copyright Bill Widener 2000

Easy Bein' Green

To the Editor: Like many progressives who plan to vote for Ralph Nader, I disagree with the views so pungently expressed by Dan Savage in the October 26 Ace Weekly.

Savage tells us that Nader is not a "serious candidate," and that mature voters will accordingly choose the lesser of two evils on November 7th. Naderites, however, believe that voting in a democracy is about choosing the candidate who best expresses the individual voter's views - not the candidate one is told to choose by media barons and party bosses.

Most serious supporters of Nader realize that our vote may cost Gore the election. This would not be an unqualified disaster for progressives, because Gore has betrayed every liberal cause he ever supported. On most issues - free trade, AFDC, corporate welfare, military spending - there is little or no difference between Gore and Bush.

On social issues, too, there is less difference between Bush and Gore than Savage suggests. Governor Bush claims he is "pro-life," but has also stated that his views on abortion resemble President Clinton's and that he no longer opposes legalization of RU-486. Apropos of gay rights, Bush has said that he doesn't care what Americans do in their own homes - whereas Gore and Lieberman, who support censorship of the media and internet, seek greater governmental intrusion into Americans' private lives.

Democratic leaders like FDR once promised Americans "freedom from fear." All that the current Democratic candidate has to offer progressives is fear itself. Perhaps that is the only emotion a replicant like Al Gore can understand.


David Nichols

Anyone who disagrees with you is just an idiot [Savage Love, Oct 26]. I realize that; I really do; Mr. Limbaugh - sorry, Mr. Savage - but I still venture that there is nothing that any of your imaginary friends allegedly said (conveniently) for your column that can compete for pure brain dead stupidity and cowardice with your own words.

For example: if it's stupid we're talkin', it's hard to beat referring to Ralph Nader as a "moaning prig" who is running a "vanity" campaign. The most cursory glance at Nader's past would have informed Mr. Savage that Nader has been approached many times to run seriously for President. By others. I would venture that it's a fairly safe bet that Nader - a warrior the likes of which we may never see again - has been fighting the good fight for more years than Mr. Savage has been on this planet. I would venture that it would be a REALLY safe bet that Nader does more for his country and the people in it before lunch than Mr. Savage (and his little sex column) will manage to accomplish in his entire life. The idea that Nader might be acting out of some desire for personal aggrandizement is asinine. What a bone-deep willful ignorance of reality you have.

As for those of us who plan to cast our vote for him, let me remind Mr. Savage that it really doesn't matter if he wins, or if he does not. If his candidacy helps to elect Bush, that is not our responsibility.

It was YOUR corporate masters who chose the two candidates that people like you would be allowed to choose from.

The rest of us are not responsible for them - YOU are, if you so obediently line up to confirm their proprietorship over your life. Your Mommy should have taught you that you are supposed to do what you believe is right - period. If you vote based on who you think is most likely to throw you a scrap from the table - well, you're pissing your OWN nest, old boy, and I feel sorry for you. I'll vote for Nader, silly and idiotic thing that I am, but you know what? I won't have to hold my nose when I do it. Maybe you'll find out what that feels like some day.

I think I've said my piece, Mr. Savage. Enjoy your scraps.

Jeff Deaton

Not so fast...

Dan Savage did a great job of pointing out the obvious [Oct 26, "Nader Baiting"] in your new issue.

I consider myself a progressive. I care about civil rights and civil liberties, the environment, and a woman's right to choose. All of those issues will be rolled back a hundred years if Bush is elected, which he will be, if even three percent of swing voters go to Nader.

In voting one's conscience, Nader is an unconscionable choice. Just as Ross Perot helped Clinton to defeat Bush, Nader is going to be personally responsible for sending our country back to the dark ages and back alleys if Bush wins.

Does he have a right to run? Yes. Just as I have the right to reject his utopian idealism and vote for Gore, flawed though he may be.

I suspect Nader is just as flawed. That's the positive side effect he neglects to mention when whining about his lack of media attention. No one's bothered to turn a real microscope on him.

Too bad.

Doris Stinnet

All the way to the right

Dear Editor,

Two things: 1) Vote on November 7th. 2) Vote for Gatewood.

Gatwood is right on the issues; and he is all the way to the right on the ballot. A vote for the Gate is a vote for the good.


James Noll

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Illustration Zach Trenholm

Why Gore?

You do realize you're represented by soulless cash whores. And when I say that, I mean no disrespect to actual whores.

