Letters

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ELECTION 2002 & YOU

San Jacinto, Calif.

* I am angry at a political party that stood meekly by while right-wing Republicans took control of all three branches of government. I am angry at a party that lost consciousness in the year 2000 and has yet to regain it. I am angry at a party wholly out of touch with its historical constituency. I am angry at a party whose leaders are deathly afraid of being branded "disloyal." I am angry at a party that lacks leaders energetic and charismatic enough to call out the faithful to vote. I am angry at a party that cannot articulate powerful and important issues that might, just possibly, win an election. EDWARD B. MILLS

Green Bay, Wisc.

* Your election analysis was excellent. Your ideas on how to fix the problem made complete sense. I happen to be a Republican who would like to see the changes you have suggested. It would be so refreshing to hear some new ideas coming from the mouths of Democrats. We Republicans do not mind challenging our opposition on ideas. Lately all we have heard from the Dems is No ideas! No vision! No anything! SUSAN WINTER

Sun City, Ariz.

* Yes, we need Democrats who have the "fire in their bellies." Willing to take some chances, willing to see the fur fly instead of hiding in their pink tutus, playing it safe. Failing to risk themselves will consign us to six more years for the Bush gang to further damage this country while we hold the feeble hope that there will be a backlash in 2004. PATRICIA CONREY

Seattle

* All ye who have devoted the last two years to castigating Ralph Nader for the Democrats' failure in the 2000 election--who do you blame for 2002? L.A. HEBERLEIN

Astoria, NY

* You excoriate the Democrats, you shame them, you vent, you stamp your feet--and then you continue to hope that they will change, feeling the need to endorse their future failures. As a Green Party activist, I am dumbfounded by your reluctance to abandon this broken party. Paul Wellstone's death was symbolic beyond words. I implore you to endorse third-party alternatives. All the issues you lament as being ignored by the Democrats--corporate crime, smashed civil liberties, war-on-terror blowback--were the cornerstones of third-party campaigns all over the country. It would be a shame to have to write this letter again in two years. ROB WENDT

Iowa City

* In fact, there were places where Democratic strategy worked. Here in Iowa, the party used a very aggressive door-to-door campaign to wake up Democrats and get them to vote. This resulted in decisive wins for Tom Harkin and Tom Vilsack. Yes, the Republicans have figured out that to gain control of Congress--and the White House--they'll look strategically at the map and decide where they can win. Democrats need not only to speak with a strong progressive voice but also to expand their reach into places they've given up on. They were successful here in Iowa, without sacrificing progressive thinking. They can do it nationwide. WILLIAM WELBURN

Philadelphia

* Most races in the midterm elections totaled out at 51-49 or 52-48 percent; some worse and a few better. Republicans control most of the national and local media. Republicans out-spent Democrats in virtually every race, by many millions of dollars. The Democratic "leadership" comes from two fairly conservative areas, so both were afraid to lead (assuming they had the ability, something that's never been demonstrated). They defaulted. Given that playing field, I find it astounding that so many voters weren't taken in. Two years of Wag the Dog, 1984-style propaganda should have given the Republicans a 2-to-1 win. The fact that it only provided a small edge should inspire all liberals. ROBERT J. MCDONALD

Santa Monica, Calif.

* Imploring the Democratic Party to stand for and with progressive struggles is like asking abusive men to stop harming women. It won't be done. In the face of unprecedented corporate scandals and handouts to the rich and the growing threat of fascism and war, the Democrats are spineless. The talents of Nation writers are wasted in an endless and boring exercise of pleading with the Democrats to reform themselves. Many of us gave up on these "guys" a long time ago to work for radical change in the Green and Labor parties. Every day women have the courage to leave their abusers. When will The Nation follow their example? JOHN MARCIANO

Portland, Ore.

* Democrats: Let's begin our paradigm shift by supporting women for leadership positions, appointing women to leadership positions and electing women to leadership positions. Nancy Pelosi can be the start of connecting human needs with system changes. ROBERT A. MAESTRE

Columbus, Ohio

* The election of Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader is a good way for the ailing Democratic Party to begin rebuilding. But other housecleaning is needed. Party leader Terry McAuliffe must be shown the door. And Joe Lieberman needs to be forced to drop the appellation "Democrat." If dangerous and destructive politicians like Lieberman are allowed to call themselves Democrats, it really does seem as if there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. If you want us Green Party folks to come back home, clean up the house and get serious. JACK BYROM

Novi, Mich.

* The most incompetent President in eighty years and his band of corporate crooks have full control of the government. Look out below! While the Democrats are playing Get-Along Gus, the country is being led by a President who thinks that tax cuts are the answer to all domestic problems and military force is the answer to foreign problems. Welcome to tax cuts for millionaires, budget-busting increases in offense (I mean, defense) spending and a court system owned by corporate interests, all funded with deficit spending that will eventually be paid for by the lower and middle classes. What this country needs is an opposition party. NATHAN HERKOWITZ

New York City

* You're right about them. Now, where did we go wrong? You cluck-cluck at California, where a terrible Democratic governor blew a big lead but survived, while the Greens picked up 5 percent of the vote. Here in your own front yard, you urged readers to vote for a hopeless Democrat who favored the war and the death penalty and had never taken a progressive stand in his life. You rejected the one candidate (a Nation contributor, in fact) who embraced your principles, arguing that the Greens "have yet to forge coalitions with labor and communities of color or demonstrate their staying power." This was startling, because only last year The Nation opposed a coalition of labor and communities of color that threatened to elect the first Latino mayor of New York. Instead, it endorsed a "pragmatic idealist" whom it correctly described as the "white backlash" candidate.

