Our Bipolar Government
Why we need a third party
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 15:10
With the first couple weeks of October, we enter the last month of the election season. With that last month, of course, come the presidential debates. Though their result may have little to no effect on polling numbers nationwide, as the candidates really are not saying anything they haven’t already said yet in their campaigns, there is one gaping hole in the American political system that the debates highlight.
In today’s political climate, Republicans and Democrats are leaning further and further away from each other with every passing day. Our congress has never been more polarized in its nearly 250-year history. And yet, this is no accurate representation of the American citizenry.
The majority of Americans are not far left, nor are they far right – they hover somewhere in the middle. And yet, each election year, they are forced to split in two – forced to pit themselves against each other, though their beliefs may be shockingly similar.
There are, of course, third parties in America that people can vote for. I voted absentee this year, and I can tell you that there are nearly as many candidates for President as there are for all the other offices on the ballot combined. We really do have a multitude of choices when it comes to selecting a president, yet, if you are watching the debates, you would never know it.
A third party with significant clout to throw off the balance of power in government right now could shake our political system to its roots. If another party were to rise to power, it could successfully bridge the growing gap between conservative and liberal in America.
And, if voters were smart, that third party could even surpass the power of the two current parties. Can you imagine? An American government united under one party, with one goal: cooperation and forward progress for a better tomorrow.
But how to do this, you ask? Let us first look at why no third party could possibly gather as much clout as the Republican or Democratic parties in today’s political climate. First off, the two parties have their roots in the beginning of our democracy. They have changed names and platforms over the last two and a half centuries, but their histories are long and illustrious. Because of this, their support bases are incredibly deep.
Most third parties, on the other hand, are relatively new. The last time a third party won electoral votes was in 1968 when Richard Nixon (R) defeated Hubert H. Humphrey (D) and George C. Wallace (I).
Since then, no third party has been able to garner enough support (in terms of either votes or monetary support) to make serious inroads upon the electoral college. The pockets that back the two parties are far too deep and far too richly lined for any third party to possibly compete.
So how do we get a third party candidate to be taken seriously? First, let’s put a cap on the amount of money a candidate can spend on a campaign. By doing this, we put all candidates at an even level. No candidate can be ruled out simply because he or she represents a lower class of citizen that cannot pump millions or billions of dollars into his or her campaign.
Second, let’s open up the presidential debates to a third party candidate. Give the American people a true side-by-side of their most viable options. Keeping the debates strictly Democrat vs. Republican is unfair and completely biased.
The final suggestion that could help a third party burst onto the scene is an all-star candidate. Much like Teddy Roosevelt and his Bull Moose (Progressive) Party, an upstart candidate that already has significant political clout (Al Gore, anyone?) could represent a third party and give them a fighting shot at the presidency.
It’s radical. It’s revolutionary. It may even be a bit scary. But it is clear that our two-party system is just not functioning at the high level it has historically. If our representatives cannot learn to get along, make sacrifices and reach compromises, then perhaps it is time for a third party to step in and represent the American people for what they really are – a people willing to do whatever it takes to make forward progress.
Nathan is a senior majoring in landscape architecture. Follow him on twitter @nwstottler.