By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
He is, however, a serious threat to the Supreme Court. With a number of its elderly justices poised to retire, the court is beginning to deliver decisions saying that federal civil rights statutes don’t apply to the states. By a narrow margin, the court still affirms Roe v. Wade. But W. has said that his favorite justice is Antonin Scalia, the court’s most brilliant and forceful opponent of individual and civil rights, and of a woman’s right to choose.
You get the picture.
Which brings us to a cold, hard fact. Although we want Nader — agree with him just about down the line — we can’t have him. And even more than we want Nader, we don’t want Bush, which for some voters, in states where Bush and Gore are running neck-and-neck, means swallowing hard and voting for Gore. On many major issues, there are night-and-day differences between W. and Al Gore. To be sure, Ralph Nader is dead right that both have supported the deregulation of various key industries, at considerable cost to consumers; that as regards military spending, each favors a ridiculous increase; that both avidly backed axing welfare; that each favors the death penalty (though Gore is not the booster that W. is).
Indeed, Gore is intellectually closer to the Democratic Leadership Council and its ongoing campaign to push the party rightward than Bill Clinton ever was. He was a more zealous advocate for ending welfare and for cutting social programs to balance the budget than his boss; he took the lead in the fight for NAFTA. During this year’s campaign, he has stated repeatedly that his first domestic priority would be to pay off the national debt; all his other programs would be subordinated to that. This is government in the shadow of Calvin Coolidge, not Franklin Roosevelt.
And yet, and yet — the differences between Gore and Bush are clear and decisive, and they have grown more so over the course of the campaign. Gore is flatly opposed to the privatization of social insurance. He proposes covering half the cost of seniors’ prescription-drug purchases, and all the cost incurred by low-income seniors. Gore promotes a major expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program to cover all uninsured children and, eventually, their parents. He has worked for a hike in the minimum wage, and he is the foremost advocate in public life for strengthening the right of workers to organize.
The vice president has a long and clear record of support for civil rights and the right to obtain an abortion. He probably knows more about global warming and nuclear proliferation than any American elected official, and has a keener sense of the remedies these problems require. He supports a patients’ bill of rights allowing patients to sue their HMOs; Bush opposes it. He supports registering new handguns; Bush signed legislation allowing virtually any Texan to walk the streets with a concealed weapon.
We would, obviously, prefer a more progressive Al Gore who wasn’t so patently a creature of calculation, who could kindle some fires of idealism. But that’s not who Gore is. He is a brilliant (in an intellectual, not a political sense) centrist, far too comfortable with the rightward drift of the political spectrum, with the increasing sway of the corporate and financial world. That’s why we’re endorsing Ralph Nader.
But Gore is also vastly better on the causes of social provision, workers’ rights, the environment and choice than George W. Bush, whose election would threaten all these causes and more. That’s why, although we strongly endorse Nader, we’re recommending a vote for Gore if the polls just before election day show his lead in California at less than 5 percent (a number we’re alarmingly close to at press time). If you don’t have access to last-minute polls, here’s one rule of thumb: Should the Gore campaign find it necessary to start running television ads here, 1) vote for Gore, and 2) be very afraid.
In key states where the race is closer, though, a vote for Gore is, unfortunately, crucial to keeping Bush out of office. If (and we have a lot of Internet readers) you live in Maine, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Iowa or, most especially, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan or Wisconsin, the size of the Nader vote may determine (in the case of the last six states, likely will determine) who carries your state. White middle-class progressives especially have an obligation to think twice about helping to elect a president whose policies will particularly hurt the nonwhite, the working class and the poor.
UNITED STATES SENATOR: Medea Susan Benjamin
If you moved Dianne Feinstein to a more conservative state, she would be about as good a Democratic senator as you could hope for. On a national political continuum, she’s just a smidgen left of center. Her environmental record is excellent, and she deserves credit for the Desert Protection Act, which preserves a vast tract of California’s natural resources. She’s taken an active role in the ongoing fight for a patients’ bill of rights; she’s a solid defender of gay rights and a woman’s right to choose. She was the author and driving force behind the federal ban on assault weapons.