Third Party Symbolism

In the United States, a two-party system is held in place by the voter’s sense of security in American politics and the system, while third party candidates such as Ralph Nader, Ross Perot and Gary Johnson tend to be the wild card. When Americans no longer believe the system is working as it should or corruption has spread to the point where voting is no longer a secure activity, third party candidates rise up. It has been said many times during the current presidential elections, “this vote was rigged” or votes came up missing and required a recount. It was also seen previously, during the first George W. Bush/Al Gore presidential election. In Florida, a sizeable amounts of votes were missing and an electoral recount was necessary, causing a Bush victory over Gore. Does this symbolize the failed attempt at true democracy and a successful two party system?

In a political world controlled by private organizations and extremely wealthy donors, it is hard to separate the good, the bad and the ugly. However, this presidential year seems to be doing a pretty good job of weeding out corruption and politically incorrect candidates. Hillary Clinton has been caught, released and caught again with numerous allegations over her emails, the Clinton Foundation and some may even say murder. Is it strange that people who stand up to speak against her die mysteriously? Trump’s pseudo-racism, bigoted nature and steamrolling effect have amassed a large following, yes, but at what cost? Those who won’t be voting for him come Election Day will have been alienated by either his policy standings, his nature to be top dog (no matter who he steps on in the process), or his exclusiveness when it comes to speaking to the American people. His speeches are crass and cater to those members of society who have already elected to vote for him. However, people are speaking out against this ‘broken system’ and are doing so with their votes. Third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are part of the movement to wash away the two party system due to its play on corruption and hatred.

In most cases of third party candidates, voters hold support from August through the end of the race. In the case of Gary Johnson, voter turnout is taking an upturn near the end of August and into September. Could this be due to substantially more criticism against the opposition than in recent years? The favor-ability ratings held between the two main parties’ candidates show huge spikes in unpopularity, not only between themselves, but outside voters as well. Voters believe their only options are the lesser of two evils: Hillary or Donald. This, however, is untrue and can be remedied with a simple solution. Look third party. When the voter sees that they must settle, they are able to choose a different route that can encompass many more policies than either of the two main parties could.

So how does this increased voter turnout in the third party show what America is thinking? Historically we have been a two party system, featuring most presidents as either Democrat or Republican, although there are several other factions that have earned that seat. George Washington was an independent candidate, mostly because the party system hadn’t truly been invented yet. The Whig party, a third party, held presidents Millard Fillmore, Zachary Taylor, John Tyler and William Henry Harrison. The Federalists had John Adams. These parties were non-conventional, but held their ground when the two big parties were, for lack of a better term, ‘infertile’. The creation and unification of these parties shows dissatisfaction of current political structures, giving way to a new political regime.

One of the largest ideas against a third party opposition is the notion that a vote for someone who is outside the two party system is a ‘wasted vote.’ This, in reality, may be true. If Americans voted to the effect of which candidate they saw as being most fit to run the country without abstract political ideals like, “if I vote for Johnson, I’d be taking away votes from Trump and Hillary would win” or “my vote will be wasted if I don’t subject myself to a major party,” true democracy takes place. Rather than voting for who you think is going to win or who will hurt this country the least, take a change and vote who you think would serve best as commander and chief. It’s a crazy thought, I know.