An amusing Fortune magazine exchange with Ralph Nader about the 2000 election

He’s still full of nonsense, of course, but famed consumer advocate and lefty politico Ralph Nader is unwilling to let a Fortune magazine interviewer goad him into accepting responsibility for Democrat Al Gore’s defeat in the 2000 presidential election.

Have you ever revisited the subject of Florida 2000 with Al Gore?

Yes. He doesn’t buy I cost him the election. He just dismisses it, like, “What are you talking about? There are too many factors involved.” He was big that way. He wasn’t petty.

One could argue the election was a tie and the outcome was an accident.

I’m the Democratic Party’s guilt complex.

Guilt complex?

Not quite the right word, but you know when someone is wayward for opportunistic reasons and someone else says, “This is what you’re supposed to be all about,” there’s a resentment factor.

Any regrets about running in 2000?

No, for many reasons, starting with that the day after there was an AP poll without me in it, and Bush still won.

If you accepted the premise that your votes in Florida largely came from would-be Gore voters, wouldn’t you feel bad?

Except what if the Supreme Court had let the recount continue? Retroactive clairvoyance is easy. Once you get to so many sine qua nons, latching on to one that happens to be anthropomorphic becomes discriminatory. Why not ask why Gore lost his home state of Tennessee? I call it political bigotry: If you believe we all have an equal right to run, we’re trying to get votes from each other, which means we’re all spoilers or no one is a spoiler.

I accept that “causation” can be a tricky business. What I’m asking, though, is, to the extent you acknowledge a Bush presidency and a Gore presidency would have been different, do you regret any role in siphoning votes that might’ve been decisive for Gore?

Except that I didn’t have that role. My favorite cartoon back then was a guy holding a sign saying A VOTE FOR NADER IS A VOTE FOR BUSH, and it shows Bush saying, “Oh, great, I’m going to vote for Nader.”

Let me ask it differently: In 1999, if you asked people about Ralph Nader, they’d talk about the father of the modern consumer movement, the “public citizen.” They now sometimes lead with the 2000 election. Isn’t that upsetting?

It’s heavily from the liberal intelligentsia.

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