has been said in some free speech debates "To stand up for your right to free speech, you must defend the speech you hate." If anyone is allowed to arbiter who gets to say what because the general public doesn't like it, it is a very short step for that person/group to say I can't speak freely as well. The same thing goes for the right to run for president. It is a very short step for one group to go from blocking one person's right to be on the ballot to blocking someone else they don't like.
These things also remove our ability to argue morality on civil rights. We cannot in good conscious say that one set of rights we like and support, but these rights, or this person's rights, we don't like and so they shouldn't be allowed.
Addressing Nader's candidacy directly: Do I support him? No, but I fully support his right to run. Do I support his positions? Some, but others go too far in a direction I don't approve. I will, after the Democratic nominee has been selected, do a break down on all three major presidential candidates positions, similar to what I have already done. Am I afraid Nader will "steal" this election for the Republicans? No, Nader did not cost Gore the election in 2000. That election was won, by all counts, by Gore. It was handed to Bush by the Supreme Court. Take out your anger there. He had no effect on the election in 2004.
What we need to do is show how our candidate is better than the others, not denigrate the opponents or say that a vote for them is a vote for "the enemy" or other fear tactics like this. I believe that the Democratic candidate can win even against 100 Naders.