For over 30 years I refused to vote because I believed to do so would be to recognize the legitimacy of a system that among other traits stressed conformity, suppressed dissent, and resorted to violence when threatened by democracy whether at home or abroad. Yet for whatever reason or excuse on Nov. 7 I pulled a lever on a machine for a man that wasn't owned by capital and immediately understood the confusion Alice experienced upon entering Wonderland.
One candidate based his campaign on trusting the people until the Florida debacle tested the courage of his convictions and revealed the true content of his character. One candidate won the popular vote but proved he had nothing worth fighting for when he conceded defeat, thereby exposing the non-existence of any real substantive differences between the two pro business factions of the same political party with two different names.
Press coverage of any true opposition candidate was sparse because the herd has been conditioned for years to vote for the lesser of two evils or the lesser of two lessers, never grasping the logical consequences of someday electing evil, or lesser, or both. One such opposition candidate received attention for receiving over three thousand votes by mistake and another for being threatened with incarceration if he attempted to exercise his freedom of speech. Their positions on the issues rarely if ever were printed for public consumption.
Five of the Supreme Court jesters conferred legitimacy on an illegitimate president by ignoring their previous preference for states rights, thereby forever exposing the myth that they were above partisan politics. One member of the now infamous "Gang of 5" was Justice Scalia, the Judas of Constitutional Democracy, who was on record as personally and politically opposing any Democratic presidential candidate because his anticipated ascension to chief justice would evaporate without a Republican president.
The media inflamed the passions of partisans to choose sides while obscuring the fact that over 60 corporations hedged their bets by donating over $100,000 to each candidate to insure that corporate America wasn't going to lose. The talking heads of the corporate-controlled media now preach the mantra ad nauseam "the system works" and "let's unite behind the president", convinced this nation of sheep would follow as they have in the past. Whether it is sports, music, or the movies, middle class moronia is so mesmerized by and addicted to entertainment, the modern day opiate of the masses, that they have become too intellectually lazy to even contemplate a world in which they have the intestinal fortitude to stand up for freedom when faced with despotism.
Although I betrayed my beliefs, I did confirm my suspicions. We no longer have the moral authority to dictate to other countries how to hold fair, open, and free elections because Democracy was never more mocked or ridiculed than the most recent fraudulent presidential election which was held in the world's leading (or so we tell ourselves) democracy. Knowing my vote didn't count I found consolation in expressing my outrage by attending the coronation of capitalism's current class clown and waving an American flag tacked upside down on a wooden stick to signal that this country is in a state of distress.
In the final analysis our president was selected in a 5-4 decision, not elected by the people, and the unavoidable conclusion is that we are not a democracy where the people or their elected representatives control the government. Nor are we a representative republic, as frenzied Limbaugh dittoheads preach until they believe their own nonsense, because our representatives are bought and paid for by corporate America and not accountable to working class America.
We are in fact a plutocracy in which the majority of American citizens are controlled and ruled by the rich through public policy that is based on maximizing profit for the few at the expense of the many who gave their silent consent by not even bothering to vote -- for whatever reason or excuse.
After initial annoyance with the venom in Joseph Nagarya's letter ("Shame On Nader Voters," 2/15/01 PP), I felt sadness about yet another example of the infighting that plagues progressive movements (e.g., the split in the Green Party). Then I realized that this is not infighting. Mr. Nagarya's ire with those of us who voted for Ralph Nader, coupled with his self-description as a "long-time progressive activist," exposes the contradiction for Democrats: AL GORE IS NOT A PROGRESSIVE. What is it going to take for these people to get it? Have they missed Gore's record on NAFTA? The WTO? Death penalty? War on drugs? Ohio incinerator? Millions in corporate bribes? Military spending? Universal health care? It's all out there, ad nauseam.
Why does Mr. Nagarya persist in mistaking Al Gore for a progressive? Perhaps because he mistakes himself for one.
St. Louis, Mo.
Reading the editorial ["Bush the Unificator"] in your 2/15/01 edition reminded me of all of the negative energy that has been sent my way for the unforgivable sin of supporting the only real progressive in the 2000 race for the presidency.
At absolutely no point was Nader ever a threat to Gore as the Democratic candidate. It was only when Gore's subservience to his corporate owners was made manifest just after Labor Day that every independent and progressive mind turned away from Gore and embraced Ralph Nader as our only hope for a decent, citizen centered nation and government.
As I remind each person who claims that Nader cost Gore the election, Gore's boss would have eaten Baby Bush alive and then went back to his office for something more substantial. Bush did not win the election, Gore lost it, at the polls and in court. It is as simple as that.
