James Ridgeway on Ralph Nader in the Village Voice:

If the DLC wonks, unimaginative leftists, and others devoted to the “Beat Bush” agenda can manage to stop gnashing their teeth over Ralph Nader’s “betrayal” long enough to really think about it, they might just find that the consumer advocate’s candidacy can help, rather than hurt, their cause.

From both within and outside a presidential run, Nader has the ability to push issues into the limelight when they are ignored by other politicians. For example: Universal health care has been spearheaded by the Nader groups since Hillary Clinton made her famous flop. Likewise corporate crime?it was the Nader groups in Washington and their allies in California who were most responsible for exposing Enron. It wasn’t anybody in the Democratic Party, that’s for sure.

Ridgeway’s entire argument is based on the flawed assumption that only a third-party candidate can nudge a more progressive agenda into the limelight. That’s not the case. You can do it in a major party just as easily, without running the risk of stealing major-party electorate as a third-party choice.

Kucinich is doing it. Sharpton is doing it. Carolyn Moseley-Braun is doing it.

Nader could be, but he’s not. In this election, I don’t think it will matter one bit, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that Nader is running as an Independent because that’s the only way he can push a progressive agenda. That’s a load of crap.