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Ralph Nader Running Mate, Matt Gonzalez, to Shine a Spotlight on Election Reform

February 29th, 2008 by Howard Ditkoff

In my previous post, I voiced my longstanding frustration with Ralph Nader for continuing to run for president within a plurality election system while simultaneously failing to focus his campaign on raising awareness of and advocating reforms of that system that would eliminate the very possibility of the “spoiler” role of which he is so often accused.

Great news. It appears that Nader’s recently-announced 2008 running mate, Matt Gonzalez, has decided to make these issues a priority. In fact, Gonzalez says it is a major reason he decided to accept the position.

For example:

Here, Gonzalez says:

“I thought what I would bring to it … is an emphasis on election reform, and I could cite specific things that I had accomplished in that regard.”

Here, Gonzalez says:

“Everyone wants to blame him for running. But he has to run, because the other parties don’t want to fix the problems with election reform. They’ve put us in an awkward position - either we never run for office, and the problems never get fixed; or run, try to win votes on substance and get criticized for it.”

Here, the article says:

“Gonzalez, the Texas native who took Mayor Gavin Newsom the distance in a 2003 mayoral race before losing 53 to 43 percent in a runoff election, said he accepted Nader’s invitation to bring expertise to ‘the most important issue with a Ralph Nader candidacy, which is election reform,’ he told The Examiner on Tuesday.

‘The system as it’s set up right now allows the president to win the contest without getting over 50 percent of the vote,’ Gonzalez said.”

And, here, the article says:

“Matt Gonzalez is not going to control whether or not Ralph Nader runs. He’s going to run,” Gonzalez said. “The question of my joining the campaign is whether or not I can have a positive impact on how the issues are discussed, which issues are discussed. That’s why I picked the whole issue of election reform.”

Gonzalez said he would call for changes to open the process to third-party candidates. He is pushing several ideas, including a system under which voters would rank their top choices for president - which is similar to the instant runoff system he championed for local races in San Francisco.”

And it appears Nader himself understands the importance of Gonzalez making this issue a priority in his campaign.

Here, Nader describes Gonzalez thus:

“He has great character, a great personality, steadfastness in his principles and a lot of good experience,” Mr. Nader said. “He’s not that old, but criminal justice in the courts, urban policies, and election reform — those are three important areas.”

Kudos to Ralph Nader for choosing a running mate who will focus on these most important issues. And kudos to Matt Gonzalez for already beginning to open up the dialogue to focus on the real leverage points for change that Ralph Nader’s presidential campaigns have always surfaced, but, until now, failed to address constructively.

Here’s hoping 2008 brings a different tone from the Nader campaign, one that thrusts election reforms like Instant Runoff Voting, Approval Voting, Range Voting and other options - all vast improvements over our current plurality election system - into the spotlight.

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    10 Responses to “Ralph Nader Running Mate, Matt Gonzalez, to Shine a Spotlight on Election Reform”

    1. The Key Issue Suspiciously Missing from Ralph Nader’s “Table” Says:

      […] Instant Runoff Voting Excluded: An Unreasonable Omission from An Unreasonable Man Ralph Nader Running Mate, Matt Gonzalez, to Shine a Spotlight on Election Reform […]

    2. Eric Says:

      Great to see some positive stories out there on Nader - I’ve been posting around the Web like a Nader’s Raider making the point that - at the very least - his candidacy will bring pivotal issues like election reform and other progressive themes into the debate.

      At least, this will happen if the media decides to give serious credence to his run rather than the disdain we’re seeing so far…


    3. SystemsThinker Says:


      As my previous post pointed out, in my view, a good deal of the responsibility lies at Nader’s feet for not himself focusing on the election reform issues that his campaigns always had the potential to raise more widely. Imagine if he had made election reform his central issue in any of his previous campaigns or worked hard for it in between campaigns. Instead he did neither.

      I’m glad at least this time he picked a running mate who seems like he is going to do so. He probably can’t bring the issue as much attention as Nader himself can, but it’s a great start and shows that perhaps Nader is waking up to the importance of having some significant elements of his campaign devoted to the issue.

    4. Riverwolf Says:

      Thanks for the update–but like Eric posted, I hope the media give some coverage to this. Nader and Gonzalez are going to have to work extra hard to be taken seriously.

    5. SystemsThinker Says:

      Riverwolf, no doubt. Already last night Nader was on The Daily Show and no mention of any of this. At one point it seemed Jon Stewart was about to ask about it, but then Nader seemed to talk right past it. Can only hope the media will focus on it and Gonzalez can nudge it to the forefront of Nader’s agenda. Thanks.

    6. Jim Says:

      Very important that you point this out. Nader has been frustratingly slow to include this in his very important repertoire.

      Blogging and educating about it will help considerably. The tone on Daily Kos gets educative rather than just smashing Nader. This is due to the efforts in this past. The interest is definitely growing. The link includes video of Howard Dean praising Ranked Choice Voting.

    7. Jim Says:

      One other: This just came out in SF Weekly and makes the case for this campaign ending the perceived “spoiler” problem

      Gonzalez/Nader Hysteria
      They’re actually out to stop spoiler candidates.
      By Matt Smith
      Published: March 5, 2008

    8. SystemsThinker Says:


      Thanks for the comments. Great Dean video. I hope more people see that one. It would be really nice to juxtapose it with McCain’s endorsement to show that this is not a partisan issue, but an overall issue of working democracy. I’m glad to hear folks on the DailyKos are getting educated. I agree, it’s really about continuously bringing the discussion back to the real leverage point - election reform.

    9. Tom Says:

      I stumbled across this blog looking for something else and I’m fascinated. I’ve bookmarked your site and will definitely look more into it tomorrow.

      I was a volunteer for Nader in Wisconsin in 2004 and in fact was one of the major members who helped get him on the ballot there. The primary reasons I have chosen not to support Nader this time around are two fold 1. He doesn’t talk about the absolutely most important issue: election reform. 2. The Democrats pretty effectively destroyed him in 2004. Which is a tragedy and downright criminal, but not liking it isn’t going to change reality.

      I also like Obama. I’m an independent (with Green sympathies, but I also feel the party really self destructed in 2004) but there are many things about him that I like even if he has become increasingly irritating by sounding like a party tool of late.

      Anyways I look forward to reading more. It seems like we share more then a few views.

    10. SystemsThinker Says:


      Thanks for stopping by. I agree, it sounds like we share some views in common. Nice to meet you.

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