The delusion held in common by both Green and Democratic Parties in the US at this time is that "electing a better President" will solve America's political problems. The Democrats, the far more popular party, have in fact worked this strategy to success in last two previous elections, in 2000 and 2004, and in both cases election victory was stolen from them by Republican vote-counting chicanery.
It must be reasoned, therefore, that there is an elite consensus around Bush, a consensus that is so important to the elites that they would suppress investigation into rigged elections for the purpose of keeping Bush in power. Much of the Democrat rank and file, for their part, seem incapable of recognizing the efforts of a united political class behind this, and, with boundless idealism, rise up in ferocious defense of whatever Democrat candidate dares challenge the ostensive Republican monolith. Their Democrat candidate, moreover, must have the appropriate right-wing credentials -- as Alexander Cockburn pointed out in '04 about Kerry -- in order to make an appropriate bid for the "swing vote."
To back up Democrat Presidential campaigns, enormous resources of conformity must be brought to bear in order to restrain the otherwise boisterous Democrat faithful. If Democrats are not unified behind their right-wing candidate, the rank-and-file is taught to fear, Bush will win the election. (Never mind Bush's other, extra-legal, resources.) This, indeed, is what frightens Democrats most about Ralph Nader and the Green Party (whom many of them imagine to be the same thing) -- their failure to conform when it supposedly counts the most. Thus the anti-war movement was silenced in '04 because John Kerry was a pro-war candidate. Thus anti-Nader dirty tricks, connected to Kerry and McAuliffe.
Now, under neoliberal political economy, America has become the world's welfare bum. It could not be otherwise, when (in the words of Henry C K Liu), "world trade is now a game in which the US produces dollars and the rest of the world produces things that dollars can buy." The actual benefit from the global welfare granted the US through dollar hegemony, however, has fallen upon the plutocratic beneficiaries of government policy. The working class may benefit from this arrangement by buying cheap goods at Wal-Mart, or from home ownership in the real estate bubble. But neither of these benefits can be expected to last long. What can be expected to last awhile, however, is the indefinite benefit of the corporate powers from US government largesse.
The American people, however, are the victims of a slow and steady revolution of lowered expectations. This revolution will become complete once it becomes apparent to all that permanent debt peonage has become the necessary byproduct of home ownership, or that the "best we can do" politically is to elect Democrats who do nothing about the trashing of Planet Earth.
At any rate, it should be obvious at this point that the "electing a better President" machinery is completely useless for anything but oppression. Intervention a la Ralph Nader becomes an invitation to scapegoating at this point, as fear has taken over the rational faculties of those participants who (under better circumstances) would know better than (for instance) to accuse Nader of being a Republican pawn.
There are overall structural forces at work in the ongoing drama of today's revolution of lowered expectations. As Kees van der Pijl has pointed in a recent article, the "political class" entrusted with the machineries of state must today pursue objectives which are irrelevant to that emancipation which the working class should desire:
As a cadre entrusted with the day-to-day management of politics and administration, the ‘political class’ of each state is an internally cohesive force, and the particular sources of the entitlement to occupy state management posts such as the class struggle of the labour movement, have increasingly been left behind by that part of the cadre which entered politics as representatives of the working class aspirations for socialism.
The political class's objectives, today, are conditioned by capital's boundless hunger for profits, which in turn is caused by capital's surplus. Our next President, then, will not of his/ her "free will" turn his/ her back upon the corporate donors who bankrolled his/ her campaign, for the sake of doing anything good for the people as a whole. Even if Ralph Nader were elected President this would not happen. Government, being the ultimate prop for the "business climate," simply has too many investors these days, and too little ability to do anything else (having created this situation through thirty years of neoliberalism already).
What we can do, however, is create the conditions for the next socialism: ecosocialism. We must lay the cultural seed-beds for a socialism based upon local, community-based production of essentials, respect for human life, and resistance to a plutocracy that heedlessly slides downward into a new feudalism based on the delusions of Presidential power.