As an expensive private liberal arts college in New York, we are in one of the most left-wing places between San Francisco and Paris. Therefore, presidential candidate Ralph Nader, formerly of the Green Party but now running as an independent, can expect to receive a lot of support at UR. Unfortunately, supporting Nader would be a serious mistake. To vote for Nader is to take a principled stand that flies in the face of all reason and long-term thought. To potential Nader supporters, I ask you – what is more important, sending the message that you are disenfranchised with the current two-party system or maybe, actually, in some slight way making the country a better place? And in case anyone has any doubts, it really is an “either-or” choice. If the Democratic Party’s base is co-opted by Nader, they won’t court the diehards at the expense of the other 90 percent of the population. They’ll just move closer to the middle. And even if they did swing left – which they won’t – it would not be in time to reclaim Nader’s supporters in this election. And then we would have four more years of monumental deficit spending, entitlements weighted toward the rich, public policy based on one man’s religious beliefs and mishandled wars. John Kerry wasn’t my first or even my second choice for president. But in realistic terms, the choice for president is between him and Bush. So in November I’ll face a choice between Kerry, Bush and Nader. If I vote for Kerry the things I’m mad at Bush about will have a chance – small, sure, but real – of getting fixed. If I vote for Bush, they’ll all probably get worse. And if I vote for Nader, I’ll send a message to the Democratic Party that they need to be more radical and less concerned with getting elected. The choice is unpleasant, but it’s also very easy. So why is Nader running, then? The explanation many people accept is that he’s an egomaniac. But I disagree. If that were the case then he would have run as a Democrat this year or in 2000. He might have had the same effect Howard Dean did, only more so, and his chances of winning the election – though still tiny – would have been many times better than they have been in real life. But he didn’t do any of that. He’s standing by his principles. He believes that revolutionary changes to the two-party system are both possible and necessary. That’s his right. But my principles state that actually making a difference is a hundred times more important than making a statement and nothing more. If you agree with me on that, then don’t vote for Nader. Levesque can be reached at

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Editor’s Note (5/4/24): This article is no longer being updated. For our most up to date coverage, look for articles…

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