Nader deserves more than votes

Oct 25, 2000 at 12:00 am

Much soul-searching has gone on here at the Metro Times as we’ve debated which presidential candidate to endorse. We can’t recall a time when progressives faced a more anguishing decision.

Clearly, when it comes to the issues, consumer advocate Ralph Nader has our wholehearted support. Throughout his long career, Nader has proved himself to be a person of integrity, conscience and commitment. The Green Party candidate offers a clear and credible alternative to Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, two politicians joined at the hip on a wide variety of important issues.

Nader wants a sane policy on illegal drugs; Bush and Gore advocate continuing to pump countless millions of dollars into a prohibition approach that — as a recent "Frontline" investigation on PBS so thoroughly pointed out — is a complete and utter failure. Nader opposes the death penalty; Bush and Gore claim it serves as a deterrent despite mountains of contrary evidence. Nader is adamantly opposed to NAFTA and other so-called free trade schemes; Bush and Gore support them. Nader would cut military spending; Bush and Gore would spend more.

Instead of taking money from special interests, Nader has fought them, time and again, always on the side of consumers, workers and the environment. During this campaign, he has also affirmed a commitment to minority groups and affirmative action. Doubters need only look at his running mate, Native American Winona LaDuke, as evidence of that commitment.

In this campaign, Nader has focused on the need to overhaul a political system thoroughly corrupted by special interest money. Without serious campaign finance reform, Americans will see a continuation of a 30-year trend that has a majority of people working more but earning less, while the gap between the very rich and the rest of us continues to widen.

What has us caught up in the throes of a dilemma is the absolutely horrific prospect of a Bush presidency. Gore may be every bit as much a creature of special interests, just as entrenched in a corrupt two-party system that keeps qualified candidates such as Nader from even being allowed to debate the competition face-to-face on national TV, but he is not George W. Bush. If he can be believed — and that is a big if given Gore’s credibility problems (Who can forget the unbelievable claim he was unaware his Buddhist temple appearance had anything to do with fundraising?) — then the vice president would cut the national debt, pump much-needed money in to public education, guarantee the justices he nominates to the Supreme Court will protect a woman’s right to choose, and support campaign finance reform.

Despite their many shared positions, there are enough differences between Gore and Bush to show that Gore is clearly the superior of the two. And simply put, a Bush presidency would be disastrous.

So we cannot in good conscience tell anyone they are wrong to vote for Gore in fear of Bush.

But whether you vote for Nader or Gore, there is more you can do than simply casting a ballot for one candidate or the other.

In addition to your vote, Nader wants your commitment. To counteract the corrupting influences of special interest money, he’s calling on 1 million Americans to contribute $100 and 100 hours of time. Democracy is not something that is handed to us; we must work to save it.

That is Nader’s message, and it is catching on. Across the country, people are showing up 10,000 at a time, paying hard cash to hear his message. We are witnessing the birth of a movement, and urge everyone who reads this message to become involved.

So, go ahead and vote for Gore if you must. But give your energy and contributions to Ralph Nader. It is the one action in this race we can endorse unequivocally.

Contributions can be sent to: Nader 2000 General Committee, Inc., P.O. Box 18002, Washington, D.C. 20036. For more information on Nader, LaDuke and their policiies, visit the official campaign Web site; to learn how you can become involved, phone the office of the Michigan campaign coordinator at 734-994-7460.

U.S. Senate: Incumbent Sen. Spencer Abraham is a tool. The Republican candidate has proven during his one term in office to be an implement of the special interests — big polluters, drug companies, the insurance industry — that have so lavishly funded his campaign, along with his racking up a truly horrible environmental record along the way.

Abraham may consider "liberal" a dirty word, but we do not. Although we don’t always agree with Debbie Stabenow, throughout her long career as a Democratic state legislator and U.S. Representative, she has proved to be a strong supporter of organized labor, the environment, women’s rights and public education. A supporter of the Patient’s Bill of Rights, she has also been outspoken in her support of prescription drug benefits for seniors through Medicare.

Green Party candidate Matt Abel is a West Bloomfield lawyer who endorses the general Green values of ecological wisdom, grassroots democracy, social justice, feminism, etc. Abel, who has twice unsuccessfully run for state representative and once for the Michigan Supreme Court. In comparison to Stabenow, he lacks the track record to sway us. [Note: Matt Abel recently responded to the Metro Times with a letter to the editor.]

The Metro Times endorses Debbie Stabenow.

State Supreme Court: During the last election, the state Chamber of Commerce, the insurance industry, manufacturers and other special interests all campaigned mightily to elect a Republican majority to the Michigan Supreme Court. The GOP candidates, they claimed, would ensure a court friendly toward the state’s business interests. As we have seen during the past two years, those claims have proved to be all too true. This is a radical court, overturning precedent at an alarming rate and siding all too often with the special interests that brought it to power. This paper’s editors fully believe that the current system for selecting our Supreme Court justices is terribly flawed, and support calls to reform the system. Until then, we think the vast majority of people in this state will be better served by the Democratic Party nominees. For that reason, we endorse attorney Marietta Robinson, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Edward Thomas and Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Fitzgerald.

Proposal 1: The school voucher initiative, threatens to radically alter Michigan’s public education system by providing public funds to parents choosing to educate their children in private and parochial schools. Although the proposal appears to be targeted toward the handful of districts where more than a third of students fail to graduate, it is really a Trojan horse that will open the door to wholesale change across the state. As the Metro Times reported earlier this year, legislation is already waiting in the wings that would make vouchers available in every district in the state. Our opposition to this proposal should not be mistaken as an endorsement of the status quo. Too many public schools, especially in urban areas, are failing to adequately educate our children. But draining funds from public education is not the answer. Rather a basic change in the education system needs to be explored. We strongly recommend a no vote on Prop. 1.

Proposal 2: This is a reaction to Michigan’s Republican-dominated state Legislature seeming inability to stop meddling in local affairs. In 1998, it abolished Detroit’s Recorder’s Court. The following year it took over the Detroit School Board and passed legislation that prevents counties and cities (i.e. Detroit and Wayne County) from suing gun manufacturers to recover costs for gun violence. It has been fighting — unsuccessfully so far — to take over control of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. But the state Legislature has turned its heavy hand to statewide interventions. Last March it outlawed residency rules across the state, making it illegal to require municipal employees to live within city limits. You can bet that Republican lawmakers — the same folks who complain about the federal government interfering in state affairs — will continue meddling in local matters unless they are legally prevented from doing so. Prop. 2, if passed, will require a two-thirds vote every time the state Legislature attempts to enact a law that intervenes in local government. It is not a surefire way to keep state lawmakers from poking their noses where they don’t belong, but if passed it will make that more difficult. We strongly recommend a yes vote on Prop. 2.

Proposal A: This one is easy to remember: A stands for Arts, and Arts are Awesome.

Prop. A will give 17 major arts and cultural organizations in Wayne and Oakland counties such as the Detroit Institute of the Arts, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Henry Ford Museum, Cranbrook and Meadow Brook Performing Arts Center, about $29 million in the first year alone. It will also give about $15 million to smaller local arts and cultural groups in Wayne and Oakland counties. This means more arts programming, more free arts events, and more educational opportunities for everyone.

Proposal A would allow these institutions to count on a funding source that comes directly from taxpayers, which means they become less vulnerable to legislators on budget-trimming sprees, and allow more long-term planning.

And what does it cost us? The half-mill property tax amounts to 50 cents per thousand dollars of each home’s taxable value. If your house is worth $150,000, you’ll pay less than $40 a year. We recommend a yes vote on Prop. A.

Send comments to [email protected]