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October 5, 2000

Republicans Break the Silence on Single People

by Thomas F. Coleman

Dick Cheney, Republican nominee for Vice-President, was the first person in the national debates to break the silence about single people.

Up until last night’s debate between Cheney and Joe Leiberman, the Democratic nominee for the number two spot on the presidential ticket, none of the top contenders were willing to speak directly to the 80 million adults in the nation who happen to be unmarried.

Gore has focused on "working families." Bush has hammered away on seniors issues, with a sprinkling of remarks directed toward "younger workers." But neither of these presidential candidates has been willing to reach out to single and unmarried voters in no uncertain terms.

After the first Gore-Bush debate, single voters were wondering whether they would be ignored throughout the entire political season. That question was answered during the first vice-presidential debate, when Cheney referred to single people.

During a segment about tax rebates, Cheney explained that he and Bush wanted to give relief to every American taxpayer, regardless of whether they were single or married. There it was. One of the major candidates spoke to single people as a group of voters.

One would think that the Democratic party, with all of its liberalism and progressive causes would embrace the cause of "singles rights." Wrong! Not when the Democratic nominee for President is trying to out do the Republicans on "family values." Gore has said "working families" so many times that one wonders whether he says it in his sleep. Too much coaching perhaps.

Where do the other candidates for President stand when it comes to equal rights for single people? After all, some of the third party candidates are themselves single.

Take Ralph Nader, for example. He is a life-long single person. Although he is also a crusader for the underdog, his campaign and the Green Party say nothing on this score. Does he not realize that single people are victims of marital status discrimination as workers, consumers, and as citizens? Seems like too much tunnel vision on a fixed agenda.

As for Pat Buchanan, well, single people are not on his "traditional family" radar screen or mentioned anywhere in the platform of the Reform Party. You won’t hear Harry Browne calling for the inclusion of "marital status" in federal civil rights laws since the Libertarian Party opposes government interference with business decisions even if they are discriminatory.

Bob Roth, the communications director for John Hagelin, says that his boss will be very outspoken in support of single people during the rest of his campaign and that, as president, Hagelin would support legislation prohibiting marital status discrimination.  Hagelin, who is divorced, is the nominee of the Natural Law Party and represents a coalition of reform and independent parties throughout the nation.  

With the presidential election still too close to call, a shift of loyalty by a significant number of single voters from candidates who ignore them to those who show some concern for them could very well be the deciding factor on November 7.

Thomas F. Coleman is the executive director of the American Association for Single People, the nation’s voice for unmarried workers, consumers, taxpayers, and voters.


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