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Wrong turn

Nader is cozying up with the far right, yes. He’s cutting into Kerry’s support, yes.

It is still wrong to play legalistic games in order to keep him off the ballot. I don’t doubt that Nader may have violated the letter of the law in Arizona, and maybe he doesn’t yet qualify for the Florida ballot on a technicality. Great. Does that mean it’s morally right to control ballot access?

Fuck no. Controlling ballot access is a method of controlling who can be elected, pure and simple. It is a way to say “minority opinions of a certain size don’t count.” I dislike Nader vastly, but let the hypocritical bastard run.


  1. Mark Mark

    Color me goofy, but I don’t have a problem with this. If Nader wants to climb into bed with the likes of LaRouche and Buchanan, fine. Let him shoot himself in the head, let alone the foot. But if he wants to be on the ballot, he’s got to be held to the same standard as everyone else. Last time around this wasn’t a problem.

    The legal actions being taken in this matter are rather similar to my job when I go into criminal court. I’m not there to set a guilty man free – I’m there to ensure that the state plays by the book. If they can’t get the conviction by following the rules to the letter, they don’t deserve to get it.

    If Nader can’t get his place on the ballot by following the rules to the letter, then he too doesn’t deserve to get it.

    As for the validity of the rules, unless there’s a 14th Amendment violation it’s a state law question, no matter what Scalia said in 2000.

  2. Sure. But I am no more fond of the state laws regarding ballot access than I would be of a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage.

  3. Mark Mark

    There’s an edge one has to walk between principle and pragmatism. Take the California recall ballot as an example. Highly liberalized rules for ballot access resulted in a 151-horse race. One hundred fifty one! How many voters do you suppose would have looked past the first three or four, but for the random order of placement that forced them to hunt through the pack of unknowns to find their preferred candidate? Somewhere there has to be a line drawn, beyond which it doesn’t make sense to impose upon the system and the voters alike.

    Where that line ought to be drawn is a fine and difficult question, worthy of quite a bit of debate and careful weighing of options. But to me at least, there is no question that the line ought to be drawn. And once it’s drawn, it must be a bright line, strictly held.

  4. Mark Mark

    (And pardon me for replying to myself – but I feel called upon to make the obvious distinction between ballot access and gay marriage. If gay marriage is banned by federal constitutional amendment, a minority is affected, but they’re affected in a way that changes their lives permanently. If a dim, far minority candidate who can’t claim the at least theoretical support of some arbitrarily set, single-digit percentage of the state’s population is barred from appearing on the ballot, h* life and the life of h* supporters is not permanently changed – h* isn’t getting elected either way, and h* supporters aren’t getting their first choice candidate elected either way. The importance of the right to be protected, in terms of the extent of harm caused by its abridgment, is and always has been a valid component of constitutional analysis.)

  5. The California election is a great example. As far as I can tell, California hasn’t suffered greatly as a result of the wide-open ballot access. If California could handle it without a meltdown of the process, surely other states can manage it?

    The second point is valid in principle but regrettably circular. It is a demonstrable fact that ballot access leads to greater exposure and potentially larger support. You paint it as a binary: either he’s electable or not. This ignores the fact that allowing someone on the ballot may increase their electability in future elections.

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