geoffrey gauchet

Why You Should Ignore the Two-Party System and Vote Third-Party

Here's the deal: as far as the mass media and the majority of Americans are concerned, there are only two political parties: Republican and Democrat. Left or right. Red or blue. Mac or PC. Boxers or briefs. Chocolate or vanilla.

Why must we have only two choices? Let's face it: times were simpler 232 years ago. They were rough, but situations were primarily cut and dry, yes or no. You liked this or you didn't. But in a modern America, the types of issues and importance of issues arenotcut and dry. Simple examples include asking people where they stand on abortion or the death penalty. According to a 2005 LA Times poll, 41% favored making abortion illegal with few exceptions, 24% favored making it legal, 19% favored making it legal most of the time, and 12% favored making it totally illegal. Notice how there arefouroptions? There is no way you could possibly cram every American into either a "for" or "against" grouping.

Let's make it less political: the great Soda vs. Pop debate. Some people call it soda, some call it pop. According to Pop vs. Soda, 38.85% say "pop," 39.17% say "soda," 15.69% say "coke," and 6.29% say one of hundreds of other words. Again, there's still no "option A" and "option B" group.

In the recent Disney-Pixar film "Wall-e," Wall-e organizes random objects he finds into specific categories. When he comes across a spork, he goes to put it in the "Fork" basket, hesitates, starts to put it in the "Spoon" basket, hesitates, and then places it on the shelf by itself.

My point is this: nothing these days—from important things like abortion down to minute details like our eating utensils—is easily divided into two groups. This is why I urge every American to consider votingoutsideof their party. Just because you're registered as a Democrat doesn't mean youhaveto vote for Obama. Just because you're registered as an Independent doesn't mean you can't vote for McCain. And even more importantly: just because you're registered as a Republican or Democrat doesn't mean you can't vote for Nader or Bob Barr.

While one could argue using my poll examples that the third (and fourth) options are always the smallest in number which proves that there are two dominating forces, one could also argue that that reason is because so few people feel comfortable stating an opinion that doesn't have a nice, pretty checkbox next to it.

Go ahead, write in your answer next to "Other."

Many, if not all, third parties (such as the Libertarian Party) share views in common with both Republicans and Democrats. No one should just vote third party because they aren't Republican or Democrat, but I urge everyone to consider third parties as viable options for votes.

No candidate is perfect and I don't think we'll see one that comes close anytime soon, but giving yourself more choices is a smart thing to do.

People will say that a third-party vote is a "wasted vote." This is 100% false. Not voting is the only wasted vote. If enough people vote for the same person, that person wins. (Electoral College notwithstanding) It's simple logic. If I'm 100% behind a third party candidate, I will vote for them. In that respect, voting for a mainstream candidate would be wasting my vote because I'd be voting for someone in whom I didn't truly believe.

If you support McCain, vote McCain.
If you support Obama, vote Obama.
If you support Nader, vote Nader.
If you support Barr, vote Barr. (Come on, it's been almost 100 years since we've had facial hair in office!)

With the Internet and its ubiquity, discovering information about each candidate is easier than ever. Each candidate's website has outlines of their overall political stance. Sites like FactCheck.org take what each candidate says in public and compares it to what they've said in the past, or points out falsehoods. You can even register to vote online in your underwear, sitting on your ass. Hell, open it in a new tab so you don't have to even close YouTube.

My point is this: get educated on the candidates—it only takes a few minutes to read over their websites. Decide form whom you'd like to vote. Ignore with what party they're affiliated—parties mean nothing. It's the individual's views and opinions and voting records that matter. Ron Paul's run as a Libertarian and a Republican. Same guy, same views, different affiliation.

So get educated, decide, and vote. And don't listen to anyone but yourself. If someone tells you McCain sucks or Obama sucks but you wanna vote for them, then vote for them. Don't discuss politics with anyone if you don't want to hear critiques of your choices or views. There's a curtain on the voting booths for a reason.

America is an amazing country and we're lucky to live here, but nothing's perfect and we've got work to do. While we may never be President, it's up to us to choose someone to represent us and take us into the future.


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June 23, 2008
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October 20, 2008
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