Third parties deserve some attention

By By Gina Lea Nickl

By Gina Lea Nickl

Since the days of our Founding Fathers, our country has run on a two-party political system. George Washington is the only U.S. President to not have belonged to a major political party.

While the two-party system has many benefits, there are also drawbacks. We are months away from voting in a new president. Barack Obama and John McCain are the nominees from their respective parties. On the surface, this election seems to be running smoothly. Democrats will vote for Obama and Republicans will vote for McCain.

However, without digging too far, you will find a large problem with these election tickets. There are many voters who are not represented. A recent Gallup pole showed that nearly 20 percent of voters are still undecided. These voters either do not identify with either candidate or do not agree with their policies. This is an increasing problem. According to the Reuter/Zogby Index as of July 2008, undecided voters have risen 28 percent since the previous election.

In the primary elections, Obama narrowly won the majority of the Democratic vote. The Republicans were more divided than the Democrats. McCain won 9.9 million votes, but 11 million people voted for one of the other five candidates on the ballot. This means the presumed Republican nominee doesn’t necessarily represent the majority of his own party. With Obama taking the nomination, many of Hillary Clinton’s supporters are now in the undecided voter category.

When voters feel they don’t have a voice they are less likely to participate in the elections. Kirk Jowers, director of the U’s Hinckley Institute of Politics said, “Democracy works when citizens participate. When citizens are apathetic, special interest groups step in and fill the vacuum.”

There are many third party candidates in America who don’t get attention from citizens. People often don’t take third parties seriously because they aren’t in the center ring of the political stage. Many people don’t realize that today’s Republican Party was a third party that rose to prominence and replaced the Whig Party.

Voters not represented by the two predominate parties many be surprised to see their views well represented in third parties.

By having ignored voters, we open the door for special interest groups, which leads to a more easily corrupted system. Special interest groups and lobbyists will control our country if we don’t. So we need to get these third party candidates in the spotlight.

Our government system doesn’t need to change for this to happen. Most U students are open-minded , yet most of us will vote uniformly within our own parties this November. Don’t be one of them. It is our responsibility to not be apathetic. Jowers emphasized getting involved with politics. Look at the candidates’ issues. Once you know each of the candidates’ platforms you can then know if your views are being represented.

Also look to third parties to see what other ideas are being talked about but not receiving national attention. It is up to us to bring these topics and solutions to the table. If you don’t take part in making your views heard, then you have nothing to complain about when the country isn’t being run the way you want.

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Kevin Merriman

Gina Lea Nickl