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From ay903@extra.lafn.org Wed Nov 1 10:13:41 2000
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 22:58:49 -0600 (CST)
From: Larry Fletcher <ay903@extra.lafn.org>
Subject: African American Leader Wilson Riles, Jr. on Nader/Gore (fwd)
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Article: 108194
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African American Leader Wilson Riles, Jr. on Nader/Gore

By Wilson Riles Jr.
1 November 2000

Wilson Riles Jr. is one of the most respected African American leaders in Oakland, California where he served for eight years on the City Council. He has been a tireless champion of the most oppressed elements in our community. He now serves on the staff of the American Friends Service Committee. He sent me the following letter:

To my friends in the Jewish community:

You might have received Ms. Gloria Steinem's piece for Gore. She asked that it be spread around. I read it and here is my response to the 10 reasons that she states that folks should vote for Gore rather than Nader. She says that any one of her reasons is sufficient. Humbly, I do not think so.

With due respect of Gloria Steinem who may now rightly feel that she has clout within the Democratic Party and the two party political system.

> 10. He's not running for President. He's running
> for federal matching funds for the Green Party!

Only a billionaire could run as a third party candidate and believe that he/she could become President. That is the point! Breaking through the two party system (both controlled by the same corporate $) will realistically require incremental steps. One of which is achieving federal matching funds. The opportunity to make that break through will have more impact on the history of the United States than the election of any single President. That's worth voting for! Do we only vote for candidates who can win (the least of the evil twins: Dems or Repubs) or do we vote for candidates who speak best to our concerns and who would best represent our point of view.

> 9. He was able to take all those perfect
> progressive positions of the past because he
> never had to build an electoral coalition, earn a
> majority vote, or otherwise submit to democracy.

Ms. Steinem conveniently passes over how much the "build(ing of) an electoral coalition" and the "earn(ing of) a majority vote" or the "otherwise submit(ing) to democracy" is about the influence of corporate dollars in the current way that the US deals with issues or elects candidates. That AGAIN is the point! She is fooling her self if she thinks that issues are decided or candidates are supported on the basis of wise compromises, even-handed negotiations, or an untainted vote of all of the people. It is not so! In this present system money "trumps" true democracy. Gloria knows better! Ralph Nader and a few others are shining examples of folks who have made a difference to benefit all Americans without selling out.

> 8. By condemning Gore for ever having taken a
> different position--for example, for voting
> against access to legal abortion when he was a
> Congressman from Tennessee--actually dissuades
> others from changing their minds and joining us.

I agree with her here. As far as the issue of abortion is concerned, Gore should be praised for coming to his senses. So, Nader is not a saint. So, should Nader get no points for being right on the issue long before Gore.

> 7. Nader is rightly obsessed with economic and
> corporate control, yet he belittles the movements
> against a deeper form of control--control of
> reproduction, and the most intimate parts of our
> lives. For example, he calls the women's
> movement and the gay and lesbian movements
> "gonadal politics," and ridicules the use of the
> word "patriarchy," as if it were somehow more
> less important than the World Trade Organization.
> As Congressman Barney Frank wrote Nader in an
> open letter, "your assertion that there are not
> important issue differences between Bush and Gore
> is either flatly inaccurate or reflects your view
> that...the issues are not important...since you
> have generally ignored these issues in your
> career...)"

This is a convenient mischaracterization of Nader's position and the taking of quotes out of context. Any college level debater or rhetorician would recognize this tactic. Barney Frank is well known for being one of the best debaters in the country using these tactics. I am glad he is on the liberal side of most questions. A deeper analysis of the history and dynamics of gender politics and racial oppression reveals the close connections between the amassing of corporate power and social and economic oppression of women and other minorities. I do not think that Ralph Nader is blind or stupid.

> 6. The issues of corporate control can only be
> addressed by voting for candidates who will pass
> campaign-funding restrictions, and conducting
> grassroots boycotts and consumer campaigns
> against sweatshops not by voting for one man who
> will never become President.

Gloria, Gloria, where have you been!? If we are only presented with candidates from the Corporate Donkey Party or the Corporate Elephant Party, where are those candidates going to come from who will pass campaign-funding restrictions? The electorate has wanted campaign-funding restrictions for a long, long time. All that results is games being played. McCain has been seen as a joke by his fellow Senators; his defeat in the Republican primary will silence his efforts. Gore is the one who was at the Buddhist Temple in LA Remember?!

