Students should not forget about third parties

When someone decides to vote for a third-party presidential candidate, a common response is, “Your vote doesn’t count.” The general consensus is that no party besides the Republicans or Democrats can win an election.

But there are more than two political parties recognized by the United States, including the Libertarian Party, Green Party and Constitution Party, to name a few. Each third party has a unique perspective on what the role of government is, but few citizens even know who’s running for third parties or what they stand for. The problem at hand is voters’ doubts perpetuated by the already-established two-party system that any third party will ever become large and powerful enough to make a difference in the presidential elections.

The reason that no third parties or their candidates have become prominent is because of a negative cycle in which voters have no faith in a smaller party’s chances and therefore don’t vote for them. Voters should make an effort to break this cycle and recognize there are multiple options beyond President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney — especially in an election where many voters are on the fence about voting for either candidate.

Of the three independent parties, the one that tends to receive the most recognition by the public, if any, is the Green Party.

The Green Party is fairly new — the party as it exists today was officially founded in 1991 with a commitment to environmentalism, non-violence, social justice and grassroots organizing. A former Green Party presidential candidate whose name voters might actually recognize is Ralph Nader, who only received 738,475 votes in the 2000 presidential election, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Despite Nader’s more prominent reputation, it’s safe to assume most voters don’t know the name of current Green Party nominee Jill Stein, one of the third-party candidates for the 2012 presidential election. Though Stein does not have a political record equal to Romney’s or Obama’s, her career and commitments offer unique qualifications that would appeal to many voters. A physician and environmental-health advocate, Stein’s platform is all about abortion rights, marriage equality, free college education, addressing climate change and renewable energy.

Stein also addresses the greatest concern of the 2012 election, the economy, in a plan that combines green with green — that is, global green with monetary green. Her economic plan, known as the Green New Deal, is a four-part plan focused on reducing economic inequality and creating more sustainable communities. Stein plans to reform the government in conjunction with the economy because, according to her website, “we won’t get these vital reforms without a … real, functioning democracy.”

The fact that so many voters could relate to what Stein stands for and yet have not been exposed to her platform is a critical problem. A main cause of the lack of public knowledge about third-party candidates stems from narrow media coverage. The media almost exclusively focuses on the battle between Obama and Romney, leaving the other candidates at the margins.

The public and the media imagine the United States as a two- party system — when in reality it’s not. This can only be changed by increased voter awareness and a removal of the stigma that surrounds third parties. Or even worse, they choose to opt out of voting entirely.

All voters should consider that there are more than two candidates to vote for and take it upon themselves to research third-party candidates, especially if they are disenchanted with Obama and Romney.

Perhaps the government has dug itself too deep into a divided hole when what it needs is a do-over in the form of a prominent new party. After $16 trillion of government debt, a recession and an unemployment rate that affects people all over the country, is it not time for America to hit the reset button and let someone else take the wheel?


Morgan Greenwald is a freshman majoring in neuroscience and health promotion and disease prevention studies. 

4 replies
  1. libertyMinded
    libertyMinded says:

    Tax cuts “cost” nothing. Taxes are a taking of one’s lawfully obtained income. Just because politicians want to spend money they don’t have doesn’t make my income theirs.

    Overspending to transfer the income of one person to another is a wrongful use of the taxing power. Fighting wars on a credit card is dangerously Roman Empire like. Barack Obama continued and expanded on the shameful Bush Doctrine of preemptive war.

    As long as we allow overspending politicians to stay in office, we will have overspending and less income than we would otherwise have. Do you want to spend your income or should someone else do it for you?

  2. AJ
    AJ says:

    Finally, I am completely surprised when almost everyone thinks its just Romney or Obama as the ONLY 2 choices. Their is other choices, ones that actually have a robust and detailed platform. Like Ms. Greenwald has mentioned the Green New Deal.

    Throwing your vote is voting for neither party you want but you do anyway, because you want your vote to count. Voting a third party might not get them becoming president but it can start a revolution. The higher the votes for third parties pushes those parties to more mainstream media. Gives them more election funding. Shows the 2 main parties that people want change and will not listen to their pandering of the masses.

    • Manny
      Manny says:

      Amen! I am an independent and am sick of both of the “main” parties. Both are trash and/or overly exaggerated, in my opinion. My only problem is that the third-party candidates this year have also been at extremes. There just doesn’t seem to be a middle-ground party anywhere – it’s depressing.

  3. chas holman
    chas holman says:

    The very second this President took office the country was bleeding 3/4 million jobs a MONTH.

    We were into 3 rounds of stimulus with George Bush and he had started the initial auto bailout by the time he was done.

    We gave a ‘temporary’ tax cut (that has thus far cost us 1.5 trillion to the top 5%) in another round of George Bush stimulus. By the time this President assumed office there was talk of the next ‘Great Depression’.

    In less than 4 years we are showing real recovery and still investing in the future.

    Like millions of Americans, I have already cast my ballot for the President, I implore the good people of this great nation to do the same.

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