No room for underdogs in a two-party-only system

Noor Naji, Asst. Opinion Editor

“Is this the best we could do?” This question was asked by many Americans after the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on September 26. It seems that the debate that many hoped would clarify for the undecided which candidate to vote for, instead ended with many wondering if they had another choice. And to answer that, yes, we do.

Despite most thinking we only have two candidates, we actually have five, three of them running as third party candidates—Jill Stein for the Green Party, Gary Johnson as a Libertarian, and Evan McMullin as an Independent. Stein has run a campaign emphasizing issues such as climate change and clean renewable energy. On the other hand, Johnson running as a Libertarian, believes in fewer taxes and less government control, but is also pro-choice and for the legalization of marijuana. As for McMullin, he was one of the more notable Republicans for the “Never Trump” movement, and ran as an independent as an alternative for Republican voters. The reason you may have not heard of one of these candidates is because of their poll numbers are beyond low in comparison to most major party candidates. According to the Committee of Presidential Debates, Gary Johnson is polling at 8.4 percent and Jill Stein at 3.2 percent, which isn’t high enough to include them in the televised debates. And according to the public policy polling, McMullin is at 9 percent.

A two-party system doesn’t mean the existence of only two parties alone, rather it means the existence of many political groups, but two that are more dominant. However, the mainstream media has paid little or no attention to the few remaining parties. According to the Conservative Media Research Center, all three third party candidates this election received only 0.05 percent of coverage combined. However, the reason the media doesn’t cover them as much as the other two parties is because they have little support. Most people don’t even know third parties that exist, let alone their candidates. The candidates might be good-willed people who care about their country, but without support, they mean nothing to the election. This is also why people shouldn’t vote for a third party candidate this election. Not only is it too late in the game, but the candidates won’t be able to gain enough popularity in the time given. There is absolutely no way that any of the third party candidates can actually win the 2016 election.

Third party candidates, in close a election, may have had somewhat of an effect in the past. For example, H. Ross Perot, who ran as a third party in the Al Gore and George W. Bush election, stole votes from Gore and handed the White House to Bush. However, he had no possibility of winning. Despite third party candidates’ power to occasionally sway the election, and therefore “affect” it, they have never been close enough to actually winning.

The people voting for a third party candidate this year either want to vote but don’t like their two options and feel guilty for not voting; or they actually agree with the candidates and believe that they actually have a shot at the White House.

“A wasted vote is voting for somebody that you don’t believe in, and if we’re going to continue to vote for the lesser of two evils, that’s still evil,” Johnson said. And I would agree with Johnson if he polled high enough to actually win, but, and I hate to say it, a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote.