Two-party system limits U.S. voters
As a response to Staffwriter Caleb Glickman’s four part series defending the two-party system in his column The Pragmatist’s Manifesto, I felt it necessary and appropriate to respond in defense of the independent millennial. The two-party system represents a vastly oversimplified view of American political beliefs and has left millennials like myself out in the cold.
In Glickman’s first article, he mentions, “Our party system is innately a debate over the role of federal government.” However, the idea that the vote between liberal and conservative is a vote between more or less government is a complete misconception. This is because the vote between Democrat and Republican only represents one dimension of the political compass.
To accurately represent all Americans, a spectrum from libertarian to authoritarian must be combined with the popular left to right. Left to right typically describes the government’s involvement in a country’s economics. In contrast, libertarian to authoritarian represents a government’s involvement in one’s personal life. The difference between an authoritarian conservative and a libertarian conservative can be day and night. However, the perception caused by the current system would place them much closer than a left and a right libertarian. Both the Republican and Democrat establishments tend to lean in the authoritarian direction and fail to represent those that want the government out of their lives.
Glickman goes on to say, “a multi-party race in this country runs the risk of electing a president without full majority of support.” However, I would argue the current system is already doing just this. Americans are frustrated, and according to a recent Pew Research Poll, 39 percent of them identify as independent. Even more interesting is the 48 percent of independent millennials. With tools like the internet, millennials are starting to put their votes in their own hands. Last election, the most popular third-party candidate, Gary Johnson, lingered around 1 percent of the votes. According to the most recent polls, Johnson’s support has increased ten-fold this election. Neither Trump nor Hillary is supported by the majority. In fact, according to The New York Times, only the decisions of 9 percent of Americans chose Trump and Clinton as the nominees in the primaries.
Glickman mentions in a his final article on the two-party system that, “Trump has upended the two-party balance.” He then goes on dramatically that, “Trump needs to be eviscerated. Completely destroyed.” His description is more of a decision-less system than the ideal two-party system he described in the previous article. Trump is the flaming dumpster of trash that is the two-party system. His success would only be possible in an election so molded into two parties that an entire party could hate, yet support him.
The two-party system turns the election into more of a childish finger pointing game than an actual debate. When Katie McGinty spoke on campus a few weeks ago, the only things she had to say were about her rival, Pat Toomey. The debates between Trump and Clinton have also been more of bickering matches than meaningful discussions.
As someone who is genuinely concerned about the future of this nation, I urge you to vote for who you wish. Don’t vote for Clinton because you want to “eviscerate” Trump. Don’t vote for Trump because you hate Clinton. Vote for who you want to be leading the land of the free. The scariest thing in this nation is not that Clinton or Trump could be president in a few months; it is that we have allowed ourselves to overlook the vast flaws of both candidates while trying to point the finger at the other.
Even if our whole generation votes third-party, it probably will not be enough to change the outcome of the election. However, it will be enough to show America just how frustrated millennials are with the current political climate. If Americans take time to think instead of giving into the desire to push the other candidate out, neither of these two-party candidates will get the 270 votes that they need.