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
Stuart Kwoh, Los Angeles civil rights activist
I will be voting for Al Gore. He has a chance to win; Ralph Nader does not. By winning, Al Gore may have the chance to select several U.S. Supreme Court justices who support civil rights laws and issues. That can make a difference for decades to come.
The choice between Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and Democrat Al Gore is an agonizing choice, for all the obvious reasons. The choice is a bit clearer for African-Americans, however, who likely would bear the brunt of a Republican administration should George W. Bush squeak past Gore. What’s more, there’s a good chance that Congress will remain in the GOP’s hands; that dire prospect would set the stage for a three-branch assault on the very idea of an activist, progressive government. It was that idea that justified programs designed to redress the varied legacies of slavery and Jim Crow apartheid. I’m a longtime admirer of Ralph Nader and a firm believer that we need to establish a genuine left-leaning political party, which would occur if Nader’s Green Party garnered 5 percent of the national vote. But I’m also a middle-class man with marketable skills, as are many of Nader’s most fervent supporters. A GOP takeover of the federal government probably would have negligible effects on us. But it would have a direct effect, for example, on people I know who live in public housing and those many others who live and toil in Chicago’s ungentrified precincts. I can’t help but feel a bit selfish for supporting Nader’s idealistic but doomed candidacy in the face of those realities. I remember the dirty dozen years of the Reagan-Bush regime and its dire consequences. But I also remember how that era started and how many progressives urged a vote for independent candidate John Anderson in the 1980 election that launched Reagan; Jimmy Carter was too tepid a liberal for our tastes. The black community is still paying a steep price for the perverse policies put in place during that benighted era. Nader clearly is the best man for the job, but I’m voting for the lesser of the two-party evils. The worst of those evils is just too likely to cause too much damage.
Angela Oh, appointee, Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission
I am voting for Gore/Lieberman. My decision to vote for them is based on several things, the most important of which ã is the fact that the next president will name at least two (possibly three) justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. I don’t want to make the mistake of placing Bush into office (as we did Reagan) by voting for Nader (who seems not to understand the global relations that are emerging as a result of our nation’s diversity). Torie Osborn, executive director, Liberty Hill Foundation I will vote for Gore, and aggressively lobby all my Nader friends to “Think Nader; Vote Gore” (a great bumper sticker I saw the other day), because a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. A Bush presidency will result in radical-right activists on the Supreme Court and other judicial appointments, which would push public policy toward regressive directions on women’s and gay rights, labor rights, criminal justice and other key issues. Also, Bush’s blatant homophobia and his blood lust on the death penalty are chilling. I recognize the Clinton/Gore shortcomings, but it is not a coincidence that the past eight years have seen a resurgence of both hope and real organizing in a progressive direction. Democratic presidents open up political space for progressives to organize in ever more positive directions. Republican presidents don’t just make life worse for the poor, gays and lesbians, immigrants, women, other groups marginalized or out of power; their blatant support of the rich and powerful dampens hope for and optimism about progressive social change itself — and that may be the most damaging impact.
The white left can afford to experiment with Nader, because they agree with Bush that the problems African-Americans face are traceable to their personal behavior. As an African-American, I have to go with Gore, given the alternative. The Bush family gave us Willie Horton, drugs in the inner city, the outrage of Tulia, Texas, where 17 percent of the adult African-American population was rounded up and humiliated before photographers on trumped-up drug charges that were based upon the testimony of a corrupt undercover agent. And recently George W. Bush and his wife defended the Confederate flag. She even said that the Confederate flag was part of the Southern heritage. I wonder what heritage she’s talking about? Whipping people?
George Bush’s enthusing about the reading scores of African-American fourth-graders has got to be the most cynical act in recent political history. The Bush family is always using black people for one purpose or the other. Bush’s father is famous for the Willie Horton campaign, in which they used a negative image of black people to gain 30 points among white male voters in the South during the time that Horton ad was used. In this case, they’re using black people to show their compassionate conservatism.