Should Youth-Advocates Support Ralph Nader?
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader has come out in favor of lowering the voting age in America to 16 (as the British are planning to do in their country). Nader also wants more civics taught in schools — knowledge which would give youth more power.*
John Kerry and George W. Bush seem unable to do anything but attack youth, while Nader supports youth. This creates a dilemma. America's current electoral system gives us a two-party system. A third candidate can do little more than split the vote and undermine democracy. In 2000, for example, the majority of voters voted for a liberal, yet we got stuck with a conservative president because the liberals were split between Gore and Nader.
While Ralph Nader will not win in 2004, he is a good man with a long record of public service that Kerry and Bush put together cannot match. And now it is clear he is the one major candidate who does not hate youth.
Should youth-advocates throw away their chance to decide between Bush and Kerry so they can vote instead for the best man? Democrats now hate all who supported Nader in 2000. Should youth-advocates draw that hatred to ourselves? Of course, the Democratic leadership seems to hate youth already, as shown by their eagerness to nominate Kerry. How much worse could it get? Why should we kiss up to the Democrats when they nominate a bigot?
If Nader gets a sizable vote, that might send a message to the major parties that they need to pay more attention to youth-advocates. Then again, we sent that message in 2000, and no one listened. If Gore had not attacked youth, he could have attracted those votes Nader scooped up, and that would have won him the election. But if Democratic Party leaders had gotten that message, they would not have sabotaged the Howard Dean campaign. If we vote for Nader this time, will they get the message at long last?
Thanks to the electoral college, your vote won't matter anyway if you live in a state where Bush or Kerry leads by a safe margin. If you live in one of those states, why not vote to send a message?
On the other hand, when the major party leaders are not bright enough or not caring enough to take the hints voters drop, the only way we can change them may be to play the two-party game: consider Bush and Kerry, and vote for the lesser evil. That may be the only way to give major politicians an incentive to be less evil.