“The two-party system has given this country the war of Lyndon Johnson, the Watergate of Nixon, and the incompetence of Carter. Saying we should keep the two-party system simply because it is working is like saying the Titanic voyage was a success because a few people survived on life rafts.”
(Eugene J. McCarthy, former Senator of the USA)
The pervasive political challenges faced by the United States are an aggregate of all the failures of the two major political parties of the country. Whether it is the economic doldrum, homeless people, dwindling healthcare infrastructure, deteriorating climate, or the tearing of international relations, the two-party system has infused the notion of monopoly in politics in the United States of America.
Amid all of these challenges, the need for independent candidates today is more than ever. Only a vibrant and visionary independent leader, not inclined towards any persisting ideology, will serve the best interests of the United States, both in and out of America.
The era of progressivism demands more minds to make any decision in the 21st century. The time is flying so rapidly that any delay in this will cost America in the long run. The bipartisan political system is bound to serve the elite of society, and no average American can seek and attain the highest office of the country.
Not only in the presidential elections, America currently needs more independent candidates as the Congressmen, Senators, Governors, and Mayors to bring the leadership talent up at every stage possible.
The dominance of Democrats and Republicans is hindering the progress of the country at the micro-level. While they may portray the notion of “all is well” to the masses, the reality is far away from this in most cases.
Currently, only two independent candidates are serving in the United States Senate. However, they still side with Democrats, killing the purpose of the third party or independent candidates.
Why is it a dire necessity to introduce a third party or an independent candidate in the United States? How will it change the course of history in times to come? Let’s dig deep to see further.
The Urgency and Need of Independent Candidates and a Third Party in the USA
Infusing Pluralism in Opposition
The opposition is one of the main characteristics of democracy. Gone are the days when politicians used to take authoritative decisions without facing any opposition. However, the need for multi-faceted opposition is also necessary for democracy.
Pluralism within the opposition is also one of the principal features of democracy. If all the opposition aligns with one specific opinion, they end up serving their political parties, rather than their constituency, which is happening in the United States right now.
The point of view of the opposition members is not the personal opinion of the leader, but the policy dictated by the party. This, in turn, undermines the whole purpose of democracy.
Most of the time, the compromise made in the two-party system, which is in the worst interest of the people.
Forcing the Major Parties Toward the Needs of Average American
Under the two-party system, the focus of the political parties is often bifurcated. Both political parties know that they have strongholds in the form of red states and blue states. This will push them not to focus on the states which are dominated by the opposite party.
For instance, California is a stronghold of Democrats. This alienates Republicans from California, as they know that they will not win the state in any case. The same goes for Democrats who do not focus on the Red States during canvassing. So, logically, this two-party system turns into one party in the already decided states.
The rise of independent candidates will reduce the so-called “confirmed votes” of the political parties in their stronghold states. As their likelihood to win these states reduces, it will ultimately push them to focus on the other states as well.
To Increase the Voter Turnout
Independent candidates are more likely to pull out voters who would waste their vote otherwise. The vote is one of the fundamental human rights given by the Constitution of the United States. However, the two-party system is hijacking this right for Americans. For instance, look at the turnout for the previous five presidential elections.
While it is true that the turnout in the 2020 presidential election was greater than the previous years, on average, the two-party system has sabotaged the vote for an extended period.
Most of the time, people don’t want to vote for either candidate, as no one fits their criteria of leading the nation. As they look for other options, they end up disappointed because they see few independent candidates.
While they may see a couple of parties, they believe that their vote will be wasted because the two major parties monopolize the system. Hence, the introduction of the third-party or independent candidate will motivate people to exercise their right to vote, ultimately increasing the voter turnout.
Parties within the Major Parties: A Death of Democracy
Another reason to encourage the growth of the independent candidates is the clear bifurcation in the two major political parties themselves.
The power structure of these major political parties is so flawed that not even the average party member can imagine getting the party’s nomination.
