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It is, as they say, a free country and Ralph Nader has decided to avail himself of that freedom to run for president — again.
The reaction of the remaining presidential candidates was not particularly welcoming, although having Nader, who is turning 74, in the field relieves John McCain, 71, of the burden of being the oldest candidate in the race.
The venerable consumer crusader had a litany of reasons to run: “You go from Iraq, to Palestine/Israel, from Enron to Wall Street, from Katrina to the bungling of the Bush administration, to the complicity of the Democrats in not stopping him on the war, stopping him on the tax cuts.”
In his two earlier bids, Nader ran as a candidate of the Green Party. He said he has not yet decided how he’ll run this go-around. In 2000, he got 2.7 percent of the vote, but over 96,000 of those voters were in Florida and many Democrats have never forgiven him for, in their view, being complicit in tipping the election from Al Gore to George W. Bush.
In reprisal, some state Democratic organizations worked to keep him off the ballot in 2004 and he finished with 0.3 percent of the vote. Nader said a major focus of his campaign would be ballot access, an important issue to be sure but hardly one on the voters’ front burner.
There is something admirable about this splendid futility, but there is also the danger of becoming a modern Harold Stassen, a once-respected and -credible politician who ran for president so often — nine times — he became a figure of ridicule. Any American can grow up to run for president, but that doesn’t mean everyone should. But, hey, it’s a free country.