Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Ring RingNader is running for President again. The gears in my head are whirring so fast they’re actually making noise. The guy in the next cubicle just prairie-dogged to check out what the sound was. When I was a little kid, there was a very irritating young kid named Gary who lived on our street. My buddy Mike and I were hanging out playing with our Hot Wheels in the garage. We were carefully setting up a scale version of “Le Mans” except it had a huge slope that had to generate enough inertia to get the cars all the way around to the checkered flag. Heady stuff. We were engineers hard at work. Gary rides up the driveway on his shiny new tricycle. Ring Ring! He rings the bell that is attached to his little handlebars. Just ignore him, whispered Mike. Good plan. We continued with Le Mans. Ring Ring! Gary’s mom lived right next door, and she was friends with my mom, so punching Gary wasn’t an option. He was only 4 after all. Ring Ring! “Hey Gary,” I said. “You’re only supposed to ring that when someone is in your way. It’s like a car horn.” Ring Ring! The bell gave Gary something he didn’t have before: power. The power to irritate. The power to interrupt the creation of Le Mans. The power to get attention. Power isn’t any fun unless you use it, so he did. Ring Ring! Gary is, of course, a metaphor for Ralph Nader. Ralph knows that by throwing his hat into the ring, he is ringing his little bell and irritating the Democrats. If he doesn’t ring the bell, he doesn’t exercise his power—and that wouldn’t be any fun! I’m sure that in Nader’s mind, he thinks that by being a potential spoiler he is increasing the chances of our political parties to stop offering bland non-leaders for public office (as I state in my “Over 290 Million Served” post). Maybe in some small way he is. But really … he’s just Gary ringing his bell.