Ralph Nader helped Al Gore win.
Calling progressives ‘spoilers’ not only gets history wrong but hampers future progressive campaigns.
Ralph Nader ran as the Green Party nominee in the 2000 presidential election, and while some claim that he hurt the campaign of Democrat Al Gore, an honest analysis shows that Nader’s campaign was in fact a primary reason that Gore won that election.
Here in 2016, with a wild and wildly consequential election winding to a close, it’s important to understand accurately the role Nader played in 2000 as well as to comprehend the role progressive candidates in general play in national elections.
To begin, Gore won the popular election in 2000. This isn’t contested. He received nearly a million more votes nationwide than did George W. Bush. It was clear that while the election was close, Gore was the nation’s popular choice for president.
No candidate since the 1800s has won the popular vote without also winning the electoral college, and Gore was winning the electoral college count, too.
But then, as thousands of Democrat-leaning votes were slowly being counted in Florida, the Supreme Court intervened and issued a bizarre and unconstitutional order — the least defensible decision in Supreme Court history, according to many legal scholars — to halt the vote count. This abortion of democracy took Florida’s electoral votes from Gore and made George W. Bush the next president.
Why the Democratic Party didn’t mount a more serious legal challenge to this fiasco in Florida is a true scandal, and movies have been made about it. But for whatever reason, they didn’t. They let the election slip away. It’s now history. (more…)