Head to Head: Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd?

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Two Party System in Need of Reform

Nicholas Coleman

As election day draws near, citizens in the United States are facing a familiar challenge this November. Whether one supports Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, it’s likely that neither candidate will fully accommodate many viewpoints. Third party candidates such as Gary Johnson or Jill Stein have yet to disrupt the political cycle, leaving many to decide between the “lesser of two evils.” The two-party system, which has long plagued American politics, is in dire need of reform.

Recent polls conducted by RealClearPolitics show that Trump and Clinton each possess tremendous disapproval ratings at 58 percent and 54 percent. Nationally, respectively 89 percent of citizens view Congress, which has entered a state of perpetual gridlock,  negatively, The U.S., once an example of streamlined democracy, has become an inefficient machine that prevents social growth. While many factors affect political negotiations, the most significant factor is indeed steep divides between two ideological bases.

For many years, politicians in the U.S. were able to identify with a cohesive party. This is no longer the case. An example of this would be the Tea Party, which in 2009 began alienating traditional Republicans. Those who win the presidency represent significantly less than half of the voting base, which results in gridlock. Furthermore, during election season, politicians from both sides of the aisle must support their party’s nominee. For politicians such as Senator Ted Cruz, endorsing Trump is unbearable and done only to satisfy a larger political machine.

Often, the most troubling aspect of the two-party system has been zero-sum politics, which produces negative campaign ads. Each political cycle, major party candidates run highly decisive races. One of these candidates, regardless of third party options, will win the election. If one campaign is portrayed as unscrupulous, the other candidate gains any lost support. Thus, both parties spend vast resources tearing each other down with the goal being to appear as the “lesser of two evils.” The current two-party system prevents viable third-party candidates from capitalizing upon voters who have been turned off by Republican and Democrat messages.

These issues wouldn’t exist within a multiparty system, however. Instead of focusing upon the negative aspects of other campaigns, candidates would be forced to spread their efforts. Consequently, it would become productive to highlight why people should vote for their platform. Additionally, a multiparty system would encourage the formation of political coalitions. Due to more political candidates, campaigns would be encouraged to forge alliances to garner widespread support. In a multiparty system, Trump would have invariably faltered, as he would have lacked support from moderate blocs.

Therein lies the beauty of multiparty systems: instead of forcing hatred, they promote friendly alliances between campaigns. This allows for more viewpoints to be represented nationally, which elevates democracy in the numerous parties. Winning coalitions would gain the weight to implement moderate agendas. Thus, the U.S. would be able to efficiently reduce political gridlock, while still protecting the interests of minority populations.

The U.S. is unique in that each citizen is afforded the opportunity to vote. Yet, the two-party system has effectively stripped the right of many to have their voices heard. If voters embraced a multiparty system, zero-sum politics would end and candidates would be able to work peaceably together. Ultimately, these coalitions would encompass viewpoints from voters previously disenfranchised, leading to a higher amount of political participation. The two-party system is unequivocally outdated and in dire need of reform. It’s time for national leaders to end this system and allow for the U.S. to once again regain democratic efficiency.

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Throw-Away Vote is Political Suicide

Alisa Patience

America has created an interesting dilemma for itself. In November, we are faced with electing the lesser of two evils. However, as you will have seen on TV or heard from your colleagues, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are not your only options. You can choose from Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, or you could write in anyone’s name, including Bernie Sanders. That said, even though third party candidates are making a dent in pre-election polls and writing in “Bernie Sanders” or “Mickey Mouse” might be an attractive option, voting for anyone other than Clinton would be political suicide.

If you honestly believe that Gary Johnson or Jill Stein would make a better president than Clinton, then sure, go ahead and vote for them. That’s your prerogative as an American citizen.

But you must understand that there’s a reason third party candidates never win. The popular vote only has partial influence over who actually becomes president. It doesn’t matter who leads the Green Party or the Libertarian Party. The electoral college has the ultimate say, and the Electors will almost always (under the guise of the popular vote) vote for either of the two major parties. This election, every electoral college vote that doesn’t go toward Clinton is practically another vote for Trump. Anyone who has listened to Trump speak knows he doesn’t know how to run a country.

People voting for Johnson and Stein have said that voting for a third party candidate will bring attention to the issue that third party candidates don’t get enough attention during campaigns. These are the same people who believe that their vote doesn’t matter, which is why they’re willing to risk letting Trump win the presidency to show their support of ousting the electoral college. But if their vote truly doesn’t matter, like they believe, then how could voting for a third party candidate possibly call attention to the issue?

I was a hardcore Sanders supporter and I trust him. He says it’s not time for a third party vote. He and Barack Obama say that the best thing to do is to vote for Clinton. We need to stop focusing on the illegal or racist things she might have done 20 years ago and focus on the illegal and racist things Trump is doing now. I’m going to listen to the man whose policies I agree most with and who I voted for in the first place (Sanders), and I’m going to listen to the man who has done the job and knows what the job entails (Obama).

If this were any other campaign, if any other two people were the lead candidates for president, it would probably be okay either way. I would tell you to go crazy and give those third party candidates the votes they need to increase their self esteem. But this is the problem at hand: the person who becomes president is going to have to deal with the terrorist, or lack of terrorist, issues we currently have, immigration and refugees, police brutality and our current education systems. The fact of the matter is that our president is going to be Clinton or Trump. One of them is going to be the face of our American values. No matter who you vote for, it’s going to be either a man who offends everyone he speaks to and could start wars by using Twitter, or we could have a woman who, like every politician, has done some shady things in the past, but has actual political experience and an actual plan to make the country better. If you vote for a third party candidate to protest the system or to make a point, you’re going to have to explain to every person you know who is a minority race, working class citizen or immigrant going through so much more struggle and debt than they already are, “Sorry, it’s nothing personal; I just wanted to make a point.”

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