As you point out, the saddest part of the entire fiasco for America was that not one Democrat had the courage to stand up in support of the complaints lodged by the Black Caucus over the racist and exclusionary tactics from the Republicans and Jeb Bush in particular. Even sadder is the spectacle of Democrats, for any reason, voting to allow John Ashcroft to destroy what little is decent about America from his newly won post of Attorney General.
You have my deep respect for your brave support of a third party candidate. Perhaps, as the naysayers are so fond of repeating, such candidates never get elected. Be that as it may, the message that Ralph Nader carried rang true with millions of voters and the debate can no longer be limited by Corporate America and their property in Congress.
The past election has taught us how deeply our democracy depends on us. We know our votes CAN count -- if they are counted. (And rarely, if ever, has the Electoral College given so much power to so few voters.)
But a one-vote margin in the Supreme Court overthrew the one-person/one-vote principle, and ignored the wise leader who transcended his era's "Big Two" parties, Thomas Jefferson: "Delay is preferable to error."
That votes must count -- and be counted -- is the taproot of grassroots democracy. That all citizens should have equal rights to vote, and to have our votes count, is the essence of a government grounded in social justice.
These civic virtues are two of the Green Party's "Ten Key Values". But citizens of all parties, or none, can move forward together to restore the principles of our nation. We must reform our elections -- and dry up the swamp of special-interest campaign cash which now pollutes them. (Might get rid of some of those money-hungry alligators, too.)
Clean money. Clean elections. Government of the people BY the people -- and FOR the people, too. We can have it all ... with votes that count, and voters to count on. It depends on us.
JOHN ANTHONY LA PIETRA
Marshall, MI 49068
The Cabinet members assembled by President-elect Bush represent a powerful cross-section of corporate America. High on the agenda is a stupid and costly Star Wars Missile Defense boondoggle which will cause the Bugle Boys at the Pentagon brass and their suppliers to rejoice.
Goodbye to affordable health care and prescription drugs, infrastructure repairs and environmental protection. Hello for hard times for the rest of us.
No thanks to "Sweetheart" Sweeney, CEO of the AF of L and the rest of labor "fat cats" who refused to support Ralph Nader's campaign to challenge both of the old parties to do right for all the American people.
The master puppeteers have their man in the White House!
Jim Hightower's article on the Bush Inc. Cabinet shows how superficial we are! We look at skin color, sex, ethnic group and see diversity. The media feeds us sound bites and pabulum and asks for civility and bipartisanship. Shame on us if we don't look beneath the surface. Shame on us if we fall into the Republican "civility trap". Just watch how indignant they will be when we fight the corporate agenda! Let's not forget this non-election and roll over like good little dogs.
Thank you for The Progressive Populist and its writers who illuminate and educate.
Is there any question but that we have had a corporate plutocracy imposed upon us? Is there any question but that our Congress is now a corporate incumbency? Is there any question but that our efforts at reform IN ANY FIELD are primarily subject to corporate approval?
This being so, why temporize with tyranny?
Close it down. If need be, abolish it.
I feel your activity should be toward engendering national strikes, national marches and such forms of mass dissent and mass protest as will compel our oppressors to recognize the primacy of the people
PAUL M. FITZSIMMONS
Those who are angry at Ralph Nader and his supporters need only examine Bill Clinton's last day in office to understand. Clinton not only pardoned the fugitive financier, Marc Rich, but also a couple dozen other well-connected individuals. These pardons bypassed the usual review process and were nailed down in many cases by ex-Democrat office holders and ex-political appointees who earned high fees. Then there was Clinton's admission that he lied about the Monica Lewinsky affair and lost his law license for five years.
My first inkling of what kind of person we had in the White House came during the NAFTA battle in 1993 when President Clinton promised all manner of favors to Congressmen to vote his way. Then came the Lincoln Bedroom revelations and all the other brazen fundraising schemes. I voted for Ross Perot in 1996. Later we found out Clinton loved to hob nob with the bawdy and cynical political consultant, Dick Morris. The Lewinsky affair was no surprise to me.
Throughout these disgraceful episodes Democrat regulars and traditionally allied groups sang Clinton's praises for fear of losing power. Well they lost anyway. Exit polls revealed that it was Al Gore's association with Clinton that defeated him, not Ralph Nader. We all make mistakes. But until the Democratic Party returns to some semblance of ethical principle and protects the little people instead of Wall Street, then I will vote Green.
CRAIG S. VOLLAND
Kansas City, Kan.
Thanks for your firm, thrilling, and defiant defense of those who voted for Ralph Nader. There is no doubt in my mind that the Progressive Populism which your newspaper espouses and which Nader's campaign so eloquently preached is on the march. It will only get stronger now in opposition to the reactionary, racist, and anti-labor forces entrenched in the seats of power.
