Less Is Not More

Tora Husar, Guest Writer

Tora Husar

This election cycle has without a doubt been one of the most contentious to date. Whether you love them or hate them,
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have flooded the media with their polarizing campaigns, not to mention that both campaigns have been riddled with character attacks and ‘he-said, she-said’ accusations.
Voters as a whole seem to belong to one of three categories: wholeheartedly supporting a candidate, supporting a candidate out of wholehearted opposition for the other candidate, or apathy towards both. This last group seems the most prevalent, and it serves as another reminder that our political environment is flawed. So many people do not support either the Democratic or the Republican candidate, and yet very few people are eager or willing to declare their
support for a third-party candidate.
On one hand, that’s understandable. Bipartisanship has been a cornerstone of the American political system since the era of our founding fathers, and no true third party candidate has ever served in Oval Office.
Voting for a third party candidate may seem like throwing away one’s vote: Teddy Roosevelt took 88 out of 531 electoral votes representing the Progressive party in 1912–the highest a third party candidate has ever achieved–and no such candidate since Roosevelt has ever garnered over 50 votes in the electoral college. That’s not to mention Roosevelt’s clear advantage as a popular president who had just finished his second term.
But I strongly urge those of voting age who are disappointed by the two dishes that have been offered this year to seek something more to their taste: one of the over 25 candidates who are receiving significantly less funding, screentime, or media attention than either Clinton or Trump. There is no constitutional clause calling for bipartisanship, yet our nation has overwhelmingly promoted, or, at the very least, accepted it.
This is rather ironic, as bipartisan theory implies compromise and cooperation between the two parties, but in recent years, politicians have been anything but cooperative.
I’ll be the first to admit, no third-party candidate stands a chance of taking over the Oval Office this year, but that in itself is not the issue. Your vote counts even if the candidate you vote for does not win. By acknowledging the presence of and supporting a third-party candidate, you are making the statement that our country should not be limited to two choices just because it has generally been that way. The more support that you throw to the men and women who more accurately represent your viewpoints, the more attention you are giving to the people who you actually think could make America great (again).
Moreover, the attention you give to third-party candidates contributes to a future in which third-party candidates are no longer called third-party candidates, and reach an equal standing with our dominant parties.
This extends further than the presidency: Congress could also benefit from wider viewpoints. There are currently two independent senators and one (non-voting) independent representative in Congress. This means that the Democrats and the GOP are left to spar over every issue brought to Congress, and viewers are left questioning whether these debates are truly the result of ideological differences or simply a desire to have the upper hand.
One only has to look at the number of filibusters executed in Congress since 2004: over 600 according to nolabels.org.
Multiparty systems exist and thrive. Two-party systems are an aberration among democratic countries. Few nations have as distinct of a partisan dichotomy as the US.
Our ideas always deserve to be challenged, and we should not fear changes in the status quo, rather, we should embrace those changes which we believe will contribute to the common good.
If there’s anything that this year has taught me about politics, it’s that less is not more–we deserve to have multiple beliefs represented in all facets of our government.