Someday, a people’s choice?
An emerging republic with nearly unlimited potential and resources left politicians with lots of ground on which to stump. Based on the new ideas of freedom, choices have been part of what the United States was based on from the very beginning.
The more choices there are to make, the more competition comes into play. With several factions competing for the same goal, the levels of quality begin to climb in order to attract loyalty.
It’s the same for political candidates. Their stock rises in direct relation to what value they bring to the customer.
In the case of third parties, an option away from the two-party system can bring welcome change. Customers cast their lots with money. Voters show their support by showing up at the polls. In case you haven’t noticed – or voted lately – the voters by and large have not been showing up.
Today, the lines between liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican have been blurred to the point of being all too homogenous, it seems. Corporate contributions and lobbyists have turned the two-party system nearly into one choice with only subtle shades of difference. Having third party candidates might make the political system stronger for providing the voters with more distinct choices.
Of course, these days it could indeed be argued that voting for a third party candidate in a general election would be tantamount to “throwing your vote away.” Consider Ralph Nader, now back a second time to bite into the vote that otherwise would overwhelmingly go to Democratic presidential candidates. Certainly, votes that bled from Gore to Nader in 2000 ended the Clinton-Gore tenure in the White House. And that could happen again.
Still, choosing a third party candidate sends a message to the two dominant parties that the status quo isn’t OK and that the trouble you’ve taken to vote won’t go to waste, even if the unintended consequence in this era is to put and possibly keep in office a candidate who is anathma to your values.
The difference, of course, is finding that third choice who is strong enough to not merely bleed off votes from a candidate from the Republicans or Democrats, but strong enough to win outright.
Voting too often has devolved to a choice between “the lesser of two evils,” neither with much apparent commitment to “ordinary” citizens. Over time, the more voters feel that way about candidates put up by the dominant party, the closer third party candidates will come to becoming genuine alternatives to the establishment. The right third party candidate might well signal the party’s over for the entrenched lobbies and two-party system held firmly in their sway.
No such candidate for president is present – or even on the horizon. But the notion itself is almost enough to convince voters who don’t feel well served by the current parties or their candidates to vote for a third party candidate just to send a message. Real choice ought to be what makes American politics great again.