On Monday night, our country watched what was arguably the most extraordinary Presidential debate in history. An odd exchange between orchestrated, and at times, over-prepared responses from a political elitist—and hollow, largely inaccurate lengthy rambles from a reality television star plutocrat. The 2016 Presidential election in a nutshell.
The two party political system is dividing our country. There is no logical reason to not include Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein in the presidential debates. Although it’s practically impossible, both candidates are on enough state ballots to win the Electoral College—but that’s not the point. The point is that once again, the spectrum of acceptable public opinion has been limited, and that must come to an end.
For those who have even remotely followed the campaigns of these two candidates for the past year, Monday’s antics should come as no surprise. Trump once again lied to the public repeatedly and went on about solutions that are not applicable to reality. Clinton advocated for policies that we have seen her take the exact opposite side of, and appeared as status quo as they come. No wonder these are the most unfavorable candidates in the history of our nation.
Something felt missing and while watching, all I could think to myself was “how did we get here?” The only productive response I could come up with was, perhaps, an even more important question “what can we do about it?”
The biggest problem I have seen is that too many Americans are not having their voices heard. People don’t want to participate in a system that has failed them time and time again. If you feel unrepresented in this election in any way shape or form, begin focusing your attention on Citizen’s United, a topic not brought up in the debate last night but undoubtedly a direct factor for anyone that has reverted to apathy. Yet, the 2010 Supreme Court Ruling has forever changed the landscape of elections in our country by allowing the wealthy to donate unlimited amounts of funds to political campaigns. Essentially creating a system where only those with money can succeed. How can that be considered a free and fair election? In April, I covered those who were protesting Citizen’s United, in which over 1,400 people were arrested outside the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. In any true democracy, choices should never seem limited to just two parties. As a result of this ruling, the United States is less democratic than it has ever been before.
Third party candidates seldom have equal media coverage as Republicans and Democrats because they either don’t have enough money to gain traction, or simply wouldn’t attract enough of an audience. This election, however, has shown that maybe a change is needed. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is polling the highest amongst independent voters at 31 percent. The responsibility of the media is to show all perspectives and they have failed miserably at doing so.
A multi-party system would be beneficial to the presidential race because it would give the public more of a choice. Although voters can still cast their vote for a third party candidate this November, they are often encouraged to do the opposite, and that’s why they become frustrated. Having candidates like Johnson and Stein share a stage with Clinton and Trump will open the conversation and may expose some of their flaws. It will also keep the debate on topic, making it much less likely to drift towards personal attacks. In rare cases, it even creates the possibility of a major party candidate adopting some of the platforms of a third party candidate. All of these things should be seen as advantageous to an outdated system in a country that considers itself democratic but still appears to be very out of touch with certain demographics.
For more on some of the corruption behind why Third Party candidates are not included in the debates, watch this segment by Ben Swann