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Published on Sunday, November 5, 2000 in the San Francisco Chronicle
Thoughts of a Progressive Voter
by Edwin Hoffman
BEFORE WE VOTE, we should ask ourselves whether the election of Al Gore or George W. Bush will move America toward the future that we need and want. If the positions of Gore and Bush are unacceptably alike on the most vital issues facing our country and the world, won't it be wrong to vote for either man?

And they are alike.

Elect either Gore or Bush and the United States will get an even more astronomical military budget. (It is already $288 billion, 57 times greater than that of Russia!). Then add in the $60 billion dollars or more on the futile and provocative anti-missile defense system that neither man opposes.

Elect either and expect the continuing deployment abroad of America's military might. Elect either and America's armed intervention in Columbia's civil war will expand, most likely leading to another Vietnam. Elect either and we will get a continuance of the unconscionable embargo on Cuba and of the child-killing sanctions on Iraq.

Elect either and there will be more WTO, more IMF, more World Bank, more NAFTAs, more promoting by our government of the greedy corporate globalization that so afflicts the poorer nations of the world.

Elect either and the racist death penalty and the prison warehousing of people of color will continue unabated.

So, if Gore and Bush are unacceptably alike on these vital issues, if they are to be judged by how they stand on the issues that most directly affect our future, then we should say no to Gore, no to Bush, and yes to Ralph Nader and the Green Party.

Nader is a progressive, especially on the need to protect America from rampant corporate greed. He alone had an unblemished record for integrity. However, he was excluded from the presidential debates and is given little media coverage. Although he has no chance of getting elected next week, he does provide each of us with the opportunity to cast a principled vote.

The choice in this election is not an easy one to make, especially for those on the left. I can respect those progressives who will vote for Gore, seeing him as unsatisfactory when judged on the most crucial issues, but still better than Bush. However, if we want our vote to be a demand for a truly better future, if we want to show that we are primarily concerned about the vital issues affecting our country and the world, the choice has to be Ralph Nader and all of the Green Party candidates.

In California with Gore running ahead, those progressives inclined to vote for the ``lesser evil'' can now comfortably vote for Nader. They not only will be able to express their desire for real change, but can give more substance to the Green Party and its potential of becoming a third party of more significance.

Edwin Hoffman teaches African American history at California State University at Hayward.

2000 San Francisco Chronicle


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