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Barbs, Brickbats and Picking the Best on the Ballot

November 05, 2000|GLORIA STEINEM | Gloria Steinem is a writer, feminist organizer and the founder of Ms. magazine

There has never been in my lifetime an election that was more important. Gore supports reproductive choice; affirmative action and other remedies for discrimination; environmental protections; gun control, and legislation against hate crimes, not to mention federal protection of endangered species, public lands and water.

Bush is the opposite on all those things. He has created a state that is the worst in the nation on air pollution, the numbers of children unprotected by health insurance, and the legality of concealed weapons. He also has proudly admitted to being the "most anti-abortion governor in the nation."

On welfare reform, the issue with which I most disagree with Gore, it would not make sense to punish him by punishing poor women even more under Bush. Gore is putting forward various measures, including health coverage for children, that would remedy some ills of welfare reform, and it is up to us as social justice movements to design and push for more.

I don't believe, had Ralph Nader been in the White House with the same right-wing Republican control of Congress, that he could have done better than Clinton-Gore. In addition, Nader has lost moral authority by abandoning his tactic of asking for votes only in "safe" states, and actually courting a Bush victory because "Bush would make things so bad, the country would rise up." Since issues tell us what a politician did yesterday but character says what he or she will do tomorrow, I should also say that I have always found Gore to be personally honest, kind-hearted and available for information and argument.

I feel that I owe this vote to people in general and women in particular in other countries whose lives would be put in jeopardy by the presence of Bush and the absence of Gore. For example, congressional Republicans are awaiting Bush and his reinstatement by executive order of the ban against abortion services by entities receiving U.S. foreign aid. Because of this ban, many women died or were injured during botched abortions--and there are many other crucial issues on which the world is watching. We who are in the belly of the whale owe them our best vote.

I am wholeheartedly and out of conscience voting to keep Bush out of the White House and to put Gore in.

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