{Empty title} | The Nation

Mr. Quarterman's letter is predicated on a series of hypothetical assumptions about Al Gore and the Democratic Party that run counter to the historical record. His first assumption about a Gore administration is "no economic collapse." But it was Clinton--with the ardent support of Gore and most Democrats--who pushed for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the New Deal law that prohibited commercial banks from engaging in risky investment banking. Many economists view the repeal of Glass-Steagall--a bipartisan folly that passed the Senate 90-8--as an open invitation to the reckless casino betting that ran amok in the banking industry over the past decade. Second, Gore was also cheerleader for the Gingrich-conceived and Clinton-backed WTO and NAFTA, which have led to the hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs, the rapid deindustrialization of the US economy and ballooning trade deficits. Gore also applauded the rampant deregulatory policies of the Clinton administration that led to such disasters as the Telecom Act of 1996, a disaster for consumers but a boon to the communications giants that have swallowed up any remnant of independent commercial meda. In general, it was precisely Clinton-Gore's embrace of the fundamental tenets of Chicago School neoliberal market fundamentalism--under the tutelage of investment banker Robert Rubin--that set the state for the current meltdown.

As for the supposition that Gore would have prevented the war in Iraq, keep in mind that Gore was one of the earliest and most vociferous supporters of the 1990 Gulf War, and that as late as 2002 he was urging decisive military action against Iraq. In his February 2002 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Gore said, "I also support the President's stated goals in the next phases of the war against terrorism as he laid them out in the State of the Union.... virulent threat in a class by itself: Iraq. As far as I am concerned, a final reckoning with that government should be on the table. To my way of thinking, the real question is not the principle of the thing, but of making sure that this time we will finish the matter on our terms.... So this time, if we resort to force, we must absolutely get it right. It must be an action set up carefully and on the basis of the most realistic concepts. Failure cannot be an option, which means that we must be prepared to go the limit." Clearly, Gore was part of the chauvinistic chorus stampeding the nation toward war, as were most of his Democratic confreres in the Senate, who voted to authorize this disaster and, even worse, have voted preponderantly to fund it ever since (including Obama!).

Civil liberties? The Democrats in both Houses broadly lined up behind both the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act, and it was Democratic votes that provided the margin of victory in the confirmation of both Roberts and Alito (the Democrats controlled the Senate when Scalia was confirmed 98-0. So much for the Democrats as defenders of civil liberties.

The Democrats have been complicit in every plank of the Bush agenda, and since they have controlled the House have not moved to repeal or reverse any of it--to the contrary, they continue to fund the war and the bloated defense budget.

The corporate bipartisan consensus that rules Washington, DC, is a documentable reality. The fantasies of a progressive Democratic Party simply fly in the face of this reality. I praise Mr. Nader for exposing this bipartisan scam, for having the courage to set his shoulder against the myths purveyed by the camp followers of the DNC. The American people have the right to vote for whomever they deem best for the presidency. Blame Gore, not Nader, for failing to pose the serious alternative that would have allowed him to landslide Bush in the last election. Given the record of Democratic complicity in the crimes of the corporate elite, progressives should applaud, not marginalize, those with the courage to speak truth to power--and to the stubborn illusions and myths purveyed by smug liberals.