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 and Gore.

John Shaw
Tucson, Arizona


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.

Stacey Falls
Pittsfield, Massachusetts


Enough Already

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 press releases.

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.

Chris Nielsen
Portland, Oregon


Elementary Questions

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 dominance.

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?

Mary Anderson
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.

Bob Burgess
Columbus, Ohio



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