|Issue No 78||17 November 2000|
Letters to the Editor
Heaps of US Presidential Feedback
Tool of the Week Nomination
YOUR MAGAZINE, FOR BEING CORPORATE TOOLS
why do you have to dump on Brother Ralph Nader?
The party of Wall Street, aka the Democrats, lost this election BECAUSE THEY ABANDONED THE AMERICAN WORKER, AND AFRICAN AMERICANS.
It wasn't Nader's fault that Bush won, IT WAS GORE'S FAULT.
Also, thanks to Clinton's Crime Bill of 1996, 6 Million Americans lost the right to vote, due to felony convictions for victimless crimes such as drug sales.
About 4 million of those disenfranchised Americans were Black or Latino.
In other words CLINTON DISENFRANCHISED MUCH OF THE DEMOCRAT'S VOTE BASE.
And, by the way, Gore was no more "pro labor" than Bush, so, please cut out the pro Democrat propaganda.
Remember, the Democrats gave us NAFTA, The Democrats gave us WTO the Democrats gave us Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, the Democrats laid off over 300,000 unionized Federal employees [they called it "reinventing government", and most of the folks who got laid off were Black], the Democrats blocked the DRUM bill, which would expand the democratic rights of union members within our unions, and last and worst, the Democrats threw 1 million jobless single mothers off Welfare, taking bread out of the mouths of their 4 million kids.
How "pro labor" is any of that???
I know you folks are Australian, and ignorant of American political realities, so, that's why I took time out to educate you.
Gregory A. Butler,
local 608 carpenter,
GANGBOX : CONSTRUCTION WORKERS NEWS SERVICE
The idiot who called Nader a soiled saint
Get real, bozo! Anyone who cites the New York Times to build a case for Al Gore isn't paying attention. The Times is no friend of working people. Neither is Al. He is the architect of welfare "reform" which consigns more women and children to poverty and hunger. He will be proud to bomb Iraq if necessary, though the child-murdering sanctions he supports are doing pretty well without bombs. He is willing to let salmon in the Pacific NW become extinct. He wants to spend more on the military. And if he had run a truly populist, progressive campaign (admittedly impossible for a DLP-sponsored candidate) he would have won. It was his campaign to lose and he did. Point your finger at your own candidate, dildo!
Gore Qualified? Get Real!
What a curious editorial on "The American Way"!
First you say Al Gore is the "most qualified" candidate, when any fool can see that Ralph Nader is better qualified -- if only by virtue of not being a complete hypocrite.
Then you say, "Progressive types across the Free World might be scratching their heads" -- when any self-respecting "progressive type" has always avoided the cold-war term "free world" (and even from a reactionary point of view it's been meaningless since 1989).
You say: "Democrats may rightly blame Nader's spoiling tactics". Rightly? What could be more justified than spoiling a Democrat campaign that you yourself say was run by money and spin doctors.
You complain that "Gore failed to engage the electorate with a vision". Be glad. Be very glad. Gore's vision, like Bush's vision, is that of rampant capitalism. Speaking of which...
You say that "capital is now king" and issue a "sobering warning to those who would have us believe our future lies as a province of America". This smug nationalist formulation forgets that capital is and always has been king in Australia too. We just marked the 25th anniversary of the day when capital and its representatives destroyed the Whitlam Government -- a political crisis far more serious than the Bush-Gore Florida follies.
No Room for Smugness
Comparing election systems to computer programs, Michael Gadiel says, "Australians can feel smug lucky for us; we've got Democracy Version 7.0." Before we get too smug, lets check our version of the Democracy program for bugs.
There is the well-known "Branch Stacking" virus. Not only does this virus corrupt election outcomes, it can lead to physical violence. All in all, a very nasty virus indeed!
Then there is the Upper House "Bedsheet Ballot" virus. The produces an endless list of little known candidates making it virtually impossible for voters to cast a meaningful and valid vote. Instead, most are compelled to vote "above the line" for candidates chosen and ordered in back room deals. A New South Wales variant of this virus has led to the election of candidates who received an infinitesimal percentage of primary votes.
There is the "Voter Imposter" bug. There is little to prevent corrupt voters from obtaining the names of others that have not voted and voting in their place. How many people voting in the last half-hour before polls close are actually who they say they are? Despite central control of the election system, rumours abound of corrupt booths where voters phone in their votes to friendly poll workers or cast votes on behalf of their whole family to save them the bother.
Let's not forget the "Remembrance Day" bug which allows an elected government to be dismissed by an appointed representative of a foreign hereditary monarch or the Queensland bug which allowed a senator to consistently vote against the policies he supported during his election.
The Americans elected a dead man. Australians elected Pauline Hanson, on the ballot as a Liberal, after the party had dumped her. The Americans probably got the better deal.
Counting the vote has been Florida is tedious and confusing. Counting the vote in New South Wales can be the same. Remember waiting for a week for the distribution of Shooters Party votes in Bathurst to determine if Labor would form the government in 1995?
