Grist readers are mighty opinionated when it comes to Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader. You’ve been flooding our mailbox with letters responding to Donella Meadows’s column on why she plans to vote for Nader, as well as a follow-up column she wrote on the topic, an item on Nader in our Muckraker column, and our last batch of letters.


Dear Editor:

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Believing Ralph Nader can get elected this year is idealistic dreaming. Believing Nader can reach the 5 percent vote necessary to get campaign financing for the Green Party for the next election is more realistic and one of the reasons I plan to vote for him.

We need to think of the bigger picture. This election can either help third-party candidates who we believe in or it can allow the two-party humdrum to continue.

Lisa Colson

Washington, D.C.

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Dear Editor:

Get real! If you are living in a dream world and don’t care if George W. Bush is our next president, then by all means, vote for Nader! If you want to help ensure the environment at least has a fighting chance after the next election is over, then the only responsible vote is a vote for Al Gore.

A presidential election is not the best time to choose to “send a message” to government, because the bottom line is that the majority rules in this country — like it or not. Whoever is elected gets to call the shots for the next four years, and I don’t think the environment can afford four years of Texas-style environmentalism.

Lisa Haderlein

A presidential election is not the best time to choose to “send a message” to government, because the bottom line is that the majority rules in this country — like it or not. Whoever is elected gets to call the shots for the next four years, and I don’t think the environment can afford four years of Texas-style environmentalism.

Peoria, Ill.


Dear Editor:

After living through eight years of the Clinton-Gore administration, I question whether Bush will be able to damage the environment and spirit of our country any more profoundly than Gore. Gore, like Clinton, is essentially a centrist Republican, and outside of a few issues such as gun control and abortion — for which Bush would be unable to get a congressional majority to enact his will — there are remarkably few differences between the candidates.

I would argue that Gore would actually be worse for the environment, as he would follow the traditional Democratic tactic of moving to the right to stifle Republican opposition — with the Democrats in Congress, eager to avoid being called “liberal,” trampling over one another to follow his lead. And let’s not discount the role of mainstream environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club that have regularly lent their support for Clinton “compromises” that actively damage the environment. This would likely continue under Gore.

Bush, on the other hand, would face Democratic opposition for any anti-environmental legislation he proposed. He would also face a push from motivated citizen and environmental groups, which are more active when facing Republican leaders who can clearly be labeled enemies of the environment.

Vote for Gore if you believe in his platform and the policies of the Clinton administration. But if you are committed to the environment, don’t blindly accept the evil of two lessers.

David Lee

San Mateo, Calif.


Dear Editor:

Obviously, Donella Meadows is aware of the implications of casting her vote for Ralph Nader. Yet, I still believe that her endorsement borders on irresponsible given current political realities. As president, Bush would have four years in office to put his imprint on every executive agency that oversees the environment in one capacity or another. Bush would replace every current political appointee with a Republican aching to undo what progress has occurred under the Clinton administration. The revolutionary changes implemented by Mike Dombeck in the Forest Service and Bruce Babbit in the Interior Department would be effectively negated. Moreover, the next president could appoint as many as three Supreme Court Justices. One need only consider the recent Laidlaw decision to realize the potential impact on our environmental laws. [Editor’s note: Read a Grist article on the Laidlaw decision.]

I do believe in much of what Ralph Nader stands for and would vote for him were there any hope that he could succeed. However, a vote for Nader indicates a belief that the state of the world would be about the same under either of the two viable candidates. While Al Gore is not Ralph Nader, he is — thankfully — far from George W. Bush. I can only hope that people like Meadows will reach a similar conclusion and reconsider their votes on election day.

Michael Mayer

Washington, D.C.


Dear Editor:

Voting for the lesser of two evils won’t get you anywhere … anywhere new, that is. I’m blown away by the fear the U.S. public has for third parties. Take a look at the political system of Germany: Representatives from at least four parties contribute to the inner workings of the government, and their diverse viewpoints have to be considered when making legislation.

Nader has called our current two-party system a “duopoly,” and rightly so! When you get down to the nitty-gritty, Bush’s and Gore’s interests in catering to big money differ little, if at all. Nader’s candidacy is a breath of fresh air in the midst of a smog-filled presidential race. Whether he wins or not, our country needs to start considering (and voting for) options besides the doomed duo.

Kate Gormly

Fort Collins, Colo.


Dear Editor:

If we had a proportional representation system or some type of coalition system like Germany, India, and other countries, then maybe everyone could vote for who they really want to win.

