Maffeo: Maybe It’s Time for a Third Party

This year’s Presidential election could arguably be the most entertaining one in the history of U.S. politics. However, as we move closer to November while watching the campaign trail, we might find ourselves having less laughs and amusement and more dread and anxiety as we look at our options.

As I have feared, I have heard many friends and colleagues confess that they will not vote this year because of the two candidates; such confessions are nails on a chalkboard to my ears.

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I have already stressed the importance of voting in a previous article, which can be found on the Collegian website. Therefore, I will not now take the readers’ time reiterating statistics, demographics, or duties of citizens.

I’m writing this time to ask readers if they have thought about a third choice. Why not give third parties a try? Now, if you know you’re going to vote and are happy with Trump or Clinton, that’s fantastic! See you at the voting booths on Election Day. But if you don’t like the Republican or Democratic nominee, or you just don’t know who you’re going to vote for, then this article is for you.

Many Americans actually do not know that there are other options than Trump and Clinton, Republican and Democrat; and, if they are aware, then they probably believe a vote for a third party is a wasted vote. Such a statement could not be less true, more so now than ever before! Third parties are on the rise and that could be thanks to the people’s disgruntled attitude with the major candidates that this election has brought forward.

Third parties have not been taken seriously in the past because they don’t receive any amount of media coverage compared to the traditional two parties. The media, in their best interests, cover stories that pertain to the most viewers—and when attention-grabbing stories write themselves, such as the case in this election. What would it take to get third parties more media coverage? A significant increase in support for those parties from the people, which would show the media that a considerable part of the population is interested in another party and would like to see news of that party.

Fear that voting for a small party is a wasted vote and thus could allow the worst major candidate to win (because their opponent could have used that vote) is another anchor preventing the rise of a third party. Voting the lesser of two evils is compromising and hurts the chances of a potentially better choice for the presidency. If that’s your case, wouldn’t you agree it’s better with third parties to choose from? Let’s say “50 shades of evil” and pick the lightest shade than the lesser of two. Abstaining from casting any vote would be more harmful to change because taking no action is affirmation of the status quo. You might as well give one vote each to the two major parties.

Here’s where you might say, “That’s all well and good but what does it matter if I don’t know anything of third parties?” Well, that’s a great question, my inquisitive reader, and it’s OK because I’ve done your homework for you and will give you a quick synopsis of third parties and a few candidates. However, I would encourage you to also do some research on your own time.

There are several third parties such as the Libertarian Party, Green Party, and Constitution Party, to name a few and many have presidential nominees.

The Libertarian Party believes in small government and that the right of the individual’s freedom comes first. They’re for free markets, open immigration, increased civil liberties, legalization of drugs,and neutrality. When it comes to what women can do with their bodies, the government shouldn’t get involved.

Running for the presidency on the behalf of the Libertarian Party is Gary Johnson. The former governor of New Mexico, successful businessman, and published author has a long track record of lowering taxes, supporting legalization of marijuana, and uncompromising beliefs with a national record for the most vetoes used as governor. Johnson is currently the leading competitor from a third party running for president with 8% of the popular vote.

Following behind is the Green Party at 3% with Dr. Jill Stein leading from the front as their nominee. Obviously, from the name, the party’s focus is environmental issues but social justice, nonviolence, gender equality, and grass-roots government are also important interests. The party lies on the left side on the political spectrum between the socialist party and the democrats, officially referring to themselves as “eco-socialists.” So if you feel environmental issues are very important but align yourself more in the middle or right wing, it would beneficial to do more research into their platform before you commit at the voting booth.

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Dr. Jill Stein is an experienced physician who is concerned with the quality of the environment and its connection to people’s health. She is a published researcher with numerous reports and articles written stressing the link between environmental quality and human health. (On top of being a doctor and a politician she has released several musical albums where she demonstrates her skill playing the guitar and the conga drums).

There’s more to third parties than I could possibly fit into one Collegian article, so if you are interested to see what’s out there, go do some research. Dozens of third parties are active across America and quite a few have presidential nominees running this year. When neither Trump nor Clinton are appealing, maybe it’s time for you to seriously consider a third party.