Opinion: America needs a multi-party system


"Vote!" by kgroovy is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Third parties are underrepresented in American politics. The best way to solve this problem would be to better implement a multi-party system.

Recently, Andrew Yang, a former Democrat party presidential candidate and New York politician, has left the Democratic party to start his own political party, the Forward Party. Problems with their ideology aside, this has prompted the opportunity to ask: Why isn’t there another political option other than the Republican and Democrat Parties? 

Trick question. There are actually many third parties in the United States. On top of this, some politicians identify themselves as independents, even though they most likely act in solidarity with a certain political party. The problem is that the parties that are not just carbon copies of one of the two big parties have zero real representation in the national government, due to how America’s political system works. 

Most other democratic governments have a political system which encourages a diverse collection of parties participating in the government, meaning a variety of political parties have to work together and form coalitions in order to achieve the majority in their legislatures and actually enact anything into law. This takes a lot of compromising between the parties in hopes  that the voters win in this process. 

The national government is a tug of war match between two vicious dogs who will not stop pulling on the rope until they get their way, and neither play fair.”

— Staff Writer Ashton Lewandowski

America is a duopoly in comparison. There are only two viable parties: the Democrats and the Republicans. If a voter agrees with the Democrats on one topic, but the Republicans on another, the voter will most likely choose who they see as the lesser evil, or not participate in democracy at all. Either way, this voter does not have a party that shares his core beliefs, leaving him unrepresented.

Ever since the creation of America there has been a two party system of voting. The roots of both parties go far back into America’s history. They have a strong hold on the system. In comparison, these third parties have little funding that is needed in order to garner support. They do not stand a chance against the big two if they have no way to get their ideas out to the people. 

The national government is a tug of war match between two vicious dogs who will not stop pulling on the rope until they get their way, and neither play fair. This is not healthy for any system of government. This is especially true in the U.S. since political polarization is at an all-time high, which could have the devastating consequence of leading us into another civil war.

The 2020 election has shown the worst of this. Whether it’s the stealing of yard signs or what happened at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, politically motivated crimes are at an all-time high, and are increasing. The question will soon become, when will the U.S. break under this divisive heat? How much more can our strained system take? The population needs to back away from the extremes, and cool off, or something bad will happen. 

Ranked choice voting is an alternative system of voting that would help further boost third party representation.”

— Staff Writer Ashton Lewandowski

Return to what Andrew Yang has done. His party is oriented around the middle ground between the extremes taken by the Democratic and Republican parties, offering a centrist perspective. However, in order for his party to succeed at any meaningful level and the broken system to be fixed, drastic reforms must be implemented. Reforms that most likely will be heavily pushed back against by both the Democrats and Republicans. 

We need more direct support for third parties. In most cases, these parties are not even on the ballot for a majority of voters. Easing these requirements, known as ballot access laws, would increase the amount of representation these parties can get. 

Increased funding for small parties would also help. Currently, if a third party gets five percent of the vote during a presidential election, which is a challenge on its own, the FEC will allot to their party upwards of $8 million. The five percent requirement should be cut in half to at least two and a half percent, which is feasible for a third party to do, and also should be rewarded more than $8 million. This would ensure that third parties who cross this threshold are rewarded and given a platform to actually make their case to voters. 

Third parties, once gaining a platform, would also need to avoid being used as a tool for one of the bigger parties. Currently, America uses a first past the post voting system, which means that once a political candidate passes a certain threshold, they are crowned the winner. This allows for a voting quirk known as spoilers. If two similar candidates run against a dissimilar candidate, even if the similar candidates are the most supported, they will split the vote and allow the not-as-popular dissimilar candidate to win.

If third parties are given an equal platform as Republicans and Democrats, under the current voting system, they will be used as spoilers in order to hurt the political party they are more ideologically aligned with. The voting system would need to be changed from first past the post into an alternative that would prevent spoilers from occurring. 

Ranked choice voting is an alternative system of voting that would help further boost third party representation. In a ranked choice voting system, a voter would rank the candidates they support in order of most support to least. Whichever candidate has the most support, would become elected. Third parties would benefit greatly from this system, as voters would not feel forced into supporting someone they did not really support.

Third parties overall need support in order for more people and differing ideology to be represented in America’s politics. Implementing these drastic changes could fix America’s broken system of governance.

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