Nader: Both a Problem and an Opportunity for Democrats

The recent entry of Ralph Nader into the presidential race is a perfect illustration on Sun Tzu’s concept of xu sat, emptiness and fullness. This concept states that every problem contains an opportunity, if only we are clever enough to see it. While most pundits predict that Nader’s candidacy is a problem for the Democratic nominee, this is only true if the Democratic candidate refuses to recognize the opportunity. With Nader in the race, the Democrat, Kerry or Edwards, can positioning himself as the moderate, midway between the Bush and Nader. Both Kerry and Edwards are very liberal by recent standards, but both can deflect attacks on their past positions by pointing out the Nader is the true liberal in the race. Given Nader’s difficulties in getting registered in a large number of states—given the lack of Green Party support—the Nader problem of stealing key votes in key states is less than important than the Nader benefit of creating a middle position for the Democratic candidate.