I was not an unwitting player in this farce.

A few months ago, I walked past a house somewhere in North Portland when someone, I believed a black teenager maybe 17 in a good old fashioned Family Unit, waved and I waved back.  He jumped up and shouted “Hey!  Registered to vote?”  I nodded and said, “yes.”  “Check this out!” he said, and ran over to a clip-board he had nearby, “Sign this and you can join a new party — the ‘Peace Party’.”  I declined, and walked on, a little puzzled by the offering.

A few weeks later I learned that it was something of an open secret that the creation of a “Peace Party” was a mechinism to get Ralph Nader ballot access.  But it was either closed off to me or enough of a secret that I did not know.  I do not know how I would have responded if the seventeen year old (I’m guessing there) boy had asked for me to get Nader on the ballot, though I’m guessing I would have balked.  It is interesting to note that he did not fit the stereotype of a Nader supporter — roughly, twenty and now thirty something year old college white kid OR maybe aging hippy.  (Though, 2008 is a long way from 2000, so I don’t know what the stereotype for a Nader supporter today quite is.  Curmudgeonly self-styled iconoclast?)

The election has come and passed, and Nader did worse than he did in 1996.  A few comments have lead some to declare Ralph Nader’s career over, a statement that sounds like a joke right about now — when did Harold Stassen’s career end? — but I suppose his days of announcing his candidacy on Meet the Press are over.  He is free to continue his performance art stylings — the one word answer press conference, frankly, missed the mark in criticism of what was wrong with the 2008 presidential election.  (Better off is he writing an article, as he did in 1999, excoriating the demise of the Glass – Stegall Act as a cause of future Economic Calamity.)  I imagine a left of the Democratic Party third party candidate will emerge as a significant force in 2016, but it will not be Nader.

I note that there was a pretty healthy amount of Nader campaign presence in Portland — a sticker on every every telephone pole.  But that may just have been the work of one person.  I also note that Nader seems as uninterested in growing the “Peace Party” as he was in growing the “Green Party” after 2000.

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