The Gore supporters confront us, saying it is our fault that the new barbarians rule, and that we should regret our sins. But if Gore had been elected, would they be cheering and applauding his politics -- such as our miserable privatized health care system, our weakened meat inspection, and the billions to be spent on the Star Wars boondoggle?
And will Gore be at our future anti-Bush demonstrations? Probably not. The Democrats have signaled their approach to an anti-Bush opposition, by softening their protest against his ridiculous cabinet appointments. But you can certainly count on Ralph Nader to join the coming and inevitable resistance.
Thanks also for the columnists in your current edition who exposed the incredible ignorance and illiteracy of our new president.
Well, there they go again. Pro Hispanic immigration activists Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez again belittling the opinions of Americans who disagree with their goal of having "open borders" so that Hispanics can reclaim their "indigenous" territory, the United States. And my oh my aren't they clever in putting down the viewpoints of those Americans as failing to understand that we're all part of one ecosystem (sort of world citizens in the view of Gonzales and Rodriguez), so that, of course, Hispanic illegal aliens have an implied right to resources where ever they exist, regardless of national borders.
One has only to examine their 2/1/01 piece for loaded phrases such as "medieval attitude" and "general code for whites and nonwhites" and "primary job of US citizens is to pitch in to build giant border walls to ensure that the barbarians and kept at bay" and, finally "a fear of encirclement or the browning of America" to realize that Gonzales and Rodriguez are not interested in a debate. They are skilled propagandists bent on promoting open borders and belittling those with differing opinions as the "enemy" and racists.
Before we open the borders to any and all that would reclaim their "indigenous" territory, I would suggest that, in the words of Gonzales and Rodriquez, "we should all at least have the decency to listen to each other's vision of the future" and remember the testimony of Barbara Jordan, chair of the US Commission on Immigration Reform, "Rather, it is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest". We have the right to debate and determine what US immigration policy will be.
HOWARD A. PELLETT
Is anybody besides me concerned about the new "Homeland Security Agency" proposed by the Commission on National Security in the 21st Century? This study group co-chaired by former senators Warren Rudman and Gary Hart proposes among other things creating an agency that would integrate the responsibilities of FEMA, the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, and the Border Patrol into one agency. In addition the National Guard would be given homeland security as a primary mission. This is supposed to be a counter to terrorist threats, but it could easily turn into a national police force that would make the FBI look puny. This information was in an article in The Japan Times, the primary English language newspaper here in Japan. It carried a Reuters byline.
Sounds ominous to me. What do you think?
Overwhelming evidence now shows that voting by blacks and Democrats was suppressed in Florida, and that the US Supreme Court showed a conservative bias by stopping the recount. Unfortunately, many Americans are simply willing to forget this huge injustice. Although Al Gore was far from being the perfect candidate, he should have not had the election simply stolen from him.
Part of the problem was Vice President Gore's weak campaign. He joins the ranks of other losing Democrats (Dukakis, Mondale, McGovern, Humphrey, etc.) who refused to directly attack the Republican candidate on core Democratic issues such as tax fairness, supporting minority rights, etc. Gore was just the latest casualty in this flawed strategy of moving to the right. Democrats and other progressives can't expect to win elections or influence people with a watered-down conciliatory tone. They must be willing to use much more aggressive rhetoric to get their point across.
An important area where progressives are losing ground is with the use of the new Internet technologies. Conservative groups have effectively mastered the use of bulk e-mail programs, massive letter-to-the-editor campaigns and other Web-related strategies. To help balance this situation, I have recently put together a Web site that teaches progressives how to use the latest Internet technologies to create online discussion forums, e-mail lists, how to blast multiple letter-to-the-editor, how to design basic Web pages, and other related skills. You can see this site at www.activistsE-Z.com
RICK SHERIDAN, instructor
California State University
I take The Progressive Populist and laud it for its varied and factual data. I have an idea for people like me who may feel cheated out of their vote in 2000. When I am approached for campaign funds, I will say that I am happy to be a donor to any senator, or House member that co-signed the motion of the Black Caucus for a two-hour debate prior to the acceptance by Congress of the electoral vote. Not otherwise. I know that [US Rep.] Bob Filner [D-Calif.] came forward to align himself with the caucus, and it did not surprise me, knowing him to be a diligent representative of his district. I realize that if this catches on, that "good" senators will lose funds, but that was the choice they made, like staying with the silly chads instead of attacking the disenfranchisement of so many eligible taxpaying voters.
VERONICA E. SISSONS
Chula Vista, Calif.
Write: Letters to the Editor
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Please keep them brief
The 2/1/01 PP incorrectly reported that 79 elected officials from the Green Party in 21 states (now 80 with the election of Matt Gonzalez to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors) make the Greens the biggest political presence of any third party. The Libertarian Party claims 395 members in public office.