It is a commonplace observation that prophets are never honored in their time. Most people concede that, whatever else you say about Nader, he made the American consumer safer. I imagine that without him the Ford Pinto or its successors would still be blowing sky high when lightly tapped from the rear, and legions of additional Chevy drivers would have been impaled on their steering posts. The idea, however, is that in challenging the Big Two Monopoly, he got above himself and tilted the balance of the American Uniparty to the Right. There is no doubt that he did. The remaining question is whether his justifications were correct.
With respect to the first point, the identity between Demublicans and Repugnocrats, one might consider this latest development from the fecund mind of the dynamic Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader:
"The first [plan], sponsored by Reid and Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, would set a goal of beginning the withdrawal of U.S. troops by April 2008, unless the Iraqi government demonstrated political and security progress. However, President Bush would have the power to waive that requirement." [CNN News, 6/12/07]
In what sense is this a "plan?" There is a "goal" to "begin" the withdrawal of U.S. troops about one year from now, unless there is progress in Iraq; however, Bush is empowered to vitiate even this vague "requirement." Deconstructing this "plan," it appears that the Senate majority is suggesting they would like to see Bush start drawing down the numbers of U.S. troops unless the Iraqis get it together over the next year, but it's up to Bush whether he wants to use Iraqi "progress" as a criterion. That's it. That's the bold initiative. Since any third grader knows that Bush can tolerate endless carnage and expense in Iraq, and does not care if his obstinance tilts the Uniparty farther to the Left, the Senate is proposing something they know for a fact to be utterly meaningless. They are hoping it fools the American electorate into believing something momentous is occurring.
The second specimen for dissection is the current "energy bill" meandering around the Senate. Among its exciting new initiatives is to raise American fuel standards to 35 mpg by 2020. In other words, to require American manufacturers to compete with Japanese hybrids, such as the Prius and Honda, by nailing an efficiency number that is only 70% of the mileage one can get right now by buying Japanese. And this bold action is taken after waiting about 20 or 30 years to do anything at all about CAFE standards. The other bold plan is to grow a lot of corn and make ethanol, which will make the agri-business lobby happy, but the Senate might want to consult with physicists familiar with the laws of thermodynamics on whether the rules of energy returned on energy invested can be suspended for the first time in the history of the Universe.
Which leads to Nader's Second Premise: the dismantling of the Uniparty in favor of some legislative body which might respond to actual needs of the American public. The most recent Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, for the period ending June 10, 2007, placed Congress's approval rating of 27%, and the disapproval rating at 62%. Bear in mind that these ratings occurred about 6 months after the ascension of the Demublicans to control. The numbers are considerably worse than the current ratings for one of the most unpopular Presidents in history. Nader, it might be noted, doesn't have much to do with that. I suspect the 27% making up the approving cohort are either lobbyists, homophobes or Creationists; like E. coli, such organisms are always with us.
I don't know where I come out on Nader. Was he an ego-mad interloper who would ruin America to satisfy his own vanity? Or did he know something -that America was already on the road to ruin, and it took an ego-mad interloper, one without much to lose, to point it out.