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Barbs, Brickbats and Picking the Best on the Ballot

November 05, 2000|MARK WEISBROT | Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C

Ironically, Ralph Nader is the candidate of the center, if we define that to be what most Americans support. Polls show that most Americans want universal health insurance, believe (correctly) that agreements like NAFTA have hurt American workers, do not want to increase military spending and think that corporations have too much power. At least some of these views would prevail if we had more democratic elections.

And there are a lot of issues on which Bush and Gore have the same awful agenda. For example, both will continue the "race to the bottom" in wages and environmental standards through global trade and commercial agreements. Both will persist in the failed "war on drugs" that has sent hundreds of thousands of people unnecessarily to prison. Both support increased military spending, including at least $60 billion on a "Star Wars" missile defense system.

Given these uncertainties, a vote for Nader is more pragmatic than it may appear. His showing in this election may prove to be more important than the contest between the candidates of Big Money.

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