By: Nate Sikora – Staff Writer
The election that is absorbing all the oxygen in the media, our conversations, and our minds, is less than 30 days away. For most, November 9th will be a weight off our shoulders. We can go back to our daily lives, uninterrupted. Being that it is the general election, and our political system only allows for a two party system, the only realistic choices given to the electorate are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Understandably, these choices are far from ideal (and that is a big understatement), but this is what democracy has gifted us. We must choose. I do not like the choices either; however, the current state of the American political system will reveal that we in fact only have two choices for President.
The formulation of this article for myself, in retrospect, is incredibly ironic because I was an avid Bernie supporter in the primary, and expressed a vivid disgust with Hillary and her political experience. Do I still hold those feelings? Hell yes, but I’ve come to realize that democracy and the continued existence of the United States is more important than Sanders’s revolution.
I have become my own worst enemy. I am now supporting Hillary Clinton for President, whereas three months ago, I was adamantly opposed to her candidacy.
The system and foundation of the United States and the electoral system favors only a two party system. The evidence lies in the Electoral College. The Electoral College consists of 538 votes that represent all of the members of Congress. For example, Ohio has 18 electoral votes because the state has 16 congressional districts plus the two senators.
The states are winner-take-all, so whoever gets the majority in the state receives all the state’s electoral votes. With that being the case, the system is made where a majority is needed to win the presidency: 270+. Therefore, the winner of the Presidential election must win over 50 percent of the electoral votes throughout the states.
This process alone eliminates any possibility of three or more parties existing in Presidential politics. If no candidate receives over 270 votes, the election will then be chosen by Congress, and that is the last thing we want to happen. Additionally, we do not live in a parliamentary system that runs by proportional representation like Great Britain or Germany.
Their districts are multi-member, which allows for multiple parties to emerge to create coalition-style governments. The U.S. has single-member districts, so the allowance for multiple parties is suppressed since it is a winner-take-all electoral system.
In history, third party candidates have never succeeded in Presidential elections. Actually, every “viable” third party candidate has caused the candidate that didn’t have his party split in the general election to stroll into the White House with ease. Three prominent elections reflect this phenomenon: 1912, 1992, and 2000. The first was between William Howard Taft, Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson. Taft ran as a Republican, Wilson as Democrat, and Roosevelt for the newly formed Progressive Party, where Taft and Roosevelt battled over the same portion of the electorate. The outcome? Wilson wiped the floor and won 435 of the then 531 electoral votes. A slaughter. 1992 was between Bush, Clinton, and Ross Perot. Perot was a third party candidate that was on the conservative side, taking away over eight million votes from Bush, causing Clinton to win easily. 2000 was between George W. Bush, Al Gore, and Ralph Nader. Nader was a Bernie-type on the left side of the political spectrum. Nader took over two million votes away from Gore, causing Gore to lose the election by less than 500 votes in Florida.
Need I say more about the clear fallibility with third party candidates?
I understand the frustration with America’s political system, but to cast a ballot for a third party candidate to merely “make a statement” is being naïve and oblivious to how our democracy works. I want to fight the system as much as any other third party supporter, but I acknowledge the realistic possibilities that are given to the voters. “Making a statement” is not worth indirectly electing a demagogue and fascist who could ultimately eliminate your right to even make such a statement ever again.
The general election is not where you vote for who is “ideal” and who exactly fits your ideology. That is why we have primaries, and many of the third party voters did not vote in the primaries.
If you did not vote in the primary, and you display discontent with the two choices for president, you cannot complain. You neglected to contribute your voice and this is the result of your absence in the democratic process.
Deal with it.
I have heard from dozens of people that say “I hate both of them; I can’t vote for them.” I hate both of them too! The difference is that I voted and they did not. Voting is the epitome of legitimizing your voice in democracy. If one fails to do so, his or her voice is illegitimate in political discourse.
You have two choices – pick.
Photo Courtesy of wikipedia.org