Progressives may legitimately differ over whether to fight within the Democratic Party or outside, or both, but they should not abandon their principles, as you urged us to do in embracing the Working Families Party, which is not a party but a device of certain union officials to finesse the craving of rank-and-filers for a labor party. It puts up no candidates of its own, just invites well-meaning people, like you, to salve their consciences by voting for the Democrats' anti-working-families candidates on a working-families line. The WFP topped the 50,000 votes required to stay on the ballot. The Greens fell nearly 10,000 votes short. I don't know whether The Nation could have made the difference, but surely there were many, many thousands of people who could have been reached by the Greens' message but stayed home because they didn't know it was there. That will make it harder for all of us in the battles to come, but we will go on because we must. JOHN L. HESS

Vancouver, BC, Canada

* I am amazed by your unwavering faith in the American people. You seem to feel that if the truth is revealed, the people will rise up in outrage and reclaim America. Well, from what I see, US citizens have been hit over the head time and again with the truth of corporate corruption and the compliance of government officials, elected or appointed, and they vote for more of it. I don't share your optimism, but I admire you for yours, and I shall remain a faithful Nation reader. ADAM FULFORD

Overijse, Belgium

* I am a 65-year-old European and a staunch USA supporter. I like to believe that I know your impressive country and its wonderful people, but I have been wondering lately, "Are all Americans becoming blind to the defects of their leaders?" Are we facing a development like the 1930s in Germany, where a Mr. H. was massively brainwashing an entire nation? You cannot believe the relief I felt at your very sensible editors expressing their misgivings about the dramatic negative developments in your country. Please continue to air positive comments and help create awareness in your country and the world against this brainwashing process. JOOP VAN GESTEL

Easton, Pa.

* Two brief thoughts: First, given the Republicans' takeover and the Democrats' inability to offer persuasive issues and electable candidates, W.B. Yeats's words seem especially prophetic and frightening: "The best lack all conviction/ While the worst are full of passionate intensity." Second, isn't it time that progressive publications like The Nation stop calling these Republican partisans by the once-respectable term "conservatives"? They have no desire to "conserve" anything worth keeping, only to turn the clocks back to an era when unbridled greed and privilege for the wealthy prevailed. It's time to call them by the more accurate term "reactionaries," for all they do is react against anything that has been accomplished in the name of justice, civil liberties or progress. PAUL SCHLUETER

San Francisco

* The reason the Republicans won is that, rain or shine, the fundamentalists always vote. The religious right shows up for every election, whether it's for the PTA or the President. The result is that we're now stuck with an unholy alliance between fundamentalists and corporate America. Why, when every news outlet in America is screeching about the dangers of Muslim and Jewish extremists, is no one brave enough to talk about the disproportionate political role that fundamentalists have in our government and elections? If the press and the public don't start waking up to the danger posed by fundamentalists in this country, then we may wake up one day to find ourselves living in just another Third World theocracy. PAUL MOONEY

Chicago

 
   * Insensitive to ghastly smell 
   The greater number signal Dub is swell, 
   Tell Democrats to go to hell 
   With groin-aimed knee! 
 
   Elections set up darkest case: 
   Dub's cronies finally own the place! 
   The bell that signaled end of race? 
   It tolls for thee. JIM MALL 

New Orleans

* It's not how many people voted for Republicans but how many people didn't vote at all. Many of us college students who were starry-eyed over Clinton in 1992 found ourselves glassy-eyed by 2000, knowing that a good man like Bradley was destined for the "new" Democrats' donkey meat grinder. Don't be fooled: The apathy of Generation X comes not from the fact that we watched too much MTV but from a frustration over a lack of liberal leaders. No one is out there capturing the leftist imagination, which has historically been infectious. Luckily, there's a new crop of Gen-Y college students coming up, and they're even more pissed off than we Gen-Xers were in '92. Will the progressive zeal of another generation be squandered by a party that operates on fear and resists the emergence of visionaries? PETER REICHARD

Las Vegas

* We need to start NOW! Some steps to take for the 2004 elections: (1) Advertise on MTV to reach 16- to 18-year-old future voters. Don't discuss economics--speak about gun control, a woman's right to choose and the environment. (2) Get celebrity spokespeople, not Streisand, Robbins and Sarandon (whom I respect) but celebrities young people have heard of--Shaq, Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel. (3) Advertise voter registration in magazines like VIBE, Seventeen and TV Guide. Stress pure air and water and explain to a 16-year-old what air will be like when she's 50. Discuss how fragile Alaska is, tell about our healthcare crisis. (4) We need nightly TV. Bill Maher is gone, and Donahue is tame. Who do we have? They have FOX and Limbaugh and countless radio hosts hammering away twenty-four hours a day. (5) Have voter registration tables at hip-hop concerts and at graduations, voter registration inserts in cosmetic products, in X box games, at mall food courts, at the beach. Think outside C-SPAN and MSNBC! The time is NOW. Please mobilize us. We are the majority. TERRY GU'YANT

Kalamazoo, Mich.

* In the words of Joe Hill, "Don't mourn, organize!" Now let's get to work! ED BROOKS

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