DebateChats 2000: William Baldwin on the Youth Vote

Part of the problem is that we're stuck in a two-party system that gives younger voters little choice. It's moved from "vote for who you like the most" to "vote for who you dislike the least". What can we do to get the Democrats and Republicans to play nice with the other children (i.e. in debates)? Are they afraid?

William Baldwin at 2:17pm ET

A third party isn't born over night. It can take generations before they can become competitive. Certainly there is more that the political process can do to level the playing field and create a more equitable distribution of opportunity for the third party. But, like I said, that's certainly not going to happen over night. What we're witnessing now is the emergence of a third party and a potential three-party system in America, dating back to Ross Perot. It's Ross Perot who really got Clinton elected, because I think he took more of a percentage of voters away from Bush in 1996. There is a third party emerging; it's having a significant impact. It's not competing on the same level as the other two parties yet, but I think it would be good for the parties and good for the country.

Alison Byrne Fields at 2:19pm ET

There was actually a survey that was done by Newsweek that said that 50 percent of young people identify themselves as independent voters, and sixty-four percent of them were interested in having a viable third party. So I think that the inclusion of a viable third party, and as William said, campaign finance reform — these things are both of interest to young people. Campaign finance reform would indicate that the system is looking at itself critically and would indicate change in the system. So the McCain-Feingold bill would indicate that even Washington is looking at itself critically. With a third party, it's an introduction of alternative voices.

ABCNEWS’ Jim Sciutto at 2:20pm ET

Alison, what is Rock The Vote doing to get young people registered?

Alison Byrne Fields at 2:22pm ET

We have spent a lot of our energy, particularly in 2000, trying to help young people to recognize the issues that are being decided in this election. Because a lot of what we see is that young people, because they don't see their issues being discussed, think that the election has nothing to do with them. So for example we're premiering a series of spots on MTV this month that spotlights potential questions that young people would ask the candidates if they were given the opportunity. There are questions about how they will decide who will be the Supreme Court justices, questions about racial profiling, questions about the increase in spending for prisons versus spending on education, questions about campaign finance reform, and questions about the hypocrisy of legislation which takes away funding for higher education if a young person is busted for drugs, whereas candidates have admitted to using drugs, and elected officials have admitted to it, but have suggested that it was a youthful indiscretion.

ABCNEWS’ Jim Sciutto at 2:23pm ET

William and Alison, is there any sign that politicians care about the youth vote?

Alison Byrne Fields at 2:24pm ET

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