Brutal hugs notes in regard to my most recent anti-Nader post that Kerry won’t actually be able to do all the progressive things I listed him as favoring. Quite true. It’s impossible to know how many of them he’ll do, but it will certainly be less than all, and possibly quite a bit less, depending on congressional circumstances. But this is another reason the Naderite critique of Bill Clinton makes so little sense. “But what do the Democrats actually do for the left,” they whine. But Clinton didn’t fail to achieve universal health care because he was too rightwing, he failed to do it because of a combination of Republican obstructionism and tactical failures on his part. Those tactical failures are, indeed, serious failures, but there’s no reason to think that a Ralph Nader or a Dennis Kucinich would be a better wheeler and dealer than a Clinton or a Kerry and, indeed, a great deal of reason to think they would do worse. One can find many more examples from the minimum wage to welfare policy to the environment where, again, Clinton wanted to do more progressive things than he could get through the congress, especially after 1995, but before the ’94 debacle as well.
Which is just a way of pointing out the obvious: The prime obstacle to progressive politics in America is the Republican Party. The Democrats are not as progressive as I might like on some issues (and others will feel this way about different issues, or all the issues, or to a different degree) but even if they were more progressive it wouldn’t make much of a difference as long as the GOP controlled one or more of the branches of government. President Nader would not actually create single payer health care or a living wage any more than President Kerry would.