In the United States current political election system, third party candidates are unfairly dispelled from an equal opportunity to obtain political positions. The two major parties which are Democrats and Republicans dominate elections due to outdated practices that allow these political giants to triumph over potential third party candidates. These practices do not allow for the public to be properly informed about the existence of third party candidates, and discourage voters from being knowledgeable about political elections. To mend this problem, the government should create laws to strengthen third parties and weaken the influence of Democrats and Republicans. This would uproot the monopoly that the two party system has on our political election system and allow for third party candidates to have a chance at elections, giving Americans a less restricted option of candidates to choose from.
Voters desire third party candidates, especially younger voters. According to a survey by NBC News/GenForward at the University of Chicago; 10/26-11/10 2017,
“A strong majority of millennials — 71 percent — say the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed.”
While the desire for third party candidates exist, voters will most likely vote for candidate of one of the major two parties due to the “Spoiler Effect”; a side effect of the winner -takes-all election system which may render their vote useless or even harmful for their political ideals. This effect takes away votes from candidates that are closest to third party candidates in the political spectrum. By voting for third party candidates, votes are taken away from the major party with higher votes and similar views. This split in votes weakens both parties which makes it easier for the party with completely opposing views to win the election. A high-profile example of the “Spoiler Effect” taking place is the 2000 Presidential election in which Green Party candidate Ralph Nadar received 94,000 votes in Florida which contributed to Democrat Party Al Gore being defeated in the election by Republican candidate George W. Bush who went on to be president for two full terms (January 20, 2001- January 20, 2009). Due to scenarios like this, voters are reluctant to cast votes for third party candidates, fearing that their efforts will be fruitless or even harmful to their political cause. This flawed system unquestionably stimulates voting to oppose candidates rather than voting for a candidate that the voter sincerely appreciates. This is not healthy for American politics because it allows for candidates to win merely on the fear of the people and does not give an accurate representation of voters political ideals. Why should the American people be held captive by a system that demands its citizens to wager our liberties by choosing the “lesser of two evils” when elections can simply be amended to suit the needs of an informed people who yearn for the political diversity of candidates? A simple solution to this mathematical ordeal would be to implement instant-runoff voting (IRV) and to flee from the winner take-all voting which brews opportunist conflicts between major party and third party candidates. In IRV the spoiler effect is eliminated because even if the third party candidate is not elected, their votes can still go to a similar candidate that the voter most likely put as their second choice. Instituting IRV will allow voters to cast votes for the candidate they truly want to win an election without fearing the possible consequence of indirectly assisting a candidate whom that voter opposes. This is an excellent way that the government can create laws to strengthen third parties and lessen the overwhelming grip that Republicans and Democrats have on American politics.
It is only fair that the government make laws to strengthen third parties as Democrats and Republicans are extremely powerful; especially financially. While third parties depend on honest, small donations by individual voters, the major parties receive huge payouts from corporations, unions contributions and direct funding through political action groups. Left unchecked, these political giants are more than capable of repressing the voices of third party candidates due to the massive amount of cash that major parties have at their disposal. If the unchecked power of the Republican and Democrat party continues, our government will inevitably become a playground for the highest paying corporate bidder. Why should political power be only reserved to the wealthy? By allowing the wealth of a party determine leaders of our country, both locally and federally, we are creating the stigma that only the rich and privileged deserve to be heard. By not creating laws that even the playing field between third party and major party candidates the government insults the hard working Americans that make the government function. This insults the American people who work hard and play by the rules of society to make an honest day’s pay. They equally deserve to be acknowledged along with the rich just as third-party candidates deserve to be heard along side the Democrat and Republican Parties. The government should make laws to assist third party candidates with funding to counteract the massive funds that major parties receive.
A powerful privately funded organization called the Commission On Presidential Debates has been known for the attempted silencing of third party candidates. Being such a well known, powerful organization, they are often successful and go unscathed, free to continue their unethical behavior. By them doing this to do this, they infringe on third-parties candidates first amendment right of free speech. This organization continues to go out of their way to “pull the curtains” over the faces of Americans about the reality of third party candidates. An example of these practices took place during the 2000 presidential election. The Huffington Post article “How Third Parties Are Kept Out Of Presidential Debate” reads,
“When George W. Bush debated Al Gore at the University of Massachusetts in 2000, the CPD had Nader physically barred and threatened with arrest for attempting to watch the debate via live stream in a separate auditorium. In Nader’s suit, it came out that CPD provided security with a “Facebook” containing pictures of third party candidates and their running mates, who were not to be allowed in.”
By the secrecy and non transparency of the Commission of Presidential, it is clear that this organization that was established by the joint sponsorship of Democratic and Republican political parties in 1987 is rigged and merely designed to protect the status quo for Republican and Democratic candidates while keeping alternate, third party candidates out of debates and hence out of the publics thoughts and votes. The policies of CPD make it impossible for third party candidates to receive the recognition and popularity they need in order to become leading candidates, let alone win elections. When the systematic exclusion of candidates happens such as that of third party candidates being excluded from CPD debates happens without chance of debate, a true democracy cannot prevail. The government should make laws that prevent private organizations such as CPD from allowing the exclusion of third party candidates . This way, the American people are not misinformed about their options for an upcoming election.
Finally, the formal rules and informal practices of make it difficult for third party candidates to succeed. An example of this is the considerable amount of paperwork that is required to become a candidate. In February 2004 when Ralph Nader announced he would go after the presidential nomination, he was required to collect 1.5 million signatures in all states in order to become a possible candidate. Deadlines for those signatures began as early as March 2004. With the public eye mostly in the the direction of Republicans and Democrats, third party candidates are going to be at an unfair disadvantage to get those signatures in such a short time frame. The time frame for third-party candidates to get signatures should be longer to even the playing field between the major party candidates. Another example of unfair policy is that third party candidates must receive 5% popular vote to receive federal funding for presidential bid. This percentage is too high because no third party candidate since Ross Perot in 1996. It is not as easy for third candidates to gain popularity because they start with a monetary disadvantage to their Democrats and Republican counterparts. The government should make the percentage of popular vote required for federal funding smaller to compensate for the the monetary disadvantage that these parties start with.
In conclusion, third party candidates a lot more obstacles to face than major party Democrats and Republicans. The major party candidates have all the funding and popularity that they need to win elections, while third party start of with distinct disadvantages.