All the way across town right before President Bill Clinton was scheduled to speak at the Democratic Convention, a presidential candidate was speaking: Ralph Nader. Now, it’s hard to compete with the charisma of Bill Clinton but it’s fair to say that Nader had a great turnout. The flyers promoting this event, that could be seen downtown all day and were everywhere around Magness Arena, showed Ralph Nader in an almost Uncle Sam “I want you!” image. And his message to the youth vote was just as strong. “The youth vote needs a kick in the ass,” Nader said in his press conference preceding the rally.
Nader told the crowd that third parties represent the majority opinions of the American people. And when he was speaking on the People’s Party platform, it did sound appealing. Who wouldn’t like a welfare system where major services are provided for everyone and the middle and lower classes are taken care of? But could they actually do all of this? Because if the people get what they really want, it is lower taxes but if they get the services they want, the money has to come from somewhere. Can third parties actually get stuff done? The platform is indeed ideal, but ideal sometimes isn’t enough; sometimes it has to be practical.
The message of the rally was to open the debates so that third party candidates can have their voices heard. With Nader’s name being on ballots in 45 states and with many people already knowing who Nader is, he could be seen as a real contender. I can understand the debates not wanting to get too crowded with every third party candidate and presidential hopeful wanting to participate. But maybe there needs to be a standard set for serious candidates to be able to enter the debates. And with the strength of the two-party system in America, as Rosa Clemente, Vice Presidential nominee for the Green Party, put it: “What are you afraid of?”
- Erin M. Moffet