Democracy Version 7.0 retains many of the problems of Version 1. It is equally likely in either version for a party to receive the majority of popular votes but fail to elect the national leader. Both versions are subject to media and special interest group manipulation, both favour the rich. Both versions are subject to similar political inertia. Changing the election system in the USA is about as easy as changing the method of choosing a head of state in Australia.
Democracy is a pretty good program, but smug is the last thing citizens of either country should feel.
More Gadiel Fan Mail
"If he loses the election, Al Gore would be the unluckiest person on earth. On four levels he has been confounded in his mission to achieve the White House. Firstly, he won the popular vote by 120, 000, despite the possibility that he might lose the Electoral College vote. Secondly, the Nader effect which under a preferential system, such as is used in Australia, would ensure that the fifty percent of Nader voters who would otherwise have voted for Gore could have provided him with their second preference."
Come on, people. If you're going to cover US elections, at least learn a little about them. Gore's "bad luck" in running against Nader is nothing compared to the bad luck which cost Bush (in '92) and Dole ('96) their chances of victory. Check Perot's percentage in those years. It's massively higher than Nader's 3%, and most of it was grabbed from the Republican candidates. Add Perot's respective totals to Bush's and Dole's and you'll see how unlucky they were; in both '92 and '96, Clinton won fewer votes than his combined opponents.
The popular vote stuff is precisely why the US has an electoral college system; to prevent what its constitutional framers called "tyranny of the majority". Besides, the statistic is largely meaningless. Both Gore and Bush were chasing, and campaigned for, electoral college votes. The whole contest would have been different had it been for popular votes.
Stick to what you know. Whatever that is.
Where's the Balance?
Nader and unions
Workers On Line (10 Nov)pontificated that Ralph Nader "pinched" votes that should have gone to Al Gore.
WoL chose to take a stand on this aspect of the US elections, yet disenfranchisement and a blatant lack of democracy is fundamental for the vast majority of US working people.
Only one third of the eligible population actually vote because they do not see a solution among either the Republicans or the Democrats. Those least likely to vote include young people, workers, low income groups, African, Hispanic and Native Americans (cited in WoL later).
The Florida debacle further reinforces that the US elections are anything but fair. People were prevented from voting because names were missing from rolls, ballot papers ran out, staff shortages meant addresses couldn't be verified.or polling places simply closed.
Didn't this rob Gore of votes or, more importantly, deny working people their democratic right to vote? Exit polls in the US show that half of those voting for Nader would not have voted otherwise, implying that Nader was attracting new voters rather than stealing them.
Nader ran a campaign that condemned corporate greed and supported economic justice which probably spoke to disenfranchised layers more effectively than either high profile candidate. Nader opposed free trade and probably won some support from those activated by Seattle and the growing anti-corporate movement. Nader was also the only candidate to condemn the Israeli violence against Palestinian people
Nader claimed the Democrats have betrayed unions because they don't propose to strengthen labor laws. According to Robert Fitch, professor at La Guardia College, the last piece of favorable labor legislation passed by the Democrats was for health and safety under Richard Nixon.
Gore criticized "loopholes" business use to get around labor laws and has "promised to urge employers to allow employees to freely choose". Gore supports free trade when it means opening foreign markets to American goods but proposes a ban on "dumping" goods in the US: good old fashioned protectionism. Gore doesn't comment on the extensive use of exploited prison labor inside the US.
Nader condemned union officials for not asking their members before donating $54million to the Democrats. The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and Service Employees International Union are two of the top five contributors to the Democrat coffers. Nader received negligible donations from unions.
WoL could have provided a more balanced view for Australian unionists or is it so blinkered by two-party-lesser-evilism politics that it is incapable of seriously examining a radical pro-worker, pro-community alternative?
The feedback was so stimulating we should do it agin in four years time ...
Interview: Doubly Blessed
With that unforgettable name, Grace Grace is making her mark as the first female secretary of the Queensland trade union movement.
Unions: On The Line
Trade unions this week entered a landmark partnership with the call centre industry to improve the quality jobs in this growing sector.
History: Conspiracy or Class? The Whitlam Sacking
Never trust a man who wears a top hat and tails in Australia, in Summer. Neale Towart considers this and other evidence of conspiracy in the great shonky dismissal.
Legal: Return Of The Lock-out
Marian Baird reports on the increasing tendency of aggressive employers to use lock-outs to reduce wages and conditions and promote individual agreements.
Activists: Waterfront Hero Bows Out
John Coombs, the man the government compared to Ned Kelly - villain to the bosses, the big land owners and conservatives, folk hero to working Australians - bows out of the union movement next month.
International: Morocco Stonewalls In Western Sahara
Morocco has new king but its old game plan of defying world opinion over its occupation of the Western Sahara continues.
Review: The Identity-Shifting Pragmatist
If New Zealand should have an Australian as its first Labour Prime Minister, then it is only fitting that Australia should have as its first a man who spent much of his formative years across the ditch.
Satire: Hackers Infect Microsoft Computers With Mysterious Windows Virus
SEATTLE, Thursday: Shame-faced workers at Microsoft admitted today that hackers had succeeded in penetrating their network's defences and had installed a sophisticated virus on the Apple Macintosh machines used across the software giant's operations.
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