In addition to forcing Nader to concentrate on contested states, the Democratic Party's ballot attack permits criticism of the party's undemocratic methods liable to have resonance with left-of-center voters. "By pushing the Jim Crow methods of denying our ballot access," Nader told me, "they are violating the sense of fair play by the American people. They are saying we are too poor and too small to be allowed on the ballot."
Why, then, would the Democratic Party deploy its legal brigade to keep Nader off the ballot everywhere? Because animosity toward Nader by Democratic activists is so intense that it approaches the anti-Bush hysteria. His lifetime of left-wing advocacy is forgotten, as Democratic loyalists can only remember the votes they claim he took away from Gore in 2000.
When Nader and Kerry met during the summer, Nader said, the senator boasted about how many lawyers were ready to plead the Democratic cause -- not indicating that they would be directed against the old consumer advocate. Some seven weeks ago, Nader said he met with Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe. According to Nader's account, McAuliffe said he had no command authority over the lawyers. When Nader said they were "out of control," the party chairman told him: "I'll look into it."
Over the past two months, McAuliffe has not gotten back to Nader or returned his telephone calls. Nor did he return my call.
The Democrats are the party of trial lawyers, and their skill and tenacity exerted against Ralph Nader is in character. John Kerry and Terry McAuliffe might well ponder whether their anti-Nader crusade is a blessing for their real nemesis, George W. Bush.