Readers respond to "Nader in 2004?" by David Talbot.

Published April 24, 2003 11:05PM (EDT)

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"I'm stunned by how extremist the Bush presidency has become on foreign policy. We never could have predicted this." (Medea Benjamin quoted in David Talbot's "Nader in 2004?")

Unbelievable. Plenty of people accurately predicted the dire consequences of a Bush victory. We're called Democrats; we're the ones the Greens slimed as "no different than the Republicans" during the 2000 campaign.

The Greens' black-and-white worldview, in which Democrats who agree with most of their platform are no more palatable than Republicans who agree with none of it, is simply a sad echo of Bush's "you're either with us or against us" blather.

-- J. Greenberg

I considered myself a Green until Nader made his shortsighted, naive, and extremely damaging decision to persist in the last presidential election. How could he consider repeating such a horrific mistake? Even more astounding, how could a Green consider voting for a man who would risk handing the presidency over to Bush, again?

Medea Benjamin is right about one thing: Had Gore been president, we would not have bombed Iraq. Under Gore, our environmental laws, so painstakingly developed over the last few decades (and during the Clinton/Gore years) would not be under systematic attack as they are by the Bush administration. The smokescreen created by terrorist threats and the war on Iraq has allowed Bush to undermine the laws that protect us, our civil liberties, our land, our water, our air.

Juscha Robinson says, "It's more important to build the party than to defeat Bush." Apparently she hasn't been directly affected by the war or the conservative agenda, yet.

I would like to ask Robinson and other Greens who consider voting for Nader again to consider that George W. is no longer just the heir of his father, but now has his own destructive legacy: a war that's created a deeper chasm between the U.S. and the Islamic community, between the U.S. and the rest of the world. His two years in office has already had tragic and far-reaching effects.

Are you really willing to risk four more years of this America for the sake of an idea? It reminds me of the mind numbing that occurs in a cult. Howie Hawkins says that Nader is "congenitally unintimidated." There's a clinical term for the utter disregard for the outcome of one's actions: sociopathic.

Ronnie Dugger is right: To vote for Nader is to deny the "moral responsibility for this disastrous outcome." Nader and his followers can be as loony as he wants. I, for one, won't join them.

-- Mary Sullivan

I'm a progressive Democrat who voted for Nader. I didn't change any election; my state's two electoral votes were going to Bush no matter how I voted.

There's the rub, isn't it? My vote really doesn't count. I vote anyway, out of some nostalgic sense of duty.

I think my vote was patriotic. I made my decision after carefully considering my options, studying the candidates, reading their campaign literature, and watching their performances on televised debates. I thought long and hard about the consequences of my vote. It was and remains my sincerest hope that progressive ideas such as concern for the environment, peacemaking, gender equality, and an end to corporate greed and special interests would be nurtured by my vote.

I made my decision after the debates of 2000. The bipartisan committee on debates has successfully ousted the nonpartisan League of Women Voters from control of that important forum. The duo-theism of our two major parties has skillfully silenced the voices of third-party candidates. It's a damn shame, and the Democrats, my party, is fully half of it.

I may just vote Green again, and at that time I'll be in a state where it might just matter.

-- Joann Flick

Gore should have done this; Gore should have done that ... what a bunch of crap. When are Greens going to simply acknowledge the fact that if only one in 10 of them in Florida had rejected the immoral and illogical argument that there was no difference between Gore and Bush, Gore would have won Florida by 9,000 votes even with the illegal disenfranchisement of thousands there?

When will Greens accept the fact that their leader pushed a patently dishonest campaign theme in order to draw votes from Democrats? This campaign theme, that there were no differences between Dems and Repubs, was a lie. It was designed to energize a legion of ill-informed newcomers to the political process. It may be hard for Greens to accept this, but there probably wouldn't have been any war of choice and there quite possibly wouldn't have even been a 9/11 tragedy. The environment wouldn't have been under constant attack and the courts wouldn't be under constant pressure to be packed by right-wingers.

Sorry, Greens, but all of this wouldn't have happened without your shamelessly dishonest political campaign to demonize Democrats. I wouldn't be so angry at Greens if just one of its leadership would acknowledge their part in making the world we have today. I'm not holding my breath, but I'm hoping a significant number of them understand that the only way to deprive Bush of a second term is by way of a Democrat. It is simply insane to continue to deny this simple fact.

-- Bill Batten

Thank you for the article about Nader's potential to run in 2004. If he runs, it will be a sure sign that he has left all shreds of his sanity behind him. Nader is the man who, on NPR, said that if he had been elected, the disaster of 9/11 would not have occurred. Huh? Did Nader run around during his election saying we should reinforce cockpit doors? No, he didn't start saying that until after 9/11. If he runs, it had better be for town council. The real concern for every American should be removing the Cheney/Bush junta, at any price, even Nader's ego.

-- Kevin Foley

Please, please please, start thinking coalition. I am a registered Democrat, and I had read enough about Bush before the election to know that he was a disaster waiting to happen. I was naturally very angry at the Green Party for (in my view) not realizing the long-term costs of their actions. And I even wrote a scathing letter to the Green Party just after the election, which I admit was filled with bilious rhetoric (the letter, that is). ;-)

I sincerely apologize. Now is not the time to hold grudges. Now is the time for the left to unite. Incidentally, I think there are a few reasonable candidates in the Democratic field, candidates that the Greens might really identify with. Granted, Republicrats like Joe Lieberman are running too, but first, I don't believe they will get the nomination. And second, at this point I'd be practically willing to back a Manson/Caligula ticket if it meant unseating Bush.

In any case, if we work together instead of against each other, we can beat this monster. Let's elect the lesser of two evils and not the evil of two lessers. Call it rationalizing if you want to, but as I see it, this is voting my conscience.

-- Jack Walther

Gore supporters, such as Salon's obnoxiously sarcastic Charles Taylor, have misunderstood Nader's role in the 2000 election from day one. Gore lost votes to Nader because he abandoned the heart and soul of his party. That was his fault -- not Nader's. A quick look at international multiparty parliamentary systems is instructive here. In a typical Western European parliamentary system (U.K., Spain), two main parties dominate the political scene. But if either the left or the right party goes too far to the center, it will lose votes to a far-right or far-left party, which can always win a few seats in a national election. Alternatively, a larger party can make alliances with a smaller party, typically by making important concessions to the smaller party in exchange for its allegiance in parliament. Take, for instance, Spain's Popular Party's (now unnecessary) marriage of convenience to the Catalan CiU.

Sound familiar? Gore tried to straddle the middle on every issue, including ones, such as the environment, about which we thought he had true passion. It is utterly unsurprising, therefore, that the disgusted left abandoned him to vote for Nader. If Gore had remained true to his party and his core constituency on a few major issues, he would have been able to deflate Nader's campaign -- at least enough to win Florida.

The proof can be seen in Gore's opponent. Like Bush or not, he was and is unabashedly conservative. As a result, Bush's Nader equivalent -- Pat Buchanan -- was irrelevant and inconsequential in the election. For conservatives, the choice was obvious in a way that it was not for liberals.

Yes, the Greens lost the 2000 battle. But they won the war -- no Democratic presidential candidate will be so foolish as to abandon his core again.

-- Enrique Colbert

Ideological purity is a luxury we cannot afford in America right now. It would be the height of moral and political irresponsibility if Nader or the Greens mount a third-party campaign for the presidency next year. I voted for Nader in 2000 and have no regrets about it. Nader did not give the presidency to Bush. Gore's lack of initiative in the face of GOP/right-wing fanaticism in Florida was the problem.

