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Resist Urge to Vote for Nader

October 26, 2000|GREG RUBINSON | Greg Rubinson is a lecturer in the UCLA Writing Program

Ralph Nader is finally getting some attention, although it's not for the policies he and the Green Party stand for. It's because he may draw enough voters away from Democrat Al Gore that Republican George W. Bush would take states that should be easy wins for Gore.

Now some of Nader's oldest supporters, including 12 of the original "Nader's Raiders" who helped him expose dangerous consumer products, such as the Corvair, are urging him to drop out of the race lest he throw the White House to Bush. He won't, but those of us with liberal values must support Gore, no matter how much we might want to vote for Nader.

Nader doesn't claim that he'll win the election. His goal is to build a "watchdog party." The irony is that in building a liberal alternative he may very well steer the country into the hands of arch-conservatives. Is it worth the risk?

In an ideal world, I'd like to see a coalition between the Democratic Party and the Green Party. In return for Nader asking his supporters to vote for Gore, for example, Gore could promise Nader a position in his Cabinet as secretary of the Interior. This would be a genuine position of influence from which Nader could act as a watchdog on the issues he is campaigning on.

The problem is that the Green Party needs 5% of the vote to qualify for federal financing in the next election. With federal financing, the Green Party could become a significant force for social change. So if Nader were to abandon the election, he'd be abandoning the Green Party.

For liberals, the situation remains a mess. But we must make up our minds.

I voted for Nader in 1996 because it was clear that Bill Clinton was going to win. My heart tells me to vote for Nader now too, but I won't because this election is too close.

There are real differences between the major party candidates, and the consequences of a Bush presidency that would set us back decades in social progress are too frightening to countenance. It's not worth the risk.

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