Why the unlikely candidates matter

Nicholas Hunter

Nicholas Hunter

The United States has had a two-party political system nearly since its inception in the late 18th century. The main parties in our country have changed over time; parties have split, evolved, fallen to the wayside and grown to prominence. We began with the Federalists and the Antifederalists, when the main issue was whether the federal or state governments should be stronger.

The issue of where the power should fall is still an issue among modern Americans. In fact, the argument that the people should be allowed to govern themselves with minimal regulation is the main platform for the Libertarian Party.

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is currently polling, on average, at 8 percent, according to the New York Times, and has been fairly steady at that number since mid-June.

This means that, theoretically, there are 8 percent of people in our nation who believe in Libertarian ideals, and 8 percent of people who believe that Johnson is most fit to be our president.

The issue is that 8 percent of people will not win the election for Johnson. However, what those 8 percent of people can do is throw their support behind Johnson and the Libertarian Party to demonstrate those values are important.

This may come off as overly-optimistic or naive, but there is a very recent example of this concept in action: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

This weekend, Sanders made stops in Kent and Akron to support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. He spoke about overturning Citizens United, fighting for women’s reproductive rights, gay rights, Medicare and Medicaid expansion and implementing free tuition for public universities.

These are all ideas he was talking about while running against Clinton. He is now campaigning for her, while still fighting for the things he has always represented.

This is not a case of him and Clinton simply agreeing on all of these issues. It is an example of how his popularity as an outside candidate established him and his ideas enough, that he and Clinton were able to work together to compromise and make progress together.

In an alternate reality, people do not vote for Sanders. He becomes a footnote in this election and his ideas fade with the end of the primary election.

That did not happen, though.

What happened was Sanders and his supporters were able to use their collective voice to open eyes and foster change.

While the impact he made is unprecedented, it is not a miracle. It is an example of what happens when enough people are willing to stand up for what they believe and make their voices heard. If they get loud enough, people will have to start listening.

Nicholas Hunter is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].