Regarding your endorsement of Mike Ward for Education stretches the idea of "progressive" about as far as it will go. In fact, I believe that it has already broken. Progressive is moving forward. Conservative is usually for the status quo. After ranking 48th in the U.S., since Jim Hunt's first term in office, you would have us continue doing the same thing for education that has not worked in the last 24 years.
The definition of stupidity is to continue doing the same thing expecting a different outcome.
Charter schools have had some success, and where the school has not been a success, the accountability has come into play and those schools have been closed. If you will look at those schools that have stayed open for a full three years, you will find that they are no worse than the public schools. The difference is that there is hope that they will continue to improve and exceed the public schools. Why? Mostly because the money is going into the classroom, not into the office to keep paperwork current. You should talk with teachers in Charter Schools to determine whether they are happier there than in the public school system. They are still public servants and have all the benefits of state employment, without most of the hassle in report-writing.
--ROBERT H. APPLEBY, DURHAM
Myths and beefs
I fear that John Yewell was contributing to Democratic Party myth-production in his comments about Nader, the Greens and Gore's presumed loss of the election [Nov. 15]. Let us review some important facts:
First, the Greens did not cost Gore the popular vote, so your first beef is with the fact that the electoral system is "winner take all" instead of proportional.
Second, let's take a look at that electoral map (setting aside Florida which is undecided and which no one expected Gore to win until a day before the election). What about all those crucial "Gore states" that he had to win, but which also had strong Green parties? Gore basically took all of them.
Then we see this patch of Bush country throughout the South and Midwest where the Greens had little impact. So Gore, a founding member of the pro-military, pro-business, fiscal-conservative, so-we-can-win-the-South Democratic Leadership Council, fails to win a single Southern state. This despite the fact that Democrats (including a dead one) won Senate seats and other state-wide elections in the region. If he had moved just one Southern state from Bush's column to his own, Gore would already have the electoral votes to win (and Florida would just be pondering that odd Bolshevik community in Daytona).
He did not even manage the minimum requirement of winning his home state of Tennessee, which had sent him to the Senate (even Dukakis and Mondale could do that). Add the Green votes there and anywhere else in the South, and Gore still loses. Whose fault is this?
Finally, polls suggest that Gore lost perhaps 2 percent of "his" Democratic votes to Nader nationally. Why does no one mention that, depending on the region, Gore lost 10 to 20 percent of "his" Democratic votes to George W. Bush? Millions of votes. Whose fault is this?
As to the Greens, Yewell should not judge the party on the basis of the rather stunted version here in North Carolina. The Greens have been around for years, slowly growing from the grassroots, and have a strong presence in many states (including elected officials). Whether or not the Greens were ready to run a national candidate is a question easier to answer after the fact. But certainly those in this country concerned about dangerous "free" trade agreements that damage labor rights and national sovereignty, anti-democratic institutions like the World Trade Organization, cruel welfare "reform," corporate power in politics and culture, the Iraqi genocide, health-care access, campaign reform, the death penalty, real environmental action (over words), increasing income disparity and corporate control of politics and culture needed to be heard.
On many of these and other issues Gore is not just undependable, he is in the opposition. He showed this in the Senate, in his earlier run for the presidency (where he attacked Jesse Jackson's progressive ideas) and in his tenure with Bill Clinton. In this latter role, he fought fellow Democrats to pass NAFTA, GATT, Most Favored Nation status for China, and he promoted various forms of corporate welfare for drug and telecommunication companies.
Nader, on the other hand, risked his popularity among the Democratic chic to make sure that the progressive-populist message had a voice during the campaign. This showed not hubris, but courage.
--JEFF DAVIS, DURHAM
Editor's note: The word limit was waived to permit Jeff Davis a fuller response.