Political Commentary: The Myth of Third Party Candidates


David O’Brien, Editor

A visual explanation of rank choice voting, election reform that promotes third parties.

The electoral college was established in 1788 by James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. It was engineered to replicate the British government’s original two party system. Madison even stated that he built the system so it would always have two factions run against each other. Thus, third parties were never meant to win elections, but instead to replace one of the established parties and then participate in elections. Every election between three individuals has also resulted in extreme civil distress, an example being the election of 1912. 

 The Republicans replaced the Whigs not because of their strong abilities as a third party but instead because they planned to replace the Whigs as the then liberal party. The Progressives (The Bull-Moose party) could’ve replaced the Republicans, if they didn’t immediately disband after their first failure and if modern technology didn’t work in favor of the establishment. The rise of technology led to the failure of all other third party candidates throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Third party candidates cannot win elections, not because of their bizarre political views, but because of the established aristocracy of the party system. Third parties cannot win because they have to replace one of the two established parties, which they can’t because of the rise of mass broadcasting in the modern world. Republicans and Democrats run journalism. They have unrelenting power because the average American doesn’t have the time nor ability to fully educate themselves on the political institution they reside in. Politicians are aware of their stranglehold on the uneducated public and know that even if a new party attempted to replace a party, whether that’s the Green Party with the Democrats or the Libertarians with the Republicans, they could not because of the lower class’ lack of awareness of the “revolution” needed to change things and the upper-class’ desire to keep the system in check through the manipulation of the masses.

This system has led to most candidates who have beliefs coinciding with third parties to run on Democrat or Republican tickets and modify their views to fit the public. Bernie Sanders, an independent, has become a star of the Democratic primary in both elections he participated in. Gallup polls suggest Republicans support Libertarian views more than their own, as many of us saw during the Tea Party Movement. Third parties should not be viewed as their own platform running alongside Democrats and Republicans but instead as replacements for major parties because that’s what the architects of the constitution intended. It is not the faults of the establishment that third party candidates that lack a voice, it is the fault of the system itself. Do not blame the DNC or the RNC for the failures of third party and anti-establishment candidates, blame James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton.  

This situation does not necessarily mean the United States is doomed to pick between a lesser of two evils forever. This system can be changed, and numerous states like Georgia and Maine have instituted election laws that challenge the founders’ system. Rank choice voting, open primaries and runoff elections are all viable solutions to fixing this problem and providing people a larger voice in our democracy. Rank choice voting is a system that allows people to vote for third party candidates, and if the third party candidate does not get enough votes for things to matter, the vote shifts to the second favorite candidate voted for and so on and so forth until the race ends with a majority. This would allow people to actually be able to vote independent and still have their vote matter if the candidate gets barely any votes. It would also allow large third parties, like Libertarians and Greens, to stand a chance in state and national elections. Another solution is open primaries which would allow people registered independent to vote in primaries anyways. With more people having a voice during primaries, the radicalism of parties is bound to collapse as a new wave of moderates will have a say in primary elections, thus leading to less radicals in government and less gridlock in government. Georgia’s solution to the problem is not anywhere close to as efficient as these, however, it does serve as a start. This state uses a runoff election system where, if no one receives a majority in the election, the two candidates with the largest percentage are allowed a second election which determines who holds office. This way of conducting elections does provide reform to the system. However, it still works against third party systems as the “throwing your vote away” problem remains. While these are by far the most efficient ways of reducing radicals and restoring the people’s voice in government, establishment politicians have fought these in the state legislature by complaining it will lead to fraud and corruption, which is simply not true as it would allow escape from the corrupt party system we currently live under. The biggest battle in ratifying election laws that will lead to a government that we can have a say is the current establishment and system, thus it is important to be an activist and work hard to actually change the system, as our current representatives certainly will not.


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