Many thanks to Elissa Silverman, one of the few reporters in the area to recognize what Ralph Nader’s run might represent for D.C. voters (“King Ralph,” 10/13). Nader is the only candidate who talks about major issues affecting D.C. voters: 44 million Americans without health-insurance coverage (90,000 in D.C.) and the need for national health insurance; racial disparities in sentencing and the death penalty; the devastating effect of the “war on drugs” on minorities and the poor; privatization of prisons as an investment incentive to lock up more people (again, minorities and the poor); the need to divert funding away from the military and into inner-city services; discriminatory insurance and real estate practices and toxic-waste siting; taxpayer-funded free lunches for corporations (including stadiums and convention centerssound familiar?); the need for medical marijuana and needle exchange; and D.C.’s movement for statehood and freedom from Congress’ tyranny.
Where’s Al Gore on these issues? His 2000 platform flushes down the toilet the New Deal and Great Society safety-net promises that provided economic security and advancement for millions of poor people. Instead, Gore wants more money for the Pentagon, especially for Reagan’s fraudulent space-based missile boondoggle. A July 2000 Brookings study of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act (Gore urged Clinton to sign it) confirms how badly this “victory” has damaged American cities. Gore’s platform abolishes the Democratic pledgesince 1948to enact national health coverage.
Gore also supports private prisons, the military-based war on drugs, and the death penalty. What has the Clinton-Gore administration done for our rights in D.C.besides suspend them through enactment of the control board?
Nader has won the endorsement of people as varied as Michael Moore, Cornel West, Randall Robinson, Noam Chomsky, Dr. Manning Marable, Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover, and Phil Donahue. Because of the Electoral College system and the overwhelming Democratic loyalty (misplaced, in my opinion) of D.C. voters, a vote for Nader will certainly not risk a Bush victory on Nov. 7. Instead, it’ll build a party that’s uncompromised by corporate money and takes the rights of D.C.’s residents seriously. A D.C. vote for Gore motivated by fear that Nader will “spoil” is a vote wasted.
I hope the Washington City Paper considers local Statehood Green candidates as seriously as Silverman has written about Nader. You might, for instance, compare Ward 4 candidate Adrian Fenty, who owes his election odds to the fact that he’s a Democrat who isn’t Charlene Drew Jarvis, with René#e Bowser. Bowser is an accomplished labor lawyer and member of the D.C. Human Rights Commission running on a platform that stresses workers’ rights, livable wages, health coverage for D.C.’s uninsured, restoration of our popularly elected school board, and a stop to the plundering of D.C. neighborhoods by powerful real estate interests. Like Nader and our local Statehood Green candidates (and unlike Democrats, despite their rhetoric about campaign-finance reform), Bowser refuses all corporate contributions.