Tales From the Hilltop
An intelligent, yet Devil's Advocate view of the world

Episode Forty-Six: Why America Needs a Three (or Four, or Five)-Headed Coin

So, here we stand again. As we Americans do once every four years, we become enthralled in the time period known as election season, where we choose new leaders to govern. This biggest title of all is the Presidency of the United States, or POTUS for short. During this season, we see conventions, commercials, and endorsements for why one candidate should be chose over the other. After all, this is one of the building blocks of America and one of the basic concepts of democracy; the freedom to let the people decide who leads them. This election will mainly pit Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts, against the current Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American leader.

As I have sat and watched both Governor Romney and President Obama, I can’t help but to wonder about the apparent circus-like atmosphere the campaign trails were almost guaranteed to become. With the non-stop media coverage reporting and analyzing literally every word that is spoken by these two gentlemen, every issue becomes a story within itself: Just as he was questioned four years ago, President Obama has been scrutinized on his religious beliefs, while Governor Romney’s Mormon background has become a topic for concernment. Obama has seen himself criticized on his handling of the economy over the past four years, while Governor Romney has been pretty much vilified for his comments stating that 47% of the country – mostly people he assumes will vote for Obama, no matter what – rely on government assistance, thereby explaining why he is not concerned with their livelihood.

I see these things, and it always makes me think about why we as Americans are pretty much entrapped to the same two-party fight for political power every four years. In playing Devil’s Advocate as I normally do, I wonder why, if we as a nation are now mostly registered as independent voters (as of now, the number of people registered to vote to a political party are 40% Independent or Unaffiliated, and are now the new voting majority), then why don’t we vote independently more often? Why does it seem like most of us feel like when we vote, we’re not necessarily voting for whom we feel is the best candidate for the job, but rather the “lesser of two evils” for America?

Here’s what most people aren’t educated about on American politics: there are actually five major political parties in the United States that produce a candidate for the POTUS. In addition to the two juggernauts of the Republican and Democratic parties, there is also the Green Party, The Libertarian Party, and the Constitution party, formerly known as the U.S. Taxpayers Party. The Green Party has a candidate running named Jill Stein, also from Massachusetts, who has made intentions known that she is running on the basis of opposing largely the 1% of the wealthiest Americans and not succumbing to the lobbyists that are corrupting many of Washington’s officials. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a former Republican presidential candidate, is strongly oppose to the US intervening in international affairs unless said affair is deemed a legitimate American threat. Finally, Virgil Goode from the Constitution Party has made his bid for the White House, mostly running on a campaign that Obama and Romney’s policies really aren’t that different from each other, and still favor the privileged rather than the common or underprivileged citizens in this country.

All four Independent candidates make very good sense in their arguments, but it seems to me that most Americans are even ignorant to their appearances on the ballots. Honestly, who can blame them: The GOP (Republican) and Democratic parties have amassed political funding by the hundreds of millions of dollars to campaign, they have networks dedicated exclusively to the promotion of their party (in FOX News and MSNBC, respectively), and they run on the main basis that people believe that “if you’re not voting either Republican or Democratic, you’re basically throwing you’re vote away.” This is one of the biggest myths that I believe has corrupted the voting process as a whole. Well…. that, and repeated attempts of voter suppression. In spite of the widespread assumptions of minor party candidates, what the voting public needs to be made more aware of is:

1) Voting for a third-party candidate keeps the main candidates not only honest, but also on their toes to deliver on their campaigns. The worse thing a candidate can do is take their voters for granted, assuming that they’ll always be there, and a third party candidate can swing an election greatly in favor of their opponent if a piece of his presumed base decides that they would rather vote for someone else, then rather vote for him or his adversary.

2) A third-party gives voters more freedom to not feel inclined to succumb to the “red vs. blue feud”. If they relate to a candidate more than who’s mainly presented, voters feel a stronger sense to one that has their best interests in mind, even if they are aware that their respective candidate has virtually no chance of winning.

Third-party candidates can create a swell of voters. The most famous third party candidate to date is Independent Party candidate of the 1996 president election Ross Perot, who used most of his own money to create a moderately successful campaign, even though Bill Clinton ended up being re-elected. Even Ralph Nader’s role as “spoiler” in the 2000 election is believed by many to have been one of the biggest factors in George W. Bush walking away with the Presidency.

I say all of this to just reinforce this fact; there are more options out there for you if you feel that neither President Obama OR Governor Romney has your best interests in mind. I am one of these people. I am also very sure I’m not alone in this belief. Finally, I believe that maybe not this election or the next one, but soon, one of these parties will have just as big a following and major part in shaping America’s future leaders as the main two parties do now. So, while I do not push voting for any of the six candidates specifically, I just want to emphasis to everyone that is eligible to go out and vote. Even if your vote is an Independent one, it exercises your greatest liberty in America; the liberty to choose your leader. The liberty to say you will not accept just anyone, and the liberty to fight against a system that assumes you are powerless to change that line of thinking.

 

9/25/12

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