Memo To Those Who Supported the Nader Campaign

Memo To Those Who Supported the Nader Campaign

TO: THOSE WHO SUPPORTED THE NADER CAMPAIGN
FROM: TODD GITLIN AND SEAN WILENTZ
RE: THE OBVIOUS

So here we are in the Bush II era. No small thanks to Antonin Scalia—and you. If there is a sourness in the air, like the embittered days of 1969 or 1981, there’s good reason. Much of the ground lost to the right in recent decades after the left and liberals divided—especially the ground lost under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s—has never been regained. Repeat, never: not in twenty to thirty years—not on labor policy, not on the environment, not on income and wealth inequality, not on support for military goons in poor countries.

The ground to be lost by George W.’s victory is likely to stay lost. How does it feel?

For months, you and your candidate peddled the old nostrum that Democrats and Republicans are essentially the same—two names for one entitity, Republicrats. How any thoughtful person could still think that the differences are negligible boggles the mind.

Consider the issues:

Global warming? Gore and the Democrats know it is happening, Bush isn’t sure,and many Republicans think it is a hoax. Gore wanted a tax on fossil-fuel energy—a tax that was blocked by Republicans and always will be—while Bush governed over the worst air in the country and justified it on the grounds of industrial growth. Gore knows the arguments against oil drilling; Bush looks at Alaska and sees millions of barrels in profits. Gore was and is an environmentalist who makes political deals; Bush is half of an all-oil-company White House tandem. No difference?

Conservation? The departing Bill Clinton signed executive orders that will protect fifty-eight million acres of federally owned land from the depredations of the timber, mining, and energy industries. Those historic signatures represented several years of public hearings and bureaucratic preparation—all of which were being completed even while Ralph Nader denounced Clinton as no better and perhaps somewhat worse on environmental issues than his Republican predecessors. Not one grudging word of praise for the Clinton executive orders was heard from Nader or his followers, nor any word of regret, now that President Bush has vowed to roll back those directives and appointed Gail Norton to his cabinet.

The Supreme Court? The Department of Justice? Even before the election, Bush’s favorite high court justices were Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Presumably, after the Florida shenanigans, his estimation of them has soared. And on other counts, he owes the Christian right bigger than big time. He and his buddies folded like a cheap suit when the hard-liners demanded he appoint the fire-eater John Ashcroft over the merely conservative Marc Racicot as attorney general. The Bush Court, one-third of whose membership he might get to appoint, might not repeal Roe v. Wade, not quite, not yet, but will surely tilt mightily tow...


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