Voting Third Party in 2020

Jonathon Barringer '22

After Friday’s school poll for the Presidential election, one question comes to mind:

Why should we have to pick between two unlikeable candidates in 2020, when in reality, we don’t?

Since George Washington left office in 1797, two major political parties in the US have run against each other. The Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, the Democrats and the Whigs, and finally what we are left with today, the Democrats and the Republicans. This wasn’t the original intention of the constitution, and the founding fathers even warned us of the danger of this system. John Adams said, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”  

The two party system took hold of politics anyways. A majority of people feel that the two party system does a good job of representing them. After all, if it has been in place for so long, how can it be so bad? Even before the constitution was established, people had to take a position as for it, or against it. There was no in-between. Third parties could make politics more complicated.

However, the two party system today has become extremely polarizing. The Democrats and Republicans are more ideologically divided than ever before. According to Pew Research Center, “The overall share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades from 10% to 21%.” Even worse, the study finds that over a quarter of the people who identify with either major political party see the other party as a “Threat to the Nation’s Well-Being.” This antipathy being brewed by the two party system manifests itself in threatening protests, violent riots, and even attempting to kidnap a government official. Maybe the real threat to the nation’s well-being is the two party system.

I doubt many people would be happy going to get ice cream to find that the ice cream shop has only chocolate and vanilla. I doubt that they would be satisfied if the only cereals in the cereal aisle were Cheerios and Rice Krispies. Why should politics be any different? With the current system many issues are divided into left and right, while they may not be mutually exclusive. Politics is more complicated than left and right. Politics involves economic issues, social issues, and foriegn relations. How is it possible for two parties to represent all of these possibile stances? A person, for example, could not believe in the recreational use of marijuana (Democrat) while also believing in the second amendment (Republican). They could also not believe that abortion should be made illegal (Republican) while also believing that the death penalty should also be outlawed (Democrat). It is also impossible to take the stance that the government should cut taxes and spending (Republican) while supporting the right for gay people to get married (Democrat).

In today’s election, most people won’t be casting their ballots for who or what they believe in, but for what they deem is the lesser of two evils.

Please keep in mind, more candidates will be on the ballot besides Joe Biden and Donald Trump. This year in Michigan the ballot also features Don Blankenship of the Constitution party, Howie Hawkins of the Green party, Jo Jorgensen of the Libertarian party, and Roque De La Fuente of the Alliance party. Although these people may not have been allowed on debates, featured on TV, or highlighted in the media, they are all valid candidates and should be recognized and voted for as valid candidates. 

A growing number of people have already started seeing them this way. In 2016, an equally polarizing election, Gary Johnson, a member of the Libertarian party managed to win 4.84 million votes, 3.28% of Americans. The goal many third party candidates seek in 2020 is 5%, the number they need to win to be allowed in debates for the next election, giving them a much better chance to show people that they are better than the major parties. Although it would be nearly impossible for them to win the election this year, some third party candidates aren’t far from the 5% number.

We live in a democracy. The power to heal the nation lies in the hands of the people. Instead of choosing between bad options, do research and find a candidate that represents your beliefs. Cast your ballot for them, and help them reach 5%. The responsibility for the nation’s health and well being lies in your hands.