Beating Bushes and Dead Horses
Responding to Mathew Gross’ piece, Grist readers did anything but beat around the bush. Gross argued that Bush’s abysmal environmental record proved that Gore would have been a far different — and better — president, notwithstanding the claims of the Naderites. That charge clearly touched a nerve with our readers. From eulogies to Rush Limbaugh comparisons, Gross got it all; a sampling follows.
The Al Gore who wrote Earth in the Balance in the early 1990s is not the same Al Gore who ran for president in 2000. Anyone who thinks they are one and the same is completely naive. The Al Gore that was running for president was just as beholden to his corporate supporters as George Bush; in fact, many corporations supported both of them! The real problem facing the environment is not Bush (or Gore), but the death-hold corporations have on our government and electoral process.
Bush’s record is appalling, to be sure. It’s conjecture to imagine Gore’s record after one year, but I agree that it might have been less appalling — but no closer to enacting serious environmental protection. Gore (like Bush) was way too tied to corporate interests to create or support really successful environmental policy. Under Gore, environmentalists, feminists, and other progressives would continue to be lulled into apathy by thinking they had a “liberal guy” in office. Meanwhile, the environment, the right to choose, and other progressive issues would be slowly and quietly eroded.
When I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, I caught a lot of flack. People tried to convince me to vote for Gore because he wasn’t as bad as Bush. I’m supposed to use my vote on someone because he isn’t as bad as the other guy? No way. It’s always been my understanding that in presidential elections, you are supposed to vote for the person you want to be president. For me, that was unquestionably Nader. His candidacy was about showing us that we do not have to choose between the lesser of two evils; in fact, it should outrage us that this is what our political system has become.
Instead of using tired arguments to malign Nader, we should be thanking him for reinvigorating the left and the environmental movement. Nader has always been about making the U.S. a better place, making it a safer place, a more environmentally sound place. Gross and the Democrats should get off their pity pot, and figure out their plans for the future — plans that should not include as a primary thought, “First, we kill Ralph Nader …,” but rather, “How can we be more like him?”
Jamaica Plain, Mass.
Matthew Gross is to be commended for his chronological compilation of the Bush environmental damage.
It made me remember the impatient ones during the 2000 election vote recount efforts — even some so-called Democrats — who said, “Ah, let him have it, it’s just four years.”
Mathew Gross resurrects the grudge held by disappointed Democratic Party stalwarts against the Green Party. It was the Green Party’s fault, after all, that their man Gore didn’t make the White House. We all recognize that the Democratic Party got hurt badly when Bush was elected. What you have apparently failed to recognize is that it needed to get hurt, and it may need to get hurt again the next time around. Until the Democratic Party becomes a real, viable hope for the environmental movement, not just a consolation prize, I, for one, will refuse to vote for it. Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. That makes you angry? It should. Now, can you turn your anger into a constructive force?
Nathan L Clark
Al Gore would have been worse than George Bush by lulling environmentalists into complacency for another four years. Most of Clinton’s environmental policy was enacted in the last hours of his presidency. If Gore had really been a champion of the environment, the U.S. would have been enacting renewable and sustainable energy policy during the eight years he occupied the Naval Observatory.
Ran W. Foster
Green Energy Action Committee
Green Party of Shelby County
Matthew Gross should feel crappy about his candidate winning and yet losing — but stop making those of us who wanted genuine change the scapegoats for Al Gore and the Democrats’ inability to outpolitic the Republicans. You only have yourselves to blame.
Mathew Gross does a good job of chronicling the environmental evils of the current administration. George Bush has been outrageously bad for human health and the environment. One could even concede Gross’ point that a Republican-controlled White House is significantly worse for the environment than a Democratic one.
What Gross neglects to mention is that our world has been heading towards ecological meltdown for decades. Eight years of Clinton-Gore did absolutely nothing to change that; in fact, environmental degradation increased during their tenure. It’s probably true that under Al Gore, global warming, deforestation, mass extinction, and SUV hoarding would be slightly slower than under George Bush. But environmentalists don’t want to slow down the destruction of the Earth. We want to reverse it.
Well-meaning Democrats should stop whining that Ralph Nader “stole the election from Gore” and start trying to create a party that people would actually want to vote for. The constant blubbering and willingness to compromise isn’t helping anybody.
I have to agree with Matthew Gross in his assessment of how bad George Bush is, and how much worse he is than Al Gore might have been. However, I was disturbed to see that Gross failed to even mention the one thing that Bush did that will have the greatest negative impact on the global environment: cut off U.S. funds to the United Nations Family Planning Fund.
Overpopulation has a monumental impact on the environment, and the UNFPA brings safe, voluntary family planning to communities around the world. Funding this year had unanimous support in the Senate and similar support in the House, but because of a few pro-life fanatics that oppose even preventative family planning education, Bush let abortion politics stall one of the most important things we as a country can do for the environment.
In his zeal to defend Al Gore, Matthew Gross unfortunately resorts to making a strawman of the arguments of his fellow left-of-centrists who chose to support the Green Party in the 2000 presidential elections, while at the same time caricaturing us and our “cracking voices.”
Nice work, Mr. Gross; I usually have to wait for Rush Limbaugh for that sort of nonsense. I know that those who toe the Democratic party line see as much wrong with the Bush administration’s environmental actions as do those of us who supported the Green Party in the election, but Gross does a disservice to Green Party supporters when he bashes us with inflammatory assumptions, name-calling, and exaggeration.
The argument made by many of us supporting the Greens was that the Democrats were far too beholden to the corporate interests that line their coffers to make any real, meaningful difference in policy; we’d been watching the Clinton administration whittle away at environmental protections for eight years. The goal of many of us in supporting the Greens was to forge the foundation of a viable alternative, one that might one day take the strong steps we need to actually make a difference on environmental issues.
The Greens may not have had the votes to win against George Bush in 2000, but sooner or later, people are going to want a political party that doesn’t back already-failed, do-nothing environmental policies such as Bush’s — and the Democrats have proven that they’re not that party.
I’m not happy about a Bush presidency either, but we can do better than a Gore presidency that would have arrived with a pre-tarnished environmental record.
Please tell your reporters to stop beating dead horses — I’m sure PETA would not approve. Most of us would like to believe that Democrats are different from Republicans regarding the environment; the problem is, the Democrats keep persuading us otherwise.