by Ryan Stevens
In the upcoming elections, many Americans anxiously await the official backing of a Republican candidate. Voters have held signs, attended rallies, ad donated millions of dollars in order to give their favorite candidate a better shot at appearing on the Republican ticket. A barrage of political advertisements have appeared on television, backed by Political Action Committees that have amassed enormous amounts of cash in order to promote a special interest through a candidate.
Debates are followed with debates and press rallies and conversations on news stations, all to decide who will be the best option to put into the game of political agendas and become the new face for a party.
When our political system is examined for what it truly is, or at least has become, it more closely resembles a sporting match or a reality game show than a body of people trying to somehow better the lives of the American people. In all honesty, the adherence to political parties is appalling, and absolutely must be abandoned.
Most political ideas of today are categorized, as is the American way, into conservative or liberal, republican or democrat. Often, voters will reject ideas, written petitions, even entire groups of people simply because they affiliate with a certain political party. Many voters base their decision entirely on which party a candidate belongs to, rather than the issues that candidate stands for.
The system of Democrat versus. Republican has crippled our government and allowed corruption to take a deeply rooted front row seat in Washington D.C. The corruption is not derived from individuals who seek their own personal gain, but comes from the exploitation of the political system.
Consider special interest groups, for example, where wealthy individuals are able to contribute large amounts of money to a certain candidate, directly affecting their success rate, in order to ensure that their special interest issue is addressed favorably.
Often that particular candidate is able to overpower their lesser known opponents and because of the notion of one party versus. another, all other potential runners are eliminated. The system of political parties allows for only two sides of an issue, often creating uncompromising situations and placing massive roadblocks in legislation.
Backing a party is inherently counter-intuitive to selecting a good candidate for political office. The purpose of a political party is to keep the majority in office, which means they are unintentionally set up to select representatives that are likely to be successful, rather than those that most accurately reflect their ideas. Furthermore, opposing political parties are viewed as threats, and therefore compromise becomes a defeat rather than a solution to a complex national problem.
The system of voting in the United States would be radically different if voters were to first consider the issues they care about, then select a candidate based on their stance on those issues.
For starters, third party candidates would stand a much higher chance at getting elected, as well as those who came in second or even third in various polls. It would be a system where a presidential ticket would not be limited to two realistic candidates, but rather several options, voted on directly by the people rather than by groups of bureaucrats.
Campaigns would not be all abut out-spending each other, since money would be widely distributed among numerous candidates. It would create an atmosphere where the race for an election is not a battle royal between two mud-slinging contenders, but rather one that focuses on issues, rather than party alignment.
According to an article in The Hill, “54 [percent] of respondents in the Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll said they’d like an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans.” That is not a deviant viewpoint.
The time for limited political thinking has long since passed. If we are to be a nation that truly promotes democracy, we have to actively reject political party alignment and focus on the issues at stake.
Even George Washington in his farewell address warned against the establishment of political parties, saying they “put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party.” I have to agree with Washington and strongly suggest that Americans think of themselves, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as simply “voters.”
Stevens is a sophomore majoring in English and French. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.