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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

I think you’re right, but the government thinks you’re wrong

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-a1ac7776-545a-cbbd-51c7-93042ece76c0">As a person who will probably major in international relations, I like to tell people that I’m a political science major who hates politics. That’s the truth, in specific regards to American politics. I believe that every modern political system on this planet has more than its share of flaws. The reason, though, I hold an especially high level of hatred for American politics is because of the two-party system.

I actually wrote a paper about this for my Democracy and Dictatorship course last fall. However, you are looking at the Carletonian for a relatively lighthearted reading, not a homework assignment. So I won’t copy and paste my old essay here, no matter how tempting it is. But getting back to my point, there is something seriously screwed up with our two-party system. The fact that the endless array of political ideologies represented by the electorate is simplified to basically two candidates in all recent elections is hard to swallow. Long before the election, many people I know were either going to refuse to vote or were going to vote for a third-party candidate.

Now, I have no tolerance for people not voting if they are eligible to do so and are not facing any other obstacles, like illness. In any democratic system, using your vote is vital in expressing yourself. But when it comes to voting for third-party candidates, I am quite conflicted. If a third-party candidate that is running most closely elides with your views, you should be able to vote for that person. However, because of this two-party system, it’s quite likely, if not inevitable, that your vote will not get anywhere in the final decision. Thus, what I believe you should do conflicts with what the government structure thinks you should do. Whatever happened to the whole idea of the government working to serve the people?

I spent my summer interning for Vote Smart, an organization dedicated to providing nonpartisan information about candidates to the community. Over the course of those ten weeks, I came to realize that all politicians–Democrats, Republicans and everyone in between–are in this dirty game dedicated to gaining whatever edge necessary over their opponents.

This is why candidates are constantly changing their views during the campaign process, and why, when they are elected, they very rarely follow through with their plans. If you think about it, with this system, nobody really wins in the long run. Yes, that includes the politicians themselves, as they must modify their opinions in order to obtain the necessary traction within their parties for the general election. It’s a harsh reality that many of us just haven’t realized.

And unfortunately, there is no simple solution to this. The legislative efforts it would take to end our two-party system are further proof of how ineffective our government system is. And even if we were somehow able to do the transition to a multi-party system, like that of many European nations, those systems have their own flaws to deal with.

The point I’m trying to get at here is that no political structure is perfect. The only realistic thing we can do is just accept our system in its current shape. For those of you who had a deep devotion to any third-party candidates this past election, know that you are in my thoughts and that I truly wish your vote  could have could gained more traction.

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