Lesser of Two Evils: The Importance of Third Parties

by Jack Galliart

Throughout the recent history of American elections, the idea of the “third-party” has been fading out of existence. This ideal has been used by some Americans as a way to break the societal norms placed by the Republican and Democratic parties. When the United States of America first received the sovereignty that the citizens now enjoy, our founding fathers built the Constitution on the idea of alleviating factionalism, which is where the third parties come in. 

In a poll by Morning Consult, six percent of voters in 2016 decided to vote for neither Trump or Clinton, instead voting by third party. In comparison, only two percent of voters in 2020 decided that they would vote against Trump or Biden by voting for a third-party candidate. Now, this statistic falls under a deeper stemming issue that is the fact that third-party candidacy is becoming more scarce by the year. With recent elections anywhere from 35 to 60 percent of voters never cast their ballot, depending on multiple different circumstances. One of said circumstances is a lack of enthusiasm towards either main-party candidate. Normally, this is where third-party candidates should come into the fray, providing people with someone who could more accurately represent their beliefs. 

Take the Libertarian party and Jo Jorgensen as an example. One of the many ideas that was floated before the 2020 Election was the fact that if Jorgensen could pull 5 percent of the popular vote, a third party would be able to attend the presidential debates and display their beliefs to a much wider audience than just their supporters. Now, this did not happen as Jorgensen only won approximately 1.2 percent of the popular vote. One of the many reasons for the dissolving third parties is a lack of ability to be seen by wide audiences. According to a 2017 article from CNBC, 65 percent of people skipped online political ads, one of the ways that third party candidates make their ideas be known.

Another reason is the radicalization of both the Republican and Democrat sides of the spectrum. As these sides spread farther and farther away from each other, third-party voters are pressed to vote for main party candidates because they feel their vote would not count without it. As most registered independent voters lean towards one side or the other (49 percent for Democrat, 44 percent for Republican), the true nature of the third party and independent support has begun to falter. With everything that has been seen throughout the Trump presidency, it was easy to see why independent and third-party voters decided to vote for a main party, however that took away from the ideals of the third-party candidates. 

In our current political climate, having more options than far-left and far-right is exponentially more important than it has ever been. I have heard the phrase “lesser of the two evils” uttered at a massive scale, and that just shows the importance of having more than two candidates to vote for, and gives the American people in the middle more options than just the two main candidates. In the end, as the gap between the American people grows more and more, something needs to act as a bridge. If there is no bridge, the people will collapse into the abyss of the choice between the two evils.