Ralph Nader will never be president, but he has seen up close what it takes to get there, arguably even acting as the spoiler who got Bush elected in 2000. In an op-ed piece for Bloomberg the other day, Nader outlined several reasons why he thinks "the stars are aligned" for Barack Obama to be re-elected president in 2012 and avoid being a dreaded one-term Democrat like Jimmy Carter.
First, he cites a "field of Republican weaklings" whose harsh positions may lead to voter backlash. Donald Trump hardly needs to be mentioned here; at this point he makes Ross Perot look like George Washington. (And P.T. Barnum like a shrinking violet, for that matter.) And Paul Ryan's "reverse Robin Hood" plan may not sit well with independents either.
Next, Nader warns that Republican governors are alienating swing voters and Reagan Democrats with their anti-union stances. Democratic governors like Jerry Brown, Pat Quinn, and Andrew Cuomo are cutting back on — but not eliminating — workers' bargaining rights, a distinction which Obama could use to his advantage.
With no real challengers from the liberal camp, let alone third-party or independent candidates, Obama's only credible opposition will come from the right. And since Obama has hardly been an enemy of big business, it will be harder for Republicans to pounce on him there. After all, he never prosecuted any Wall Street fat cats, and didn't interfere with a host of "corporate subsidies, handouts and giveaways," such as the corn-ethanol subsidy. And if anyone knows from corporate malfeasance, it's Nader.
Looking like a political double agent at times also bodes well for Obama's re-election prospects. By 2014, "Obamacare will deliver some 30 million subsidized customers to health-insurance companies." The auto industry is indebted to him for the bailout, corporate-tax reform, tax shelters for the wealthy, and capital-gains taxes on hedge-fund managers' service fees have all been left alone, and the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy were extended. Add to that Obama's surprisingly hawkish ways, and a lot of potential ammo for his rivals is eliminated.
Finally, if macroeconomic indicators signal even a slight improvement, that could only work in Obama's favor. And he can highlight the many tax breaks he has instituted for businesses, both big and small, since taking office, without having to worry about poor, hard-hit Americans switching their allegiances, especially if he makes a case for the Republican-controlled House being obstructionist. And if Nader proves to be a poor political prognosticator, and Obama ends up losing, well, at least he made our cars safer.