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The single-issue voter: A birder’s look at Ralph Nader – I

March 20, 2008

It’s that time again. As civic-minded individuals do, I’m oft interested in how the platforms of those running for president affect my life, that’s as a birder naturally. With so many candidates and elections still more than a year off right around the corner I decided to do the work so you, dear reader(s), don’t have to. So here’s what I hope will be a regular look as those who would be birder-in-chief. Starting with the long-shots and working my way up so that you all will be prepared when the time comes to cast your ballot. A special extended edition of The Drinking Bird’s increasingly misnamed sixteen part series.

It’s been a long time since I actually looked at a candidate’s bird-friendly bona fides. Likely because those major players in the race for the presidency have been whittled down to only a few, and I’ll wait to put together any in-depth look at those individuals when the final terrible two have been decided (and also, when we get closer to the election, which is still a staggering 8 months away). As long as the Clinton and Obama camps still fight it out, I sit waiting.

But until then, the race for relevancy still goes on. And guess who wants back in the mess? Go on, guess. It’s Ralph Nader! Again! Thinking the third time is the charm and apparently feeling as though there are still a few loyal Democrats he hasn’t pissed off yet, he’s thrown his hat into the ring as a presidential candidate for a third quixotic run in as many election cycles. What does he think he’s doing? If you’re a Democrat and the mud-slinging between the current candidates hasn’t soured you yet on their chances in November, then Ralph’s entry is probably the icing on what is an increasingly moldy cake. It’s like someone put in salt instead of sugar, ya know?

But I kid, I kid. Part of what makes Nader so infuriating is his sensibly taken points on many issues, and the birdy ones are no exception. While he has no elected public service record to speak of, and little in the way of experience beyond that of a public advocate, his priorities are in the right places. He proposes an immediate moratorium on logging in National Forests and an increase in the budget for the National Parks Service to close the nearly $9 million funding gap that had left our National Parks underfunded, undermanned and undermanaged. He also plans to charge corporations more for using public water (especially interesting in the drought-ravaged southeast) and cut funds for the road construction lobby in favor of mass transit initiatives. All good things for birds from a habitat perspective.

But here’s the rub, none of this is on his campaign website, which is woefully low on content. I had to go elsewhere for the above info. The website is completely lacking on anything beyond single sentences and platitudes which does nothing for his campaign. Which brings up the point, what does Nader actually want to accomplish with his run? If it is to bring attention to these issues he sees as important, then he needs his positions to be in a place where they can be easily accessed by the public, like, say, a campaign website. But if it is just to rant and rave and stroke his apparently massive ago, well, a few sentences on the web may suffice.

Nader has to know he doesn’t have a chance in the general election. By staying in the race he only increases the possibility of pulling voters away from the Democratic candidate in an election that is looking increasingly tight. By failing to expand on his positions past the very basic, he even misses the opportunity to even bring these important issues to the forefront at the very least. So, the question remains where we began.

What the hell is he doing?

One Comment
  1. John permalink
    March 20, 2008 9:48 am

    I don’t know what Nader’s game is. I would like to see a credible third party movement from the left, but Nader doesn’t seem interested in doing the organization it would take to build something like that.

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