Elissa Silverman makes a seemingly strong case for D.C. residents to spurn the Democratic party and vote for Ralph Nader (“King Ralph,” 10/13). Boy, we’ll sure show ’em!

Here are some facts to consider before jumping on the martyr bandwagon with Silverman: We know that a Ralph Nader presidency is statistically less likely than a Jesse Helms-Barney Frank prom date, yet this increasingly vocal group of disaffected liberal voters is still vowing to support him in the November election. With the two major candidates running neck and neck, this erosion of potential support for Al Gore is bad news—for the country and the District. Let’s look in our crystal ball at a future Bush administration coupled with a likely Republican Congress: the appointment of up to three Supreme Court justices with subsequent decades of extremely conservative rulings, the National Rifle Association operating out of the Oval Office, the gutting of years of successful environmental legislation, oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, increased corporate influence on public policy, huge tax relief for the wealthy instead of increased education funding and paying down the debt, polluter “self-regulation,” partial privatization of Social Security, school vouchers at the expense of fixing our inner-city public schools…The list goes on.

Some local Nader supporters apparently think that we should risk such a horrific scenario in order to get their candidate over the 5 percent threshold. Were they physicians, their recommendation for a sprained ankle would be amputation at the knee. With Gore we have a real chance for campaign-finance reform, less corporate influence, increased environmental protection, and tax relief targeted to those workers who have least benefited from our current prosperity. (Ironically, these are the issues that many Nader supporters consider most important.) By the way, Gore supports voting rights for D.C., and George W. Bush does not (a minor point that Ms. Silverman neglects to mention). The reason you haven’t heard Gore talk about this much is that he’s just a little bit busy at the moment, trying to win a national election.

Ralph Nader is an American hero. His steadfastly nagging voice has done incalculable good by protecting consumers and the environment. He will not, however, be elected president. So continue to support him. Embrace his philosophy. Work for his ideals. Fight for his inclusion in future debates. Even continue to say that you will vote for him. But when you enter the booth and close the curtain, pull a lever that will actually count. The best, perhaps only, way to get voting rights and/or statehood for D.C. is to elect a president who supports the idea and give him a Democratic Congress. Those still planning to vote for Nader should consider staying home. The effect on the election will be exactly the same, but at least we’ll save a little gas.

Vienna, Va.