Our first President, George Washington, never aligned formally with political parties. As a matter of fact, he even warned the American people in his farewell address to put the nation over their political party. With John Adams as our second president, political parties began to gain traction as Adams attempted to limit freedoms through the Sedition and Naturalization Acts. For most of our history since then, the U.S. has been divided between very few parties. Especially in today’s world where it seems that you are either a racist Trump supporter or an ANTIFA rioter burning down Portland, we are highly divided between two political factions: the Republicans and Democrats. However, in reality, it is much less black and white; there are great people on both sides of the aisle simply trying to do what’s best for America. Many other Democratic nations have many active and popular political parties with sometimes even 5-10 active parties. Choosing between only two parties leaves little wiggle room for diverse ideas. We must expand the amount of active political parties America has for the greater good of the people.
Jaclyn Jecha, a government and social studies teacher at New Berlin West, argues “Third parties can serve a cause, a faction [that people] can align to. Third parties serve a unique purpose, and in third parties, people feel welcomed and heard.”
Third parties allow people to see a different point of view on politics other than the common narratives. People become more open to new ideas due to third parties. It encourages people to open up to more ideas as they become actively talked about.
Jason Johnston, a history teacher at New Berlin West said, “What do Republicans do when they don’t like Trump? Who do they go to?”
“If it goes Left and Bernie or Ocasio-Cortez got power, what will liberals do?” said Johnston. “Most Americans are centrist; Some parties could gain power if centrists united.”
Johnston also went on to say that major third parties have always been somewhat fringe groups.
Both parties try to associate the other party with the extreme ideologies within those parties. The political game of power struggle tends to not show the humanity of the other side. In reality, most Americans only lean slightly or moderately on one side.
Many Americans tend to think that both parties or at least the one they oppose don’t hear the voices of the people. Some even think that corporations have full control over our government
“They can serve a single group or cause, a faction that they can align to,” said Jecha. “Greens are meant for what group? Environmentalists.”
The Green Party is a political party that seeks more protection of nature with less pollution as well as many civil reforms. It is considered a very left-leaning political party. The Greens are the fourth largest American political party.
Libertarians tend to promote a narrative that all or many old and great American freedoms have been over violated by our government and we need much reform to obtain American freedoms for all. They support Gun Rights, a laissez-faire free-market economy, and legalization for all substances. It is the largest third party in America.
Constitutionalists are somewhat like the Anti-federalists of early American politics. The only job the government has is to defend and enforce the constitution according to the Constitution Party. They also are highly religious and feel the Constitution is in direct correlation with Christianity. They believe strongly in the Second Amendment and a very tiny government. Constitutionalists are the fifth largest political party in the U.S.A.
However, what do most Americans know about third parties?
“Most Americans don’t know enough about our government to have an opinion,” said Jecha. “The two parties drown out the others.”
Both parties are too powerful and don’t even allow third parties to have access to ballots or the debate stage.
“I think most Americans would like it if they understood the benefit of it,” said Johnston. “Some Americans wouldn’t understand how the new politics would work.”
For most people it’s about Identity politics Johnston went on to say.
He then pointed at me and spoke about how I was wearing a Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt and a flannel that associates me more like a Republican. Lynyrd Skynyrd is a southern rock band that frequently promotes the confederate flag, God, and Guns. All these things represent what an extremely conservative person often supports. Both parties’ supporters tend to follow and adhere to certain stereotypical guidelines through media such as clothing, race, religion, socio-economic class, and where they are from.
Certain groups are expected to vote in various ways. White males tend to vote Republican, while a Latina woman would tend to vote Democrat based on statistics.
Third parties in Europe always affect votes and elections. Sometimes the most popular party only has 30% of the population supporting it in Europe. There are often supporters behind all political parties and resolutions are made more off the issue rather than party alignment.
“They [Third Parties] have a minimal role in larger elections,” said Jecha. “In local elections, they have a much larger effect. Some political scientists say that they just spoil things.” Spoiling, in political terms, means to disrupt an election to the point of the predicted victorious side losing, in a sense.
Johnston on the other hand has a slightly different perspective.
“Third parties have meant something in elections like the Teddy Roosevelt Bullmoose party,” said Johnston. “It gave Democrats control over the house under Woodrow Wilson.”
He further explained how H. Ross Perot ran under the Reform Party in the 1992 presidential election which helped secure a Clinton victory. 18.9% of voters voted for Ross Perot which largely divided the Republican party.
He went on to say how they can hurt both democrats and Republicans as some third parties lean more one way than the other.
In the U.S we very clearly have a two-party system. There are some pros and many cons that go along with it.
“More voices get heard through a multi-party system. It makes governments form coalitions,” said Jecha. “It makes you cooperate with people who don’t see the same. It may give some of the more extremes voices.”
“In a two-party system the decisions are simpler and faster, and you don’t need multiple elections to decide who wins,” according to Jecha.
In a two-party system, one vote is cast, and it’s over. However, in some multi-party systems, it takes far longer and things can’t get passed without multiple elections.
“With two-party system elections you don’t have to worry about constant elections,” said Johnston. “Israel had three votes in two years.”
“It’s easier, you just pick a side,” said Johnston. “It’s quicker and simpler.”
“Multi-party systems are much slower,” said Johnston. “I don’t really think people would take the time to vote for their interest.”
“Time, energy, and education is why more people don’t vote third party,” said Johnston. “There [are] a lot of people that have two kids and two jobs.”
He went on to explain that most Americans work, come home, have a beer, and watch a sport. People don’t have the time or energy to devote themselves deeply to politics.
“I think it should be a national holiday for people to get out and vote,” said Johnston.
Jecha held a similar view but with different political details. “A lot of Americans don’t think their vote will matter.”
“Third parties also don’t always have their name on the ballot,” said Jecha. “The big political machine behind both parties slows down up and coming competitors.”
All in all, a two-party system destroys the voice of the people. We’re forced to pick one party or the other. What would change this would be if many people voted for a third party in this upcoming controversial election. Now is the time and chance to change our political structure forever for better or worse.
Jaclyn Jecha has one final message to all Americans; “If you’re 18, Vote!”