DOES OBAMA HAVE HIS NADER NOW?
Rachel Maddow has been getting excited lately about the prospect of a third-party presidential campaign. Earlier this week she hosted Buddy Roemer, who declared that he'd really, really like to top the ticket of the Friedmanesque group Americans Elect. (Roemer, for what it's worth, has recently embraced both Occupy Wall Street and Joe Lieberman.) And last night Maddow interviewed Rocky Anderson, the lefty ex-mayor of Salt Lake City, who's formed a new political party, the Justice Party, and intends to run for president. (A clip of the Anderson interview is below; the Anderson part of the segment begins around 3:20.)
When Maddow asks Anderson, "What's the most salient difference between the Justice Party and Democrats and Republicans?," he said:
We will do everything we can, even if it means a constitutional amendment, to get the corrupting influence of corporate and other concentrated wealth out of politics, because Congress and the White House have been conducting themselves as if they are on retainer with Wall Street.
Admirable -- though, Rocky, I don't know how you get a constitutional amendment through the very Congress you (correctly) describe as hopelessly corrupt. (Are we looking at a constitutional convention? Do you really feel confident that you could prevent such a convention from being taken over by right-wing zealots and corpocrats?)
Anderson also talked about "international accountability" on climate change, denounced kidnappings and other unsavory practices in the war on terror, attacked out "two-tier" economy and a justice system based on wealth, decried excessive penalties for recreational drug crimes, excoriated Barack Obama and Congress for caving on telecom immunity ... bloody hell, if the Daily Kos could grow legs and obtain citizenship, it would be Rocky Anderson.
And yet the Deseret News says,
Anderson said he expects to attract disenchanted members of both parties and independents.
Oh, yeah, right -- this guy's going to draw support from a lot of Republicans.
I really like what Rocky Anderson stands for -- but I see no reason to believe his candidacy will do anything but diminish Barack Obama's vote total and throw the election to Gingrich or Romney. (Please, spare me the comments about how I'm incorrectly assuming Obama has lefty votes by right. I know the whole spiel -- I could write the comment for you. I'm just arguing that if you go this route, if you respond to the awfulness of Democrats by ignoring the unspeakableness of Republicans, you're seeking to repeat 2000. Nor do I need to hear the other spiel about how Gore didn't really lose and Nader voters weren't to blame because it was all the Supreme Court's fault. That election shouldn't have even been close.)
I should say, however, that I won't be as upset about the Anderson candidacy if what I think may happen happens -- namely, a four- or even five-way race. I think Anderson (or some lefty) will get enough support and media attention to get Nader-in-2000 numbers in many states -- but I think the Americans Elect folks will field a ticket from the center (and, given their money and the likely swooning of centrist pundits, the ticket will get a lot of attention). I don't believe the scuttlebutt that Jon Huntsman may be the AE presidential candidate -- he seems like a jilted lover who can't endure the notion that the GOP won't sleep with him anymore, so I don't think he'll ever stop carrying the torch and move on with his life. (And the fantasy of a Huntsman/Hillary Clinton ticket is just delusional -- Hillary is a genuinely loyal Dem.)
But those guys will get someone paired up with Evan Bayh. After that, my guess is that the GOP noise machine will turn whoever it is, in the public's eyes, into a big, flaming liberal, and the candidate will draw exclusively Democrat and moderate-indy votes.
On the other hand, I think the GOP has to worry about a challenge from the right if Romney's the nominee. I don't mean from a marquee name like Sarah Palin -- I mean from one of the teensy parties that run an invisible candidate every four years. This time around, the rubes really might go for an underfunded crackpot zealot, especially one who says "Constitution" a lot and rants about the War on Christianity and the North American Union and about how the UN is taking away our gun freedoms. (That pretty much applies to all the minor-party candidates on the right, doesn't it?) Or maybe Gary Johnson or Jesse Ventura will run Libertarian -- this year, a run like that could draw all kinds of support, from dopers, youthful Paulbots and aging wingers. So, maybe my advice should be: vote Anderson if you want, because this thing is going to be a free-for-all. (Though if the GOP nominates anyone but Romney, the wingers will probably be united, so maybe it's suicidal for us to be divided.)
(Cross-posted at Booman Tribune.)