On a popular social networking site, I recently posted a picture of a t-shirt via dftba.com boldly proclaiming: CHEWIE/SOLO 2012. This was accompanied by a caption of my own saying, “Support third party candidates in this upcoming election!”
While I may think it is almost always good advice to let the Wookiee win, I wasn’t actually encouraging my friends and family members to write-in a fictional character when they go to the voting polls in a few months. I was, however, gently nudging them to seriously consider the seemingly-radical notion of third party candidacy.
American politics promotes the idea of a two-dimensional political spectrum ranging from leftist liberal to right-wing conservative. We somehow have assigned the title of ‘Democrat’ to those leaning towards the left and dub those leaning towards the right as ‘Republican.’ But I, like many (most?) other people, have never felt like I really had a place on this scale.
For instance, when it comes to social issues I tend to have more liberal views, but I have a conservative opinion in regards to the idea of big government. When people ask me what my political affiliations are, I often say that I “vote per the issue,” “straddle the fence,” or that I’m “unaffiliated,” merely to avoid explaining just how complicated and ever-evolving my political perspective really is.
I feel trapped when trying to find where I am placed on this left/right scale.
A bipartisanship system is tricky, because it implies an either/or mindset: Either you support X or you support Y. It’s like saying you can have either the chicken or the hamburger. What about the people who crave bacon? Or maybe you are a vegan. There should be a buffet of options available to us at our political dinner.
There is no such thing as a true binary, there are countless shades of grey. Humanity is not so lacking in depth that we can only see two solutions to any given problem — implying we are that simple of creatures is outright insulting.
“I don’t like this system either, but I’m voting for the lesser of two evils!” you say. “I don’t want my vote to go to waste!” Advocating for the principles you truly believe to be right and true should not be considered a “waste.” Voting is what we make of it! We have the power to rock the vote!
Yes, it is true that a third-party candidate has an incredibly slim chance of winning the 2012 election. Not enough media attention has been given to Green Party candidate Jill Stein or Libertarian frontrunner Gary Johnson. Chances are, you haven’t even heard of the Constitution Party or their presidential candidate Virgil Goode. There simply is not enough time to generate awareness of these politicians and their political platforms before Nov. 4 comes around, let alone to convince people to step back from the Democrat/Republican system they have grown familiar with.
But for the first time since Roosevelt ran under the Bull Moose Party a century ago, we have the chance to make third parties noteworthy. If enough voter attention is drawn to alternatives to the current system during this election, then perhaps in the 2016 election third parties will be invited to join in on televised national debates.
A few years after that, it might be considered normal to vote for a third party member. With time, we can change the flawed monopoly currently in place!
Please! Vote for who you think best represents the solutions and principles our country needs. If that means getting a hamburger, then great – lucky for you that’s already on the menu. But don’t be afraid to ask the establishment for the bacon.
Anna Mitchell is a junior liberal arts major. As a vegetarian, she never thought she would encourage people to ask for bacon. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.