From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Oct 3 11:44:59 2000
Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2000 22:37:12 -0500 (CDT)
From: Michael Eisenscher <email@example.com>
Subject: The Greening of America; Labor & Nader in NY
The Greening of America
By John Neumaier, in the Daily Freeman (Kingston, N.Y.)
Sunday 1 October 2000
The presidential candidate who poses the strongest challenge to the
two-party system in general and to Al Gore in particular is Ralph Nader
of the Green Party. Though there are other third-party candidates whose
progressive challenge to the status quo goes much farther than Nader's,
left-leaning voters in the main are divided between Gore and Nader.
Here is how one progressive sees the situation.
Regarding the Republican standard bearer, let's accept the words of
Ralph Reed, former Christian Coalition executive, now Bush adviser. Reed
says Bush is "more conservative than his father" and points with pride
to young Bush's "proven record of conservative accomplishment." It's a
waste of newsprint to elaborate the point. G.W's self-celebrated
"compassion" is mainly directed toward the corporate types who guided
him to his fortune. Empathy for the wealthy has its rewards.
AS FOR the Democratic presidential candidate's sudden pragmatic turn to
populist positions, it has indeed had a beneficial poll effect,
especially with core Democratic constituents and other Americans worried
about the vast social and economic inequalities that corrode our
However, Al Gore's record when he was in Congress was far less
appealing. Before he was politically reborn, he even supported the Hyde
amendment which banned federal abortion assistance for needy women (he
also earned a positive rating from the Right to Life movement). In 1980,
he voted to prohibit the
Legal Services Corporation from assisting homosexuals whose rights were
denied because of their sexual orientation. In the Senate and as vice
president, his record on foreign interventions, the missile system, and
so-called welfare reforms confirmed his centrist, even conservative
SINCE THE establishment media allow far less public exposure of Nader's
candidacy than they give the two-party candidates, much less is known
about what he brings to the campaign. As a crusader for the interests of
consumers, he has worked tirelessly over 35 years to document and expose
dangerous consumer products, faulty automobile production, and
industrial pollution of the environment.
Corporate greed and outright fraud are revealed in his books "Unsafe at
Any Speed" and "Who's Poisoning America". Nader has galvanized thousands
of students and communities to fight for better safety laws, citizen
rights, and environmental protection, especially through organizations
he founded, including the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and the
Center for Women's Policy Studies.
His strong stands against bloated Pentagon budgets, and in behalf of
needed dollars for improved public education and neglected social
welfare programs, led the Green Party to choose him as presidential
candidate. (The party's program has always favored the greening of the
environment over the greening
of corporate coffers).
NADER THINKS that the historical and current corruptions and inequities
of capitalism can be ended and that economic deprivation and the
resulting inhuman social conditions can be overcome through reforms. To
me this appears to be a highly optimistic ideology. Still, I prefer it
to the bipartisan alliance with corporate wealth and power which so
often lies behind mainstream political rhetoric.
When it comes to the vice-presidential candidates, Republican Dick
Cheney's record is so far to the right he is almost off the map - "big
time." Once he was chosen, Al Gore was free to go in the same rightward
direction. Candidate Joseph Lieberman is surely one of the most
conservative Democratic senators. The pious Lieberman's early
condemnation of sexual diversions in the Oval Office has also helped
Gore de-Monicaize the campaign.
The Green V.P. candidate is the writer and Harvard-trained economist
Winona LaDuke, who has a long record of leadership among Native
Americans and in human rights work. She lives with her three children in
White Earth, Minn., where she heads the White Earth Land Recovery
Project and co-chairs the
Indigenous Women's Network. One of her priorities is the redirection of
military billions toward public education.
THOUGH FEW expect Nader to win, what motivates many Nader supporters is
their determination to challenge the stultifying monopoly of the
two-party system. They ask what kind of a system is it that allows 27
million people in this country (including 11 million children) to go
hungry? That keeps over two
million people in prison? That spends 300 billion on the military and
grossly neglects crumbling schools and overcrowded classrooms? That
allows 44 million people to live without health insurance? And all this
at a time of unparalleled prosperity.
Many progressive Gore supporters argue that a vote for Nader is a wasted
vote. They say in effect that anyone who tries to buck the bipartisan
stranglehold on our democracy is "dreaming the impossible dream." Or
that only a naive Utopian could really believe the Declaration of
Independence when it says that everyone is entitled to the pursuit of
life, liberty, and happiness.
PROGRESSIVES ARE warned that they must not vote for Nader or we might
end up with Bush. Well, yes, few progressive-minded people would
disagree that the oily, lightweight G.W. is worse than lesser-evil Gore,
especially when it comes to judicial and Supreme Court nominations.
Still, it is hard to predict - if a President Bush wants to be
re-elected - how far his advisers would push him to clone his Supreme
Court heroes Scalia and Thomas. And it is equally hard to predict how
far a President Gore would be willing to go to accommodate an
"Elianized" political environment in his nominations for the Court.
AS IN the past, the Democrats' best electoral talking point turns out to
be the threat of a Republican victory. But how can we forget the
compromises the Dems forged with the GOP, especially on domestic issues,
in order to hang on to corporate support?
And when it comes to war-making and interfering in the lives of people
in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the rest of the world, haven't
imperial Democratic leaders proven time and again their loyalty to the
corporate sector? If Gore had a political record closer to that of a
representative like Maurice Hinchey, D-Saugerties, more progressive
Democrats would now be in his corner.
AND WHAT about the 50 percent of the people (over 90 million) who have
opted out of the electoral system? Many of them feel powerless and
consider that their votes make little difference to the corporate
dominance over their lives. Nader supporters believe the Green Party's
challenge to the system will help change the rules of the game, overcome
alienation, and eventually make it possible for all to share the fruits
of the people's labor.
It is shameful that the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates is
denying people the opportunity to hear these arguments. The coming
October debates, controlled by corporate front members of the
Republicrat oligarchy, will arbitrarily exclude the voice of Nader and
other legitimate third party
candidates who speak for large numbers of people. What are they afraid
IF (in spite of the debate blackout) Nader succeeds in winning at least
five percent of the national vote, the Green Party will become eligible
for federal financing of their campaign in 2004. A growing third party
presence may yet succeed in turning the country around.
It has happened before. Martin Luther King's dream of a color-blind,
just society, without poor people, in a peaceful world, may be a long
way from fulfillment, but the dream is still alive.
Poughkeepsie resident Dr. John J. Neumaier was president of SUNY New
Paltz from 1968-72 and of Moorhead (Minn.) State University from
1958-68. He is philosophy professor emeritus of Empire State College,
New York City. His column appears in the first Sunday Freeman of each
month, and is broadcast by
short-wave station Radio for Peace International, 6.975, 15.050, 21.460.
copyright Daily Freeman 2000