By: Sophie Hurlock ~Guest Writer~
For a country that values freedom and the ability to choose, America has failed its voters when it comes to political choices. Americans only have two options: a Democratic or a Republican candidate.
Yes, there may be other parties such as the Libertarian and Green parties that also offer up candidates, but no third party candidate has ever won a presidency. The closest a third party had ever gotten to being elected was in 1912 when former president Teddy Roosevelt left the Republican party to run as a member of the Bull Moose party, winning 27 percent of the votes. The lack of choices forces Americans to either align with the far right or the far left if they want to feel like their voices are heard.
There is no middle ground and little variety when it comes to American politics. When you watch the primary debates, before any of the candidates open their mouths, you already know for the most part what issues they support based on their party alliance. While there does seem to be some variety within the primary stage of the election – for example, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had opposing views on campaign financing, healthcare and Wall Street policy – by the time the parties have chosen their presidential nominees, voters are left with a far right or far left candidate. A moderate candidate is not attractive to the two larger political parties, since they only like to show one side of the spectrum in order to appeal to their demographic of voters and keep everybody happy.
A poll done by the PEW Research Center shows that during the past 20 years, unfavorable views between Democrats and Republicans have more than doubled. The number of Republicans who view Democrats as highly unfavorable has jumped from 17 percent to 43 percent, and the number of Democrats who view Republicans as highly unfavorable has jumped from 16 percent to 38 percent. I believe that this jump is due to the us-against-them mentality held by many politicians and Americans. For example, while giving a speech, Clinton said that you could put half of Donald Trump’s supporters into a “basket of deplorables,” and many times throughout his campaign, Donald Trump has used derogatory terms such as calling some women “fat pigs” and Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists.” How can either of these candidates expect to lead a united country and create policies that benefit everyone if they are mudslinging the other side?
Mudslinging, another problem with our two-party system, seems to be the preferred way in this country for a politician to gain power. In a multiparty system like that of Germany, which includes five to six serious political parties to choose from, candidates cannot throw mud at their opponents without getting mud on themselves. This forces candidates to instead focus on creating strong political positions and productive policies. Instead of focusing on what they plan to do when they take office, our candidates focus on attack ads to scare voters away from the other opponent. The focus on mudslinging and the practice of financially supporting candidates puts political power into the hands of wealthy investors. These investors can greatly influence a political campaign by buying airtime for attack ads against certain candidates to be played.
The two-party system is failing all of us as Americans. The political divide between the two parties is only growing larger, and Republicans and Democrats refuse to work together to do what’s best for this country. They are too caught up in their own political agendas and are always fighting for total control. This either leads to legislation that only benefits one side of the political spectrum or no legislation at all, making whoever is on the losing side feel like their voices and opinions do not matter. What we need in this country is not only more moderate politicians but also for third party candidates to be taken as seriously as a Republican or Democratic candidate. Good ideas for the country come from all areas of the political spectrum, not just the left or the right.