Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Third Party Candidates

Third Party Candidates
by Michael Aron

As we are only too well aware, we are in the middle of a presidential campaign season. It is the top story in the news every day. If you follow the mainstream media, however, you would never know that there are 14 candidates running for president. Who are the other 12 candidates? They are independent candidates or members of various third parties. (wiki has a list)

"Third party" is a term commonly used to refer to political parties other than the Democratic and Republican parties such as the Constitution Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Green Party, just to name a few. Among the many challenges that third parties face in the United States, is the frequent exclusion from major debates and media coverage, denial of ballot access and consequently the difficulty in raising campaign contributions large enough to compete with the two major parties.

Third parties perform a very important function by expressing unique view points, which may seem quite radical at times. However, if one of these view points gains enough popularity, it is many times adopted by one or both of the major parties, thus causing a shift in party philosophies.

At a time when people seem to be dissatisfied with the two major parties, it is more important than ever that those third parties not be ignored or sidelined.

Many voters, even if they agree with a third party candidate’s views, won’t vote for that candidate because they think that he or she can’t win, leading to a self-fulfilling prophesy. With more media coverage and inclusion in debates, well informed voters might be more willing to vote for a third party candidate.
With enough support, one of these third parties could grow large enough to replace the Democratic or Republican party as one of the two major parties. After all, the Republican Party was a third party at the time President Lincoln was elected as the first Republican President.

To provide a fair political process, third parties need to be included in political debates and be given equal coverage in the media. The American voters deserve to hear the “whole story.”