Consider the example of Donald Trump, for instance. He is the wealthiest president in the history of the United States. Not only this, but Donald Trump is also the wealthiest politician in the United States. This helps him in incentivizing people to support him in the Republican primaries. Most of the Republicans perceive him as God; therefore, they support him even in the illogical things.
Suppressing the Softer Voices in Political Parties in the USA
The introduction of third parties and independent candidates will also reduce the evil in the political spectrum of the United States. Most of the time, both the major political parties flood the hard-earned money of their supporters in defaming the other party.
The two-party system encouraged Trump to defame his only competitor. Joe Biden, in the elections. For instance, Republicans labelled Democrats as sponsoring socialism, favoring police defunding, etc., which they never supported. With multiple parties in competition, politicians are expected to focus on their own campaigns instead of stabbing and speaking ill of the other. They know that canvassing against too many competitors simultaneously will just backfire.
The two-party system in the United States is also discouraging people of varying opinions from joining different parties. For example, Republicans are mostly divided into conservatives and moderates.
Similarly, Democrats either support progressivism and liberalism. However, the problem arises when, despite having multiple opinions in the party, there can only be a single official party’s response in each case.
For instance, Democrats, in general, do not promote socialism but the progressive “squad” perceives socialism as good. So, at the end of the day, the Democratic party has to denounce socialism, ultimately suppressing the voices of the smaller faction in the party.
Whether socialism should be promoted or not in the United States is an entirely separate debate, but pressing one specific voice in the party creates dysfunctional democracy.
Similarly, if we look at the Republican party, anyone speaking against Donald Trump faces his wrath in one form or another.
Trump fired the CISA director for saying the elections were transparent and the Attorney General for not politicizing the Hunter Biden investigation. Similarly, he criticized various governors for not supporting him in the post-election lawsuits.
In a recent interview, Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez said that if they were in any other country, she and Joe Biden would have been in a different party. AOC and Bernie Sanders of the Democratic Party represent a progressive faction of the party, while Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represent a liberal faction.
In a nutshell, there are various segmentations in both the Republicans and Democrats. However, the wealthiest and the most prominent voices destroy the voices of the other circles, ultimately crushing democracy.
The Need of Independent Candidates and a Third Party: A Historical Perspective
The emergence of the third party and the independent candidates lately in the United States is a positive indicator for the democratic system. If we look at the recent past, the third-party candidates won a significant number of votes, and at times impacted the results of the presidential elections to a great extent.
Consider the following elections in this regard.
- Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992 by defeating George H.W. Bush by a margin of 5.6%. In this election, an independent candidate, Ross Perot, won a mammoth 18.9% votes, equivalent to almost 19.7 million. This is believed to be one of the reasons why Bush did not win the presidency again. Similarly, Ross Perot once again portrayed the importance of the independent candidates, as he won almost 8.4% of votes in his second campaign. The need for independent candidates was seen in these two elections as Americans saw bifurcated politics in the cold war.
- The State of Florida, which decided the 2000 presidential election, witnessed third-party candidates getting 138,063 votes. Out of these, 97,488 were acquired by the Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. Had it not been for the third party, Democrats would have won the presidency again as the 21st century began. This election also depicts the need for independent candidates.
- In 2016, the candidates other than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won almost 4.9% votes from all over the United States. Political experts also believe that this many votes going to the third party ended up with Hillary Clinton on the losing side. This presidential election also portrayed the need for independent candidates.
- The 2020 presidential election also witnessed a huge number of independent or third-party candidates. Third parties and independent candidates managed to win almost 2.8 million votes in total. Out of these votes, most of them were won by the Libertarian Party’s candidate Jo Jogensen and the Green Party’s candidate Howie Hawkins.
The need for independent candidates in modern times has reached a level where ignoring it can have drastic consequences. The two-party system is the Achilles’ heel for the United States; while it may seem too fancy on the surface, it is against the very basics of democracy.
This is why Americans have already started to tilt in favor of third parties or independent candidates, which can be seen clearly in recent elections.
It is about time now that we propagate the tickets of independent candidates as much as possible.
Only then can America become the democratic emblem in the world where the decisions of the only two men will not dictate the lives of 328 million people living all over the United States.