The Rise of Third Parties

1347940699066 - Third Party by Phyllis Fuffingbog

by Lindsay Nicastro (Vice President) 

The opinions expressed in this piece are solely the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the BU College Democrats at large.

One myth within politics today is that each voter somehow “belongs” to either the Democratic or Republican Party. Third party candidate popularity has been steady throughout American politics. While former third parties may not have held a stronghold within the House, Senate or Executive office- many achieved political game changers. The Women’s National Party (1913-1930) was created by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns for the sole purpose of passing the 19th amendment or women’s right to vote. After the successful passage in 1920, they turned their attention to the supporting the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1896, the Populist Party (or at the time “People’s Party”) nominated William Jennings Bryan, a fighter for labor and agriculture who opposed big banks, who was later endorsed by the Democrat Party as the Presidential Nominee against William Mckinley.

Today, there are three major parties outside of our two party barrier: Libertarians, Green Party and the Constitution Party. The Libertarian Party was formed in 1971 and members boast being more socially liberal than Democrats and more fiscally conservative than Republicans. The Green party emphasizes social justice, environmentalism, peace and non-violence. The Green Party first gained recognition during Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign in 1996 and again in 2000. The Constitution Party defines it’s platform on the founding father’s documents; hence the name. They were founded in 1968 by George Wallace presidential campaign and have since focused on strict immigration laws and penalties towards illegal immigrants.

In this past 2013 Virginia Gubernatorial election, Robert Sarvis, a Libertarian candidate received almost 7% of the vote. This election was highly contested with slightly over 50,000 votes determining Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe as winner. Sarvis, who received 145,762 votes, is now being blamed by the Republican party for stealing voters away from Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli.

Third Party candidates have been the scapegoat for losing nominees for centuries. This seems unfair. As a nation, we do not make voting or participating politically mandatory- nor do we only provide a choice for Democrat or Republican on the ballot. In the past, third party candidates have shown to push other candidates into sharing more honest policy during campaigns or debates.  Third Party candidates do not run to give one opponent more competition and another an advantage. Ralph Nader did not run in 2000 or 2004 as the Green Party Candidate to steal votes from Gore or Kerry. I’m sure getting G.W.Bush elected was the farthest ideal situation for The Green Party (who again pledges pacifism and sustainability).

We need to start realizing that Americans are not drones forced to choose between Republicans and Democrats. We cannot be agitated over those who vote for a candidate they believe in, even if that candidate may not have a chance of winning (In theory, isn’t that the point of voting?). Not everything is black or white. At times people fall within the grey areas and giving  a voice to the minority parties can only benefit the American political system in the long run.


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