Why are we choosing the lesser of two evils

By Branwyn Wilkinson

Opinion Contributor

Since when did choosing the leaders of our country come down to weighing the bad on both sides, and deciding which was “less bad?” Shouldn’t we be deciding which candidate would do the best for our country instead of which one would do the least harm? It hasn’t always been this way, but recently our two party political system has lead to finger pointing and an “us vs. them” mentality. It has given candidates an excuse to advertise themselves as “better than that other guy from the other party” instead of relying on their own platforms. Worse, it has recently lead to dysfunctional divides in Washington.

Last year when my hometown held elections for congressional representatives, the majority of the political mailers my family received focused on the negatives of an opposing candidate, rather than highlighting the positives of the endorsing candidate. When did political races come down to mud slinging? People have actually been referring to the recent Republican debate as a “circus.” That’s one term you wouldn’t expect to associate with politics. But no one seems surprised, and no one’s disagreeing. And that’s a problem.

For many, the Democratic debate was a breath of fresh air. The candidates made points, not jokes, and treated each other with civility. That doesn’t mean they represented the opinions of every American, though.

U.S. citizens shouldn’t have to wade through a debate likened to a circus to find a candidate who represents their views. That takes away the point of a two-party system. The two parties in such a system should represent the two ends of the political spectrum, liberal and conservative. Voters decide which end they agree with most, then pay more attention to candidates from that party. It’s convenient and helpful. It’s also why we have primaries.

Primaires are not a popularity contest. Candidates shouldn’t be trying to create a sensation. They should be focusing on the issues our country is facing, and laying out their plan to solve them. They should be concerned with making their own arguments convincing, not pointing out the flaws in their opponents’.

And let’s talk about when citizens elect representatives of opposing parties and they have to work together. We’ve all seen how little Obama, a Democrat, has been able to get through congress. His hands are tied by the Republican majority.

Checks and balances were set up to help the government get things done in a fair and efficient way. They are not a battleground for two political parties to butt heads. Representatives seem to spend so much of their campaign pointing out flaws in the other party, that they can’t work together when it matters.

This is not the fault of one party over the other. Despite how the recent debates may look, one group isn’t more rational than the other. Candidates from both parties care about the problems facing America today. They each have their own unique ideas for how to solve them.

It’s time for candidates, whether they be presidential, congressional, or local, to stop bashing the other guy’s ideas, and tell us their own. Candidates shouldn’t want us to vote for them because “at least they were better than that other guy.” They should want voters to elect them because they agree with and support their own stance and ideas.

The two-party system is fine, helpful even. Currently, these benefits have been overshadowed though because the system isn’t being carried outright. Let’s keep the system and change how candidates advertise themselves. Debates should be debates, not battles. A candidates’s focus should be on building up their own platform, not tearing down their opponents’. Citizens will respond better.

Let’s leave the circus in the past and return to civility.

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