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Don't blame Nader 

& & by Morton Alexander & & & &





In the 11/30/00 Inlander article on the presidential (s)election, Robert Herold joins the scapegoaters eager to blame Ralph Nader for the coming reign of Bush II. But the Green Party (whom he calls 'Naderites') must share credit with other factors as well:


* George W. Bush, who took away an estimated 10 times the Democratic voters from Gore than Nader did (12 times more in Florida).


* Our archaic and undemocratic winner-take-all system, from the Electoral College to the thoroughly partisan and prejudiced judicial system.


* The banana Republican regime of Jeb Bush in Florida presided over the disenfranchisement of thousands. More votes were "spoiled" than the 97,000 cast for Nader, the so-called "spoiler."


* Most culpable were Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, the centrists so lauded by Herold. Their likeness to the other two duds made this a fertile year for the growth of a multi-party system.


Nader often quotes Justice Louis Brandeis saying, "We can have a democracy or we can have concentra-tion of great wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both." This election certainly speaks to that, especially if you look at how the two main tickets gave us three men of Big Oil and one errand boy for the arms and insurance industries of Connecticut.


The Gore family has long invested in Occidental Petroleum, which has profited from the largest privatization of a public asset in U.S. history: The Clinton-Gore giveaway of the Elk Hills oil reserve near Bakersfield. As a delegate to the 1992 Democratic Convention, I attended a lavish reception hosted by ARCO. Recently merged with BP Amoco, ARCO has ever since then been a major donor to the Democratic National Committee and a beneficiary of White House policy, especially the shameful giveaway of the 23 million acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. (Oh, for the days of Teapot Dome when this was considered a scandal!)


Gore and Leiberman are creatures of the Demo-cratic Leadership Council, which has cleansed the party of any old progressive taint. Their pro-business and anti-welfare agenda was to have won back the South, which was solidly lost to Bush anyway, except of course for Florida, if they had counted the votes.


The corporate homogenization of both parties produces interchangeable parts, such as the quiet heroes Herold finds in Clinton's cabinet. Typical is Madeleine Albright, the ogre of the following exchange of the 1998 CBS 60 Minutes program on the effects of the U.S./U.N. sanctions of Iraq:


Lesley Stahl was asking if a million dead Iraqi children -- that's more children than had died in Hiroshima -- was too high a price to pay for the continued sanctions?


Albright responded that it is a very hard choice, but the price is worth it. No doubt, another Clintonite can give an equally heartless defense of the toll of welfare repeal. These are not humane policies. Progressives needn't accept them anymore.


For years, Democrats have publicly rejected progressive positions saying campaigns aren't the place to educate the public. You have issues, try to get them in the platform. But platforms mean nothing to candi-dates or officeholders because ours is not a parliamen-tary system. The platform process is the playpen in which activists are contained. Countless politicians have confided to me that a state income tax is the basis of equitable tax reform, "But, we can't say that and get elected," they exclaim. Once elected, even when they have both the legislative and executive branches, they remain paralyzed for fear of losing control.


Big business owns two parties, while most of the prominent third parties are right wing. The left needs to do something for itself -- we can't keep begging the Democrats to carry our issues. They don't want them. They are stuck in the muddle. The very centrist qualities which Herold values are the immoralities now driving voters away.


The Green Party has legitimized radical thought in the public policy debate. Our 10 Key Values are Ecological Wisdom, Social Justice, Grassroots Democracy, Nonviolence, Decen-tralization, Community-Based Economics, Gender Equity & amp; Cooperation, Respect for Diversity, Personal & amp; Global Responsibility and Future Focus/Sustainability.


Ralph Nader fired up this year's election. With the appeal of a truth teller, he educated and challenged us. He turned out tens of thousands of inspired new and old voters at huge rallies across the nation, always sharing the stage with local activists. Such populism is the cure for our moribund democracy. Just 3 percent of the electorate voted for him, voicing issues shunned by both corporate parties: The NAFTA, WTO globaloney; corporate welfare and control of the media; China trade; ancient forests; salmon runs; the lack of affordable healthcare; the prison-industrial complex; the concentration of wealth and power in fewer hands; and the growing class divide. More specific consequences were inflicted in Florida. Gore abandoned his pledge to stop pollution of the Florida Everglades. A fanatic anti-drug warrior and death penalty advocate, he pandered to the lawlessness displayed by the right-wing Cuban community. Lieberman laid a wreath at the grave of the gusano gangster, Jorge Mas Canosa. Even after the vote, they kept their distance from the NAACP's suit over intimidation of black voters.


If the margin of defeat is the progressive vote, then so be it and congratulations. One party is not obligated to elect another. Green votes are an investment in a future politics where truth matters. Nader quotes Cicero saying freedom is participation in power.


Some of my best friends are Democrats. I sympathize and appreciate their struggle in a top-down structure of politics and government. Somebody has to hold the left pole of the protest banner. Welcome back to the picket line.





& & & lt;i & Morton Alexander is a Spokane Green Party member. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &

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