[sixties-l] To Nader or not to Nader

From: Jeffrey Blankfort (jab@tucradio.org)
Date: 10/31/00

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    After eight-years of Clinton and Gore, with the latter playing an
    usually strong role as VP, I am repeatedly surprised by questions such
    as these, as well-intended as they be.
    It has been no secret and acknowldged by pundits and politicos across
    the spectrum that the Clinton-Gore adminsitration has pushed what is
    generously referred to as a "centrist" agenda, but, in fact, was lifted
    largely from the Republicans own agenda.
    It has been more succesful in its efforts to expand trade, export jobs.
    obliterate welfare, erode our civil liberties, and further destroy the
    environment than the Republicans would have been in the same areas for
    one very important reason. When a Democrat is is the White House, the
    numerous public interest organizations which are to one degree or
    another appendages of the Democratic Party, e.g., People for the
    American Way, NOW, Children's Defense League, the Sierra Club, etc.,
    tend to disappear from the public arena.  Add to that the AFL-CIO which
    almost unabasedly gives electing Democrats a higher priority than it
    does defending the interests of American workers.
    Had Dole been elected, it is not likely that NAFTA would have passed, we
    certainly would not have seen the draconian welfare "reform"
    legislation, nor, the equally draconian assault on our civil liberties
    that were contained, but not limited to the "Effective Anti-Terrorism
    and Death Penality Act."  
    As for the environment, the "father" of the environmental movement,
    David Brower, has pointed out on more than once occasion, that apart
    from the fine words, the Clinton-Gore administration has done more harm
    to th environment than the Reagan and Bush administrations put together.
    Under Clinton-Gore we have seen the flourishing of the HMO-for-profit
    system and the continuing decline of medical care and coverage, while
    its costs are rising. There has been no effort by either Clinton or Gore
    to turn that around.
    What is important about the Nader campaign is that it is the first
    genuine opportunity to buiild an alternative to the two corporate funded
    and totally owned parties who in my experience differ in only one
    significant way:  The Republicans would like to eliminate those from
    whom they can't extract a profit while the Democrats simply want to
    pacify them, slowing down but not essentially changing the final result.
    If we are serious about correcting the social inequalities that have
    resulted in more than 2,000,000 of our fellow citizens being imprisoned
    (25% of the world's prison population), if we are serious about having a
    foreign policy in which US imperial demands no longer dominate the world
    political scene we have to have the wisdom to make the break with the
    Democrats and vote for Nader.
    Jeff Blankfort
    Todd Jones wrote: 
    >Dear List members
    > I thought it would be useful if some of the discussion on this list in
    > this last week were on what the legacy of the sixties should tell us about
    > whether or not to vote for Nader.
    > For myself, I am leaning strongly against voting for Nader.  Here is my
    > thinking so far:
    > 1. There is no doubt that voting for Nader would help George Bush get
    > elected.  In Washington, Oregon, and California Bush has a real chance of
    > winning, largely because of Nader's support.
    > 2. A Bush Presidency would have tremendous costs, and cause a lot of
    > damage to things progressives hold dear.
    >    Polluters would write major environmental bills.
    >    Gun violence legislation would stop.
    >    Progressive health care legislation would stop
    >    There would be oil drilling in wilderness areas
    >    Right wing judges would dominate the supreme court....etc.
    > It's fair to say that many lives would be lost because of Bush's policies
    > 3. At the same time,  strong support for Nader, and a Bush win might be of
    > some help to the progressive movement.
    >    A. A strong showing for Nader shows people how many progressives there
    > are.
    >    B. A Bush White House would energize people in the progressive movement
    > and help Unite them.
    > 4. The main question then, is whether the gains that would be made by the
    > progressive movement are enough to offset the costs of a Bush presidency.
    > And I don't see the evidence that it would.  The progressive movement,
    > however large, can't be much more than a minor annoyance to corporate
    > forces unless it is willing to make alliances with the Democratic party --
    > a group far less virtuous than progressives would like them to be, but a
    > group that is willing to listen to progressives AND is in a position of
    > political power that enables them to actually do something that can help
    > people.
    > I think one of the important lessons of the sixties is that an unallied
    > "pure" independent progressive party can help the people in the movement
    > feel virtuous, but it does little good beyond that.  What did the Peace
    > and Freedom Party, the Progressive Labor Party, or the Liberal Party every
    > accomplish?
    > Actually,  let me qualify that -- such groups can certainly accomplish a
    > lot.  Protest and dissent can help put pressure on people.  To help change
    > hearts and minds and all kinds of tactics may be useful. But the question
    > I am considering here concerns voting.  Voting is one of the tools in our
    > arsenal.  How can progressives  best use the VOTING tool to help the
    > causes they hold dear.
    > One of the most direct way to help the least well-off people in society is
    > by passing legislation that protects them.    Such legislation will never
    > be pass unless progressives use their power, not just to condemn loudly,
    > but to help elect representatives that share some of their agenda.
    > So, as far as I can see, a Bush win would be horribly costly. And even if
    > voting for Nader helps the progressive movement grow, a larger progressive
    > movement can do little unless its willing to make alliances with
    > Democrats.   But if the way progressives can help people is by helping
    > Democrats get elected, then the time to start is now, by  voting for Gore.
    > I'm interested in hearing others' thoughts.
    >                                                         Todd Jones

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