By Emily Kulp
There is no questioning the fact that this presidential election has been strange, unpredictable, and unprecedented in just about every way possible. With four days (!) until the election, I find the biggest takeaway from these past 14 months is that the current political system for electing a president of the United States is no longer functioning.
The 2016 election, which focused almost entirely on the personal controversies and wrongdoings of the candidates, as well as the shock-value of the offensive comments made by Donald Trump and his celebrity appeal, shows a deterioration of the two-party system that has governed politics for about two centuries.
In the final two debates, Trump and Clinton appeared to answer many policy questions with the same general answer. The distinction between their responses was only present in their delivery and sideline derogatory comments towards one another. The very fact that Trump identified as a pro-life Democrat for years before this election and that the decision most voters are making between the candidates is based more on the relative merits and detriments of Clinton’s emails and Trump’s comments about sexually assaulting women demonstrates the futility of the two-party system.
Sadly, though the two-party system is no longer functioning, it will not be disappearing anytime soon unless we do something. Currently, the immense wealth and name recognition candidates retain, to say nothing of the power of super PACs and superdelegates, edges out many otherwise viable candidates. It’s no coincidence that one of our nominees is a billionaire and the other is one half of an uber-wealthy political couple. The long history of the two-party system in our government also makes us hesitate to change, as it seems easier to stay with what works rather than risking something new.
Yet the 2016 presidential election proves we are at a crossroads. Now, by supporting or voting for a third-party candidate we are not just wasting our votes or being unrealistic. We are showing that we are ready for the change that is imminently before us. Fear holds us back from understanding that such stark division between two parties either blinds people from seeing new perspectives or melds the viewpoints of the parties together. This election has shown both Democrats and Republicans either blindly supporting their nominee, despite new revelations and scandals, or seeking to part from the two major parties.
Instead of fearing the lack of control that leaving the two-party system would bring us, we must embrace having less control. Controlling two parties has led to two corrupt and power-hungry nominees who have spent more time arguing about personal grudges and issues than the important problems our country faces today. Beyond whatever happens November 8, we need to look forward to embracing candidates beyond the traditional two-party system. Instead of holding onto something that no longer exists, we need to lend our political system a hand and try something new.