-Bill Maher

So why not vote for Ralph Nader anyway?

Why wouldn't any decent alternative newspaper leap to endorse his candidacy?

He cares about all the issues that the alternative press is purportedly built on: the environment, poverty, living wages, freedom of choice, abolishing the death penalty, and campaign finance reform.

He's enjoyed a distinguished career in public advocacy, looking out for consumer safety and serving as a dutiful watchdog who's tried to put an end to corporate welfare and corruption.

A vegetarian idealist on a bike.

Hey. What's not to love?

Most people enjoy being presented with an opportunity to vote with the courage of their convictions.

Well, a few questions are in order.

Can he win?


He doesn't think so, and neither do his supporters.

That isn't the point, they all argue.

The point is: reform of the system.

If the Greens can get their five percent - they argue - they are on the road to federal funding, and status as a legitimate third party (look at the wonders it's done for the Reform party).

Could he do the job, if elected?


He might not be willing to cede this point, and his supporters probably won't either. But he is, in fact, unqualified for the job. His many years of tireless service as an advocate- while (again) laudable - have done nothing to prepare him for the task of Leader of the Free World (and that's the gig).

The presidency is not an entry level position.

Is Ralph Nader the "vanity candidate" Dan Savage accused him of being last week (provoking all manner of reader outrage)?


Nothing in his history really supports that.

Vain? No.



And quixotic is not just an adjective, when applied to Nader - it's a thesis.

It might not be what Michael Cohen and Matthew Cohen had in mind when they presented "Madness and Narrative in Part II of Don Quixote" at a pop culture conference in San Antonio, Texas - but it applies.

As follows:

When Don Quixote (wannabe knight) asks to have caged lions released so he can fight them, for example, Don Diego suggests that he might be crazy. "No es loco-respondió Sancho-, sino atrevido," or "He's not mad... but he is daring"

The Cohens write, "all of a sudden we are in another region of irony altogether, where Aristotle's doctrine of moderation and virtuous means is being invoked to defend the most extreme of behaviors. Sancho's remark is the first allusion to Aristotle's example of courage as a virtue located between the extremes of cowardice and foolhardiness."

The Greens may be courageous, but there's a foolhardiness to their methodology.

Reform of the status quo is called for. It's necessary. And it's to be admired.

But sometimes we have to look at the bigger picture. And in a year with a race too close to call, where the margin for error is ±3 percent, drawing three to five percent of the vote away from Gore will almost certainly be the three to five percent it takes to put George W. Bush in the White House.

And then where will the progressives be? You might not like Gore. You don't have to. But you're kidding yourself if you think he poses one-millionth of the danger that a Bush presidency does.

If Bush is elected, the Supreme Court will promptly go straight to hell for the remainder of our lifetimes. Civil liberties will take a hiatus. The working poor (as opposed to the lazy poor, because hey, nobody likes them anyway) will get the shaft. The richest one percent of the population will get richer, and the rest of us will dine on mac and cheese for four years. Interest rates will skyrocket and more of us will be out of work, while the minimum wage will remain flat. And the environment will be converted to a giant ashtray for big oil.

Great idea.

So why does this well-meaning group persist?

Well, here again, the Cohens have an answer.

"As the book progresses we start to feel sympathy for Quixote's idealism and contempt for the cynicism that surrounds him. The disjunction remains pretty simple: Quixote's actions define him as a man who has some admirable qualities but who is still crazy. Those around him are of two kinds. Some are venal and contemptible, but sane; these are the innkeepers, merchants, and farmers whom he encounters. Others-his friends-they began by humoring him-the pretense of believing what he believes-and ended by adopting some of his beliefs. They have become a little crazy. [Cervantes] needs to make the usual categories of sane/insane problematic in order to make Don Quixote's idealistic madness preferable to cynical or immoral sanity."

It would be unkind to call the Greens or Nader "crazy," but there is a discernible madness about any pursuit that guarantees a disastrous income for the very goals one is working toward.

So, the Greens have "ended by adopting some of his beliefs." Sure, it's easy to see why they prefer an "idealistic madness" to the "cynical or immoral sanity" that the rest of us mortals feel compelled to practice. There may be no gray area for a true Green, but the rest of us don't have that luxury.

Maybe that lumps us in with the innkeepers and farmers. Certainly, we're no Sancho Panza.

Or put another way (in translation) "knights-errant should attempt adventures which offer some prospect of a successful outcome, not those which preclude it. Valor that borders on temerity savors of madness rather than of courage."