One man remaining off-center

As Republicans and Democrats fawn over the elderly — because they actually vote — Ralph Nader seems to be the only candidate focusing his political ovations on college students. His words are not, however, effective with the younger crowd because of the comprehensive plans he has proposed that would help this oft ignored swath of potential voters. Rather, his short, repetitious, but energizing, speeches sway students because Nader’s idealism is similar to their own. In short, he has yet to sell out.
Alongside his socialist-leaning platform, Nader’s argument that George W. Bush and Albert Gore are two different sides of the same corporate owned quarter has been widely successful in reaching predominantly non-voting 20-somethings, who are disillusioned by the two primary parties’ centrism. Besides a few hot issues like abortion and gun control, Bush’s and Gore’s political platforms are exceedingly similar. (With the possible exception of the environment, however, most of the issues on which they differ are only slight variations.)
Successfully claiming independents as a candidate’s own requires a centrist platform. Most people want to reduce the number of abortions performed but they also want women to be able to make that choice. Most people want a cleaner environment but not at the cost of their own jobs, prosperity or convenience. Most people want every child to be insured but they want to pay less in taxes as well. With a two-party system, playing off this centrism is the only way to the presidency during a time when fewer people each year are offering their allegiance to the Republicans or Democrats.
The other dominant factor forcing the two parties to basically coalesce their plans for the country is globalization. As New York Times Foreign Affairs Columnist Thomas L. Friedman argues in his novel, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization, breaking down barriers between markets and participating actively in the global economy is the only way to maintain the prosperity of the United States. Any nation that ignores the “electronic herd,” as he labels the millions of investors that comprise the global markets, will be left behind and the state’s economy sunk.
Thus despite compelling human rights concerns with China, the U.S. was forced to welcome China into the World Trade Organization and offer the Mainland Permanent Most Favored Nation status or suffer the consequences of high export tariffs and less trade. This translates to lost American jobs among other adverse economic impacts.
This is why, unless Ralph Nader and perhaps Pat Buchanan are allowed to participate in the debates and the national dialogue, issues like globalization and corporate welfare will not be part of the presidential campaign. Despite continual liberal laments about Bush-in-the-White House nightmares, a vote for Gore is essentially a vote for Bush, as Nader has claimed repeatedly. As The Pioneer Press pointed out in an editorial Sunday endorsing Bush for President, the views espoused by Bush that Nader supporters generally have a strong disagreement with — such as abortion and the environment — will not significantly alter current policies. A vote for Nader, then, is a vote for Nader and all he believes in.