View from the Rotisserie

This post-election, vote-counting, legal battle in the courts is just rubbing the public's nose in the fact that the whole thing is a farce. If anything, it shows us that the governments of nation-states are a fiction and an ossified relic in an age where so-called "free" global trade has brought multinational corporations the real power over our daily lives.

Bush, Gore. Bore, Gush. Dubya, Gorebot. The names are empty sounds now. Yesterday morning on The Today Show, as I was getting ready for work, I watched Katie Couric interview a Coke executive about the company's best TV commercials of the past 30 years. I heard how "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" helped heal the country's wounds from Vietnam, and a little boy offering his soft drink to Mean Joe Greene bridged the racial divide between blacks and whites. If only it were that easy. And now movies make news not for the stories they tell, but because of their box-office returns for a weekend. Yes, this is a great and healthy culture, all right.

But the other day in the newspaper, almost lost amid all of the articles about who would be our next president, there was a small piece on the collapse of talks in Kyoto, Japan, to reduce the fossil fuel emissions that are ripping a hole in the atmosphere of the planet. What was it Tom Lehrer said a generation ago? "There will be no more misery when the world is our rotisserie. We will all go together when we go."

Gil Scott-Heron said it well a few years back when he observed that "Americans no longer fight to keep their shores safe, just to keep the jobs going in the arms-making workplace." The WTO has won. Profit rules. Nike, Reebok, and Adidas have replaced the United States, the Soviet Union, and China as our newest meaningless words. Whenever the cash-labor-resource exchange rates become unacceptable, we can use the military to restore the status quo and burn more oil, while the animals and plants silently scream of the extinction of their species. And the ecological balance grows ever more precarious

Don't worry, though, people. I'm sure the governor from Texas has everything under control ... and may God help us because nature cannot.

Oh well, history tells us that every empire must someday fall. Let's just hope this one doesn't take all of humankind with it.

Finally, I want to thank you for your excellent coverage of the recent campaign, and your efforts to provide a viable alternative to the corporate-controlled mainstream media outlets. I wish you continued success with your fine newspaper.

Good luck,

Fairfax, Va.

Who Spoiled What?

I find the current election pandemonium hilarious. Certainly not regarding the humiliating treatment people of color received while trying to vote in Palm Beach, but rather, in how Ralph Nader -- and the voters who supported him -- have become a mirror, a catalyst for democracy in America. Nader is like some religious or mythic hero whose integrity and valor protect him from the arrows of evil. He is like the boy who speaks the truth -- that the emperor has no clothes -- and thereby breaks the hold of mass obedience to a lie.

What was the Democratic Party continually saying about Nader? That he was a spoiler. Now after the elections, Gore is being called the spoiler by the Republicans, Ho Ho!

What did the corporate-sponsored media cover of Ralph Nader's super packed super rallies? Squat diddly. What did the media drone every night? The latest horse race based on trumped up poll numbers so they could keep the Democratic and Republican rehash looking fresh. They could have presented the real news, like Ralph Nader drawing crowds of over 10,000 in several states. They could have covered the timely issues and challenges to other candidates that Ralph presented there. And all this, no less, after Ralph was excluded from the presidential debates in which over 60% of the American public wanted to see him included. And make no mistake; PBS stands for Petroleum Broadcasting System.

Oh yes, there was some coverage very late in the game. But it was much too late. When Ralph gained the Green party nomination, CNN showed only his picture as a backdrop to Judy Woodduff and she talked over him. They didn't even let him speak! Can you imagine one of the other candidates being gagged like this during a report of their acceptance speech? So what happens election night? The corporate-sponsored media gets humiliated with bogus numbers and bogus winners, Ha Ha! Then there is Bush, forget the W you know which Bush I'm talking about. That W business is really getting quite tiresome. So, little George chants big bad Washington and too much government and then goes running to the federal courts to stop the recount, He He!

