Students must take advantage of their power on Nov. 2

Press for instant run off voting. But don't trivialize the critical differences between Bush and Kerry.

Attention Nader and Cobb supporters! Whether you were able to vote in 2000, surely you remember this: the “official count” (hanging chads and disenfranchised voters aside) came down to 537 votes in the state of Florida.

This year a battleground is Minnesota, and the University could tip the scales. In the most critical election of our lifetime, every vote counts and we are counting on you to help deliver Minnesota to John Kerry!

 Though there are several presidential candidates on the ballot, there are, in reality, only two potential presidents: President George W. Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry. The Green party recognizes what is at stake, and is running a “safe state” campaign, focusing on local and state elections. Nader suggests that the two parties are solely responsible for closing out third-party candidates.

In truth, the framers of our Constitution created a winner-take-all system with the Electoral College (prior to the advent of political parties). If three or more candidates compete, it is virtually guaranteed that somebody with less than a majority of the vote will win.

Of the 86 other fully democratic nations in the world, only a couple have a similar system. Most have either proportional representation or instant run-off voting. Until we change our system, a vote for a “third-party” presidential candidate is a self-righteous and misguided vote.

 While it is appropriate to decry the corruption of our democracy by lobbyists and corporate money, to dismiss the distinctions between Kerry and Bush as inconsequential, would be disastrous.

Think about the Supreme Court and the right to safe, legal abortion. Consider the Federal Marriage Amendment and codifying discrimination in the Constitution. Think about the mixing of theology and science over various issues: stem cell research, abstinence-only sex education, the “morning after pill,” the effectiveness of condoms in stemming AIDS.

Consider Bush’s dismal environmental record and the reversal of decades of environmental protections. (The League of Conservation Voters gives Bush an “F,” while Kerry’s lifetime voting record gets a 92 percent.)

 You don’t have to compromise your values; continue to organize and build a progressive movement.

Raise hard questions, demand accountability and be a global citizen. No one claims our objectives will be met simply by electing a new president. Keep up the work on and after Nov. 2. Support Green or other third-party candidates in local races and build momentum.

Press for instant run-off voting. But don’t trivialize the critical differences between Bush and Kerry, because one of them, and only one of them, will win on Nov. 2.

It is not an overstatement to say that the future of our democracy and of our global relationships is at stake.

The most compelling reason to vote for Kerry is this: the world is watching. They are not examining our campaign financing, Electoral College, political parties or “protest votes.”

If Bush wins re-election, the world will see this as our endorsement of the Bush doctrine: pre-emptive war, prisoner torture, disregard of international law and rejection of international treaties; an endorsement of arrogant, swaggering, cowboy justice.

Currently, most of the world now sees the United States as a significant threat to global security, and they are anxiously hoping for a rejection of Bush.

So do your part, register by Oct. 12 and cast your principled vote for Kerry on Nov. 2.

Amy Lange is a University alumna. Please send comments to [email protected]