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Letters to the Editor.

Doomsday with Nader

Ralph Nader is an idea whose time has come and gone ("The Nader Challenge," Comment, July issue).

Twenty or thirty years ago, he might have made a viable Presidential candidate, but now he is reduced to doing a nightclub comic's shtick, paraphrasing George Wallace's 1968 mantra that "there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the major parties" by saying that "the only difference is the speed with which their knees hit the floor when the corporate contributors come through the door."

What Nader can do is tip the balance in "battleground" states, like Ohio and Wisconsin and the big enchilada of California, to George W. Bush. And if W. gets elected, the following doomsday scenario could occur:

In 2001, Chief Justice William Rehnquist retires, and President W. elevates Antonin Scalia to that position. To fill Scalia's seat, W. nominates J. Michael Luttig, the most conservative judge on the most conservative Court of Appeals, the Fourth Circuit. Then, in late 2001, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retires, and W. nominates Judge Daniel A. Manion of Indiana, an extreme conservative who barely survived a Senate confirmation fight. And then comes the cruncher. In the 2002 midterm elections, the Senate Republicans, having picked up two more votes in the 2000 elections, get three more than they need for a filibuster-proof Senate. Then, eighty-two-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens suffers a heart attack and reluctantly retires, giving W. his first chance to replace a liberal on the Court. W. administers the coup de grace by nominating Robert H. Bork. A desperate Democratic filibuster in the Senate is broken, and Bork is confirmed. Before the 2004 election, Roe v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona are toast. The Court overturns its recent decision invalidating Nebraska's "partial-birth abortion" law. It overturns its 1989 decision that flag burning is protected speech and finally overturns the "Brady Law" and the law banning so-called assault weapons.

This is what Ralph Nader will have wrought. Is it what The Progressive really wants?

Norton N. Black Tucson, Arizona

Regarding "The Nader Challenge," I must say that as a gay man, and in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on the Boy Scouts, I cannot afford to vote for Ralph Nader and thereby siphon off a vote to Al Gore.

As much as I share your reservations about the Vice President, the thought of Pat Robertson & Co., through his terrible stooge George W. Bush, making Court appointments simply terrifies me.

Your article makes no mention of the fact that a Republican victory could set civil liberties back 100 years. A vote for Nader is, indeed, a vote for Bush and a threat to the progressive agenda in every respect. Please wake up to this fact.

David W. Barker Seattle, Washington

As we head into what is a very crucial election, I have to take great exception to your July Comment, which was merely a condemnation of Al Gore for President.

The simple, everyday reality is that the next President is going to be Bush or Gore. But perhaps some progressives would truly be happy with the good old days of Ronald Reagan, when it was such fun to rant and rave about the President.

The commentary does begrudgingly admit that Gore is "better on abortion," along with a condescending, "If abortion rights is your number one concern." There is a mild acknowledgment that Gore might appoint better judges, but we are also told how John Paul Stevens and David Souter were Republican appointees. Funny, you forgot to mention that Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas were also Republican appointees.

It's time you acknowledged the good the Clinton Administration has done. It has taken on tobacco in a way no other Administration has, and our President has gone toe-to-toe with the National Rifle Association. You also disregard such things as the biggest increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit in its history, the tripling of Head Start from $2 billion to $6 billion, and the dramatic expansion of child care funding.

To date, about the only great accomplishment of the Green Party has been the election of at least one conservative Republican to Congress.

Get with it! The election is real!

John Sciamanna Riva, Maryland

Nader's Time Is Now

That was by far the best analysis I've read about Ralph Nader by anyone anywhere. I've been using it with my family and friends who think I'm crazy to bolt from Al Gore and the Democratic leadership for Nader this year. While Gore continues to favor corporations uber alles, Nader is helping to build a viable party in the Greens. There is no better time than now!

Mitchell Freedman Newbury Park, California

After reading the July Comment, I love your magazine even more. I'm so sick of hearing, "What if George W. Bush wins because Ralph Nader takes votes away from Al Gore?" Who cares?

If Bush wins, his Administration will most likely deal with issues the same way a Gore Administration would. As your editorial pointed out, the only main difference between the two parties is whom they would choose as Supreme Court appointees.

We progressives really need to let our voices be heard. What's the point of protests like the one in Seattle if we just go out and vote for the person who believes in the things we're protesting against! We might as well have just stayed home.

Shane Lewis Batavia, Illinois

Greens Break Loose

I wouldn't have thought the choice between Al Gore and Ralph Nader would be so problematic for a magazine named after one of our country's most successful third parties. Yet you leave your readers with little in the way of advice in what you portray as an agonizing decision ("The Nader Challenge," July issue).

"Is this the year to break loose?" you ask, but the question is merely rhetorical; the best reason you can come up with to support Nader is to "hold the Democratic Party accountable." That hardly constitutes breaking loose.

It is not our intention to influence the Democratic Party; it is our intention to replace the Democratic Party. Greens do not stoop to the "inside-outside" tactics that characterize many other third party tendencies. We've already broken loose from the stranglehold of the two-party duopoly, and the sooner other progressives join us, the better.

Jeff Peterson Coordinator, Wisconsin Greens Campaign Luck, Wisconsin

Puerto Rico Should Look Within

Martin Espada correctly identifies the major obstacle to a resolution of the unjust bombing of Vieques, Puerto Rico, as a "problem of colonialism" ("[Spanish open quote] Viva Vieques!," July issue). The present Commonwealth arrangement leaves the 3.5 million U.S. citizens and their elected officials on the island no political leverage to redress this legitimate grievance with the U.S. Navy. Under these conditions, nonviolent direct action is an honorable and necessary form of political protest.

Unlike Espada, I no longer hold the President and Congress accountable for the present political situation in Puerto Rico. The major opponents to a final and permanent resolution to the island's colonial status is the Popular Democratic Party, which still believes that the status gives Puerto Rico the "best of both worlds."

Vieques will continue to be a problem until Puerto Ricans are given an opportunity to express their political preferences in a Congressionally sponsored referendum. To paraphrase Shakespeare, the fault, my fellow Puerto Ricans, lies not with the U.S., but with ourselves.

Gene Roman Brooklyn, New York

The editors welcome correspondence from readers on all topics, but prefer to publish letters that comment directly on material previously published in The Progressive. All letters may be edited for clarity and conciseness. Letters may be e-mailed to: Please include your city and state.
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Publication:The Progressive
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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