Thursday, October 21


Honors English II – I

October 25, 2004

Third Party Candidates in a Two Party System

At the last Presidential Debate two third party candidates, Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party and David Cobb of the Green Party, were arrested for trying to gain entry to the Presidential Debate in Arizona. Before the debate they had petitioned the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) but were refused. On the night of the debate, they walked their way through the crowd and across the police line to submit another petition and gain admittance to the debate, but were stopped and arrested. This kind of two-party control hurts American democracy as well as Americans themselves.

The current system for elections does not accommodate third party candidates at all. The first noticeable setback for third-parties lies in the election itself. American voters, called the electorate, unknowingly make the mistake of assuming there are only two candidates. When they’re presented with a third (or fourth) option, they either ignore it or believe they’re “wasting their vote.” Our bipartisan government does not alleviate this problem, but rather exacerbates it. The government passes laws that hinder third parties ability to gain admittance on the ballots. Right now, Cobb is on the ballot in only thirty states; Badnarik fares slightly better with forty-eight. How can people be represented fairly when they cannot even have the chance to vote for all the candidates?

The Electoral College elects our leaders based on the majority vote winner in the individual states. This system itself conflicts with the will of the electorate. Often times it skews the election, giving Americans presidents that haven’t received the majority of the votes. This has happened several times in American history, the most recent being the 2000 election, were Democrat Al Gore received roughly five hundred thousand more votes than the current president, George Bush. Most everyone remembers the “Floridian Fiasco” in which chads and questions of voter intent muddied the waters of the election. There, the third-party choice of Ralph Nader supposedly drew votes away from Gore, allowing Bush to win the majority of Florida’s votes. This in turn conceded all of Florida’s Electoral votes to Bush, granting him to win the Presidency. Allowing third-party candidates to only influence, not win, elections is decidedly unconstitutional.

Running for president requires pools of cash, usually ones big enough for an average child to go swimming. In the 2000 election alone, George Bush and Al Gore combined for more than 400 million dollars in funding. Third-party candidates can simply not afford to spend the exaggerated amounts of money required to have your name recognized by the average voter.

Because of this third-party dominance the government has become complacent, simply refusing to advance any beneficial or progressive legislation. In biology, when a population breeds among itself and doesn’t receive any genes from others, it develops genetic disorders and diseases. The same can be said of government. By limiting itself to two ideologies, it denies itself the opportunity to grow in new directions and evolve. With politicians worrying only about reelection, they sometimes forget what they’re being reelected for. Politicians adopt moderate policies that differ just enough from their contemporaries to attract notice. To fully represent the people fairly, a change is needed in the political system of the United States.

One method of broadening America’s political horizon requires a change in voting style. Most of the time people don’t agree with every policy of the politician running for office: they’ll like the drug plan, but not like the economic plan. But by being able to cast our ballots for one or more candidates, as is allowed in approval voting, voters more accurately express who they wish to represent them. Assume that John, a fictitious example by trade, likes the benefits plan offered by Jeanne, an imaginary lawyer with big ideas, but likes Ivan’s stance on the pursuit of parole violators. Under the current system, he would be torn between these two candidates and be forced to pick one over the other. In approval voting, John would be able to choose all the candidates that he supports; he could vote for Jeanne, Ivan, and not to mention Bob (who has a decidedly good record on ink control). All the while he can exclude the candidates that he does not support (e.g. Opgeven, Martinez, and Codger). The candidate that claims the most votes wins office and people are no longer forced to choose “the lesser of two evils.”

Realizing that approval voting will never be able to take hold in this country, another option presents itself: abolishing (or at least reworking) the Electoral College. America by ridding itself of the Electoral College will be able to uphold its time honored tradition: “One man, one vote.” As a result of having a president that wasn’t elected by the majority, America undermines its core values of equality. By at least changing the “winner-take-all” system used by states to calculate electoral votes, America will better serve its people. If states change their laws to award electoral votes proportionally there will no longer be states in which the minority is ignored. Swing states will be eliminated and candidates will have to campaign everywhere equally. Eliminating the Electoral College all together would allow the popular vote winner (such as in elections for minor offices) to reach office.

Unless candidates have enough money to match their weight with the weight of their money in twenty dollar bills, they will remain unrecognized by the general public. Advertisement prices are high enough to make anyone with a tight mouth and even tighter wallet jaw drop. If producers were required to give all qualified candidates an equal amount of free television and radio coverage at approximately equal times of day then every viable candidate would be equally represented and thus known by the public. The government also should distribute an unbiased, nonpartisan document with every candidate’s position and record accurately displayed. They should then mail it to every house and thus inform the electorate of their choices and options. When every candidate receives equal coverage then the public can make an informed vote based on information, rather than on appearances. In doing so, the exorbitant amounts of money required for campaigns would be reduced to a manageable sum that everyone could afford.

By combining all of these solutions, America greatly increases its ability to move forward in an ever changing world. But even by adopting only one of these answers America takes a step toward progress. Two-party dominance does nothing but stick the U.S. in the dreaded “quagmire” so feared in Vietnam. It’s time to give other options a chance.


Blogger Gil said...

Good essay. Bad Jake.

October 21, 2004 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger Ivan said...


October 21, 2004 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger Brad said...

your mom isn't practical

October 22, 2004 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Gil said...

Mothers usually aren't.

October 22, 2004 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Get the facts right.

Badnarik/Cobb arrests were with the 2nd debate, they tried to shut down the 3rd completly. They also weren't refused by the CPD, they were escorted away from the offices by thugs before that could happen.

People are aware of 3rd party candidates, just not past the media feeding them lines like "3rd party candidate screws up election" which adds to the wasted vote theory.

Electoral college - can't do away with it we'd have the population centers picking out top numbskull, but winner takes all doesn't cut it. Problem with reform is that its being shot down all the time. NC proposed dividing its electoral votes in early 2000, and colorado (who has a similar bill on their november ballot) is expected to be highly disputed on November 3rd.

Approval voting is bad. Lets say I approve idiot one and idiot five, but like idiot five better, approval voting doesn't account for that. So idiot one can loose because I supported him and idiot five equally. The only reason approval voting is getting hyped now is because no one wants to approve bush or kerry. Instant runoff is better since it better uses the 3rd party votes then moves on to the chief idiots, and unlike approval voting its a proven method (Ireland and Australia) and has a foot hold in the US (San Francisco)

Financing - so far in 2k4 only 6% of the funds have come from corporations and groups, the other 94% has been private funds. That's only $30 million out of ~$460 million. (pretty consistent for groups and corps in the last three elections ) My numbers could be off tho' since the numbers I'm looking at say the combined finances for 2000 was just over $200 million, not $400 million In any case the trick is making people familiar with the candidates, which you did hit on.

Meh. The whole information thing is pointless, the area will likely vote for bush, unless there's a substantial October surprise.

October 22, 2004 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Gil said...


October 22, 2004 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger Ivan said...

My numbers could be off tho' since the numbers I'm looking at say the combined finances for 2000 was just over $200 millionUhm, yeah. My civics book put each at just over $200 million

October 24, 2004 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Ivan said...

Referring to the Securtiy Guard refusal thingee:

Not getting to the door is the ultimate refusal.

And you must take into consideration that this is a paper for an ignorant English teacher with her head so far up her ass she won't even be able to see the paper, let alone correct somethign like taht.

October 24, 2004 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger scooby said...

Good Essay

June 10, 2005 at 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


February 16, 2007 at 6:28 AM  

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