Top Ten Reasons Why I’m Not Voting For Nader
(Any One Of Which Would Be Enough)
by Gloria Steinem
10. He’s not running for President, he’s running for federal matching funds for the Green Party!
9. He was able to take all those perfect progressive positions of the past because he never had to build an electoral coalition, earn a majority vote, or otherwise submit to democracy.
8. By condemning Gore for ever having taken a different position — for example, for voting against access to legal abortion when he was a Congressman from Tennessee — he actually dissuades others from changing their minds and joining us.
7. Nader is rightly obsessed with economic and corporate control, yet he belittles a deeper form of control — control of reproduction, and the most intimate parts of our lives. For example, he calls the women’s movement and the gay and lesbian movements “gonadal politics,” and ridicules the use of the word “patriarchy,” as if it were somehow less important than the World Trade Organization. As Congressman Barney Frank wrote Nader in an open letter, “your assertion that there are not important issue differences between Gore and Bush is either flatly inaccurate or reflects your view that…the issues are not important…since you have generally ignored these issues in your career.”
6. The issues of corporate control can only be addressed by voting for candidates who will pass campaign-funding restrictions, and by conducting grassroots boycotts and consumer campaigns against sweatshops — not by voting for one man who will never become President.
5. Toby Moffett, a longtime Nader Raider who also served in Congress, wrote that Nader’s “Tweedledum and Tweedledee assertion that there is no important difference between the major Presidential candidates would be laughable if it weren’t so unsafe.” We’ve been bamboozled by the media’s practice of being even-handedly negative. There is a far greater gulf between Bush and Gore than between Nixon and Kennedy – and what did that mean to history?
4. Nader asked Winona LaDuke, an important Native American leader, to support and run with him, despite his likely contribution to the victory of George W. Bush, a man who has stated that “state law is supreme when to comes to Indians,” a breathtakingly dangerous position that ignores hundreds of treaties with tribal governments, long-standing federal policy and federal law affirming tribal sovereignty.
3. If I were to run for President in the same symbolic way, I would hope my friends and colleagues would have the sense to vote against me, too, saving me from waking up to discover that I had helped send George W. Bush to the most powerful position in the world.
2. There are one, two, three, or even four lifetime Supreme Court Justices who are likely to be appointed by the next President. Bush has made clear by his record as Governor and appeals to the ultra-rightwing that his appointments would overturn Roe v. Wade and reproductive freedom, dismantle remedies for racial discrimination, oppose equal rights for gays and lesbians, oppose mandatory gun registration, oppose federal protections of endangered species, public lands, and water — and much more. Gore is the opposite on every one of these issues. Gore has made clear that his appointments would uphold our hard won progress in those areas, and he has outlined advances in each one.
1. The art of behaving ethically is behaving as if everything we do matters. If we want Gore and not Bush in the White House, we have to vote for Gore and not Bush — out of self-respect.
I’m not telling you how to vote by sharing these reasons. The essence of feminism is the power to decide for ourselves. It’s also taking responsibility for our actions. Let’s face it, Bush in the White House would have far more impact on the poor and vulnerable in this country, and on the subjects of our foreign policy and aid programs in other countries. Just as Clinton saved women’s lives by rescinding the Mexico City policy by executive order as his first act as President — thus ending the ban against even discussing abortion if one received U.S. aid — the next President will have enormous power over the lives of millions abroad who cannot vote, plus millions too disillusioned to vote here.
Perhaps there’s a reason why Nader rallies seem so white, middle class, and disproportionately male; in short, so supported by those who wouldn’t be hurt if Bush were in the White House.
Think self-respect. Think about the impact of our vote on the weakest among us. Then we can’t go wrong.
PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY
☞ Picking up on Nader’s “MasterCard” TV commercial parody, People for the American Way has produced one of its own:
Nine black robes: 945 dollars.
One wooden gavel: 14 dollars.
Forty years of influence over our freedoms . . . Priceless.
George Bush’s favorite justices — like him — oppose choice, gun control and strong environmental protections.
Al Gore favors justices who are pro-choice, support gun safety laws and environmental protections.
The next President could appoint three of the nine Supreme Court Justices.
With our freedoms at stake, shouldn’t you cast a vote that really counts?
THE SIERRA CLUB
☞ Carl Pope is executive director of the Sierra Club. He may be forgiven if he believes that his concern for the environment matches even that of Ralph Nader.
Yesterday you sent me (and many other environmentalists) a long letter defending your candidacy and attacking “the servile mentality” of those of us in the environmental community who are supporting Vice President Gore.
I’ve worked alongside you as a colleague for thirty years.
Neither the letter nor the tactics you are increasingly adopting in your candidacy are worthy of the Ralph Nader I knew.
The heart of your letter is the argument that “the threat to our planet articulated by Bush and his ilk” can now be dismissed. But you offer no evidence for this crucial assertion. Based on the polls today Bush is an even bet to become the next President, with both a Republican Senate and a Republican House to accompany him.
You have referred to the likely results of a Bush election as being a “cold shower” for the Democratic party. You have made clear that you will consider it a victory if the net result of your campaign is a Bush presidency.
