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Letters to the editor

November 5, 2004 | Page 8

Nader didn't offer enough to Greens
Vermont plan is no good for our kids
Solidarity begins in the workplace

Hollow words for women in Election 2004

Dear Socialist Worker,
The mainstream press recently blabbered on about the "moving way" in which both candidates talked about their wives and daughters during the final presidential debate. The only thing I felt moved to do was run to the bathroom to vomit.

Bush started the female-lauding by talking proudly about what his administration's one-sided slaughter in Afghanistan accomplished: "The Afghan people had elections this weekend...Freedom is on the march." In fact, the election was rife with voter fraud and backroom power-sharing deals.

And if freedom is marching in Afghanistan, it's doing so over the bodies of Afghan women. With maternal mortality rates among the highest in the world, pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for women in Afghanistan.

But no moment was more sickening than when the candidates talked about their female family members. Bush declared, "I love the strong women around me...When I asked Laura to marry me, she said, 'Fine, just as long as I never have to give a speech.'" Of course, a "respectable" strong woman only reluctantly enters the public realm. How very appealing, how very 1950s.

Kerry took another angle, dragging out his dead mother to try to defend himself from accusations of flip-floppy-ness. He quoted her on her deathbed saying, "Remember: integrity, integrity, integrity."

Perhaps this is a new side of Kerry, this truthful, woman-loving man, because he's never shown it before. Kerry has fought to impose "workfare" programs in which poor women work for their welfare checks at rates far below the minimum wage. And although Kerry promised to defend Roe v. Wade, he has at other times assured audiences that he has voted in favor of "any number of judges who are pro-life." Ah, the sweet smell of integrity.

Perhaps this all would have been easier to stomach if I hadn't recently seen a flyer put out by Columbia University's pro-choice group calling on "All Virgin Voters" to come to a meeting, but making sure to note that "Voting Sluts" were also welcome. The campus Filipino women's group upped the ante by advertising their meeting as a place to "meet the Exotic" with a picture of a voluptuous Filipino woman, lips slightly open, inviting you to attend.

Women today are paying the price of a feminist movement that is in collapse and trailing behind the Democratic Party.

But this state of affairs is not inevitable. The racist, repressive 1950s were replaced by the free-child-care, accessible-abortion, equal-pay-demanding women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s. It is simply time to rebuild.
Meredith Kolodner, New York City

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Nader didn't offer enough to Greens

Dear Socialist Worker,
While I agree with the sentiment that Nader has the right to run and that nobody should try to take that away from him, I have to say that I disagree with the statement "A vote for Nader is a vote for Nader--and a pledge to build a mass movement powerful enough to change the balance of forces between the rich and the rest of us." ("A vote for Nader is a vote for Nader," October 22)

You have to understand the choice that Nader gave to us in the Green Party. The Nader-Camejo plan was to ask us not to nominate any candidate for president or vice president, and instead to "endorse" his campaign as an independent.

But due to his campaign in 2000, the Green Party already had the burden of protecting its ballot access in over 20 states, and had organizations on the ground trying to get ballot access in all 50 states! If we would have decided not to give any candidate the official nomination, then we would have in effect thrown all of our momentum away. Building a progressive movement that can finally take on the two-party duopoly is exactly what Ralph has stifled.

Due to David Cobb's lack of name recognition, and the prevalence of the "Anybody-But-Bush" sentiment, we will likely lose ballot access in several states anyway, but at least with Cobb-LaMarche, we have the option to go out fighting. By Nader's desire not to appear "too liberal," he has simply adopted the same gutless strategies that have made the Democrats the shining examples of spinelessness that they are today.

Thanks for putting together such a great and informative paper, and for giving me an e-mail address to sound off to when I need to disagree with something!
Scott Proctor, State coordinator, Montana Green Party, Billings, Mont.

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Vermont plan is no good for our kids

Dear Socialist Worker,
"It's just not good for kids." That's the conclusion of teachers at the Center for Technology (CTE) in Essex Junction, Vt., and the Burlington Technical Center (BTC). They recently voted by over 90 percent not to support the proposed Regional Technical Academy (RTA) on the ballot November 2.

When those teachers were asked to help design their ideal technical high school, they responded with plans for a four-year academy offering a comprehensive academic curriculum, state-of-the-art facilities, a wide-ranging athletic and extracurricular program, and cooperative arrangements with both Vermont Technical College and Community College of Vermont.

What is now being proposed is something different. Realizing that the price tag for the new RTA could be prohibitive, the board, comprised mostly of area businesspeople, began cutting costs. Rather than building a new facility, current plans have the center being installed in an empty factory. The four-year academy has been reduced to a two-year trade school.

With enrollment figures now less than two-thirds of the original estimate, there are no guarantees that programs or positions will be maintained. There will be no sports or extracurricular activities. When questioned about these changes, RTA board member Leslie Williams replied that "we need to be open to...some risks."

Teachers at both technical centers, Burlington and Essex Junction, are nearly unanimous in their opposition to the RTA. Although the RTA board has refused so far to negotiate a bridge contract with either the Essex Junction Westford Education Association or the Burlington Education Association, teachers are clear that their opposition to the RTA is solely because the current proposal is bad for kids.

As Dave Ginter, a CTE teacher, stated, "They want to spend $44 million to close two of the best tech centers in Vermont."
Brian Walsh, president, Essex Junction Westford Education Association

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Solidarity begins in the workplace

Dear Socialist Worker,
I was elected assistant steward at the Square D Chicago Assembly Plant in Schiller Park, Ill., on October 20. I ran because I am for equal pay for equal work. All production associates do the same work. We should all be paid at top rate. I am for maintaining all medical, dental, pension and other benefits at the same coverage, and keeping the costs and weekly deductions the same. I am for yearly wage increases.

We had several slogans at our victory lunch: "Solidarity--An injury to one is an injury to all" (AFL-CIO-CLC), "Solidarnosc" (Poland), "La Lutta Continua" (Portugal), Solidaridad de los Trabajadores" (Mexico). My coworkers distributed and posted my fliers on break times and at lunch, and I thank them for giving me a majority vote.
John Eriksen, Chicago

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