recent cover story in Metroland by Norman Solomon asked
what progressives should do in the upcoming presidential election
[“Who Will Serve the People?,” Sept. 4]. The author complained
that Dean was not even a liberal, and that the electoral chances
of the Green Party or Dennis Kucinich were slim.
The short answer is that progressives must organize. Most
progressives—as opposed to the media and national advocacy
groups—understand that the day after the election is usually
more important to the progressive agenda than election day
itself. Regardless of whatever political party wins the election,
those who are concerned about a progressive agenda will need
to keep agitating in order to have an impact. The success
of the progressive agenda is not dependent on who wins the
presidential sweepstakes but on our ability to mobilize popular
and critical support. Real change will come outside of the
election booth, not in it, especially without proportional
The best-case election scenario under the lesser-of-two-evils,
vote-Democratic strategy is that we will elect a right-of-center
Democrat who will be more conservative than Bill Clinton was,
as the Democrats continue their decades-long rightward shift
in search of campaign contributions.
A Democrat elected president will be far closer to the corporate
interests and their agendas than he will be to the peace,
anti-corporate, women or environmental movements. While it
will be a relief to evict the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Ashcroft clique
from the White House, the reality is that the grip of the
permanent political-corporate party over Congress and the
federal government will be as strong as ever. We will be no
closer to a single-payer universal health care system or public
campaign financing or ending global warming or a living-wage
job for all. There will still be more Americans in prison
than any country in the world. The war on drugs will continue
and twice as many American children will live in poverty than
in any other industrial country.
Most progressive reforms in this country—the right of women
to vote, child labor laws, social security, minimum wage,
unemployment insurance—were all initially championed by third
parties. Only when it was clear that progressives would take
their votes elsewhere did the major parties finally adopt
them. Why would the Greens or other progressives heed the
annual call of Democrats to abandon our issues and be silent
on election day? So the Democrats can control more patronage
or raise more contributions?
Some Dems like to advise Greens to join the Democratic Party
and make it a progressive force from within. Leaving aside
the fact that many Greens left the Democratic Party precisely
because they found that to be impossible, it amounts to telling
the Democratic Leadership Council, “Go ahead, push the party
as far to the right as you like. You can always count on our
votes.” That is not a road map to a progressive future, it’s
a road map to exactly where we are.
The great irony of course is that as the DLC moves the Democratic
Party ever rightward, Democrats themselves are the losers.
On the day President Clinton took office in 1993, Democrats
held a majority in the U.S. Senate and House, and 31 governors
were Democrats. Following Clinton’s passage of NAFTA, his
radical cuts to welfare for children and single moms, his
mishandling of health care, his various military escapades,
and his failure to take action on global warming, all those
majorities had been swept aside by the time he left office.
The day we needed the Democratic Party was Sept. 11, 2001.
On that day the Green Party called to treat the murder of
3,000 Americans as a crime against humanity, not as a declaration
of war against all those who disagreed with us. We called
to avoid the scapegoating of Muslims and people of color;
to avoid curtailing our civil liberties; to avoid raining
down our bombs on the Middle East; to strengthen the rule
of law at home and abroad. The Democrats instead joined in
the cry for war, in the shredding of our constitution, in
approving more corporate welfare and tax cuts for the wealthy.
When the Democratic Party once again abandons progressives
in next year’s presidential election, we trust that progressives
will stick to their principles and do the same.
Green Party of New York State
or AWIP, which is the progressive choice? TINA—There Is No
Alternative—is the mantra of political realists, like Maggie
Thatcher or Thomas Friedman and of Democrats who today ask
who is “electable.” AWIP—Another World Is Possible—is the
mantra of progressives who have not caved in to the inevitability
of corporate domination of the world via WTO, IMF, NAFTA,
and FTAA, or of U.S. empire through monopolization of weapons
of mass destruction and preventative wars.
I operate from “realism,” I have to expect that George Bush
will again steal the election by any means necessary, whether
by fixing touch-screen voting machines, a last minute attack
on Iran or North Korea, or just plain purchase of votes: that
there is no “electable” Democrat. When I operate from the
hope that keeps us alive, however, I have to believe that
Another World Is Possible and have to support every effort
to imagine that world. It is from that hope that I will work
to promote the ideals and platform and candidacy of Dennis
Kucinich for president. That work, win or lose, is far more
effective at promoting the world we would like to live in
than the self- censorship of those progressives who are seeking
the “most electable” Democratic candidate for president. Such
pursuit of our vision of a viable world may even inspire and
bring to the polls some of the 50 percent nonvoters, and support
for Kucinich may exert a meaningful pressure on whomever the
Democrats nominate in the end.
Ammann’s false and vicious attack on Dennis Kucinich [Letters,
Sept. 11] deserves a reply.
Ammann describes Kucinich as “unlikable” and “bilious toward
people who disagreed with him,” but never gives one concrete
example to demonstrate these scurrilous charges. We Capital
District Kucinich For President supporters talk about issues.
We don’t need to resort to ad hominem attacks on Howard Dean’s
As mayor of Cleveland, Kucinich was “unable to compromise”
when he refused the banks’ demand to privatize the publicly
owned power and light. Over the years, that act of courage
has saved ratepayers millions of dollars.
Yes, we Kucinich supporters are “zealous progressives” and
proud of it. Ammann argues decisively, and we accept, that
Dr. Dean is not.
Kucinich is not considered a weak, lightweight legislator
by his House colleagues who have chosen him as leader of the
He showed leadership when he got two-thirds of House Democrats
to vote against the Iraq war resolution.
He showed leadership as the only Democrat presidential candidate
to vote against the Patriot Act.
He showed leadership by sponsoring legislation for single-payer
national health insurance in Congress.
Dean, who favors an incremental approach to health-care coverage,
once characterized Kucinich’s stand in favor of universal
coverage by taking the profit out of health care as “tilting
Ammann asks rhetorically, if Dean weren’t in the race, would
the other candidates speak out boldly against Bush administration
policies? The obvious answer is yes because Kucinich has forced
all the candidates, including the centrist Dean, to debate
the WTO, NAFTA, single-payer health insurance, the military
budget, gays’ and lesbians’ right to marry, and Bush’s supplemental
request for Iraq.
Barbara Ehrenreich, and thousands of other Feminists for Kucinich,
will vouch for Kucinich’s commitment to a woman’s right to
Who is in the mainstream and who should be taken seriously
is what election campaigns are all about. If all the voters
who prefer Kucinich’s platform over Dean’s would support Kucinich,
he would have a good chance to win the Democratic nomination.
Kucinich is not all things to all people. He is a principled
man of the left. We in the local Kucinich campaign believe
a real alternative to George W. Bush is the only way to salvage
the Democratic Party and energize the electorate to defeat
Bush in 2004.
would hate to be on a survival mission with you guys [Survival
Guide and Student Handbook, Sept. 11]. Helloooo? That was
my gym in the picture in your survival guide, but you failed
to include our name anywhere!
How embarrassed are we? In the Health & Fitness section
of our annual Survival Guide, the gym in the photograph is
indeed Fitstop—but Fitstop is not included in the listings.
Here’s what happened.
Fitstop is brand-new, and therefore was not in our database.
A freelance photographer—on assignment to deliver images to
correspond with various sections of the Survival Guide—decided
to take a photo inside Fitstop. He knew about it, but we didn’t—and
since the photos were intended to be somewhat generic, and
uncaptioned, it never occurred to us to ask which gym it was.
We apologize for the oversight.
By the way, the Survival Guide is available online at www.metroland.net—with
a listing for Fitstop included.
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