On Tuesday, when we decide who to vote for, our decision must be based on a combination of our reflections on the past eight years and our beliefs in which direction our nation should be headed. If we are more or less satisfied with America today and the direction that it is headed, and we believe that there is no need for major changes in our system, then we should support Gore.
However, are we honestly satisfied with the state of the nation? Is it really wise to cast our ballot out of fear rather than hope? Is it healthy to continue to repress our beliefs because of our fear of one individual? Can we afford to surrender to the politics of scare-tactics and anesthetization of a system that will not even allow individuals from outside the mainstream to present their platform to the American public?
After intense debate and deliberation, the staff of the Review has decided by an extremely slim margin to endorse Green Party Candidate Ralph Nader for President of the United States.
As students are aware, the nation's current economic prosperity is not being shared with the people who made it possible, the labor force. While the $10 that Ralph Nader proposes for a minimum wage may be an optimistic goal that many view as unworkable, the fact that executives currently receive an average of 500 times the minimum wage implies that American businesses are getting the profits to make this wage increase feasible.
Nader supports a woman's right to choose. He has stated that "the right to a safe, affordable and legal abortion is a legal right." As a senator, Gore voted to confirm Antonin Scalia as a Supreme Court justice. Now, the concern is raised that a Bush presidency will possibly mean justices in the conservative model of Scalia. This is a crucial concern in the fight for freedom of choice for years to come. But public support for a woman's right to decide what to do with her own body is too great for the Senate to take the risk of confirming justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
A vote for Gore legitimizes the exclusion of Nader (as well as many other candidates) from the presidential debates, and will send a message to the political establishment that we accept the blurring of party-lines that is inherent in a centrist movement.
As voters, we must ask the question of whether or not our elected officials are doing what is necessary to improve this country. If the general discourse on this campus is to be believed, it would be safe to say that Oberlin students are far from being satisfied with the state of the nation. Is it safe to give our approval to candidates we do not whole-heartedly support? While Gore should be commended for admitting to his humanity and his ability to change his opinions over time, does he really represent the progressivism Oberlin students pride themselves in?
How can we support a ticket that zealously attacks media violence such as Gore-Lieberman when its candidates staunchly support the death penalty? If Gore and Lieberman so firmly believe the government has a role in promoting morality and ethics, than wouldn't they agree that support of the death penalty sends a strong message that it is acceptable, and indeed ethical, for humans to decide that other humans must die? Nader has expressed his opposition to the death penalty upon the grounds that it is discriminatorily applied to minorities and the poor, a concern echoed by the Oberlin community.
Furthermore, can we accept the religious overtones of the Gore campaign's push for ethics and morality in society? The Gore campaign's overt support for a return to faith in God as a central aspect of ethical life may have been a calculated political ploy but it remains a frightening prospect for the significant portion of our population whose members have chosen to live a secular lifestyle. This is an unacceptable marginalization of a segment of our society that we should not support.
It is our opinion that we should not vote for who we think will win, but who we think should be president. Voting for who you think will win is not democracy. Democracy is, idealistically (and nothing is wrong with ideals), government consisting of individuals the people want most, not who is most likely or most plausible to win. A vote for Nader is a statement that we refuse to accept the political system as it is and that we desire the interests of the American people be made the priority, rather than satisfying the status quo.
Nader does not have a chance to win. But he does have a chance to change American politics. Four years is not a long time. If Nader can receive the five percent of the votes necessary to qualify for Federal Campaign funds in 2004, the Green Party will have the acceptance it needs from the American public to field a truly progressive candidate. By endorsing Nader, the Review endorses the historical importance this election has in exposing the corruption of the two-party system. This campaign will open the door for an organized, strong third-party campaign.
Copyright © 2000, The Oberlin Review.
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