Santa Fe

In her April 30 "Subject to Debate" column, Katha Pollitt wrote, Ralph "Nader's assistant called me recently to say that he had been misquoted last summer in Outside, which had him hoping for a Bush win." Outside regrets that we were not given the opportunity to respond, since this assertion is wholly untrue. In an interview with Outside deputy editor Jay Heinrichs that ran in the August 2000 issue, Heinrichs asked Nader if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose. Nader replied, without hesitation, "Bush." Nader went on to explain, "If you want the parties to diverge from one another, have Bush win." Indeed, in a portion of Nader's reply that Outside did not publish, he said he favored a Bush win "because that would shake up the Democratic Party and make it revalue its future." Nader's words were reported accurately, and neither Nader nor his campaign contacted Outside to complain about the quotation after it was published.

Editor, Outside





Santa Maria, Calif.

Right string, wrong yo-yo, Eric [Alterman, "Tweedledee, Indeed," April 9]. It's Through the Looking-Glass, all right, but that's because the Democrats are the conservative party, we have no liberal party, and the only thing that motivates the GOP is greed.




Ann Arbor, Mich.

Why does Eric Alterman persist in bashing Nader for the "loss" in Florida? It is clear that Gore won nationally and in Florida! It is the Repuglicans, who stole the election, who should be the target of his ire. This blame game only distracts us from the real goal–making sure the Repugs are removed from their majority status in both houses.




Topanga, Calif.

Call off your Nader-hating pit bull, Eric Alterman, and his Nader-baiting puppy, Calvin Trillin. According to those two, every evil act emanating from Washington is Ralph's fault. They don't bark or even whimper at the spineless corruption of the Democratic Party and the gutless silence of Al Gore in the face of crimes committed by the shadow puppet occupying the White House. It's much easier to blame Nader than to condemn the hollow Democratic representatives and senators who are the real collaborators in crimes against the people.




Rocky Hill, Conn.

The evidence is that the Bush II outrages to the welfare and environment of ordinary Americans listed by Eric Alterman will meet no more than token opposition from the pusillanimous (or, as some say, moribund) Democrats, who, after all, promised at inauguration time to meet George W. halfway on his reactionary agenda. If Alterman and his alter egos could redirect even a fraction of the enmity they spew at Nader and the Greens to Bush and the Republicans, there might be hope for the Democrats to turn into a second party. More likely, the Dems will continue to Whig out, and Alterman will read more and more like Westbrook Pegler. I prefer green to yellow any day.




Mason, Mich.

I am the Green candidate Eric Alterman maligned as costing Democrat Dianne Byrum her rightful seat in Congress. It is true that my 3,000-plus votes included the 110-vote margin by which she lost. So why am I unrepentant, even as I watch the Republican right dismantle or destroy whatever modest gains progressives have achieved?

I agree with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich that it would be great to vote for Democrats if only we could find a few. Instead we're asked to elect people like Byrum, whose recent votes to allow Michigan citizens to carry concealed weapons remind me why roughly half the people in this country never bother to go to the polls at all. What's the point in electing more Democrats if only thirteen Democratic senators have the integrity to vote against the despicable new bankruptcy law?

In the sixties, I was a pragmatist and voted for Hubert Humphrey instead of the peace candidates, because I understood we had to do whatever it took to block Richard Nixon. In the intervening decades, I have continued to vote Democratic, waiting for them to pay me back by delivering on their progressive promises, like universal healthcare, but they continue to move further and further away from me.

My Green candidacy allowed me to talk to hundreds of kids in high school government classes. We explored how the corporate corruption of our politics means that both Bush and Gore ran on spending billions on Star Wars instead of investing in efforts to stop global warming before we trigger a runaway greenhouse effect that will end human life on the planet. We talked about how young people feel about inheriting the richest country on earth, where politicians always find the money to build shiny new corporate prisons while schools fall further into decay.

