OPINION: The third party problem

Alex Thornhill

There is a growing disconnect with Americans when dealing with the two-party system. Voter identification with Republicans and Democrats are at a historic low.

Many Americans see both parties as ineffective in bringing about change in the country. Because of this, some voters are starting to turn to third parties, like the Libertarian and Green parties.

There is a problem with only having two parties attempt to represent over 325 million people. In fact, some believe America needs somewhere around eight parties.

With the current first past the post system, voting for third parties in America is next to useless. Half the battle for Jill Stein in 2016 was attempting to get on the ballot. (She only ended up on 44 states’ ballots anyway.)

Having that kind of uphill battle, one has to ask themselves, “What’s the point?”

It seems counterproductive and pointless to put so much energy into movements that only achieve around 6 percent of the overall popular vote.

The energy, it seems, would be better put into fixing the current voting system, something that would create a fairer opportunity. Maybe petition or raise funds to encourage switching voting to the alternative voting system, rather than raise millions for a recount that leads to nothing.

This alternative system would allow voters to vote for the candidate they actually want and then place the candidates in an order to which they would want to have win. For instance, if I wanted to vote for candidate B but wouldn’t mind candidate C winning, I’d vote for B first and C second.

If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, that would allow the lowest candidate to be dropped from the race, and the votes for that candidate would be moved to the second choice.

Most of the battles candidates fight are receiving 15 percent in the polls alone. After this, the candidates stay on the outside.   

Third parties appear only during times of presidential elections and seem to disappear, or at least lose steam, during other elections. Whenever progressive candidates take a loss in a primary election, Green Party members seem to come out of the woodwork.

For instance, when Cynthia Nixon recently lost the battle against incumbent Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Green Party candidate for governor, Howie Hawkins, tweeted out an attempt to get the Nixon supporters on his side.

Stein attempted the same thing, notably her bragging about getting arrested after photos of Bernie Sanders’ arrest in the ‘60’s circulated. (His were of protesting racial segregation. Hers were protesting the debates.)

Evan McMullin is also guilty of doing this: While Stein and the Green Party attempted to pick up the disenfranchised progressives within the Democratic party, McMullin also tried to win over all of the “Never Trump” Republicans during the 2016 elections.

Both of these attempts ended in failure.

I am not saying third parties act as spoilers for elections. Like I stated earlier, America seems to need around eight parties. What I am saying is the energy could be of better use elsewhere. Use the organizing power to fix the broken election system within America. Work on it during offseason elections, not just during presidential ones.

Stop running for office just to get your name out there. Start fixing the system.

Alex Thornhill is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].