America needs more political diversification

Dalton Stokes

In the United States, the self-proclaimed best and freest country in the world, we have two parties.

Technically, we have a few other smaller parties, but we have two choices for president and for other significant positions in our political system– at least so we are led to think.

Our country is monopolized by two parties. For over a century, the American people have been living in the illusion of choice. The domination of these two parties has led to a lack in political diversity.

The two parties encompass all political viewpoints that are to be had and inherently disagree on most everything in order to thrive, which has created a deadlock in the government in which hardly anything ever actually changes. Because the two parties inherently disagree with each other on many things, when the power shifts, each party will attempt to reverse whatever the other party has done with their turn with the power stick. This results in a limbo state of sheer political instability for the American people.

This is something that simply must change if the United States is ever going to evolve. 

Take Germany, for example. The country recently held its election in late September. Germany has a multi-party system which allows for a diverse political system.

In Germany and many other democracies, each party makes up a percentage of parliament or congress based on the percentage of votes that the party gets. This is a vastly superior system as opposed to ours.

Our system of electoral college was efficient in design in the time it was devised, but it was designed more so to represent citizens regionally. Germany’s is designed to represent by ideology. This is more efficient in our modern era in which regional issues are more of a secondary issue.

In this age, people identify themselves with one of the two parties and by a more specific set of beliefs that deviate from the exact beliefs of the overall party.

In the century after the formation of our nation, before the rise of telecommunications, the only thing people cared about were issues affecting the region in which they lived. They voted for officials that reflected what they thought their region needed.

Now, people vote for officials that present more appealing rhetoric and that agree with one’s stance on a handful of topics, like abortion or gun control.

The more parties we have, the closer each person can get to being represented by their unique sets of beliefs. This is the ultimate goal of democracy, to equally represent people of all belief systems. We ultimately need a strengthening of the third party.

As it is, there are three main option that are apparent: abolish the electoral college– which in the short term wouldn’t do a whole lot for third parties, replace the electoral college with a system in which parties derive their power from a percentage of votes they receive, or introduce a system of the alternative vote.

The alternative vote or runoff voting is a system in which citizens rank their candidates from most desirable to least desirable on the ballot instead of voting for one candidate. Then the votes of the least popular votes “runoff’ to people’s second and third choices.

Right now we have a system in which strategic voting is necessary. Many people are unhappy with both sides, but vote against a certain candidate to keep them from winning.

This was apparent in the last race with many conservatives voting for Donald Trump to keep Hillary Clinton out of the presidency and vice versa. This system of runoff votes would allow the people to vote third party or for a party that more closely identifies with their belief system but to still strategically vote against other candidates they don’t like.

Let’s use the last election as an example. There were four candidates: Trump as a Republican, Clinton as a Democrat, Gary Johnson as Libertarian and Jill Stein as Green Party. 

Say a liberal voter doesn’t like Clinton, but dislikes Trump more, and likes Stein the most. Under the current system this voter would solely vote for Clinton because they believe doing otherwise will result in Trump winning.

Under the runoff system this voter could rank Stein, the candidate that most closely aligns with his or her beliefs, first and Clinton as second. Then if Stein only got five or 10 percent of the vote, she would be the clear loser and all the people that put Clinton as their second that also put Stein as their first would “runoff” to Clinton. This simulates a tournament between the candidates without having to have multiple voting days or instances.

These are only some the possible ways we could promote political diversity. We could also just begin to vote for third party candidates. This is something we are explicitly told not to do by our society, but it is something we can viably do.

It is also important to consider how this might affect Kentucky and its citizens. Kentucky is a predominantly red state, and that likely won’t change anytime soon. Louisville and Lexington usually vote Democrat, though, and as a result people feel disenfranchised and that their votes don’t matter. This could relieve that and give us college students and Kentucky citizens better options.

Ultimately, what we are doing now isn’t working. We have a political divide like we have never seen before and candidates that not many people actually want. This is something that absolutely has to change in order for the United States of America, the country of the people for the people and by the people, to flourish as an effective democracy.

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