Alternatives in the Political: Third Parties or Not Voting at All

Kevin Bencosme, Featured Reporter

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As campaigns get more negative, with ads running everyday about what the other candidate is doing wrong and why you shouldn’t vote for them, Americans are getting turned off to politics.

Many Americans today are looking for an alternative to the usual Democrats vs. Republicans. There are many third parties, but the struggle they face is to get enough attention and recognition to make an impact or get on the ballot often leaves them well behind in the election.

Another choice that many Americans are taking is the decision to not vote at all, which is playing an enormous role in elections and the United States today.

Many of these third parties have a varied take on issues and solutions for problems our country is facing, and there are some citizens that do support these parties.

The biggest problems these third candidates endure is the struggle to achieve the 15 percent needed to appear in fall presidential debates.

They also have a major need to raise funds and create leverage with limited resources. Some of the better established third parties are the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Constitution Party, Independent Party, and the Americans Elect Party.

Former Governor Gary Johnson is running with his running mate former judge Jim Gary for the Libertarian Party on the theme, “Liberty Will Win”.

The Libertarian Party’s mission statement is, “broaden the parameters of the public policy debate of current topics in the national arena. We look to enlighten the population about civil liberties, free enterprise, limited government, and traditional American values. It is our aim to increase the amount of discussion and involvement regarding all-important issues”.

Another example is the Green Party who has Jill Stein running for them who has a history of being the Green-Rainbow Party candidate for governor in 2002.

One of the key beliefs of  the Green Party is increasing public participation at every level of the government.

Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala tried taking part in the presidential debate that took place at Hofstra University on Oct. 16, but were not let in and kicked off campus.

This is just an example of the struggle these third parties face, but the political world is never a sure thing; at any minute these parties can pick up steam and make a difference and perhaps, one day, be in close contest with the Democratic and Republican Party.

There are many Americans today who are choosing not to vote over the two more well-known candidates that are running, Governor Mitt Romney for the Republican Party and current President Obama for the Democratic Party.  The California Voter Foundation (CFV) released results of a statewide survey on the attitudes of infrequent and non-voters.  28 percent of infrequent voters said that they are too busy and there are others that don’t care or are unenthusiastic about it.

The survey found that non-voters are mostly young, single, less educated, and more likely to be of an ethnic minority than infrequent and frequent voters.

Junior information technology major Matt Olsner considers himself an Independent/Other Party supporter.

“I don’t agree entirely with either major political groups and I don’t think people vote because they feel that their individual votes won’t make a difference,” said Olsner.

Senior art history major Jaclyn Derummond said, “It is [the election] a grotesque popularity race where you don’t know who is telling the truth or who is lying and it is all about image.”

This is some of the general feelings many Americans also share.

In 2008 only 62.2 percent of the population of the United States voted in in the presidential election, which was seen as a high-turnout rate for voting. However, the percent of voters still cannot be compared to the percentage rates.

Countries like Australia have a 95 percent voter turnout and even the South American country of Chile has a 93 percent voter turnout rate.

There is no question that many citizens are opting out of their right to vote, and this raises a question for the United States and politics in the country today.