From Emilie@ix.netcom.com Tue Aug 29 17:14:01 2000
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000 23:46:24 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Emilie F. Nichols" <Emilie@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: "The Democrats Have Lost Me"
"The Democrats Have Lost Me"
By Bruce Mirken, San Francisco Examiner,
Thursday 24 August 2000
"America survived Nixon, Reagan and Bush Sr., and it can survive Dubya.
But I'm not sure it can survive without one major political party
standing up for ordinary working people, the poor and those who face
"And progressives, by suppressing our gag reflex and voting for the
slightly lesser of evils, have encouraged them."
hacks are near panic over the possibility that
many progressive voters, including gays and lesbians, will support
Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Big fish and small,
from Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, to Bay Area Reporter political
columnist Wayne Friday, keep repeating the same mantra: A Nader
vote is a wasted vote that will help elect George W. Bush. And
there really are differences between Bush and Al Gore really, we
promise. They've managed to convince some usually perceptive folks.
It doesn't wash.
Lately I've been writing for another local publication about the
ongoing budget crisis in San Francisco's Department of Public
Health. Earlier this month San Francisco General Hospital's chief
of medical services, Dr. Talmadge King, told me wearily that good
medical care requires a coordinated system. But we're breaking that
coordination with the budget decisions we're making. With all of
the cuts we've had it's hard to keep it all together.
Those cuts are a direct result of two laws that President Clinton
and Vice President Gore have ranked among their proudest achievements:
Welfare reform and the Balanced Budget Act. Between them, they've
knocked thousands off the MediCal rolls and decimated federal aid
to hospitals serving the poor, but the party that once stood by
the least fortunate no longer seems to care.
Heartlessness seems to be the centerpiece of Gore's agenda lately.
This is the man who stayed eerily quiet as Texas executed a likely
innocent man, Gary Graham, and has said repeatedly he considers
the execution of innocents an acceptable price to pay for having
the death penalty so long as it's only occasional. Even conservative
Republicans blanch at that.
But won't gay rights be safer under Gore than Bush? Maybe, but the
margin is smaller than some would have us believe. True, Clinton
and Gore endorsed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but made
no effort to bring this already watered-down legislation to a vote
while the Democrats controlled Congress. They have consistently
paid lip service to gay and lesbian civil rights (though Gore
couldn't bring himself to speak the G-word at his convention), then
cut and run at the first sign of trouble, from gays in the military
to the odious Defense of Marriage Act. If Gore has a problem with
any of this, he hasn't said.
And Gore has picked as his running mate Sen. Joseph Lieberman,
D-Conn., who has stood alongside arch-homophobe William Bennett to
denounce alleged immorality in entertainment and voted with Jesse
Helms to ban HIV-positive immigrants. Meanwhile, only one presidential
candidate has said unequivocally that he supports full equality
for gay and lesbian couples: Nader.
Could a vote for Nader help elect Bush? Yes, if the race proves
close. That's not a prospect I take lightly, considering that the
next president may get to appoint several Supreme Court justices.
But Clinton's Supreme Court appointees haven't been nearly as clear
and consistent defenders of human rights as the late Harry Blackmun
who was appointed by Richard Nixon.
America survived Nixon, Reagan and Bush Sr., and it can survive
Dubya. But I'm not sure it can survive without one major political
party standing up for ordinary working people, the poor and those
who face discrimination.
The Democrats used to be that party, but have slithered so far
right in search of votes that Gore's Democrats are now almost
indistinguishable from Bush's Republicans, no matter what the hacks
say. And progressives, by suppressing our gag reflex and voting
for the slightly lesser of evils, have encouraged them. Enough is
--Bruce Mirken is a freelance writer in San Francisco.