Then there are all those voters that the Republicrats depend on, in election after election, to go for the least of the worst, or is it good cop over the bad cop. Anyway,these scared voters wanted to vote for Nader because of the issues he supported, but didn't think he could win. After the election, Gore may have lost. Either way, there is no mandate and Nader didn't get the 5% for receiving future campaign funds. Always vote your conscience because you have to live with it.

It's like Ralph Nader is the Greek Warrior going up against Medusa. Medusa being the corporate sponsored candidates, the snakes on her head the moneyed interests. Ralph Nader uses his shield of valor and integrity to reflect back the twisted democracy upon itself, and voila, instant karma!

Boulder, Colo.

Risking 4 Years with Bush

Writing this before a final decision has been achieved [Nov. 29], I do not know whether Al Gore or George Bush won the presidency. However, what I do know, as others have noticed, is that the incoming president will face many challenges. Not only a divided (almost equally) Congress ... furthermore, economists point to the sputtering market as an indication of economic downfall within the next few years. From a partisan perspective, whoever's party wins the White House will suffer in the '02 congressional races and the '04 congressional and presidential elections.

If Bush wins, not only will the growing left-wing movement be gnawing on his shins the whole way -- pointing out his anti-earth/anti-human policies, but the Democrats will move towards the left -- blaming Bush for rising unemployment and falling wages. Let the conservatives enjoy four years of congressional gridlock, which provides a greater argument for third-party candidates, and presidential buffoonery, to which there will be no sequel.

Lastly, to all you Gore supporters, get off the backs of us Nader supporters! Yes, we don't want a Bush presidency either, but we don't want a Gore presidency as well. We may have lost the Supreme Court, perhaps the worst sacrifice of all, but I am reminded of something Granny D said to 10,000 of us at a Nader Super Rally in Minneapolis. Granny D posed the question of "What good is winning the Supreme Court if we lose the Earth in exchange?" I thought that was well-put.

From one of the states that didn't sell out,

Marshfield, Wis.

Beware Progressive Backlashes

Reading John Nichols's "Nader ran on principle, as did La Follette" [12/1/00 PP] is more fun if we assume that Nichols is right and project history on parallel tracks.

The similarities are remarkable. La Follette lost, too. Badly. Both aging progressives thought his party was too conservative and clearly believed that a silent majority of progressives would chart the future direction of the nation. Whether they were correct in this assessment is irrelevant; each wanted to build a third party that could win future elections.

We'll see in four years if Nader was more successful than La Follette on this central issue.

La Follette, by exploiting the divisions within progressive ranks, helped pave the way for Herbert Hoover's landslide election in 1928 over Al Smith. The Progressive Party, perhaps too identified with a single person, didn't even field a candidate. The election year of 1928 was followed by 1929, a year with which we're all familiar.

Nader stated that the differences between the major parties are irrelevant, even suggesting that Governor Bush's election would spur a progressive backlash. That backlash happened for La Follette in the form of the Great Depression.

A fine model indeed.

Washington, D.C.

Why Not a Runoff?

Florida recounts do not address issues of disenfranchisement. Wouldn't it seem that the pervasive pattern of minority disenfranchisement and other "irregularities" recorded by the NAACP should invalidate the results of the Florida election?

Wouldn't a state-wide runoff election of the top presidential contenders be the best way to secure a valid result in the Florida election? In local elections, when multiple candidates result in lack of clear majority, isn't a run-off the usual sequel, and serves to clarify the question of voter preference.

A state-wide run-off election would provide Florida with the opportunity to conduct an honest election. As the situation stands today, no one believes that the election has been either fair or honest, and a presidency predicated on Florida's counts and re-counts will always be considered illegitimate by 50% of American voters.

Question: Why have no citizen class action lawsuits been initiated to force a Florida run-off as remedy? Why has this question not become part of the national conversation? It would seem that now is the time for citizens to stop being passive observers of the American electoral experience.

Sincerely hoping for a greener, more participatory democracy,

Lamar County, Texas

Help Working People

Although I have a strong feeling that Congress is anxious to get on to the business of our nation's Big Tax Break, over half of it going to our nation's already wealthiest 1%, I'm also wondering if that body will consider the needs of those of us who don't carry health insurance or who find its cost a very large budget item in our limited income.

