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The Farm

   The Real Decision: Gore v. Nader
by geary yonker

This November, Americans will go the polls to take part in the sacred practice of electing the next caretaker of the free world. The free world now being synonymous with the global economy and various mineral rights.

We Americans are faced with two choices: Al Gore and Ralph Nader.
I hear that there are other fringe candidates in the election, but they are too ridiculous to mention. The decision will be made on the basis of what you believe in your heart and what you believe in your mind.

Temporarily representing the Green Party, Ralph Nader has taken up the torch of progressive politics that had been put on the back burner for the last two presidential elections. The Democratic Party, the bearer of this torch for the last thirty years, has successfully been attracting more middle class voters by drifting towards the center. The question is which party best ensures the survival of the progressive movement: Its current holder, the Greens, or its estranged lover, the Democratic Party?

First, we must differentiate between Nader and the Green Party. Nader has actively done this himself. He realizes that the party's platform is just too extreme for the American public to take seriously, and he's right.

If you would like to check out the Green's platform in its full glory, go to http://www.greenparty.org/Platform.html#top. The party's jaw-dropping policy proposals are too numerous to list. Nader has come up with a revised platform that he and his running mate Winona LaDuke have both endorsed. You can find this revised version at http://gis.pair.com/asgp/platform/gpp2000.html.

Of course, in this world of 10-second sound bites, lengthy party platforms are not what win elections. Every candidate must target a few issues and make them their rallying cries. From listening to Nader on the Sunday morning talk-show circuit, I gather that his pet issues are campaign finance, the environment, and the new global economy. These are all topics that the American public can relate to. They will now stop, look, and listen to what he has to say.

Gore speaking on campaign finance sounds like Robert Downey Jr. leading off his NA meeting. In his acceptance speech at the DNC, Gore vowed that campaign finance would be the first bill he would sign after he got into office. How convenient. Nader has proposed the complete public funding of presidential elections, thus taking money out of the equation. On the new global economy (read: the new Mall of America), Gore has called for more consideration to labor and environmental issues. Given that Gore finally got the major labor unions to enthusiastically back him, his words may have some weight. They wouldn't have given the money if they weren't getting something in return down the line. Nader's strong pro-labor stances precede him. He has been at the forefront of the movements against economic globalization and corporate welfare for years. No one doubts his sincerity or the motives behind his words.

Ironically, the environment is where Gore bests the Green Party's candidate. Both candidates have strong environmental positions; for Gore it has been a life-long conviction. Believe him or not, Al Gore has long been a leader in the environmental movement in this country. While Nader has taken strong stances on the environment, consumer and labor advocacy has really always been his real forte. The Green Party would argue that Gore's policies are too conservative. I would argue that Gore's environmental positions are pragmatic, and there's the magic word.

Pragmatic: practical v. idealistic.

The decision: Gore v. Nader.

Nader has so much claimed that this is an election not for the presidency but for matching funds in 2004. If the Green Party can get 5% of the national vote, they can receive matching federal funds for the 2004 election. So the question always arises, "If I vote for _____, am I throwing away my vote?"

A vote given is never thrown away. You are still a participant in this sacred ritual. If you are basing your decision solely on ideology, then vote for Nader, but think of the possible consequences. This presidential election will be very close. If the Green Party gets their desired 5%, it would mean almost certain defeat for Gore. The presidency would then fall into the hands of one of those fringe candidates I spoke of earlier.

No progressive-minded person, no matter how idealistic or pragmatic, would want that to happen. The choice is, as it always has been and hopefully always will be, yours.


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