Michael Rectenwald replies to a CLG website visitor who asks, "Why do you think anything would be different under Gore?" (Original letter is below.)
Thanks for writing us. I understand your position, but do not at all agree with it. Firstly, it indeed matters that the elected president become the actual president, for reasons that should be completely obvious to anyone. Regardless of how the election was funded or who funded it, regardless of whether or not the politics of the candidates were or are similar (a VERY debatable point, which I'll discuss briefly below), it matters enormously that the person who received the most votes, especially when legitimately winning both popular and electoral votes, be given the office. Why? Because otherwise we do not have even the semblance of democracy, we do not even have a legitimate counting of votes, and the ruling elite becomes free to install anyone that they wish in the office, regardless of the votes. This is in fact what they have done. This is an atrocity, a complete violation and a travesty of our democratic processes. To leave such an installation unopposed would be tantamount to abdicating our democracy entirely. We refuse to do so, not simply because we favored Gore, but because we favor the legitimate democratic processes provided by the US Constitution!
Regardless of the corporate funding of campaigns, the person who actually wins should win! If not, we have a corporate establishment, especially their rightwing advocates, doing nothing but selecting their president, rather than merely funding the campaigns. Obviously, there is a significant difference between funding a campaign and selecting, a priori and against all evidence, the president. It is one thing to be able to advertise candidates to a populace. It is quite another to allow no choice and simply to ram the predetermined choice of the rightwing down the throats of the people, which is exactly what happened in the case of Bush II. Reforming campaign finance is of course a very noble goal, but before that, we need to at least have the people's actual choice, however sold, however sullied by corporate campaign financing, actually awarded the office that he or she wins! Otherwise, the people have been utterly removed from the system, which is a worse fate by far than having them exposed to the power of corporate advertising!
Now, I will address the politics of the two candidates and their supposed "sameness". That this position is specious and false everything done by the Bush regime in the past two years should make eminently clear. I haven't the time or wherewithal at present to recount every last policy decision of this regime, but a few should stand as emblematic of the whole, for our purposes. Our website details the list of Bush atrocities. Research our archived news, dating back to the inception of the occupation (http://legitgov.org/shortnews.htm) or the Bush records archive (http://www.legitgov.org/Brecord.htm). But, for starters, consider the Kyoto protocol, which Bush refused to sign, making us the only major industrial nation in the world to reject it. This rejection alone is significant enough to make the selection of Bush by the Supreme Court lamentable. Bush's refusal not only has alienated our allies, but it has probably made the solution to global warming -- about the trends and causes of which scientists are nearly unanimous -- a much more distant prospect, endangering further the world's ecosystem and perhaps hastening the disastrous consequences of uninterrupted global warming.
If you have been following the Bush moves closely, you will note that in the areas of worker's rights, civil rights, women's rights, the environment and a host of other areas, Bush has reversed the progress of the Clinton administration and set us back 20 years, at least. This is to say nothing of the economy, which has declined steadily. Nor is this to say anything of the federal budget, which has gone from record surpluses to a 6.5 trillion dollar deficit in a matter of two short years! and all of this to pay a huge tax cut, yes, to the top 1%! Bush hopes to speed up and lock in this tax cut, and to add others like it, to boot!
The economy remains in the toilet. Civil rights have had an unprecedented setback. The open government, as reported today in the NYTimes today, is a thing of the past, and more regressive policies are on their way. This Residency has been, in short, an unprecedented nightmare, and very few of the policies taken by Bush would have been enacted by Gore. Only the war on Afghanistan would have been mirrored, and that only provided that Gore would have similarly ignored the threats to national security posed by terrorism as made eminently clear before 9-11. It is very unlikely that Gore would have ignored such warning signals, given that he has favored a Democratic-sponsored anti-terrorism bill long before, which in fact was rejected by Bush in lieu of "letting Dick look into it." By the time "Dick looked into it," he was looking at gaping holes and death.
This is to say nothing, again, of the proposed unprovoked war on Iraq, which must be for oil and not about WMDs, as the case of Korea makes so blatantly obvious. Bush continues to alienate the world and create a unprecedented level of anti-Americanism. This isn't due to some envy of our supposed 'freedoms,' but rather is an animosity that stems from Bush's bellicose, unilateral and bullying policies and actions. Thanks to Bush, the world now hates our guts.
Gore has already suggested that he deplores the economic, environmental, labor and international policies of the Bush regime, and had denounced them roundly and completely.
Finally, to say that the two major parties are the same is like saying that the liberal democratic party of 1930s and 1940s Germany was the same as the Nazi party. Of course, both are opposition parties that are culpable for their spinelessness. But the failure to stop the Bush regime does not make the two parties the same. It means simply that liberalism is timid and weak, not that it equals fascism, which is what we have. Fascism generally bullies and intimidates liberalism. In times of liberal-to-left strength, fascism has no soil in which to grow.
Again, thank you for taking the time to express your views to the CLG. We enjoyed hearing from you.
P.S. It obviously DID matter to the powers-that-be that Bush be installed. Otherwise, why did Enron and Halliburton spend so much on the Bush "recount" effort. Or why did the rightwing Supreme Court intervene twice in a case they had no business taking? Or why did the rightwing stage bourgeois riots, spend so much capital, ship so much personnel, put the highest federal judges in obvious conflicts of interest, risking their credibility entirely, to put their boy in office? The whole post-election struggle, esp. the desperation of the rightwing to win and have their way, makes it eminently clear that some very powerful powers-that-be wanted Bush over Gore. And indeed, that is the only reason why Bush is the "president" today. Think about it!!!
*Original letter received by CLG, Jan. 3, 2003:
Subject: Bush Coup
I understand your outrage. I do not understand your approach. Why do you think anything would be different under Gore? He has furnished us with more than ample evidence that he is no less a political animal than is Bush, i,e, willing to do or say whatever it takes to get elected. And have you ever heard him say a word in denunciation of the filthy lifestyle of Bill Clinton, let alone the Clinton's involvement in the murder of Vince Foster. But the fact that makes all of this moot is that the campaigns of both Bush and Gore were financed by the same bankers, corporations, and attorneys. So why do you think it would have mattered if Gore had won? It certainly didn't matter to the powers that be.