It's because America's so-called left is dominated by sanctimonious poseurs like Jim Hightower that the "grass-roots movement" he talks about building will remain a fantasy. Indeed, he and his ilk don't really want anything of the sort to happen. They're content to see themselves as a big-hearted elite, to pretend to have a unique concern for and understanding of those little poor and working class people out there, whom they seldom make any contact with at all.
While the fortunes of low-income Americans sink under a Republican administration, Hightower and other Naderite celebrity journalists will be pontificating on ritzy seminar cruises, like the upcoming one offered by the Nation magazine, a nice tax write-off vacation for the affluent elitists who make up their readership. Some vanguard.
Jim Hightower and Ralph Nader represent the left's boondoggle, not the way out of it. Their arrogant irresponsibility during the 2000 election proves it.
-- Pete Risley
I challenge Hightower to substantiate his statistics by citing his sources. I'm particularly interested in seeing the "job-busting" impact of NAFTA. Additionally, hasn't the vice president been bragging about reducing the number of people in the sub-$50,000 income range by moving them into the supra-$50,000 range? Certainly there are mathematical ways to correct for the changes in income in this group to come to the conclusion that they are increasingly turned off by the electoral process, but until Hightower reveals his process for such a correction, a more reasonable assumption is that there are just fewer people in this group.
If Hightower can produce support for his statistics, I will immediately begin stocking up ammunition and drinking water for the class war that is surely just over the horizon.
-- Philip Kingston
Perhaps you are not aware of what happened to Democratic presidential candidates who talked about issues that concern the poor or important issues that involve self-sacrifice and thought: They lost. Carter, Mondale, even Dukakis. The American public that votes does not want to hear about the truth. They want dynamic speakers, sound bites about "fuzzy math" and other sayings. You say that Gore did not speak of or to the disenfranchised public. Do you really think they are going to go out and register to vote? To win the presidency today you have to put on a show, appeal to the middle class who vote and tell them what they want to hear. Isn't that what the GOP did in Philly? The kinder, gentler, inclusive GOP. Do you really think that if Gore had focused on real issues and had appealed to the poor nonvoters that this election would have been as close as it is? Do you think the American public wants to hear about NAFTA and other issues like it? They thought it was boring as is.
As for Nader, a man who is not what he appears to be with his hidden anti-abortion views or his corporate holdings, he is not the answer. He just turned out to be a power-hungry politician. As much of a man of the people as Perot was.
As much as they claim to, the American public does not want to explore the real issues. It has been dumbed down by wrestling, MTV, shopping networks and "Survivor." Unhappily, it deserves a dumbed-down president.
-- Jeffrey D. Levine
Speaking as one of the under-$50,000-earning "them" that Jim Hightower thinks were so disheartened by the Bush and Gore campaigns' focus on photo ops and schoolchildren, I'd like to point out that political campaigns have been growing more shallow for years. Didn't Hightower notice the elder Bush's flag factory visit in '88 or Clinton's saxophone solo on "The Arsenio Hall Show" in '92? And which tiny tykes were Bush and Gore getting their pictures taken with anyway, if not the children of the very people Hightower claims were being ignored by their campaigns?
Part of Jim Hightower's recent article also included a good example of what Dubya would call "fuzzy math." If so many nonvoting under $50,000 wage earners were so disgusted by Clinton and Gore's pro-business policies, they should have turned out to vote for Nader, like the 95,000 Floridians who helped turn that race into a virtual tie. That would have sent a real wake-up call to the Democrats if indeed NAFTA and the WTO have been as disastrous for working people as Jim Hightower claims. The bottom line is that if you don't vote, you don't count.
-- Roberto Castillo
Finally, finally! Someone with a media voice has spoken what this entire country, or at least the vast majority of this country has known since before the New Hampshire primary: that we were facing yet another election that wouldn't offer us a single candidate about whom we could truly be passionate, could truly support. We knew this was going to happen probably as soon as Bill Clinton won the last election, that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans would be able to unearth one person who someone would actually vote for, and not against.
I have never been more disgusted with politics than I am now, and not because of the litigiousness of the Democrats or the Republicans. I am sick and tired of not having a real choice for president. Hightower is right. The real winner in this election was "none of the above." Had this choice been on the ballot, I think a true Election Night surprise would have taken place. The only thing surprising about what is happening now is that it doesn't turn out like this in every election.
-- Jeff Crook