Bleifuss Makes Me Ralph
Despite good critiques of Joel Bleifuss' anti-Nader irrationalism
by other letter writers, he persists in his folly of attacking Nader
and defending Gore on faulty grounds.
Nader raised the level of political debate and challenged the assumptions
of Gore and the Democratic Leadership Council. All the Democrats
could counter with were personal attacks and lies (like your article
by Carl Pope of the Sierra Club inaccurately defending Gore's environmental
record). Gore himself could not even take a stand on Elián
Gonzalez, creationism in Kansas or even use of the designated hitter.
He did not challenge anything--even Dubya--and that is really why
he lost an election he should have won easily.
One does not have to be an absolutist to vote for an exemplary
public citizen who is committed to progressive politics. I'm not
canceling my subscription (Juan Gonzalez's piece on Vieques was
worth the price of the last issue) but I expect In These Times
to challenge the rightward and corporate drift of the Democrats
instead of trying to further marginalize a progressive third party
candidate and those of us who feel betrayed by eight years of Clinton
Wow, I can't believe it is the middle of January and the new In
These Times is still debating Gore versus Nader. While part
of me feels inclined to leave the whole issue behind me and begin
building alliances to resist the conservative Bush regime, the other
part of me feels the need to defend myself.
The Gore camp cannot stop attacking Nader and his supporters. The
funny thing is that it is Bush who beat Gore, and it is Bush who
is a particularly scary threat to progressives everywhere. Why don't
Gore supporters get mad at Bush and the Republican Party?
The answer is simple: Progressives, while threatened by conservative
politics, believe that Bush supporters truly voted for who they
wanted to win. Nader voters, on the other hand, are seen as Democrats
at heart who simply wanted to teach their party a lesson. And according
to Joel Bleifuss, that lesson was very poorly timed.
Well, I for one wasn't simply trying to teach the Democrats a lesson
while secretly wishing Gore would win. As someone who strongly opposes
globalization, the death penalty, imperialist sanctions against
Iraq and Cuba, and other odious parts of U.S. foreign policy, I
honestly would not have been happy with Gore as the next president.
I am certainly not happy about Bush winning, but the only possible
outcome that seemed worth supporting was the Nader campaign.
The squabbling between Naderites and anti-Naderites is a tempest
in a teapot and a destructive waste of time ("Letters," January
22). It disregards the fundamental issue, which is the pitiful weakness
of the left. No amount of fratricidal sniping among us will make
much difference in presidential elections or mainstream politics
in general. The real failure is substantially to the right of us
"real" leftists, whether pragmatic or puritanical. There's a yawning
void between us and the conservative Democrats of the DLC. That
could theoretically be filled by the Congressional Progressive Caucus,
if it could ever manage to do anything more assertive than put out
With the death of liberalism, there's no coherent center-left in
this country, and that's the only place any movement is possible.
We on the farther left should do our best to contribute to the rebirth
of such a center-left, maintaining a critical posture and always
pointing to more radical solutions. We should stop deluding ourselves
into thinking we have any direct political influence. And we should
point our critical weapons at the right, not each other.
I work at a small, rural public school in a combined third- and
fourth-grade class. Every week we get "free" copies of a school-sized
version of Time magazine, which is rather loosely incorporated
into our language arts program. It is, at least from my perspective,
a vehicle for introducing future consumers into the world of corporate
Last week's edition featured a picture of George W. Bush on its
cover and the headline "Bush Picks His Team." You may be interested
in knowing that almost every one of our 19 students defaced this
cover in some way. There were the usual blackened teeth, devil's
horns and so forth, but a couple of the more creative students changed
the headline to read "Bush Picks His Nose," with suitable graphic
alterations to the photo. A grade-appropriate angle, I thought.
What I'm wondering is if the general media outlets continue to
act as if nothing happened in Florida and Bush is the duly elected
representative of the people, will people eventually come to believe
that? Why couldn't In These Times come up with some sort
of school publication that offered kids a different perspective?
Humboldt County, California
At Your Service
At least you're willing to print letters from people who question
Republicratic authority. You are the kind of conservative publication
we on the left can deal with rationally.