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I'm Still Voting for Nader

08.25.2000 | POLITICS

A couple of weeks ago I was talking politics with a girl I met in a bar. She agreed with my arguments against voting for Bush or Gore, but attacked me for linking the Bush family to the crack explosion of the 1980s. "I don't know, that's crackpot stuff," she said, missing the pun, and then tried to spray-paint me some sort of conspiracy theorist. I calmly told her there was nothing theoretical about history, and proceeded to drop a few facts.

One would think that this CIA adventure of recent past would be a part of the known record by now, but apparently it isn't, and so the major points bear repeating: When the Democratic Congress shut off funding for the Contras in 1984, the Reagan Administration raised cash for these terrorist "freedom fighters" by dumping cocaine into LA with the help of government agencies such as the CIA, the DEA and the DIA. Cartels, notably the Menendes organization, were provided with false documents, cover and airstrips to make deliveries onto US soil. These mega-shipments of cheap coke fueled the crack epidemic and reaped profits for groups providing the Contras with weapons and support. It is an established fact that former CIA director George Bush Sr. played a significant role in this operation. The story has appeared sporadically in the press over the years, but is usually buried--even after a belated 1997 CIA investigation mutedly validated the core of the accusations. Anyone interested in reading more about the heavily documented CIA-crack cocaine connection is referred to Gary Webb's Dark Alliance from Seven Stories Press (1998).

But whatever. Revealing and grotesque as this footnote to the Republican Party is, it's just a symptom of larger structural evils. It can be included or dropped from a case against another Bush presidency without altering the force of the argument. Even if his daddy wasn't a retired crack kingpin--which he is--baby Bush would still be a stupid and pampered Richie Rich who's been toxifying the great state of Texas for six years and executing innocent black people at a clip the Klan could envy. Even without his father's nauseating history, he'd still be in the pocket of an oil industry that is dead to anything but the clockwork search for crude. He'd still be all of the things that 'compassionate conservatism' is supposed to mask. And if you still believe the comp-con claptrap after the selection of Dick Cheney as VP, then please know that you will swallow every shit-flavored horse pill concocted in the GOP's bubbling propaganda laboratory from here to Pat Robertson's city of angels. I also have a bridge you might be interested in.

Dick Cheney. The name itself smacks of steel. The kind of steel that his confidantes in the defense and oil industries use for supertankers, missile casings, and long-distance piping systems. The kind of steel that is utterly predictable in its strength, lack of flexibility, and cold metallic inhumanity. The man's resume reads like a short history of hard right wing policy in the last quarter of the 20th century: from the bombing of Cambodia to the bombing of Baghdad, from pro-apartheid ("constructive engagement") to pro-poverty ("benign neglect"). His transition from serving the war and fossil fuel industries from the Pentagon to serving them from the executive's suite was absolutely, almost artistically, seamless. His realist ruthlessness in pursuing US 'interests' is legendary. Cheney's directorial debut in the first Desert Storm killed over 100,000 Iraqis; the likely sequel will make the original look like a UNICEF mission.

Not that there are any love-ins going on across the aisle. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman both support the sanctions regime against Iraq that, according to the United Nations, has killed over a million innocents since their imposition in 1991. In fact, Lieberman was one of only ten other Democratic Senators--Gore among them--to back operation Desert Storm, just as he was a lonely and early Democratic supporter of missile defense, thus making one wonder if this Talmudic moralist is any better than the militarist Cheney. (Hint: the answer is 'not much').

Wait, you say, Lieberman supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, like a good Democrat. But his devotion to the unilateralist pipe dream of missile defense undermines arms control, and he knows it. The list goes on, but the bottom line is that Lieberman represents the Republican wing of the Democratic party, otherwise known as the Democratic Leadership Council, and should be trusted on liberal grounds about as far as Gary Coleman could toss Yasser Arafat from a wheelchair.

The Democratic Leadership Council ticket once again firmly supports the death penalty, is wholeheartedly committed to Free Trade uber alles, and has shown willing to consider privatizing part of Social Security and school vouchers. Having fun yet? Throw in having to listen to Tipper Gore and Lieberman's friendship with Reaganite William Bennet, and a Democratic White House starts to get scary fast.

The only issue in which Gore/Lieberman hold a decisive advantage on Bush/Cheney is the Environment. Unfortunately their commitment to free trade and fossil fuel based consumer society "growth" all but makes their middle of the road commitments meaningless. And Gore has been doing the moonwalk on the Environment for years. After almost a decade in the White House, "Mr. Ozone" has yet to take global warming public, save for a single line in his acceptance speech. As one Oregonian Green Party activist put it: When George Bush sees a tree fall, he cheers; when Al Gore sees a tree fall he cries. But the tree still falls.

Yeah, but Lieberman's an orthodox Jew, you say, and I'm going to vote for him just to show how progressive I am. NEWSFLASH: there is no such thing as a progressive vote for someone whose politics suck. I wouldn't vote for Dennis Rodman if he had Lieberman's conservative Centrism-plus-Righteous Piety-plus-Extreme Zionism ideology. My heart goes out to him as every good 'ol boy in the Union fantasizes about catching the uppity heeb in the crosshairs of their huntin' rifle, but even as a fellow Jew, he won't get my vote.

That dubious distinction goes to Ralph Nader, the Great American Hero in rumpled cape who has probably saved a couple of million lives over the course of his career as consumer advocate and safety nerd. But unlike 1996, voting for Nader in 2000 doesn't make you a freak. The Ralph Nader/Winona LaDuke juggernaut continues to gain steam, and now has the official or unofficial backing of Cornel West, growing blocs of labor, the sane wing of the Reform Party, and 11% of the American people, according to some recent polls on the Left Coast. The Greens are putting the Power back into flower power, and sellout Democrats are sweaty, even if they don't admit it. California is the big electoral enchilada with hairy armpits, and the Green Party speaks the language. Same with Oregon and Washington.

Nader is campaigning for universal health care, an end to the racist drug war, a clean environment and a fair and regulated marketplace. He understands the contradictions of capitalism, and knows that a society dominated by market values is eaten away from within, not from without. He is pro-family, pro-community and pro-labor. His is a conservatism that actually conserves: labor standards and security, the earth, and yes, family values. Where the Republicats have merged into some sort of android of corruption and kleptocracy, the Greens are reclaiming democracy for the nonprofit sector--which is to say, for citizens. This means a foreign policy that doesn't look like an Iron Maiden poster, a global economy that develops more communities than billionaires, and a model of "growth" that doesn't imperil the oxygen supply of our grandchildren. In short, a decent world.

But you don't need campaign clichés from me when you can get them uncut at I haven't really researched it, but I'm pretty sure Nader's dad, a Lebanese immigrant, never orchestrated illegal drug dumps into American cities. I think he owned a grocery store; and voted Democratic, once upon a time.

About the Author
Jonah Weiss has written about arms control for Freezerbox and is a frequent contributor to numerous small magazines.
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