But here in reality, there are two people who have a shot at becoming the next prez: Gore and Bush. Any environmentalist who votes for anyone besides Gore is just being irresponsible. We all know what Bush is capable of; look at the state of Texas if you’re not sure.

So, Donella, please come back down to earth and do what you know is right — vote for Gore. You can send Nader plenty of fan mail afterwards if it’ll make you feel better.

Diane Bailey

Chicago, Ill.


Dear Editor:

Until 1996, I had always voted for the lesser of two evils. My civic duty and precious right to vote was a matter of settling. My feelings were always those of resignation and coping.

In 1996, I voted my conscience, and I felt great about it. Finally, my vote was not wasted by essentially letting major party scoundrels control it. I fully intend to vote my conscience in 2000, since that will be a faithful pursuit of representative democracy. I applaud Ms. Meadows for doing the same, and her rhetoric about it need not be conciliatory. Let it be proud! I believe that she will never regret voting on individual
conscience, and neither will I.

Clark Iverson

Royal Oak, Mich.


Dear Editor:

When there are candidates such as Nader who are really trying and spending millions on campaigns that don’t stand a chance, the question of the “lesser of two evils” becomes a heart-wrenching one.

But why does our voting focus only on presidential elections? What about the dozens of local campaigns for which there should be Green candidates? The Green Party should be focusing its attention on local elections, and educating the voting public about how effective local politics can be with regard to issues that hit us everyday.

If the base of American politics is built up with Green candidates at the local level, the influence could be extraordinary. And the danger of allowing a Bush into the White House just so that we can make our “green statement” wouldn’t loom so heavily over us.

Daniel De L’eau

Milwaukee, Wisc.


Dear Editor:

As Raymond J. Dowd so aptly asks in his letter explaining why he’s voting for Nader, “Doesn’t anyone trust the truth anymore?” Clearly, it is an issue of voting your conscience, of following your heart, and of being a truth seeker in yet another political race fraught with obfuscation, dishonesty, and trickery. I feel sorry for those who claim Donella Meadows is acting like a “spoiled little kid” and those who are “appalled to hear of yet another enviro proudly casting her anti-Gore vote.”

If you cannot vote for Al Gore with a 100-percent clear conscience, then you have not cast a vote that is true to yourself. Personally, I’ll stand with Mr. Dowd and continue to trust the truth.

Jonathan Buckmaster

Arcata, Calif.


Dear Editor:

I agree with those readers who deplore Donella Meadows’s plan to waste her vote on Ralph Nader, but I have a different reason. Nader is not really an environmentalist; he is anti-rich and anti-corporate. However well his eat-the-rich, feed-the-poor ideas have served him as a consumer advocate/warrior, they are neither presidential nor environmental. I am disappointed in the Green Party for selecting Nader as their candidate.

We should not vote for people who are fundamentally not qualified to be president. Nader’s narrow, suspicious, divisive ideology would make very poor presidential material. Moreover, it is often incompatible with real concern for the environment. The needs and goals of consumers are often at odds with environmental needs, and Nader has always been focused upon the former, not the latter. Concern for the environment is not founded on humanitarian, socialist-egalitarian sentiment. It is founded on an understanding that man is not the measure of all things.

I don’t like Gore, but I’m sure not going to help Bush out by throwing away my vote on Nader.

Ira Abrams

Chicago, Ill.


Dear Editor:

In a Gore vs. Nader contest, I’ll vote for Nader — reality be damned. I may not agree with everything Nader stands for, but he has been an honest man and honesty is what we need after eight exhausting years of Clinton.

John Waddell

Omaha, Neb.


Dear Editor:

Voting for Ralph Nader does make a point. It makes the point that you are willing to let four to eight years worth of bad environmental decisions be made. That’s it.

Nader will never be elected president, but Gore has a reasonably good shot at it. Gore knows the issues better than any Democratic candidate in history, and no environmentalist should be able to dismiss him at the voting booth without feeling guilt. A vote for Nader puts Bush one step closer to turning the rest of our country into the dump that Texas has become.

Joe Carrey

San Diego, Calif.


Dear Editor:

While the message of Ralph Nader and the Green Party is a welcome contribution to the national debate, there are more effective ways to get that message across than a presidential campaign. For example, Green Party representatives in Congress could shift the legislative balance and gain visibility for their ideas. Of the hundreds of seats in the House of Representatives, some could end up being filled by Green Party candidates.

