Ralph Nader Was
March 30, 2001
by Bradford Shaw
It was almost impossible to count the number of times that
Ralph Nader told the American people that George Bush and
Al Gore were the same when it came to corporate greed. He
told us that both candidates would be in a dead heat to get
to the big business feeding trough. He went on and on about
the similarities between the candidates, pausing only to make
cutting comments about previous administrations, Republican
Both leading parties were morally bankrupt, whores to big
business, and greedy to the point of ruining our nation and
its ecological future, so he would have us believe. It hasn't
even been 100 days for the Bush administration, and lo and
behold Mr. Nader has been proven right. Half right, that is.
In the light of reason, with even this brief amount of time
to give us perspective, all that a logical, intelligent person
has to do is ask themselves a few pointed questions as to
decisions made by the current occupant of the White House,
and if the same decisions would be made by the loyal opposition.
Before he was even inaugurated, the current leader of the
free world astounded many ecological groups by appointing
cabinet members that could honestly be characterized as environmentally
unfriendly. He showed no hesitation in placing people in offices
that they themselves didn't seem to believe in. The Governor
of a highly polluted state as head of the EPA, and a person
who doesn't believe in the Endangered Species List in charge
of the Department of the Interior, head the list of Bush appointees
that would never make the grade in a Gore administration.
People have said, and rightly so, that Al Gore wrote the
book on environmental stewardship. His work "Earth in
the Balance" was a powerful call to environmental action
for our collective future. Would a person who spent many long
hours working his head off to write such a strong statement
about environmental protection appoint people diametrically
opposed to such philosophy? Not bloody likely!
This would of course, be the first gigantic difference between
the parties, and even the apparently myopic Mr. Nader should
be able to absorb this fact. The official first Bush decision
was to discontinue funding for Planned Parenthood overseas.
In addition, he has announced a review of the "safety"
of RU486, the so-called abortion pill, with an eye toward
restricting its availability.
Would Al Gore have done the same thing? Despite an effort
to be fiscally conservative where government funding is concerned,
Al Gore has always been for a woman's right to choose, as
his voting record consistently shows. He would logically be
the last person to want to limit funding for family planning.
He has appeared through his actions to be straight forward
and up front with his stand for reproductive rights.
Throughout election 2000, his campaign was clear in its support
for Planned Parenthood, promising to uphold Roe v Wade in
any way possible. In addition, Gore indicated the continuing
need for funding for Planned Parenthood worldwide. As a person
concerned with the planets dwindling resources, he has acknowledged
the dangers of overpopulation. Bush has already expressed
his support for a nation-wide ban on abortion. Well Ralph,
can you see a difference yet?
As his next conservative act, Shrub declared a review of
all past executive orders. His thrust outwardly appeared to
be aimed at assisting big business in any way possible, from
quashing workplace safety programs started by the previous
administration, to restricting bankruptcy provisions-and thus
handing gigantic cash rewards to his backers. This was just
the beginning of what looks to be a business-friendly administration.
Since then we have witnessed an erosion of environmental
standards on the fast track. It's a foregone conclusion that
the Gore administration would have continued, and perhaps
even strengthened our environmental standards as opposed to
loosening them to suit big business like Shrub did. Al Gore
has proved through his voting record that he strongly supported
workplace safety, increased standards for airborne pollutants,
cleaner water standards, and effective consumer protection.
Would Al Gore rescind and or review all previous executive
orders? Even an ideologue such as Nader should be able to
see some differences at this point.
Next on the agenda for George was a cross-country "greed
is good" tour to help promote and pass his massive tax
cut, tailor-made for his millionaire backers. To anyone just
waking from a 6-month coma, it must still seem like the 2000
primaries. Shrub is lost somewhere in Middle America, John
McCain is feeling feisty over campaign finance reform, and
Nader just wants to point fingers and lay blame everywhere
but himself. Would Al Gore even propose the gigantic ten-year
tax cut that Bush the younger has foisted upon us?
For the answer to that question, we have merely to look up
the fiscal record for the Clinton White House for the past
eight years. The most recent Democratic administration reflected
in policy and deed, what seems to be the prevalent political
philosophy of the nation: Fiscal conservatism, and social
liberalism. Clinton and Gore managed to fund many needed programs
while still balancing the budget and reducing the deficit.
Even though the Republicans try to assert that it was a conservative
congress that passed all of this legislation for the President
to sign, let's just remember that it might not have been politically
prudent for a Republican President to sign such legislation
in that it might be interpreted as a philosophical coup d'etat.
Let's not forget how popular the "Contract With America"
was for Newt and his crew.
Gore did express an interest in a tax cut, but his idea was
to target the cuts to the people who really needed it instead
of the people who are just interested in how far up they have
moved on the Fortune 500 list. His tax relief would have helped
the average American family without bankrupting future generations.
Is it possible for Ralph to see any division in philosophy
To find another glaring difference, look to campaign finance
reform. George W doesn't like McCain-Feingold. The proposed
legislation, that is, not the Senators. He would have liked
to have seen a watered down version such as the Hagel bill
pass, in order to legitimize the prostitution that goes on
in the form of campaign financing, but the Democrats were
too strong for that. His main thrust, if he feels he is stuck
with McCain-Feingold, would be to emasculate the working sector
by attaching "paycheck protection" to the bill.
This provision would allow an individual to withdraw financially
from participating in political donations, a great theory
in thought, but not execution.
This action unfortunately does not empower the individual
as much as it removes most of the influence that labor needs
to protect itself and it's members. We have already seen a
reduction in the concern for workplace safety, and some of
us wonder what will be next. As if opposing the campaign finance
reform bill weren't enough, the Republicans, with Shrub's
approval, are trying to attach the right language to make
the whole thing plainly unconstitutional.
Al Gore promised that the first bill that he wanted to sign
was McCain-Feingold, and after his own controversy involving
this subject, hardly anyone would doubt his word in this regard.
Nader himself would benefit from Gores proposal for free air
time for candidates in order to avoid the corruption that
today's high cost campaigns currently cultivate.
If Ralph can't see any differences yet, it may be that he
chooses not to. It may just be easier for him to stand outside
the mainstream complaining about the status quo, pointing
fingers at both sides, rather than coming up with any realistic
and operable plan. This has always been his modus operandi
in the past, and at his age it's unlikely he will change.