by Whitney Carter
The United States maintains a political climate where third-party candidates and parties are ineffective in our current political system. The parties detract from major issues and major parties, thus weakening our government.
Our political system is structured in a way that third parties are not in a position to thrive or make significant impact. Our government is set up so the two major parties, Democratic and Republican, are constantly competing for power and, in that way, keep each other in check. Neither party gets a monopoly on power. If they are able to gain a stronghold of power, it is only for a time and then the other party gains steam and is able to elect more officials and focus on their issues. The major parties control all three branches of government, while the minor parties make waves every now and then.
Smaller parties mostly take away from the two competing powers and tend to focus on specific issues. They try to make headway on those specific issues, but steal any headway that could be made on a grander scale with one of the larger parties. Third parties rarely win elections and they shift the focus of national elections to particular issues. They also take votes from major political party candidates, to the point of influencing elections. This is not to say third parties should not exist, but our current system does not allow for third parties to be effective.
This leaves us with two options in our current political state as a nation. Either we abandon third parties and opt for them to join the two major parties where they can work in tandem and accomplish greater tasks, or we opt for reform of our political system.
The Commission on Presidential Debates established a rule that for a party to be included in the national presidential debates it must receive at least 15 percent support across five national polls. This, in effect, eliminates access to presidential elections for third party candidates. Voters tune in and only see major party candidates and those are the only names they recognize on Election Day.
Any solution to this problem requires more public political activism, an issue that has plagued America in recent years. Reform would help create a system where more perspectives are recognized in our government, but abandoning third parties could allow for more effective governing because there would be less conflicting agendas.
Contact Whitney Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org