big win for someone is a big loss for America
election night, and the results are still far from clear as the
votes continue to be tallied and displayed across the bottom of the
screen on every major news network. However, one thing has been
clear since the start of the campaign season: No matter who wins
this election, America loses.
become increasingly obvious that our political system contains
serious flaws. One of the most pressing (and least talked about)
issues in politics is the Republican and Democratic stranglehold
over American politics.
inconceivable to think that every issue can be divided into two
parties that accurately represent the ideologies of all Americans.
Few other democracies are locked in a two-party system like ours,
and this needs to be ended with the inclusion of other parties in
the political system.
Framers of the Constitution did not design the government in the way
that it now exists as a two-party system. They were attempting to
create the first democracy of its kind and could not account for all
Washington, in his farewell address, spoke of the "danger of
Parties in the State." He warned that political factions could
result in the downfall of American democracy. His successors ignored
his advice by immediately creating the first political parties and
starting the process that has led to the disaster that is modern
politics. Nearly every other modern democracy has learned from our
mistake and altered the system.
danger Washington mentioned is readily apparent with the recent
polarization of American society that has divided the population
along party lines. People vote more for their party than for their
beliefs about issues, and many beliefs are not represented by either
and special interests, rather than the benefit of society, play an
all-too-important role in politics, and party loyalty is now more of
a guideline for deciding legislation than progress. The result is
that cooperation in Congress is about as common as a senator on
Medicare, and bills are created that lose all effectiveness in
trying to please both sides.
parties focus on negative campaigns, scare tactics and empty
rhetoric, instead of facts and stances on real issues. Instead of
choosing between the lesser of two evils, we should be able to
select the best candidate for the job. Unfortunately, this won't
happen until there are new ideas and competing parties participating
in the election.
wait," you might be saying, "What about that guy Nader I
heard about? Or the guy with big ears (Ross Perot) that ran in 1992
and 1996?" Well, it is true that third parties like the Greens,
Progressives and Libertarians exist and have substantial followings.
our electoral system is set up in a way that third parties are
marginalized. Democrats and Republicans have routinely excluded
third parties from the presidential debates, thereby eliminating the
threat of competition.
a vote for a third-party candidate is either a wasted vote or a vote
that essentially helps the other side. This should be obvious to
anyone who can remember the 2000 election where Ralph Nader cost Al
Gore the presidency.
there are more than two parties competing in an election, it is
likely that one party will win with less than a majority. This
happened in Vermont in 2002, when a Republican governor was elected
with 45 percent of the vote over the Progressive and Democratic
candidates. Despite the fact that the majority of citizens voted for
a liberal candidate, a Conservative was elected. Clearly, the will
of the majority of the people was not served by the election.
problem can be solved with something called Instant Runoff Voting, a
system which was implemented in Australia to solve precisely this
issue. With IRV, you would list your preference for candidates in
order (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc), and if there's no majority winner, the
"instant runoff" would be recalculated and the votes for
candidates who lost would revert to their second choice.
result is that a vote for a third party candidate would not actually
aid someone from the opposing political spectrum, like the Nader
situation in 2000. If IRV were implemented in 2000, Nader's votes
would have reverted to Gore (assuming he was the 2nd choice
candidate), and Gore would have won the presidency.
change that needs to be made in the electoral process is the
abolition of the Electoral College. This will serve the dual purpose
of aiding third parties and abolishing an antiquated system that has
little relevance today.
Electoral College was originally instituted because the Framers of
the Constitution feared the judgment of the people in an election,
so Electors were chosen to select the president. Today the College
serves little purpose.
to Charles Frazier, political science professor at Meredith College,
the Electoral College causes small states to be over-represented,
"distorts the results, discourages third parties and pushes
candidates to focus in swing states." The deleterious effect on
third parties is obvious if one looks at the fact that Ross Perot
garnered 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992, but failed to win a
single electoral vote.
is not so simple as a D or an R, and politics shouldn't be either.
We should not be forced to choose between the lesser of two evils
simply because there are no other candidates. What is needed is the
inclusion of more parties in the political process.