But what will your “cold shower” mean for real people and real places?
What will it mean for tens of millions of asthmatic children when Bush applies to the nation the “voluntary” approach he’s using in Texas to clean up the air. And what about his stated opposition to enforcing environmental standards against corporations?
What will it mean for Americans vulnerable to water pollution when Bush allows water quality standards to be degraded to meet the needs of paper mills and refineries as he has consistently done in Texas, most recently at Lake Sam Rayburn? And what if he eliminates federal financial support for both drinking water and water pollution, as his budget calls for and his record in Texas (46th in spending on drinking water) suggests?
What will it mean for communities of color and poverty located near toxic waste sites, when Bush applies his Texas approach of lower standards and lower polluter liability to toxic waste clean-up?
What will a Bush election mean to the Gwich’in people of the Arctic, when the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is turned over the oil companies and the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou herd on which they depend are destroyed and despoiled?
What will it mean for the fishing families of the Pacific Northwest when Bush amends the Endangered Species Act to make extinction for the endangered salmon a legally acceptable option? If he refuses to remove the dams on the Snake River or reduce timber cutting levels to preserve salmon?
What will it mean for millions of rural Americans whose livelihood, health and communities are being destroyed by unregulated factory feeding operations, if Bush weakens the Clean Water Act? When he appoints Supreme Court justices who complete the task of shutting down access to federal courts for citizens trying to enforce environmental laws?
What will it mean for the wildlife that depend upon our National Forests when Bush undoes the Clinton-Gore Administration reforms, reverses their roadless area protection policy, and restores the timber industry to the mastery of the forests and the Forest Service that it enjoyed under his father? If he doubles, or triples, the cut on those Forests?
What will it mean for millions of people in Bangladesh and other low-lying countries when an American refusal to confront the problem of global warming unleashes the floods and typhoons of a rising ocean upon them?
Your letter addresses none of these real consequences of a Bush victory. Nor has your campaign. Instead, you indulge yourself in the language of academic discourse when you claim:
“Bush’s “old school” allegiance to plunder and extermination as humanity’s appropriate relationship to our world speaks a language effectively discounted by the great tradition of naturalists from John Muir to David Brower. Bush’s blatant anti-environmentalism will lose corporate favor as it loses popular support. It is a language of politics fading rapidly, and without a future.”
Candidate Bush may well be speaking a fading language. So was candidate Reagan in 1980 when he ranted that trees caused air pollution. It is power, however, not language, that determines policy. President Bush would be vested with the powers of the government of the United States, and he is an even more devoted servant of environmental counter-revolution than Reagan ever was.
Because your letter is couched in this language, so divorced from the real world consequences of your candidacy, and the real world choices that face Americans, it is difficult to respond to all of its selective misrepresentations and inaccuracies. A few samples, however, may show you why I am so disappointed in the turn your candidacy has taken:
You claim that “Earth in the Balance” was “an advertisement for his calculated strategy and availability as an environmental poseur.” Can you offer a single piece of evidence to support this quite astonishing statement?
You claim that the Clinton Administration stood up to the oil industry on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge only because “focus groups have shown him he cannot give” it up. In fact, most polls show that the public is somewhat split on this issue, and there are certainly no focus groups I know of showing that it is a third-rail which no President can cross at his peril. Can you cite your evidence?
You lament that the Administration has “set aside lands not in National Parks, but rather in National Monuments….” You are surely aware that a President cannot legally create national parks, which require an act or Congress; nor can you be under the misapprehension that this Congress with Don Young as the head of the House Resources Committee and Frank Murkowski as his counterpart in the Senate would have designated these areas as parks however long a battle Clinton and Gore might have fought. No, you simply took a cheap shot, and ignored the facts.
You have also broken your word to your followers who signed the petitions that got you on the ballot in many states. You pledged you would not campaign as a spoiler and would avoid the swing states. Your recent campaign rhetoric and campaign schedule make it clear that you have broken this pledge. Your response: you are a political candidate, and a political candidate wants to take every vote he can. Very well — you admit you are a candidate — admit that you are, like your opponents, a flawed one.
Irresponsible as I find your strategy, I accept that you genuinely believe in it. Please accept that I, and the overwhelming majority of the environmental movement in this country, genuinely believe that your strategy is flawed, dangerous and reckless. Until you can answer how you will protect the people and places who will be put in harm’s way, or destroyed, by a Bush presidency, you have no right to slander those who disagree with you as “servile.”
You have called upon us to vote our hopes, not our fears. I find it easy to do so. My hope is that by electing the best environmental President in American history, Al Gore, we can move forward. My fear is that you, blinded by your anger at flaws of the Clinton-Gore Administration, may be instrumental in electing the worst.
The Sierra Club
☞ It’s no wonder the Bush camp has been featuring Ralph Nader in a TV commercial. He’s become the Republicans’ brightest hope. The irony of tobacco executives, corporate polluters, and assault-weapons wholesalers rooting for Ralph Nader, is . . . breathtaking.
You know who must be getting a big kick out of all this? Trent Lott. And Jesse Helms. And Charlton Heston.
You can hear them now: “Go, Ralph, go!”