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Dems Frantic About Nader

was more devastating and punitive than the Welfare Reform Bill, passed in the summer of 1996. Gore was the one who pushed Clinton into signing the bill over the opposition of virtually the whole cabinet. In consequence 2.6 million people were thrown into direst poverty, of whom 1.1 million were children. The federal entitlement for welfare, one of the cornerstones of the New Deal was ended and 14 million on welfare were put on a 3-year limit.

Even as Nader made a strong showing at the National Press Club this week, Rep Barney Frank took a swipe at him, saying that Gore would be a more vigilant defender of civil rights. It’s odd to hear the openly gay rep from Massachusetts defend Gore on these grounds. After all, the vice president’s biographer Bill Turque discloses in his book that Gore, a born again Christian, has referred to homosexuals as being “abnormal”.

Gore is also the man who tried to gut affirmative action at the federal level, with his Reinventing Government initiatives in 1993. The vice president’s position on the death penalty is indistinguishable from George Bush’s, and Gore’s campaign is now attacking the Texas governor for being soft on crime.

In the New York Times, the columnist Anthony Lewis, a Gore supporter, lashed out at Nader for his opposition to the WTO and for permitting one of his groups to accept money from the textile magnate Roger Milliken.

At this point one has to start laughing. Over the past 23 years Gore has solicited and accepted campaign cash from arms companies, the nuclear industry, bond traders, runaway firms to Mexico like Mattel, exploiters of child labor like Disney. Occidental, in which the Gore family has a stake now worth over half a million, is trying to drill in the Colombian rainforest on land belonging to the Uwa Indians, who are being murdered by Colombian soldiers now about to receive another billion, courtesy of the Clinton-Gore administration.

In the end, Gore’s crowd have one basic argument: a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. No, it’s not. A vote for Nader is a vote for revitalizing the system and breaking the iron ceiling of the current one-party-with-two-heads.

Get Nader into the debates (under the current arbitrary rule imposed by the Democratic and Republican party machines he needs to show 15 per cent national support) and he could trounce both Gore and Bush and roll into November with support kindred to Perot’s 30-plus ratings in the summer of 1992. It was a three-way race then, and it could be a three-way race this fall. Nader isn’t going to self-destruct the way Perot did. A vote for Nader is not a wasted vote. It’s a vote for optimism, a vote that says that if Nader even gets over 5 per cent next November, then funding will kick in that will help thousands upon thousands of young reformers get their start across the country. It could be the first truly exciting event of the new millennium. CP

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink co-written with Joshua Frank. He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

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