By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
So let’s look at just one utterly predictable consequence of voting for Nader over Gore, at least in states that are hanging in the balance on election day (most likely not our own), and see if it withstands this consequence-based conscience test. During the 12 long years of the Reagan and Pappy Bush presidencies, there was a single begrudging raise in the minimum wage. Since Clinton has become president, there’s been one (along with significant increases in the Earned Income Tax Credit) and he is currently trying to pry one more from the Republican Congress. Al Gore is clearly committed to a hike in the minimum wage; George W. Bush is just as clearly opposed. In fact, he’s opposed to the entire idea of a federal minimum wage, preferring a system where states get to set their own. (In Bush’s Texas, in the year 2000, agricultural workers — one group of workers who are exempted from the federal minimum wage — make a breathtaking $3.35 an hour.)
Ralph Nader is for a federal living wage (that is, an hourly wage of about $8.50 with health benefits), as am I — but his support, even augmented by mine, doesn’t put this proposal within three light-years of enactment. What is on the agenda in America is merely raising the minimum wage, and that will only happen during the next four years if Al Gore becomes president next Tuesday.
So imagine you are a swing-state voter talking to a nonunion janitor making the legal minimum in one of the 40 or so states whose government has no interest in setting a state minimum wage that’s higher than the feds’. (There are up to half a million nonunion janitors in these low-wage states, and surveys of this work force have shown that the janitor you’re talking to is most likely an immigrant or African-American woman with children.) Tell her that you’re sorry she’s going to have to work for at least the next four years without a raise, but that it’s more important to build a “new progressive coalition” (even though a successful Nader candidacy will have precisely the opposite effect), or that you’re tired of voting for a candidate who favors only a fraction of what you think we really need, and who will deliver on even less. Tell her you’ll feel better voting for a candidate you agree with on everything.
If you can look at her and tell her that with a clear conscience — then, yes, you should vote for Ralph Nader. And shame on you.
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