> 5. Toby Moffett, a longtime Nader Raider who also
> served in Congress, wrote that Nader's
> "Tweedledum and Tweedledee assertion that there
> is no important difference between the major
> presidential candidates would be laughable if it
> weren't so unsafe." We've been bamboozled by the
> media's practice of being evenhandedly negative.
> There is a far greater gulf between Bush and Gore
> than between Nixon and Kennedy and what did that
> mean to history?

I totally disagree. Clinton, Gore, Bush, et. al. have made it the "smart" political thing to do to move to the center. They just each miss and match with different issues to construct what they consider to be "the center." On most issues we are only talking about degrees of difference. It is the type of tax cut. Both are for smaller government. Gore wants to put more money into the military than Bush does. Gore is in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry; Bush is in the pocket of the oil industry. Gore is the one who wanted to violate the parental rights of Ellian Gonzales. They both want to bend-over for the computer industry. I do not see it.

> 4. Nader asked Winona LaDuke, an important Native
> American leader, to support and run with him,
> despite his possible contribution to the victory
> of George W. Bush, a man who has stated that
> "state law is supreme when it comes to Indians,"
> a breathtakingly dangerous position that ignores
> hundreds of treaties with tribal governments,
> long-standing federal policy and federal law
> affirming tribal sovereignty.

Native Americans have gotten a raw deal for 100's of years from both Republicans and Democrats. Democrats have abrogated treaties and resisted Native American rights if it served the corporate interest. There is a present scandal under the Clinton administration of millions of dollars of Native American money being mismanaged. And where is Gore on advocating the release of Leonard Pelitier. We will never achieve liberty by sticking with the "good master" because we are afraid that we might end up in the hands of the "bad master." We have to oppose all masters.

> 3. If I were to run for President in the same
> symbolic way, I hope my friends and colleagues
> would have the good sense to vote against me,
> too, saving me from waking up to discover that I
> had helped send George W. Bush to the most
> powerful position in the world.

If you ran for President, Gloria, I hope that you could inspire as many young voters and new voters into the struggle as Ralph Nader has. And I hope that you and your older supporters might continue to carry the struggle forward despite the odds and the distance that we have to go. Do not disappoint that enthusiasm, idealism, and energy. The Seattle/anti-WTO folks, the Jubilee 2000 folks, and the Ralph Nader folks are a lot of the same folks. These are not Gore folks and they will never be Gore folks. They are ready to take on George Bush or anyone else. Join them rather than abandoning them.

> 2. There are one, two, three, or even four
> lifetime Supreme Court Justices who are likely to
> be appointed by the next President. Bush has
> made clear by his record as governor and appeals
> to the ultra-rightwing that his appointments
> would overturn Roe v. Wade and reproductive
> freedom, dismantle remedies for racial
> discrimination, oppose equal rights for gays and
> lesbians, oppose mandatory gun-registration,
> oppose federal protections of endangered species,
> public lands, and water--and much more. Gore is
> the opposite on every one of these issues. Gore
> has made clear that his appointments would uphold
> our hard-won progress in those areas, and he has
> outlined advances in each one.

This country should no longer be held hostage to Supreme Court appointments. No President has been able to guarantee what an appointment will do in the long run. Bush can not and Gore can not. That does not even take in to account the confirmation process in the Senate. You know this, Gloria. The Republican party is not blind or stupid either. What ever Bush is doing or saying to shore up his religious right and crank up the troops does not mean a "hill of beans" about what is going to happen. The Republican party leadership knows that they would be destroyed as a party if they were responsible for overturning Roe v. Wade.

> 1. The art of behaving ethically is behaving as
> if everything we do matters. If we want Gore and
> not Bush in the White House, we have to vote for
> Gore and not Bush? out of respect for the vote and
> self-respect.

I do not want Gore or Bush in the White House. Out of self-respect I am not going to vote for what I do not want. I am prepared to struggle with the differences I have with Gore if he gets elected or with Bush if he gets elected. I refuse to play that "good cop/bad cop" game. Or that good corporate master versus bad corporate master game.

> Think self-respect. Think about the impact of our
> vote on the weakest among us. Then we can't go
> wrong.

I have found that the weakest among us are more willing to struggle than the less weak. Lets work for the profound change that is going to mean something to the weakest among us. Let's not just work to keep them in a weak position. Clinton/Gore are responsible for "welfare deform" and NAFTA/GAT. How's that help the weakest among us and those who do not have a voice?

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