I was thinking about this the other day as I pondered what the outcome would have been if Gary Johnson had somehow, through some act of God, won the election. I went over all the different things that have been put in place that make sure that the whims of the masses don’t dictate what happens in the government, as well as limitations that bar third parties from being able to make big waves. Are these bars that have been put in place a good thing?
I started out thinking that third parties should definitely have a bigger role in politics and should not be so quickly shunned and pushed to the side as they are today, but then I really started to dissect it.
In Europe, a lot of the governments have proportional representation so that smaller parties are not completely excluded and can actually get a say in government. Whatever percentage of the popular vote each party receives, they get that proportionally in the legislative body of that government. This seems like a good idea when we look at it, but then when we start to see what has gone on in Europe recently, I think that we should start to question the inclusion of some third parties. Those third parties that are based on ideology are not the ones that we have to worry about. It’s the radical separatist and the single-issue parties that have emerged are the ones that would cause trouble if the United States adopted a proportional system. The elimination of the two-party system would allow for more diversity in our legislature, but at what cost? If we had openly communist congressmen serving next to the rest of the members of the House of Representatives, how much influence are they going to have on the overall vote? Conversely, what about an ultra-conservative party that wants to reinstate the slave trade? What about a Neo-Nazi party? If they all got a say in the government, then we would have an even more hyper-pluralist government and thing would be even HARDER to get done than they are with the extreme partisan politics of today.
If we started to get libertarians into politics using this proportional system, then we would have to include the rest of the radical parties that have started to emerge over the years. What libertarians have to do is start to get their message out and to make it sound like the message that it is, which is the one that appeals to the majority of America.
When I talked to people before this last election, most of them said that they liked Romney’s economic plan and they felt like he had a better chance to fix the economy, but they liked Obama’s stances on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. What people failed to realize was there was a candidate that fit that almost perfectly. Gary Johnson was that, and even more. He also wanted to take an isolationist policy when it comes to the Middle East and make sure that North America attains energy independence through the de-regulation of the energy industry and the decrease of environmental regulations that are in place today.
This is a problem. People don’t take the effort to go and find these candidates. They don’t like to have to go digging around and “waste some of their precious time” to go and become more involved than usual in any sort of election process. The average citizen treats the general election like a once-in-4-years Super Bowl of Politics, in which they suddenly become an expert on the political process. They pick a side, get really passionate for about a month, and then when it’s done they either rejoice or scorn the other side and get really angry, and then it dies off about a week after the election is over. If participation (not just voting, but really PARTICIPATING) really became an integral part of our society then we would start to see more educated decisions being made and the best candidate for the people would win elections instead of candidates that seems to be the best looking or the most likable.
In short, I believe that since third parties cannot be integrated via the European system or through the alteration of the process that we have today, I think that the people are going to have to step in and do their part to be able to get those candidates that are actually worthy and valid to avoid the chaos that Europe is experiencing at the moment while still making sure that third party candidates that have good ideas and good platforms that would work for the country get their voices and views heard so that Americans can make the best choice for them.
Do yourself a favor and do the research next election. Don’t go into the election booths uneducated about the issues and the candidates. If you want things to change, then make sure that they do by casting your vote for the candidate that is truly going to get it done.