After this past election, in which the two party system failed us, it’s time we dropped the label of third-party for candidates who aren’t a democrat or republican. While I can’t say that I relate to Penn Jilette, he’s right. A vote for people representing parties other than democrats or republicans is not a wasted a vote. Plain and simple, it’s a vote.
What’s most disappointing is how the mainstream media, and even prominent figures, continue to label the other parties as “third” parties and a waste of effort. It was very disappointing to see Seth Godin, whose blog I follow, promote the two party system. It feels like we have all been brain-washed to believe that there should only be two candidates that we should consider for office which are put forth by the powers who be. I don’t get it, and I don’t like it.
It’s healthy for us to have more than two options for our president. For starters, it promotes more balance in the system and helps to distribute power among the parties. When two parties are in control, the system lends itself to division of the public and even corruption of government, as the founding fathers of our great country warned. Secondly, the issues are way more nuanced than having just two sides. Having three, four, or more candidates debating the issues will only lead us to a better place. When only two people are debating, the system is setup to select a winner or loser, not to evaluate who has the best solution to the problems that need to be addressed and solve.
I’d also put forth the argument that if you don’t agree with either candidate, how are you supposed to voice your displeasure? Picking the lesser of two evils shouldn’t be what we have to settle for. Our vote is how we can express our opinion on who we feel is best qualified to run our country, and which people we are dissatisfied with. Picking the lesser of two evils just to say you fit in is the ultimate waste of a vote. Instead of using your vote to express your opinion, when you pick the lesser of two evils, you are just doing what the establishment wants you to do. You are falling into line and conforming to the status quo.
So while all the candidates had their issues, even those that weren’t the mainstream candidates (as John Oliver pointed out here), it’s important that we vote for those that we feel would represent us best, not those that the media and those in power say we should vote for.
If I could hope for one outcome that would emerge from our recent election, it’s that it would open the door for other parties to be taken seriously. I did my part this past election. I didn’t agree and feel comfortable with either one of the mainstream candidates there were put forward. I didn’t want to waste my vote, and as Brad Feld so eloquently put it, I chose to vote according to my values. So yes, I voted “third party”. It was my way of expressing my frustration with the system and encouraging other parties to continue to press forward. My vote is the best way I could do it, and it wasn’t wasted. If I don’t do through it voting, what are the other alternatives to encourage change?
By the way, I have to close with my favorite objection I heard to voting for an alternate party. Those who were supporting Trump said voting third party was like voting for Clinton. Those supporting Clinton said it was a vote for Trump. So my question is, which was it? The reality – it was neither. It was a vote for the candidate I chose.