Letters to the Editor

Despite Assurances Otherwise, Nader Irresponsibly Inhibited Democratic Gain

To the Editor:

Nader and his supporters have demonstrated exactly why liberals have accomplished so little in this country. Their disdain for reality and practicality and willingness to sacrifice the well-being and hopes of others less fortunate than themselves for the sake of confinement to narrow principles is an obstacle to the very causes that they claim to support. They forget their history and betray not only our prospects for progress in the near future but have, through their thoughtless approach to the election, eliminated liberals from all positions of leadership anywhere in the federal system and opened the way to unopposed regressive government.

Nader's insistence that his candidacy had no effect on whether Gore won or lost exemplifies the detachment from reality typical of his campaign. The smallest fraction of his votes would tip the scales in Florida, and slightly larger fractions could have swung several other key states. Furthermore, Gore's campaign was visibly forced to divert limited resources to combat Nader efforts and Republican efforts on Nader's behalf. Nader's claim defies evidence and logic just as his campaign's timing and conduct defies reason.

The time for debate among liberals ended with the primaries, when Nader could have acted and given voice to the liberal elements within the Democratic Party that he recognizes but insists are silenced. Refusal to look beyond cynicism and choose the best of what's possible has influenced this election and will continue to push the progressive goals of our ideology farther off into the future so long as they fester among the liberal cause. Nader supporters may happily tolerate the "minimal" differences between Democratic and Republican leadership, but it is doubtful that those depending on embattled government services or recognizing the need for immediate changes in law and policy can endure the consequences with such indifference.

Jonathan Klein, CC '03

Nov. 10, 2000

The author is the Secretary of the College Democrats.

With Such a Close Call, Why Should Nader Be Blamed More than Others?

To the Editor:

As many people are aware, the presidential election has come down to the state of Florida. In fact not just Florida, but a couple thousand votes in Florida. Therefore, I think instead of yelling at Greens/Naderites for voting for a candidate that has already affected the election, Gore supporters should blame the Libertarians (Browne), Consitution Party (Phillips), Reform Party (Buchanan), and Natural Law/Reform Party (Hagelin) candidates for not supporting Al Gore. Each of them got more than the 1,700 votes required to swing the election--why not blame them? If Hagelin and his mere 2,200 votes had supported Gore, Gore would have won. So we all ask ourselves--why didn't he or any of the other candidates tell their constituencies to vote for Gore. After all, he and so many other candidates surely knew that by having people vote for them they deprived Gore of crucial votes. Furthermore, they deprived Gore and Bush from the fair election they deserved--one uncluttered with meaningless so called "other views" and so called "different beliefs." That's not what a true democracy should be--it should be uncluttered from third party candidates who merely distract our democracy from its true purpose--to determine who America supports, the Democrats or Republicans. Our democracy should be free from those who recklessly vote for candidates who they ought to know have no right to be included on the ballot; candidates who ought to not even have the right to have their messages heard by the American people. A healthy democracy is one that guarantees the exclusion of misguided candidates who distract the electorate from the only candidates that should be allowed on the ballot, those from the Democrats and the Republicans.

Jonathan Levine, CC '04

Nov. 9, 2000

The author is member of the Columbia University Greens.

Long Lines Are Just a New Tactic to Keep Columbia Students from Voting

To the Editor:

For years the New York Board of Elections tried to deny Columbia students the right to vote in the City. Upon receiving a Columbia student's registration form, the Board of Elections would refuse to allow the student to register unless his or her driver's license was issued by the State of New York. Clearly the Board of Elections would rather not allow Columbia students to vote, but since we are residents of New York for at least 30 days before the election, it is illegal to prohibit us from voting. Faced with a lawsuit from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Board of Elections was forced to allow Columbia students to register.

Then, for once, a government bureaucrat had a bright idea: allow Columbia students to register, but make the line so long that it discourages them from voting. That's right, most Columbia and Barnard students living in resident halls (residents of the 74th election district) all had to vote on the same machine in Lerner Hall while the line for the 67th election district (also in Lerner Hall) never exceeded four people during my three hour wait.

The plan was perfect--allow the students to register, but make thousands of them vote on one machine so that the line would be long enough to discourage a significant number of students from voting at all. These tactics weren't acceptable when used by boards of elections in the South to keep African-Americans from voting, and they aren't acceptable now to keep Columbia students from voting in New York.

Daniel G. Fulton, CC '04

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