However, there will only be one president, and it will not be Ralph Nader. A vote for Nader is worse than a wasted vote: It makes it more likely that Bush will win, and would therefore betray the goals of those who support the Green Party.

Irvin Cernauskas

Oak Park, Ill.


Dear Editor:

I simply do not understand how someone who knows how important the environment is to all of us can condone voting for a candidate who is “perfect” but cannot win. Not only will Nader not win — he will only take votes away from Al Gore.

Ms. Meadows uses the phrase mildly good to describe many of the policies put forth by the Clinton-Gore administration. Does she not see that Bush in office will not only stop these small steps but reverse them completely? I agree that Nader is perhaps the best choice for the planet, but this is not an ideal world that we live in.

Chris Sullivan

Springfield, Mass.


Dear Editor:

I’m only 18 and maybe I’m idealistic, but I don’t feel I will be wasting my vote when I cast my ballot for Nader this fall. “Vote for the person who you believe will do the best job” — that’s what my parents (staunch Republicans) and teachers (staunch Democrats) told me.

So I say vote for Nader — show your true colors — and don’t be pressed into voting for the mediocre.

Kevin Patey

Mulino, Ore.


Dear Editor:

Has Donella gone completely daft? The only outcome of voting for Nader, a man for whom I have a great deal of respect, is to guarantee that George the Shrub will be our next president. He will undo all the environmental progress we have made in my lifetime, turn education on its head (check out his record in Texas, notwithstanding his rhetoric to the contrary), and turn the Supreme Court over to the radical religious right. These are outcomes so unacceptably evil, Donella’s protest vote looks ridiculous by comparison.

Sara R. Nichols

Los Angeles, Calif.


Dear Editor:

How would I feel if George W. won the election? WONDERFUL!

Why? Because (1) you need an electron microscope to tell the difference between Republicrats and Democans; (2) if Bush won, don’t you think that everyone would start paying more attention to progressives, since their votes could alter the course of an election?; and (3) if Bush did all the terrible things some people are saying he would do, how long do you think it would be before another Republican was elected?

Let’s stop always taking the short view. Thinking that the election of a Republican is the worst thing
that can happen is just what Tweedledum and Tweedledee would want you to think. They don’t want you to have a real choice — that might be (ugh) real democracy! Just choose between Chevron and Texaco, or between Camel and Marlboro — but don’t you ever think about switching to a bicycle, or taking up organic food instead of ciggies.

If you want corporate interests to define your choices, go ahead, vote for Gorbush … sounds a lot like garbage to me.

Beverly Alexander

Petaluma, Calif.


Dear Editor:

People are arguing Nader will take away votes from Gore, and Bush will end up being our president. They are voting for Gore out of fear, not because they think he will make a good president — a sad commentary on the kind of society we live in. If we vote for Gore out of fear, instead of voting for Nader because of our values, we are being dishonest and disregarding what we believe in. Sticking to what we believe is the only way to get change.

Michelle Smith

Providence, R.I.


Dear Editor:

I agree that anyone with a conscience will be voting for Nader in November. A vote for Al Gore is a vote for the status quo. And that means that the voter will indirectly be responsible for the 60,000 people who die each year because the Democrats have refused to take any serious action on air pollution. The voter will also be indirectly responsible for an increase in global warming because Al Gore would rather take money from the petroleum industry than take the drastic actions necessary to reduce greenhouse gases. I am not sure how people who vote for either Al Gore or G. W. Bush can sleep at night.

Bob Baxter

Ft. Collins, Colo.


Dear Editor:

I was an organizer for a candidate in the 1984 Democratic Party presidential primary. During that time I came into contact with a number of people who had worked on the 1980 presidential campaign of John Anderson, the Independent candidate, and they felt guilty about it. Their guilt stemmed from the poll numbers a month before the 1980 presidential election, which showed Reagan ahead of Carter by about 10 percentage points with Anderson picking up the difference. They wondered if the point spread would have been closer if John Anderson had not been in the race, thus possibly giving Carter the chance to catch up and come out ahead, saving the country from 12 years of Reagan-Bush-Quayle.

I am very thankful that this is a free country and that anyone can run for president. However, I feel that this election is too important to vote for someone simply so that he can get federal matching funds.

I certainly think that Nader and company could build a viable Green Party without running the risk of electing George W. Bush. Has the Green Party thought about the backlash it will incur if Bush wins the election by the number of votes cast for Nader? Does the country really have the time or the resources to clean up the mess of another four- or eight- or 12-year Republican administration?

Rob Schreiber

Cape Elizabeth, Maine