Pure Feingold

Aris Anagnos of Los Angeles claims he will not support Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold for president in 2004 because Feingold voted to confirm John Ashcroft (Letters, March 19). In Wisconsin, we are almost accustomed to Feingold surprising us with positions based on principles rather than politics. We may not always agree, but we understand this reliance on principle is also what led Feingold to to oppose the Anti-Terrorism Act because it expanded the federal death penalty. If what you want is a different kind of politician, then you must expect him to act differently.

John Lepinski
Appleton, Wisconsin


Labor's Survival

Frankly, I was disappointed that David Moberg's piece "Labor's Critical Condition" (March 5) failed to mention the most inhibiting factor to union growth of the past 30-plus years. Workers can't go on strike for union recognition and contract bargaining and be reinstated, so the employer can intimidate and even destroy the workers' initiative. In my opinion, every candidate for House or Senate should be litmus-tested on this issue in the next several elections行and union voters should be prepared to work only for supportive candidates. About 10 years ago, striker reinstatement legislation came close to passage. Labor needs to revive this movement if it is to survive its truly critical condition.

Stanley G. House
Wilmington, North Carolina


Ralph Redux

We were disheartened, then soon disgusted, as we experienced James Weinstein's gathering of timbers and nails yet again to crucify Nader enthusiasts ("Let's Crash the Party," February 19). Do we really need to hear that "the fiasco was brought about last November by Ralph Nader"? It's this kind of browbeating of the more idealistic readers that makes us realize how easy it is for people to compromise into supporting someone like Al Gore.

Glazed-eyed participation in lesser-of-two-evils strategies has ratcheted the nation ever farther to the right. Don't listen to us-- read history. And don't ask us to compromise. We would rather be "marginalized" in our real convictions than co-opted by the compromised New Democrats. As for "human need above corporate profitability," the Democrats we've been watching don't hesitate to jump through corporate hoops.

Jan and Patrick Pesek-Herriges
Clayton, Wisconsin


Doug Ireland suggests that Ralph Nader may have "missed the moment," so to speak, and I will admit that I was wondering why he wasn't right in the middle of the Florida recount fiasco making a stink ("Looking for Mr. Nader," March 5). But that's not his style. If you check the IndyMedia D.C. Web site, you'll see that Nader was talking with the folks who were rocking the inaugural boat and spreading the word on how this is yet just another fine example of what has happened to electoral politics. He is doing what he has always done, speaking truth to power and inspiring others to do likewise.

The congressional Democrats are in the process of proving that they are spoiled rotten, spineless and basically useless in fighting the Bushies. As Nader often said during the campaign, he's not looking to be a leader, he's looking to inspire others to lead. I like that, and so do a lot of other folks. Mine was not a "protest" vote. It was a vote of liberation from the quagmire of Rebublicrat politics. Don't worry about the Naderites. We are here, there and everywhere--now and in the future. We ain't going back.

Eric Oines


While Doug Ireland poses some reasonable educated guesses about why Ralph Nader has stayed out of the spotlight, he has neglected the most obvious possible reason. Perhaps Nader has kept a low profile because he finally realizes the damage he has wrought. A Green Party nominee whose candidacy is directly responsible for Gail Norton, John Ashcroft, Christie Todd Whitman and other nightmares should be ashamed, and should stay out of the spotlight.

Steven Bennett


Fascinating how Doug Ireland minimizes the election dispute in Florida to a "squabbling over the vote count." That's the usual pie-in-the-sky Naderite ignorance of reality. Counting all votes is the essence of democracy. As to both Nader and the Greens: Wake up and bury the dead. The Green Party is dead衞nly in part because it is out-of-touch, far-left and focused on few (if any) issues. And Nader as a candidate is dead. Grow up, dump both fantasies, and learn the real differences between pro-environment Democrats and anti-environment Republicans. And stop lying about the reality: Nader took 90,000 votes in Florida行enough to make it possible for Bush to steal the election. Stupid is as stupid does. And then it compounds itself by lying to avoid the issue.

Joseph Nagarya

I understand how a misguided but principled fellow might have mistakenly supported Nader in the election, but how can he then turn around and express outrage at Democratic senators for only "token" opposition to the appointments of John Ashcroft, Gale Norton and Christie Todd Whitman? Doesn't Doug Ireland see the connection between his own actions and those appointments? There was unintended, knife-twisting irony in Ireland's closing comment about Nader failing to understand "the hard-nosed real world of electoral politics." Ouch. Wake up, guy.

John Douglas
Charleston, South Carolina


My friends, family and I supported Nader and took heat for it from local pols. While leafleting at an el stop, my daughter got yelled at by Jan Schakowsky行our Democratic House rep, and not a bad one either行whom we voted for anyway. This is in the way of bona fides: I'm not speaking from the sidelines.

All of us think Nader should have gone public行at least on his own Web site行during the Florida preliminaries to what turned out to be the real contest, Shrub's elevation (not election) by the U.S. Supreme Court. Especially at the risk, if not guarantee, of Republican opprobrium, Nader should have insisted that each vote be counted, or sought a revote. This would have redounded to his credit within his base and among his supporters who had been scared into voting for Gore. Absent that struggle, he should at least have surfaced to thank his supporters and explain why--in light of Bush's extra-electoral selection--Nader's two and a half percent had not wasted their efforts, their hopes and their votes, not to mention their next four years.

All of which leads me to conclude, for now, that since his defeat, Nader has not shown the skills, perseverance or imagination--or maybe just the commitment (one doesn't say character)--to be the oppositional leader of a national movement in the United States. Electoral mobilization is not enough to sustain momentum行let alone hope行with only one national election every two years. So either Nader adds extra-parliamentary means to his lobbying and running for office, or he's history行probably a footnote.

Sheldon Silver




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