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Friday, January 28, 2022

Columns

Holding Obama and Romney accountable


With the presidential campaign coming to an end, there is a noticeable lack of significant third-party candidates. Despite their inability to win major elections, third parties play more important roles in American politics than many people realize.

Third-party candidates had an opportunity Tuesday to have their voices heard during a debate streamed online and moderated by Larry King.

In attendance was Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Jill Stein of the Green Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. But few Americans were even aware that the debate was going on.

Without a well-known third-party candidate, politicians like President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney are not being held as accountable for their stances on pertinent issues because they know people will vote based on party lines.

A third choice gives citizens a stronger voice — as opposed to merely choosing the lesser of two evils — and forces the two big politicians to accurately define and stick to their principles to distinguish themselves.

A great example of this phenomenon is independent candidate Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential campaign. The success and popularity Perot received forced politicians to acknowledge important issues such as deficit reduction that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

When a third-party gains traction, it sends a powerful message to establishments and pushes them to think outside the box. The age-old battle between Republicans and Democrats leads many people to conclude these two parties have opposing political opinions. The reality is: They aren’t that different.

It’s amazing how similar the speeches and rhetoric of every president for the past 40 years are.

After Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, every president has preached about energy independence, often using the same points as predecessors despite their party affiliation. Yet it is 2012 and America is no closer to energy independence than it was in the 1960s.

Whatever the reason, it seems as if Republicans and Democrats are unwilling to deviate from the status quo.

With that being said, not all the blame can be placed on the president. He represents only one of our three branches of government. For this reason, third parties are important on the congressional level as well.

Because of our winner-take-all method of choosing representatives, it is extremely difficult for anyone other than a Republican or Democrat to get into the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate.

A more effective way of representing the will of the people would be a proportional system in which other parties would be rewarded based on the percentage of votes they received.

Until we have such a system, a large part of the country’s collective voice will fall on deaf ears.

Matt Story is a kinesiology senior and can be reached at [email protected]

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