I didn’t have much to look forward to on election night, never being blind to the fact that the third party candidate I was supporting didn’t stand a chance. While Gary Johnson only received about 1 percent of the popular vote, however, it was the most number of votes a Libertarian candidate has ever received.
There is no regret felt about my vote. In good conscience I could not vote for either status quo Obama or moderate Mitt, born with a silver spoon in every orifice.
Since neither candidate represented my values and beliefs, I was forced to “waste” my vote on a third party, but why is this so? Why is it that we only have two parties and that only an extreme minimum of people vote for third parties even though most dislike both of the major party candidates?
Our Commander in Chief is chosen by the people via a plurality voting system. Plurality systems operate under a “winner takes all” policy in which the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes wins the election.
In our system, unlike others, there is no requirement that the candidate attain an absolute majority, which indicates that he has won more than 50 percent of the votes of all members of a voting institution.
All a candidate has to do is win more votes than his competitor to win in this system, which means that a candidate could win even if a majority of people voted for somebody other than that candidate.
The U.S.’s electoral system, whose plurality voting system is similar to Canada and the United Kingdom, seems to almost necessitate a political divide between two major parties in the nation — one to the left, one to the right — which typically results in the disregard of other political viewpoints.
The reason this happens is because the two primary parties grow so strong that it is often seen as a waste of a vote to cast it for one partisan side or the other, for fear of your vote being wasted on a third, unlikely candidate (even if your honest vote would be for neither).
In the study of political science, this is referred to as Duverger’s law, which predicts that constituencies that use systems such as ours inevitably become two-party systems given enough time.
This inevitable two party monopoly occurs, Duverger (a French sociologist) suggests, because the many weaker parties in the system tend to form a coalition after continuously losing, and weak parties are quickly deserted once it is learned that they will never win.
This was the first of Duverger’s hypotheses. His second states that: “the double ballot majority system and proportional representation tend to multipartism.”
The double ballot majority system is one where — if the winner hasn’t won by an absolute majority — there is a second vote excluding all but the top candidates.
Supporters of unlikely candidates then have a chance to cast their true vote the first time in good conscience while still being able to participate in the second vote if nobody wins over 50 percent of the vote.
The majority system eliminates the sense of having to choose the lesser of two evils, because a citizen’s initial vote is not completely discounted if the winner does not receive an absolute majority of the votes.
If we changed our electoral system to a double ballot majority it will create opportunity for change and a varied political climate that is not gridlocked one side against the other. Sadly, though, our political system will never change; why is that?
The parameters for the election of public officials is not dictated by the Constitution; we can change our electoral system into anything we want!
But we never will. We’ll continue to choose to vote based upon the fear of the “enemy” candidate being elected in willful ignorance, swallowing each partisan side’s lies and believing that we’re making a difference when casting our vote for either side of the binopoly.
Democrats and Republicans like the system we have. They get to pit one half of the citizenry against the other and take turns reaping the benefits — they’re not out to help you; you have nothing to offer once you’ve given them your vote.
At the end of the day the two major candidates are just fighting over who gets the power to dictate which lobbyists will receive the most loopholes and grant money, and which industries — both foreign and abroad — will receive the tax cuts and dominant position in business relations for the next four years.
Don’t keep voting in Republicans and Democrats and expect to see any change. Let’s completely restructure our electoral system and force change upon them.