Vote independent of a 2 party system

By Darby Ratliff

Opinion Editor

George Washington, the first President of the United States (in case you forgot or failed middle school history), was against a party system in elections, and so, naturally, our entire political system revolves around two political parties. That’s just real swell.

To preface, I am a registered Independent, but I lean very firmly left on most issues, though I can occasionally be conservative on economic issues. At some point in the very near future, my registration will reflect this fact; however, the point going in is that you know where I’m coming from politically.

I’ve never liked that we exist in a two party-majority system in which labels are demanded. There is a systemic problem in which extremes are taken too far, and people are unwilling to agree based solely on the fact that they’re from separate parties. Bipartisanship has always been a goal, but, in reality, it’s not encouraged enough. It’s a large portion of what makes government so politically-oriented, and that’s not productive. Further, because the two party system has dominated the election process, third party candidates have been unable to make a serious run at the presidency. In many ways, that’s why Bernie Sanders, who is openly a “democratic” socialist wouldn’t be able to garner the support that he has as a member of the Democratic Party. While this is a smart move politically because he’s able to widely appeal to the Democratic Party and his extreme left-ism is qualified by the “democratic” portion of his affiliation, it isn’t necessarily true to his actual beliefs and the ways in which we would be able to more classify him on a ballot.

Further, I’m unable to vote in primary elections in Ohio state (my homeland) because I’m registered as an independent. While this is regulated on a state-by-state basis, it still draws attention to the problems with a two party system in that I’m quite literally unable to offer my opinion on candidates who could possibly run the country in which I live. Theoretically, because I could vote in either direction, I should be able to vote in both the Republican and Democratic primaries, but somehow I’m unable to do either. On one hand, I understand that, if I were registered as an Independent but was a true blue Democrat, I could fiddle with the Republican primaries if I was able to vote in both. However, I refuse to cede inability to vote in either as a better option that simply getting rid of the two party system as a whole. Political parties–and bureaucracy as a whole–are not always sensitive to the shifts in parties or party lines.

Because party shifts move at a ridiculously slow pace, the current system is not necessarily reflective of the beliefs of the people partaking in it. By the same token, people don’t take the system seriously either. Just look at how far Donald Trump has gotten. By now, we as a nation should have realized the problem that he poses to the country (specifically the 14th amendment). He should have never made it this far in the process, but people haven’t necessarily taken his candidacy seriously, spurring it on much like a kid who’s doing something dangerous but laughing because people are cooing over him and saying that it’s “cute” rather than stopping it from happening. While I doubt that people are doing this because they think that Trump is cute, there are certainly those that are not stopping him because they’re amused by his celebrity status and engagement in the election.

As there is a generational shift in the electorate and millennials grow older, it is very likely that the Republican Party will collapse. That’s something that could even happen if Donald Trump receives the nomination, but that will leave the Democratic party as the central force within politics. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the stratification of the political system is not going to be productive for a political dialogue, nor for the dialectical evolution of the nation. Debate is good; it just shouldn’t be institutionalized into two political parties that are consistently arguing against one another just for the sake of shouting rather than for building a better country. We shouldn’t have candidates who aren’t willing to compromise, especially if they want to build a wall between here and Mexico (you can expect an article from me about immigration in the coming weeks). We shouldn’t even have an aisle to reach across. Let’s have a circle instead.

Returning to the two party system, I know that it has made the pre-general election much easier, but nonetheless, it isn’t necessarily providing a true representation of the people, especially those who don’t fit in one box. Society has always been good at putting things in terms of black and white while there has rather been a spectrum of beliefs. While the democracy is based on a majority winning the election, there still needs to be an openness that a two party system does not provide. Independents have become dependent on the majority party voters at the foundation of the process in which the future of our country is at stake, and a two party system is unable to wholly represent the needs of the nation in which we leave. There should be a fair shake for all candidates, regardless of political affiliation, especially as it leads to people who are not either a Democrat or a Republican feeling as though their political opinion is not valid, which lowers voter turnout, and if we have a system that does the opposite of encouraging people to voice their opinion in the polls on election day. This problem is further exacerbated in the midterm elections, in which there is a much larger focus on which party controls Congress.

Washington was against political parties because he was afraid of dividing the nation just as it was getting started, and it’s a problem that has gotten in the way of productivity at almost every level of government. As the White House changes in waves from party to party, it’s not good for the country. It doesn’t provide stability because our officials are not always willing to extend the hand of bipartisanship other than to build political capital. As I mentioned before, we shouldn’t even have to extend it over a gap. We should be looking at inclusion–true inclusion–in which we’re accepting and aware of all points of view so that we can build a stronger system. Inclusion of all points of view can lead to a distillation of the best combination of policy that we can offer, both here in the United States and abroad. By ruling out people simply because their ideas are lost amidst the shuffle of a large number of third parties, we’re not offering people the ability to voice their opinion. We’re on an edge tipping toward House of Cards rather than The West Wing. I don’t know about you, but I’d take President Bartlet over Frank Underwood every day, one in which party politics rule the day. Or, you know, we could just not have party politics at all? Just a suggestion. It’s not like George Washington thought it first or anything.

 

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