Political parties do not exist as far as the Constitution is concerned. They are not encouraged by the Constitution or even mentioned in the Constitution. Yet they have found a way to sneak into the very fabric of how government functions. The idea of these parties is not necessarily bad. However, the system we have encourages only two major parties and that is where the problem lies. Voters often feel they are given ultimatums between the candidates for the two major parties. This is not because the majority American voters agree with one side or the other. It is a direct result of the system we have implemented.
Many countries around the world such as Finland, Portugal, Brazil, or Denmark function under multi-party systems. Rather than having two major dominating parties, these nations have many parties with varying beliefs. This allows the country to be more representative of its citizens. The system we have in the U.S. is designed not only for a dual-party system but also against a multi-party system. This needs to change.
The largest contributor to our bipartisan system is the fact that we have winner-take-all and single-member districts. What this means is that each district of a state elects only one representative to the House of Representatives. Other countries have multiple representatives for one district and something called proportional representation. Under this system, representatives of a district are selected according to the proportion of votes candidates received in that election. For example, in a district with ten winners, if one party receives forty percent of the vote, they send four of their party members to office. If a party receives twenty percent, they would select two representatives from their party to the office. Using this method, less popular parties still receive representation.
The thought that voting for a third party is the same as throwing away your vote is a part of an endless cycle. That kind of thinking leads to third parties doing poorly in elections. Because they do poorly in the elections, people think a vote for a third party is a throwaway so the third parties do poorly. The cycle continues.
One might think that perhaps the reason our two parties fare so well compared to the others is simply because the American people agree with those parties more. Recent polls have disproved this notion. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research, more Americans in 2015 identified as Independents (40.1%) than either Democrats (30.4%) or Republicans (23.7%). This goes to show that almost half of the U.S. population prefers to separate themselves from any party. However, they feel that they must vote for one or the other during elections because those appear to be the only probable options.
Third parties rarely have their voices heard. This is due both to the media and to corruption within the Democratic and Republican Parties. The Commission on Presidential Elections claims to be a nonpartisan group. In reality, they are bipartisan, dominated by Republicans and Democrats. As a result, they can set rules that prevent third parties from being allowed into debates. For example, the requirement for being allowed into a debate is that a candidate must be receiving at least fifteen percent of votes in the polls. Third parties are therefore almost immediately ruled out. Once again, there is an endless cycle. Third parties cannot get enough attention and therefore cannot get into debates. This leads to a lack of attention. If we could break this cycle even once, think of the possible outcomes.
The bipartisan system we have now should and must end. The parties themselves do not necessarily need to die. However, major reform needs to take place to either greatly reduce the parties’ influence or at least allow tertiary voices to be heard and represented.
Tags: election parties politcal third
Third Parties Deserve a Chance by Preston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.