July 18, 2004

It's over, Barbara

Barbara Ehrenreich was apparently required to get a lobotomy before taking over Thomas Friedman's space in the New York Times while he pens another Pulitzer prize winner. Today's column is a witless diatribe against Ralph Nader for not giving up his ideals as she has.

She shows a surprising superficiality in her politics, saying she supported Nader in 2000 because she thought Bush was a harmless buffoon. She, like many others, calls that Nader's first run; many of us, however, remember voting for him in 1996. She also, again like many others, has adopted the presumption that Nader can only be a "spoiler," that he "steals" votes from the "legitimate" candidate.

She says Nader has compromised himself in his efforts to get on the ballot in some states. Does she criticize the sham of democracy when so many diverse barriers prevent a prominent candidate from appearing on the ballot? Does she criticize the electoral system that counts votes in small states as more than those in large states? The winner-takes-all system that effectively causes half of the voters to not be represented in their government? Nader is a veteran campaigner and a national political figure. She should be defending his right to be on every ballot automatically. If she believes in democracy, she should be crying out for proportional representation.

Instead, she defends the status quo of the corporatist party system. She says that Sharpton, Dean, Moseley-Braun, and Kucinich show that Nader's issues have been taken up by Democrats, forgetting to mention how Kucinich was forced last week to bow to the Democrats' pro–Israeli apartheid and pro–bloated military budget platform. Kerry is her candidate, and he has no plans for an Iraq pull-out, universal health care, workers' rights, progressive taxes, restoration of civil liberties, etc. There's abortion rights, of course -- except that Kerry is less supportive of reproductive rights than Clinton and Reno were, and during that fabled administration real access to abortion declined precipitously. A Democratic Senate approved Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. Democrats had voted unanimously to confirm Antonin Scalia. More recently, Democrats, including Kerry and Edwards, supported Bush's tax cuts, the "Patriot" Act, the perverse "No Child Left Behind" education laws, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. They are active contributors to the massive corporate tax give-aways currently working through our houses of government. Ehrenreich nonetheless insists that Kucinich is a force in the party and coyly states that only if he doesn't get the nomination will she have to consider an alternative.

Cute, Barbara. You can't admit that you are actively opposing what you have in the past pretended to stand for and are now campaigning for the imperialist plutocrat John Kerry to replace the imperialist plutocrat George Bush. There is good reason to worry about another four years of Bush, particularly since there is no real opposition to his policies from the Democrats (including Kerry). But you sound like an idiot arguing that voting Democrat is anything more than a temporary necessity. It is not Ralph Nader who has lost his moorings, but you.