AMERICAN POLITICS: The Need for a Third Party
Took a week off because I didn’t know what to write about and when I figured out what I wanted to write about, the rest of my week was booked solid. However, I think this is a pretty important topic that needs to be addressed so I’m glad to have the opportunity to share it with you.
Here is the overview of my premise this week: The American political system is in dire need of a three party system. I truly feel that if this change doesn’t happen before 2016, our country could possibly be on its way to collapse. The system to elect a president is utterly broken and without more options and opposition to the status quo will never get fixed. All of a sudden, it’s going to be too late. There’s a really good opinion piece on the Washington Post’s website that lists three reasons the two-party system is failing us.
“First, both parties’ chief aim is to win elections, not solve problems. Second, both parties are prisoner to interest groups and ideological litmus tests that prevent them from blending the best of liberal and conservative thinking. Finally, neither party trusts us enough to lay out the facts and explain the steps we need to take to truly fix things.” – Matt Miller
It’s a pretty great article so I’d recommend reading the whole thing (here). But Miller’s reasons are right on the money, in my opinion. Ideology and campaign financing fuel the political system instead of the pursuit of true progress.
It seems the two main political parties have finally reached the apex of polarization. From what the media is covering, and from what I’ve seen on social media, the supporters of each party could not be further apart on the issues. But it’s all from an ideological standpoint. I don’t believe conservatives actually process the plans put forward by Obama in an effort to understand how it might benefit the country but instead process it for the sole purpose of finding flaws and producing negative spin. The same goes for how liberals process Romney’s ideas. It doesn’t help that the two primary network news channels have also become polarized rhetoric machines. All of this to say that as the two parties have grown further apart to appease the interest groups and outspoken supporters, all of us who reside in the middle are left out in the cold. There are overwhelming amounts of people, that don’t run on the party lines, which feel they don’t have a voice in this election. These people often see the vote for a third-party candidate as a wasted vote as that candidate will likely only gain 2-3% of popular vote and thus choose their personal “lesser of two evils” or simply don’t vote altogether. This is a huge problem facing our political system.
Through August, the two main candidates have raised $1.3 billion and have spent $1.1 billion on their campaigns. Over an additional $300 million has been spend by outside groups, PACs and SuperPACs with groups such as American Crossroads and Priorities USA Action spending over $100 million on attack ads alone. Campaign finance is big business y’all (explore the figures here). This leads to two distinct failures in our system. The first, it makes it extremely hard for third-party candidates (who may have the best ideas to address problems facing our country) with no direct connections to wealthy donors to make a legitimate play for the White House. Even within the two main parties, candidates’ bids for just the nomination are crushed if they don’t have the money to keep up. Something also just sits wrong with me on a personal level that that amount of money is being thrown around in the middle of a troubled economy and a global perspective of poverty. The second failure is that, as Miller notes in his article, the democrats can’t come out strong in favor of firing bad teachers and creating accountability in our schools because of the influence the teachers unions have as an interest group in the democratic party.
We end up having candidates chained financially and ideologically to groups that have particular worldviews. And when that happens, the American people as a whole are robbed of real progress and unity. It may be idealistic to believe that a third choice would really make a difference in a corrupted political system that has firm roots, I can acknowledge that, and the difficulties present in trying to make change. But nothing will change if those of us, who fall in the middle and want to see a blending of conservative and liberal thinking, attacking issues from an interdisciplinary viewpoint, settle for the “lesser of two evils” or choose not to vote.
Here’s a good resource for anyone who wants to find out about which candidate their viewpoints match up with that includes third-party candidates. http://www.isidewith.com/presidential-election-quiz