I implore you, without reservation, to go out and vote for Al Gore in November and be a leader in your community for the Democratic ticket. Al Gore is smart, compassionate, prepared and will represent our values very well as President. Mind you, he is not a liberal. He is an effective center-left politician, the only kind of progressive that we or any industrialized western nation has elected in the last 30 years. In fact, the last truly liberal candidate we elected President was Franklin Roosevelt and only because America was in such desperate shape economically that we were ready to turn to radical solutions.
The unabashed liberals who have carried the democratic banner in the years since FDR, Adlai Stevenson, George McGovern, and Walter Mondale were smart, principled and hopeful that the rightness of their consistently left-wing ideas would make up for their underfinanced campaigns. Their supporters were sure that Americans who doubted the value of big government could be convinced by their superior intellects and personal rectitude to vote for it anyway. Their's is terrible record of underachievement.
Clinton and Gore's move to the right has frustrated those of us who want classic FDR-style solutions, but the necessity of moderating progressive ideology to win over the ambivalent middle has been demonstrated again and again. Tony Blair in Britain, Gerhard Schroeder in Germany, and Leonel Jospin in France have each broken long reigns of conservative party rule by using the same approach. Wholesale redistribution of wealth has not been the result, but increased spending on domestic programs and decreased spending on the military, increased civil rights for gays and lesbians, slightly higher taxes for the wealthy and lower for the poor, and protection of the woman's right to choose have been. In almost every case these social positions were matched with increased wages, jobs, and low inflation. AMEN!
Now comes Ralph Nader of the Greens, hopeful that the rightness of his consistently left wing ideas will make up for his underfinanced campaign and sure that Americans who doubt the value of big government will be convinced by his intellect and personal rectitude to vote for it anyway. Well, actually, he has no illusions of winning an election. If he can just get the liberal intellectuals out of the Democratic party and get 5 to 10% of the vote, he can turn the Green Party into a major party, assure George W. Bush's victory and insure the end of Democratic party possibilities for the foreseeable future nationally by taking the most progressive voters out of the democratic column. His short term goal will lead to the end of a woman's right to choose, Supreme Court Justices like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, a full scale dismantling of Affirmative Action, and the scrapping of programs like Legal Aid which the Republicans in Congress have been trying to get rid of for years. The long term goal would result in...more of the same.
Ralph Nader is a consumer hero who has really given of himself for America, but this is the wrong cause at the wrong time. He accuses the major parties of cynicism while practicing it everywhere he goes. He suggests freely that everyone in government is a "Republicrat" bought and sold by the corporations. That would include Paul Wellstone, Bruce Vento, Martin Sabo, Dick Cohen, Michael Paymar, and Matt Entenza. We've worked very hard for these men and we know their commitment and the value of their work. Suggesting that even one of them sold a single vote is worse than the false advertising that Nader fought against. We have a right to expect much, much better from Ralph Nader.
For some of our friends this election is an academic question or an opportunity to make a statement - about third parties, or fringe voices or corporate power. Encourage your friends to make a statement with a letter to friends or the newspaper, by starting a caucus, participating in the precinct caucuses, or even writing pieces for D-Zine. For those who actually need the government services that will be scrapped or the protections that the Supreme Court provides, our vote is too precious to be spent this way. Furthermore, a President Bush won't care about such a statement and neither will the Congress, if it remains in Republican hands. In 2000, tell them to vote like it matters - because it does.
SD64 DFL Chair