Those of us, especially in non-profit human services -- I work with area residential care in Dubuque -- are seeing annual rises in costs of 20-30% in health insurance. Another local agency, Hillcrest Services, just got socked with a 36% rise. Our family health insurance is costing us one-fourth of my income. It's too much. Your columnist, Ted Rall, notes in our 12/1/00 issue, "The 43 million [American] people who can't afford health insurance at all," in his "They Just Don't Get It."

This on top of our 30% rise in home heating costs for this winter.

In this Boom Economy is there any way we smaller wage earners can benefit without upsetting the overall scheme of the economy? I know Congress believes the Wealthy need their proportionate tax cut, so it's going to be a trick.

Congress and the President fall over each other doling out bailouts to our farmer relatives, in the tens of billions annually, so perhaps they could term us "urban cultivators" and send some of that ag money our way!

"Compassionate conservative." I wonder how long that slogan will last?


Dubuque, Iowa

Populists Aren't Liberal

I consider myself a Republican Progressive (Populist). I know what you are thinking, you are saying there is no such animal. Let me explain my political evolution before you summarily dismiss me as another right-wing nut to use some of your parlance. In my youth (I'm 55 years old) I was a Liberal. I had prosaic thoughts about an evil world, run by evil greedy corporations, and just wanted to make the world better and to shape and structure a perfect world.

They say that with age comes wisdom and I have found that to be true. My next evolutionary stage was a migration to a quasi-conservative viewpoint. However as I studied both Liberal and Conservative political cultures I felt there was something missing in both. As a common man, as a worker, I felt that the social and cultural things that appealed to me on the Conservative side were counter-balanced by the Conservatives' lack of attention to worker issues and by too much faith in a totally unregulated market to achieve whatever equality would be gained. On the Liberal side I became disillusioned by the almost total lack of respect for important social and cultural issues that even the most base men must accept if they are to function in a civilized society.

My next evolutionary stage was to a position of a Populist, but a Populist that blends the social and cultural issues that are important to me with the Liberal issues that more strongly support workers and labor. I have read some of the writings of current Populists and I feel they are Populists in name only. To me the only true Populist on the political scene today is Pat Buchanan. Ralph Nader is nothing more than a left-wing Liberal in Populist drag.

Given the structure of the current two party system in which both Republican and Democrat politicians curry favor with middle America I don't see much difference between the two parties. I did vote for Bush simply because I felt he more closely represented my interests from a cultural and social perspective. I can't see that Democrats are any great shake for labor, and they certainly don't stand with middle class Whites on any current issue. To sum up I think that a Populist revolution is needed but until such time as someone can blend the social and cultural issues which millions of middle class people hold dear along with a respect for workers then neither party deserves much credit for anything. In addition I think Populists walk a very narrow line, and it is easy to fall to far to the left or to the right. Jesse Jackson is a good example. You would probably classify him as a Populist, I classify him as a race hustler and a Liberal.

Des Moines, Iowa

Shallow Campaigns

Two points concerning the election: It appears that we have an electorate that is consumed by how many government programs can be expanded regardless of whether those programs are going broke in their present state. Both presidential candidates were shameless in their pandering. Quite a contrast from President John Kennedy, whose main campaign slogan was "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." There is little candor on addressing the impact of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid increasing from 7.5% of the gross national product to 14% in 30 years.

Secondly, noted economist and columnist Robert Samuelson states that unrestricted illegal and legal immigration has many profound adverse effects upon our country. Neither presidential candidate or the political parties addressed such concerns such as population increases, urban sprawl, environmental problems, and the increased need for schools and social services.

Omaha, Neb

Write Letters to the Editor
Progressive Populist
PO Box 150517
Austin TX 78715-0517

Email populist@usa.net

Please keep them brief

Home Page

News | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2000 The Progressive Populist