Common Sense 2000
Number 5
Bush and Gore: What Difference?
Nicholas Johnson
November 4, 2000

[Standard introduction: Politics can bring out the best in people. It can also bring out the worst. All Nader supporters are, or will be, under attack from Democrats. Sometimes the best response, especially when personal friends or family members are involved, is to agree to disagree -- and postpone any discussion until a couple weeks after the election.

Some folks are so wrought up they are not just unwilling, they are truly incapable of dealing with reasoned analysis.

But for those with whom you can have a civil discussion you might consider the following.]

Some say there are no differences between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George Bush.

They are wrong. There are differences.

But there are very few differences when it comes to matters affecting the economic interests of their major corporate donors. And no wonder. Their funding is coming, in many cases, from the very same corporations.

That's the point. Not that there are no differences whatsoever -- as might have appeared when they both appeared in identical suits, shirts, ties and hairstyles at one of the debates.

Jake Werner, of the Independent Media, should be credited with the following list, forwarded to me by Albert V. Krebs.

* Neither candidate supports a fair trade approach to foreign trade policy -- encouraging or mandating respect for labor rights and the environment.

* Neither candidate has proposed true health care reform, which would create a universal serrvice-on-demand system.

* Neither candidate will push for meaningful campaign finance reform: full public funding for all stages of all campaigns.

[Note from N.J.: In fairness, Gore says he will send McCain-Feingold to the Hill. But: (a) Does he understand the difference between "send to the Hill" and "push for"? Does he think we don't know the difference? (b) Why was he unable or unwilling to get it done during the last 8 years? (c) What is his secret plan that will enable him, as president, to pass legislation without having it approved by the House and Senate? (d) For 30 years campaign finance proponents have worked within the two-party system, lobbying without success. It is understandable that those who benefit from the present system -- the 98 percent of members of Congress who are re-elected, and the corporations they serve -- don't want to change. It is with great reluctance that campaign finance reformers have come to the conclusion a third party is the only viable strategy. Do Democrats offer an alternative strategy? If so, we haven't heard it. (e) Finally, the charge is accurate: neither Gore or Bush favor "full public funding for all stages of campaigns."]

* Neither candidate supports a minimum wage to match the cost of living or a mandatory living wage.

* Neither candidate has a serious solution to the endemic poverty and hopelessness of the inner cities.

* Neither candidate will contemplate drug law reform.

* Neither candidate is committed to a massive reduction (or even a small reduction!) in military spending.

* Neither candidate has a plan to make a high-end college education affordable for children from lower-class families.

* Neither candidate is willing to commit sufficient resources to fighting the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa.

* Neither candidate has proposed measures to address the skyrocketing inequality of wealth in the United States.

* Neither candidate would work to end the corporate takeover of rural America -- a trend that is wiping out small farmers and replacing them with factory farms that damage the environment, mechanize animal cruelty, and destroy the standard of living of nearby communities.

* Neither candidate has committed himself to a positive change on Iraq policy.

* Neither candidate has a legitimate plan to eliminate, or even substantially reduce, the incredibly high child poverty rate in the United States.

* Neither candidate opposes the destructive and pointless embargo against Cuba.

* Neither candidate plans to eliminate the massive government subsidies to business (corporate welfare), which cost much more than government aid to the poor ever did.

* Neither candidate supports the right of gay or lesbian couples to marry.

* Neither candidate will stop Clinton's massive aid package to Colombia.

* Neither candidate supports a considerable reduction in the debts owed by most poor countries.

* Neither candidate has any plans whatsoever to improve the lot of the Amerindian nations, the most disadvantaged social group in the country.

* Neither candidate supports tough measures to counteract the increasingly grave threat of global warming.

At the same time:
* Both candidates support the economic liberalization agenda of the Treasury Department, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

* Both candidates support a national missile defense program.

* Both candidates support the huge American arms export industry.

* Both candidates support standardized tests as a way to measure student achievement. This ensures that instructors will “teach to the test” and measures ability to perform on multiple choice questions rather than ability to think critically or understand general concepts.

* Both candidates support the death penalty.

* Both candidates support the corporate media system, which excludes diverse programming and slants news coverage in favor of the powerful.

There is more. Others have additional lists. But this one should be enough to make the point.

When we stick with a choice between two corporate-funded parties we are bound to get great similarity between their rhetoric -- and their actions once in office. The mass media (sustained by the same corporations in their role as advertisers) are bound to censor the discussion of an enormous number of issues. The Presidential Debates Commission -- funded by large corporations, and controlled by the two major parties -- is bound to raise the barrier to entry sufficiently high that none but the two parties' candidates will participate.

That's why I have reluctantly come to the conclusion we need a third party. That said, the Green Party and its candidate, Ralph Nader, seem the best choice.