We are in a state of emergency as much as the French were last year when Le Pen was in the final election for the French presidency. Liberals and progressives are going to have to hold their noses next year, if necessary, and unite behind the Democratic nominee. This is an election to save the Republic. The Democratic candidate will be our Chirac; Bush is our Le Pen. This is the reality we face. A Green Party candidacy next year would be ill advised as well as an illusionary self-indulgence.

We must remove Bush from office. That is our first priority. We can fight over the spoils after the election. So, let's face reality and get to work.

-- Jeffrey Johnson

I live in Tallahassee, Fla., the epicenter of the 2000 national election theft. I saw for weeks the attorneys on both sides eat at our local cafes, the satellite trucks lining Duval Street in front of the Florida Supreme Court, the weird GOP protesters, the arrogant mask of James Baker, and other sights, sounds and arguments.

I am a potential Nader voter, a progressive, committed, highly educated environmental planner who rides a bicycle to work, sends money to the Sierra Club, lives in town, and even drives a Volvo wagon, fer cryin' out loud. But I can count, too. Bush stole Florida in large part because thousands of well-meaning but politically clueless people like me (just for the record, I voted for Gore) voted for Nader based on his charge that there was no difference between the two national parties. Bullshit. The GOP and its goons and politicians have brought our country to the brink of fascism, and they are poised to plunge us backward into a high-tech version of 19th century industrial England. We're seeing Jeb's version of this as I write this, the end of the legislative session being a mere three weeks away.

It will be a cold day in hell before I waste my vote voting for someone like Nader.

The only message people who do so will send to people like me is that the "progressives," whatever they may be these days, are too stupid and politically and philosophically rigid to be handed the keys to the White House. What a waste.

-- Stephen Hodges

I voted for Nader in the previous election and make no apologies. I do not expect to vote for him in the next, however. And it has as much to do with Nader himself as the desire that Bush no longer serve as our president.

Given the current climate -- the war, the attack on our liberties, censorship in regard to dissent -- you would think that we might be hearing from Mr. Nader. You would think that he would bring his feisty battles to the forefront at a time when he is not running for elected office. What better time is there to be a highly vocal, highly public thorn in the side of President Bush? What better time to establish himself among naysayers as a person truly committed to fighting for the citizens? Where is Ralph Nader now that we really need him?

The answer, it seems, is to leave the dirty work to Michael Moore. Ralph Nader is busy taking meetings to discuss his future candidacy.

It seems to me that the Greens and Nader would be better served to present themselves as fighters for right all the time, not just when they are trying to get matching funds. This time around, as I listen to Nader speak about taking back government, I will understand that this is the rhetoric he saves for a six-month period every four years -- this is the rhetoric he saves for fundraising, not saving the country.

Thanks. I think I'll pass next time around.

-- John Mitchell

Yes, the Bush presidency is a national disaster, easily the most incompetent and immoral administration in all of our history. But our national emergency exists in part because the main opposition party is run by cowards who have allowed all of it to happen. Ever since Dukakis, the Democrats have been intimidated by the hateful demagoguery of the right and have refused to stand up against them and for the most basic of American values. Last year, we had Democrats in Congress voting to support the war in Iraq, just so that they could get it over with and campaign about something else (only to see Bush walk all over them anyway). And now we have Democrats feeling chastened by the military victory in Iraq (about which there was never any doubt), and hoping to campaign about something else next year, although we all know that the right will scream "unpatriotic" at them, no matter what they did or said before the war.

If this party nominates another wimp like Gephardt or Lieberman, then as far as I'm concerned they're just going have to lose and lose and lose, again and again and again, until they realize that they will have to lead with bold opposition and a spirited defense of American values.

I'm sick and tired and having to vote for the lesser evil, for candidates who prominently distance themselves from the values I espouse. I have voted for a Democrat in every election of my life, but I will never, ever vote for one of them again, until that party grows a spine and fights back against the awful poison that now dominates American politics.

-- Geoff Simmons

By Salon Staff

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