Third Parties Matter


Gary Johnson, 2016 candidate for president for the Libertarian Party

Casey Lanza-Lang, Staff Writer

With arguably one of the most controversial presidential elections in the history of the United States steadily underway, the idea of having a third party candidate win the presidency is very appealing to many Americans. Anything to keep crooked Hillary and bigot Trump out of office, right? Maybe if Americans actually knew the names of their third party candidates, that could be a reality. The real truth is this: third party candidates are not allowed to debate, they don’t get a fraction of the media coverage that Republican and Democrat nominees do, and their names are not common knowledge in the way that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s are. This has to change.

How many times have you heard Gary Johnson’s name on the news? How about Jill Stein’s? I’d be surprised if you had said once. Oh wait, maybe you heard about that one incident with Johnson who didn’t realize Aleppo was a city in Syria. I can almost guarantee you’ve never heard anything positive about the candidates. I can also guarantee you haven’t heard anything about their policies. Why would you? The whole country can be divided into Democrats and Republicans, can’t it? Should it? If Americans were informed about what the Green Party stands for and what the Libertarian Party stands for, maybe they would change their views. Maybe they wouldn’t. How would we ever know, how could we ever know, if we don’t even see their presidential nominees in the media? We would have to do all of the digging ourselves. That’s not fair. Democrats and Republicans shouldn’t steal the stage all of the time.

Speaking of stages, do you ever see third party candidates on the national debate stage? I certainly never have. You see Republicans and Democrats debate three times before every election. If the third party candidates do debate, it’s maybe once, and they don’t get the live television and news coverage that Democrats and Republicans do. If Americans don’t see all of their options debating with one another and presenting opposing views, how are they supposed to make an educated choice about who they want to run the country? They can’t. Many people are voting blindly and that isn’t acceptable.

The polls alone are all the proof we need. RealClearPolitics is a political website that stays incredibly accurate with their polls, posting multiple new ones on a daily basis. Looking through their polls for the past month or so, I’ve noticed one thing in particular. Third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are lucky if they’re getting 10% of the vote. That’s 10% of the entire vote, going to both of them. Not 10% going to each of them, individually. It’s 10% going to the both of them, combined. Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who have both had incredible amounts of media coverage, as well as three debates under their belts, have around 40%, on their own. They each have 40% (or more) of almost every vote. I promise you the numbers would be shifted if our citizens could actually get to know the third party candidates and what they stand for.

Third party candidates have to debate. They have to have equal news/media coverage. There is no way around that. It must happen. If it doesn’t, Americans will be forever doomed to vote for candidates that they’re settling for, purely because of what party they are associated with. Especially now, if you hate Trump and you hate Hillary, wouldn’t you like to vote for someone completely different? While you can vote for them, there is little to no chance of Johnson or Stein taking the election. It’s this year’s presidential election that perfectly displays my point. Without equal representation, the presidential nominees, Democratic, Republican, Green Party, Libertarian, or any other association, will never have an equal chance of winning an election. Personally, I am not okay with this and you shouldn’t have to be either.