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Nader v. Dodd?

Run, Ralph, Run

by JOHN HALLE

News reports indicating that Ralph Nader is considering a run for Senate from his home state Connecticut provoked some of the same tired and tiresome mantras familiar from previous campaigns: Nader the spoiler, Nader the loser, Nader the egomaniac, Nader the has been.

But this time there is a big difference.

For according to a Quinnipiac University poll, it is the Democratic incumbent, Senator Christopher Dodd who is the sure loser in 2010.

Laboring under historically low approval ratings partly due to his star turn in Michael Moore’s film "Capitalism" where he is seen as a recipient of de facto bribes from high finance crook Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, Dodd would go down to a humiliating defeat in a race with any of the declared Republican candidates.

An indication of the contempt in which he is held, Dodd would lose even to Linda McMahon, whose main claim to legitimacy consists in the reflected glory accruing to spouse, World Wide Wrestling association magnate Vince McMahon.

Given that there have been few occasions when an incumbent has managed to recover from this kind of deficit, it is Dodd’s campaign which is now quixotic. And as the Democratic Party’s capitulations on the war, its placating of Wall Street, and sky high unemployment rates consign a generation to economic misery, it will become increasingly apparent that any viable challenge to the Republicans will need to come from an independent or third party-a long established tradition in Connecticut.

Nader fits the bill of the outsider candidate just about perfectly.

This is not to say that Nader is by any means a shoe-in, even pitted against Dodd and an addled teabagger as the Republican nominee. The relentless Democratic smear campaigns have taken their toll and the kind of organization which Nader could rely on in previous decades has now been winnowed down to a relatively few hard core supporters.

But there is still plenty of reason to believe that this is one insurgent campaign which could target and defeat the corporate dupology at a particularly vulnerable location and historical juncture.

And there is also plenty of reason for excitement at the prospect of Nader serving in the Senate.

Imagine Nader with subpoena power at Senatorial hearings on military misappropriations, homeland security or military contracting.

Imagine Nader grilling Bernanke, Geithner or any of Obama’s corporate friendly appointees to the Departments of Interior, Health and Human Services or Agriculture,

Imagine Nader sponsored legislation on global warming, consumer protection and labor rights.

Imagine Nader able to filibuster (Jimmy Stewart like) a war appropriations supplemental.

Bernie Sanders placing a hold on the Bernanke nomination-now in the process of being overridden by banker BFF Dodd-gives-some of us a small taste of Nader as Senator.

If leftists want an investment of time which offers a real bang for the buck, they could do a lot worse than throwing some cash at the Nader campaign and once it gets up and running, to knock on doors, organize house parties, phone bank and receive the abuse of ever more ridiculous Democratic Party hacks and sycophants.

This time, it will be to win.

JOHN HALLE is Director of Studies in Music Theory and Practice at Bard College. He can be reached at: halle@bard.edu