2016: The Year of Third Parties and Independents?

If you could describe the 2016 election, it would be the year of alternative. This election season, we have seen the rise of independents and third-partiers reach mainstream American attention. For example, Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont,  rise in the primaries behind established Democratic politician Hillary Clinton. On the Republican side, Donald Trump has risen in popularity, despite his own inconsistent party and ideological affiliations. In addition, Gary Johnson, the former Republican Governor of New Mexico, became the presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party.  Furthermore, Jill Stein of the Green Party has advertised herself as the “Plan B” if Bernie Sanders does not win the nomination of the Democratic Party. Finally, you have National Review contributor David French, who, despite his lack of political experience, has been promoted by Bill Kristol  as an conservative independent for Trump. Given these developments, it appears that the era of the two-party system of Democrats and Republicans is reaching its Gotterdammerung.

I, however, welcome these developments. It’s time that America realize that there are other options than the Republican and Democratic Parties. In my first blog, I expressed hope that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton bring these parties to ruin. In his Farewell Address, George Washington warned of political parties, arguing that they “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“. For these reasons, Washington chose to not run for any political party during either of his presidential bids. If George Washington were alive today, he would lecture the nation – nay, the world – about how right he was.

In addition, the notion of parties getting destroyed from outside influences is not unprecedented. In 1848, Zachary Taylor was nominated the Whig Party presidential candidate and won the election. However, Taylor’s lack of firm beliefs or political experience – in fact, he had never voted before running for President,  led the Whig Party to ruin. Over a decade later in 1860, a new party was elected to the Presidency: the Republican Party, led by Abraham Lincoln. Over the next century and a half, the Republican Party alternated with the Democratic Party over control of the White House and Congress. But now it looks like both the Republicans and Democrats are getting their Zachary Taylor moments.

In the last election cycle, the Independent Voter Network published an article titled “50 Reasons To Register Independent”. Two of my favorite reasons are reasons 14 and 15, which are:

14. Democrats- are you honestly happy with President Obama?

15. Republicans- were you honestly happy with President Bush?

I liked these questions so much, I shall paraphrase them: Are you honestly happy with your own party or their presumptive nominees? Are you honestly proud to be a Republican or a Democrat? If you are not, you can choose to leave them and follow your conscience. That’s what Johnson, Stein, French, and so many other third partiers and independents are doing this year. Will you be one of them?

Think about that in November.

 

God Bless America,

The Centrist Voice

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