For many Americans, voting has become a matter of compromise, choosing between two candidates with neither fully aligning with the beliefs they hold. For some, this has led to distaste and distrust of the two-party system currently in place.
Peter Buhl, a sophomore in mechanical engineering from Godfrey, Illinois, said those compromises in voting are always bad, and voters should be able to vote how they want without fear of not having an impact.
“I think the system is flawed because of how old it is. Newer generations don’t want to subscribe to the entirety of a singular party, which leads us to have to pick [a party] that is closest to our values. But since there’s only two parties, there’s obviously not a lot of really viable options,” Buhl said.
Sophomore economics and finance major Amanda Clark, of Alton, Illinois, said although she isn’t voting third party this year, she may do so in the future.
“I’m definitely not voting third party this year, but I might in the future if the two-party system was a little more disbanded,” Clark said. “[The two-party system] divides us so heavily, and you have to fully commit to one party. The Democrats don’t capture all my beliefs, … and the same is true for the Republicans. We need more party options for people who want them.”
Clark said she is not fully aligned with former Vice President Joe Biden’s political views, but she plans to vote for him. Her reasoning is she does not want President Donald Trump to win reelection, and no other candidate has a chance of beating him.
“I feel like this year, [voting third party] would only take a vote away from Joe Biden, and in America’s history, I don’t think a third party candidate has ever won. Joe Biden is really the only option to beat Trump,” Clark said.
In a sense, Clark is correct. The last U.S. president to be neither Democratic or Republican was Millard Fillmore in 1850. The widespread unlikelihood of third party candidates winning is referred to by some political scientists as the Nader Effect. The Nader Effect is what happens when a third party candidate weakens a major party by taking some of their votes, but still doesn’t win.
In the 2000 Presidential Election, George W. Bush had the Republican nomination, Al Gore had the Democratic nomination, and Ralph Nader had the Green Party Nomination. When the election came around, the liberal vote was split between Nader and Gore, and Bush won the election since his voter base stayed relatively constant.
Despite the Nader Effect, junior computer engineering major David Mathus, of Godfrey, Illinois said he thinks people should vote by policy, and not by party lines or identity. Mathus said he doesn’t quite know who he’s voting for yet, but he’s leaning toward Libertarian Party Candidate Jo Jorgensen.
“I don’t subscribe to one party, because tribalism in politics is very, very dangerous. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman, white, Black, orange, purple or what,” Mathus said. “What matters is what you’re going to do. If someone votes based on identity, like people voting for Hillary [Clinton] based on her being a woman, that feels sexist to me, because you’re voting based only on her gender.”
Mathus said he has a serious problem with the “Vote Blue No Matter Who” movement, which focused on pushing people who dislike Trump to vote for the Democratic nominee, regardless of policy.
“To me, getting rid of Trump is a good justification [for voting for Biden], but it’s still a cop out … A lot of people on both sides [last election said] ‘I don’t want Trump to win, so I’ll vote Hillary’ or ‘Hillary is corrupt, so I’m voting for Trump’,” Mathus said. “I’d like to see more party representation, with plenty more parties. The two-party system has been very detrimental to the growth of the nation. It only allows for two opinions, not a large amount of diverse voices. If we had more parties, there would probably be smarter, better-informed citizens, because we’d have to know what we’re voting for.”
For more information, visit the Libertarian Party’s website, the Green Party’s website, the U.S. Taxpayers’ Party’s website or the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s website.