The Importance of Third parties


Matthew Drachman, Editor in Chief Float

If you have ever voted in an election, there are always two big names that come up, the Republicans, and the Democrats. These have been the biggest two political parties in America for quite a long time, ever since the fall of the Whigs in the 1800’s. Both parties have struggled against each other and have exchanged power time and time again throughout our country’s history. With them on the top, it is hard to imagine that this country doesn’t just have two parties.


George Washington, in his farewell address, warned against having political parties, saying that they were a way to subvert the people.


“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”


After the 1st president gave up his power after only two terms, political factioning began, and the next president would belong to a political party, The Federalists. This would lead to the first major rivalry between two parties, which were the already mentioned Federalists, and the Democratic-Republicans. Ironic isn’t it?


In Modern America, the Republicans and the Democrats seem to have an iron grip on power. However, they are not the only two parties that Americans can choose from. Parties such as the Libertarians and the Greens have been around for decades, though it is hard for them to get traction with two dominant parties, along with a lot of Americans, considering them “throw away” vote options. Despite this, these parties play a vital role when it comes to how our republic functions.


Major parties always come from smaller ones. If and when one of the major parties now breaks apart, a new party will be there to fill its place. That is what happened when the Democratic-Republicans split and gave birth to the democractic party, and when the Whigs fell and gave rise to the Republicans. Knowing what these parties are and how they can affect the political balance in this country is essential when looking into the future.


Third parties also give millions of Americans a third option when the two major parties don’t seem favorable. Giving an open perspective on an issue.


“A wasted vote is voting for someone you don’t believe in,” Stated the 2016 Libertarian candidate for president, Gary Johnson. 


Compared to their major counterparts, these third parties don’t have as nearly as much fundraising power compared to their dominant counterparts.


“…95% of the candidates that make it to high level elections are either Democrat or Republican and this is probably because the two parties have major funding, power and influence. And because smaller parties don’t have these resources, 3rd party candidates generally don’t get a say…,” RHS Junior Justin Koller stated. Justin identifies closely with the Libertarian Party. 


This is a problem that we see all across America. Third parties generally are snubbed when it comes to major advertising, and other forms of media. On top of that, they are snubbed from many ballots across America.


However, despite third parties and their struggle for public office, these parties do have more of an impact than some might think.


Small amounts of votes can make all the difference in an election. President Bush was famous for winning Florida just by a few hundred votes. Ben McAdams won the 4th congressional district here in Utah just by a few hundred votes.


Despite the tag of “throw away” or “protest” vote, there is some merit to that statement. In Canada, there are many parties that belong to a similar world view, and this sometimes splits the vote so that a more united branch can take power.


Here in America, 500 hundred votes can make all the difference in the world. In 2016, the Libertarians won nearly 4.7 million votes across the United States, and critics acclaim this to the small margin victories in some swing states that allowed then candidate Donald Trump to become president.


Despite the major problems that our country has when viewing third party platforms, they have a massive impact on our country, and the beautiful part about it all, is that a lot of it goes unnoticed. When it is providing people with a third option, the possibility of one of them gaining major status in the future, to them swinging elections. Third parties are important in how our republic functions.


“If we really want to know who is responsible for the mess we’re in, all we have to do is look in the mirror. You and I own this country, and we are responsible for what happens to it.” – Ross Perot, Independent presidential candidate in 1992 and 1996.