The issue isn't pragmatism but principle. I can no longer hold my nose and vote Democratic when given a viable progressive choice. Bush may well be Richard Nixon or worse, but Gore was an even more conservative Bill Clinton without the charm. Voting for the lesser of two evils still means voting for evil. I'd hope Nation readers would join the Greens in telling the Dems through the ballot box: Reform or we replace you.






New York City

Let me see if I understand Bonnie Bucqueroux's argument. She seems to think it's fine to participate in an election in which she and her comrades work to hand the Republicans the House, the Senate, the presidency and eventually the Supreme Court because it allowed her "to talk to hundreds of kids in high school government classes." It would be hard to parody this kind of thinking, and I won't try. With enemies like this, one hardly needs friends.

And hey, Marvin, quit calling my buddy Trillin a puppy, or he'll hunt you down and bite you on your ass. He may be a poet, but he's no sissy.







If The Nation prints another article by that traitor to the left, Ralph Nader, I'll cancel my subscription ["Corporate Welfare Spoils," May 7].




Santa Barbara, Calif.

The only thing I'm interested in reading from Ralph Nader is an apology. This man owes an apology note and a dozen red roses to every liberal or progressive in America–especially the ones who voted for him believing his lies about there being no difference between a Dubya White House and one run by the man the right tagged Ozone Man.




Woodland Hills, Calif.

Please. Get someone with some credibility. I wouldn't believe Ralph Nader if he told me the sky is blue and Republicans are thieves.

Well, I'd believe the latter. But I'd go outside and check on the former.




Beverly Hills, Calif.

I just couldn't bring myself to read Nader's recent article in The Nation. Perhaps if he explained his reasoning on other subjects, I'd be willing to spend some time considering his point of view on how New York should be run…or anything else for that matter. For instance, I'd like him to explain, once again, why it wouldn't have made any difference if Gore or Bush had won the presidency. Until he enlightens us on that subject, I'll just sip some arsenic-tainted water, take a deep breath of polluted air and search for some undeveloped or undrilled wilderness area, as the Supreme Court removes more of our rights.





I was a campaign manager this past election for Joe Szwaja, a Green Party candidate who got 20 percent in his bid for Congress. I supported the Nader campaign, and I appreciate Ralph's efforts to continue to bring public attention to issues of corporate welfare, as he did in his Nation piece. But why–when he's clearly capable of organizing on a broader scale, when Democrats are rolling over and playing dead in response to Bush Administration priorities–is Ralph choosing to make a public statement of such limited scope? I understand that he ran to inspire organizers around the country–on the campaign trail, he repeatedly said he was not interested in being a figurehead for a progressive movement and that calls for him to be its leader would simply divert people's attention from building their base at home. Though this stand is overly extreme, I think he was generally correct. Still: His silence on broad issues of national importance is deafening, the vacuum left by his absence from the public stage significant. Having steered clear of postelection leadership opportunities few progressives ever have, at a time when even moderate critics of corporate politics are lying low, it seems odd to see Ralph speak out only to say so little.






Oak Park, Ill.

Jon Wiener laments the commercial colonization of the sixties ["Acid Rock: A Flashback," Feb. 26], pointing to the sale of the Beatles' "Revolution" and Dylan's sellout of "The Times They Are A-Changin'." For me, the epitome of sixties colonization came in the eighties, when a cereal company trumpeted its latest product with "Look what they've done to my oatmeal," sung to the tune of Melanie's "Look What They've Done to My Song." Reagan was President, and I thought we had nowhere to go but up. But that was before December 2000.






South Pasadena, Calif.

In "Subject to Debate" for March 5, on The Vagina Monologues, the unsinkable Katha Pollitt asks: "Besides, if feminists don't talk about sex in a fun, accessible, inspiring, nonpuritanical way, who will?" The answer, of course, is…men. Always have, always will.






Cuernavaca, Mexico

We wish to invite Nation readers who visit Cuernavaca to call ( and be invited to join us for breakfast with our tertulia. We've had interesting people: Cedric Belfrage (deceased, but his widow, Mary, is extant); Robert Strother, former senior editor of Reader's Digest; actress Helen Hayes and others. We're only forty miles from Mexico City. The latchstring is out!