The two party system that produces the leadership in this country is dividing us now more than ever, and Americans absolutely love it. We have always been a nation founded on the principles of us vs. them. Colonies vs. Britain. North vs. South. Allies vs. Axis Powers. As Americans, we revel in the opportunity to take a side and defend it to our dying breath and as Americans it is our absolute and undeniable right to do so. Watching the current presidential election drama unfold its becoming more and more clear. We are only provided with the illusion of choice within our political system. The current structure is a dinosaur and it’s going to take something as catastrophic as meteor to blow it up.
The founding fathers never intended the political system to evolve into what it has today. In fact, George Washington in his farewell address warned against “continual mischiefs of the spirit of party,” going on to say “making it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.” He understood the dangers that political parties could impose on the government and warned against them. Well, they are here and you can’t un-bake a cake. Parties cannot be done away with now. The danger does not lie with the existence of parties in the first place, but with what we as Americans have come to find acceptable from their behavior and policy making. The mentality of the American public is starting to change, however, and we can see it in the polls.
Now, America is not truly a two-party system. Other parties are able to field candidates, at least in theory. It is so engrained within us, however, that a vote for a third party is a wasted vote. We are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils just to feel as if our vote was counted; the illusion of choice. In 2016, 39% of the electorate was registered as Independent, more than any of the major two parties. In many states, those voters are not able to participate in the primary elections. The majority of those voters will still pick from one of two candidates who come from a party where their true political allegiances do not fall. The primary for each party was so divisive it left half of the 60% of voters who actually identify with a party feeling like they’ve been ignored. Between the independents and roughly half of the primary voters feeling left out in the cold, you have 69% of the voting populous who either had no part in selecting the main two candidates or initially chose someone else.
Enter the Libertarian and Green Parties. Compared to the general election results from 2012 each party is currently polling at around ten times higher from where they were four years ago. Americans are starting realize that there are other options. Voters are finally crawling out of the rubble left over from the damage a sideshow third party candidate like Jesse Ventura did in Minnesota. The issue is that if a politician is serious about getting elected they know that they need to compromise their values to get on a Republican or Democratic ticket. They know that a third party candidacy is an uphill climb all the way. Well, maybe not for long.
The market is responding. More people are standing up to rally against picking a candidate they do not fully support. Two choices from two parties, chosen from closed primaries does not field the best candidates. It fields the candidates that have the most influence, the most money, and in some cases, the loudest microphone. The candidate who generates the most negativity generates the most news coverage. The polls are showing that type of an election is no longer good enough for some voters. When it’s used correctly, voting is the ultimate freedom. When it’s used incorrectly, it’s a statement of compliance and defeat.
We need to let go of the acceptance that we only have two options to choose from and that two options is good enough. Would you even visit a restaurant if you knew they consistently only served the same two entrees every night? With the vast array of issues, both social and economic, there is no way that two candidates can adequately reflect the views of around 320 million. Two candidates is not good enough and it is not really choice. It’s the Orwellian illusion of choice. More and more Americans are realizing what an outdated prehistoric system we truly have, and even more are realizing that the meteor is on its way.