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The following article appeared in Left Business Observer #107, April 2004. It retains its copyright and may not be reprinted or redistributed in any form - print, electronic, facsimile, anything - without the permission of LBO.

Ralph 'n' stuff

Twice before, in 1996 and again in 2000, this mighty page endorsed Ralph Nader for president. Not this time. Nader risks inheriting the mantle of Harold Stassen, though he's probably too old to match Stassen's record of nine failed presidential campaigns.

The previous endorsements came with heavy reservations that are worth recalling here. Nader has a long history of operating alone, scornful of coalitions, a characteristic visible in his on-again, off-again relations with the Green Party. He's got a deep conservative streak. Skeptical of public agencies, he prefers litigation to regulation, which amounts to an individualist adversarial approach rather than collective political action. One of his first published articles was a 1962 piece in a libertarian journal, The Freeman, supporting the residents of his hometown in their resistance against federally funded public housing. In the 1970s, his Raiders often included unions among the monopolists that benefited from transport regulation, providing intellectual fuel for the deregulation movement. In the 1980s, he resisted unionization attempts in his own shop, redbaiting one of the organizers in the process. In the 2000 campaign, he wooed David Br