With less than two weeks before the 2000 presidential election, many young voters are floundering for an inspiration to vote. Nearly three-quarters of them probably won't find it by Nov. 7, if the 1996 election is any guide. According to Curtis Gans of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, a paltry 28 percent of eligible voters ages 18 to 24 voted in that race, and Gans expects that number to drop this year. The latest MTV/CBS News poll came up with an even scarier stat: Twenty-five percent of young voters can't even name both major-party candidates.
Those who plan to stay at home have probably settled into the comforting circular cop-out of underrepresentation: Young people don't vote because politicians don't address youth concerns, and politicians don't address youth concerns because young people don't vote. But Salon wants to remove that excuse with its 2000 Presidential Youth Debate. George Bush and Al Gore have agreed to answer 10 questions from young voters nationwide, and Salon wants you to help pick them.
If you are under 30, send us your question about whatever you want to know from Bush and Gore. We'll forward it to the two candidates, both of whom have promised to respond. In 1996, both President Clinton and Sen. Robert Dole coughed up some answers for the 1996 Online Presidential Youth Debate.
As in the 1996 effort, Farai Chideya, syndicated columnist and editor of online political journal Pop & Politics, and writer Deroy Murdock, who sits on the board of Gen X think thank Third Millennium, have each submitted a question to get the ball rolling. The rest of the debate is up to you.
Chideya: In the decades since Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court has ruled that districts cannot be forced to use means such as busing and magnet schools to enforce desegregation orders. Today, the majority of black children attend majority-black schools, and many other children go to schools where racial integration is still a dream. If you still believe in that dream, what will you do -- with laws and concrete actions -- to make educational integration a reality?
Murdock: Amid all the talk about "working families" and "leaving no child behind," both of you have said virtually nothing to the 46.6 million single American adults. Please explain why you have treated this massive voting bloc with such neglect, and how your tax cut proposals will benefit the millions of hardworking single adults who lack mortgages or children to place in day care or college.
Mail your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.