Insane at any speed, the designed-in dangers of the American leftist

WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 28:  Independent preside...

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The brigands of the left take pride in refusing to compromise, but pride spirals inevitably into the sort of cynicism epitomized by this fresh quote from that posterboy of leftist pride, the uncompromising Ralph Nader:

“The attraction is a three-way race,” Nader told McClatchy Newspapers correspondent Maria Racio, who called him Friday to ask about his interest in Christopher Dodd’s soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat.

“It’s less likely to have a three-way race with such a strong candidate.”

The strong candidate is Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is expected to be a stronger candidate in 2010 than Dodd would have been had he sought reelection.

With Blumenthal in, it looks like Nader may be out. But why does Ralph Nader only like races that are close enough that he can hurt Democrats?

The first obligation of an environmentalist is to acknowledge his impact on the environment. So it’s always irked me that Ralph Nader has refused to acknowledge his enabling role in the orgy of war and torture and oil and carbon and reckless deficit spending that laid waste to the first decade of this century.

Even if the world responds decisively to climate change in the coming decade, it might turn out that the crucial turn was the one we missed in the prior decade. That lost opportunity, the George W. Bush years, might have been–like the tens of thousands of lives lost–too vital to squander.

Ralph Nader detests being called a spoiler, and he has a valid counter-argument to the spoiler charge. Al Gore lost in a myriad of ways, he says, and he’s right. But I would never accuse Nader of making Gore lose. My accusation is more damning:

Ralph Nader could have prevented Bush from winning, and he chose not to.

He might have leveraged Green Party support behind Gore in the final days of that contest. He might have said, “Look, I’m not crazy about Gore, but the world is too fragile to risk electing Bush, so vote for Gore.” He might have bargained for Green Party representation in the cabinet. He only had to move 600 voters to change the outcome, and he could have done that.

He chose not to.

And for that, it seems to me, he’s guilty of pride. And he’s guilty of the negligent brand of homicide–just as guilty as someone who walks past a burning house, the occupants sleeping snugly upstairs, and decides to keep on walking.

Now, with a Democrat in the White House who seems determined to act on some of the left’s priorities–like health care reform and climate change–and a fragile Democratic supermajority in the Senate, along comes Nader, looking not just to throw his hat into the ring, but to hurl it hard enough to knock out a Democrat.

But Nader is only  the poster boy for the pride that plagues the left. The uncompromising pride of leftists inevitably leads them out of progress and into a blind alliance–blind because they refuse to see it–with conservatives.

We can see it happening now as health care reform, an impossible dream just two years ago, is deplored from left and right. We can see it as carbon cap and trade, perhaps our only practical hope to avert catastrophic warming, is deplored from the left as too capitalistic and from the right as too socialistic.

We can see it now as Barack Obama, who may be the closest we will ever come to a progressive president, is undermined from left and right.

Surely, even now, the uncompromising left is looking for the next Nader to help elect the next Bush in 2012.

What’s a better plan? Remember “divide and conquer.” When the left divides, the right wins. So stay unified. Accept progress as progress–whether it’s a compromised health-care bill or a compromised climate bill–and then press for better. That’s what progressive means.

But that’s not how the left plays its losing hand in America. It seems to prefer stalemate to any version of progress that fails the test of ideological purity, even when stalemate benefits the right.

There may be no more potent–or poisonous–alliance in politics than the unconfessed complicity between American progressives and American conservatives, the recklessness of the extremes, the twisted love of Nader and Bush, which has birthed such monsters as Iraq, Guantanamo, and the highest profits in the history of American business–for Exxon.

Progressives ought to be for progress, and at the very least, they ought not to undermine it. So if Ralph Nader should come along inquiring about an attractive three-way, tell him that’s not how you roll.

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