Here's what I don't get. Is there any doubt in your mind that Barack Obama would be a better president for your issues, for the things you care about, than John McCain?
Well, anybody would be better than the Republicans.
Stephanopoulos then asked why Nader trained all his fire on the Democrats, Nader protested that he was simply answering the question he had been asked, and Stephanopoulos replied that this was driven by issues that Nader had raised that week. Nader did go on to spend about 30 seconds making a number of criticisms of McCain.
To see firsthand how much Nader was training his fire on Obama versus McCain, I went to Nader's website at http://www.votenader.org/. The initial screen is split in two with "Corporate greed, Corporate power, Corporate control" on the left side and "People fighting back, Nader/Gonzales '08" on the right. Across the top is the question "Which side are you on?". Although I'm sure this was not intended, it reminded me of George Bush's statement, "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror." In any case, I continued on to Nader's blog at http://www.votenader.org/blog/. Looking down the page at the entries, I saw negative comments about Obama on June 28th, 25th, 24th, 23rd, 20th, 18th, and two posts on the 16th. There was also an explanation on June 26th of what Nader had meant when he accused Obama of "talking white". In any case, I saw no negative reference to McCain until the last mentioned post, the second one on June 16th. Hence, it does seem that, at least recently, Nader has been training most of this fire on Obama.
I have no idea why Nader appears to be focusing on Obama. I can only guess that he thinks that more of this potential votes will come from current Obama supporters. On this topic, there is an interesting entry on June 18th that promotes something called VotePact. Basically, the idea is that a pro-Nader Democrat finds a friend or relative who is a pro-Nader Republican and they agree to both vote for Nader. This keeps either of them from tilting the election toward the candidate who they like least, the so-called "spoiler effect". This seems a bit naive. You are counting on your friend or relative to keep their word and vote as they have promised.
A much more effective method to empower voters to vote for third party candidates without worrying about the spoiler effect would be Instant Runoff Voting. Briefly, the idea of this system is that every voter ranks the candidates according to their preference. If a voter's first choice has no chance of winning, then that voter's second choice is counted. If the voter's second choice then has no chance of winning, the voter's third choice is counted (and so on). You can find more information on Instant Runoff Voting here.
The Nader site does have a short post on Instant Runoff Voting here. The post's support seems to be a bit tentative as it states the following:
Nobody knows how IRV will actually work in the United States - no matter what its fervent supporters may hope for. It has to be tested and also clarified within the context of local, state and national campaign funding laws.
These statements may well be true. Still, it does seem that Nader could do much more to address the spoiler issue and, in so doing, greatly strengthen the potential of future third parties. On this topic, I'll repeat the following excerpt from an open letter to Ralph Nader that I originally posted nearly 4 year ago:
I think that Nader could best publicize this issue by running his campaign to promote his positions but dropping out just before the election, stating that he is forced to do so by the current system so that he does not act as a spoiler. He could then recommend that his supporters vote for the candidate who has best taken up his positions or that he most supports. That, at least, would give him some political leverage and the major parties, as well as the people, might give a little more thought to addressing this issue. In any case, this would be much more responsible than acting as a spoiler.
I still think that this would give Nader more leverage in promoting his issues, especially the obstacles faced by third parties. Of course, I'm not counting on him doing this. Still, I hope that he will at least become more balanced in his criticisms of the candidates.