Students Weigh in on Presidential Campaign

Anthony Coombs and Spencer Hill


Spencer Hill and Anthony Coombs

The United States has almost always consisted of two main parties with many opposite ideals. However, they also have many similarities such as an aim to take a majority in Congress, elect a president, or appoint supreme court justices. Since the era of Lincoln to the present day, the widely known parties have simply been Democrat and Republican.

Most citizens have never thought to vote otherwise. Many have never heard the term “independent”, “Libertarian”, or “Green Party.” This is because America has almost always been ran by the two major parties.

In all levels of government, there is a constant struggle for one party to control the policies and laws implemented. This struggle for power has led to a great divide in American politics, forcing people to align with the side that they “agree with the most,” even if they can’t align most of their views with a single party.

In this election, the Republican and Democrat nominees are the well-known Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But when asking students who Gary Johnson, Evan McMullin, or Jill Stein are, they don’t have a clue.

Most don’t consider these people to have any legitimacy or sway in an election. According to the CNN National Election Poll, Clinton and Trump are in a tight race, while Johnson polls only at 8% and Stein at 4%; not any kind of threat to the frontrunners.

As Carson Robb put it, “Democrats and Republicans today have a hard time representing the ideals of all American Citizens… a third party candidate would make that dissolution worse.” On the contrary, Spencer Wilcox argues, “George Washington warned us about the two party system. When it comes to voting third party there are really only two options, you can vote authoritarian or libertarian.”

Wilcox argues that there is more than the left and the right of the political spectrum, and we should consider this when looking at politics. Libertarian versus Authoritarian is, in short, a government focused on liberty versus a government focused on Authority.

Robb on the other hand, argues that a third parties would make the representation of the American people worse. On the contrary, Libertarian and Green Party authorities argue the opposite, stating that a third party opens new doors to beliefs in how government should be run, and makes more options available to the American people.

For example, Gary Johnson takes a more liberal stance on social issues, with a more conservative stance on economic issues. These issues include the legalization of Marijuana, states’ rights, gun rights, and rights for the LGBT community.

On the other hand, Jill Stein is radically more left and authoritarian, aligning herself with the Green Party, which believes in environmental protectionism. A concept that government should take whatever steps necessary to protect the environment from further damage and promote economic equality.

A final example of a third party candidate would be someone like Evan McMullin, an independent who is centralizing his campaign in the state of Utah. McMullin is a moderate-conservative, who takes aim at Republicans who refuse to vote for Trump.

Voting third party, in the minds of the many, is taking a stand for what they believe in and vocalizing the issues they find important. With a small chance of winning, third party candidates usually run to make a point and spread awareness of their cause, taking advantage of national coverage and media.

Unless there was a national sweep and change in views, we’re stuck with the two party system with little chance to sway the American people into joining an alternate party. While it may seem impossible for an independent to win, it is possible.

Say McMullin were to win Utah, and takes the 6 electoral votes included. Meanwhile on the national scale, neither Trump or Clinton are able to win 273 electoral votes, lacking the votes from Utah from either side. The election then goes to the House of Representatives, where a candidate is voted on and selected. The twist: that candidate doesn’t have to be one of the party’s nominees.

With a Republican majority in the house, chances are the parties would compromise for a moderate-conservative candidate. Anyone from McMullin to Romney could be voted in, due to the number of anti-trump Republicans and lack of Democratic numbers in the house to elect Clinton, according to CNN.

While this scenario is highly unlikely, there’s always a chance, and the decision lies with the American people and their willingness to break from the norm. When it comes down to it, voting third-party may not be strategic. However, for many Americans, it’s more than that. It’s about voting for your principles and what you believe in, instead of conforming to Washington politics.