The Two-Party System is Broken

Trump & Clinton
Donald Trump by Rob13; Hillary Clinton by Gage Skidmore
I wrote this post a couple weeks ago. I suppose it might be more than a coincidence that I'm finally getting around to posting it on the day of the first televised debate between the two major party candidates who have been allowed to participate; however, I wrote it before I was thinking about the debates.

Something occurred to me recently while I was mowing the yard in the Mississippi heat (93 degrees with a heat index of 103 due to the humidity). I really don't want to see either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the White House. I'm not claiming that they are equally bad. I think I've been quite clear that I do not believe that is the case. Compared to Trump, I regard Clinton as at least a somewhat lesser evil in at least some ways. And as I've said before, I would probably try to force myself to vote for her if I lived in a swing state. It is getting harder by the day to imagine that I'd be able to go through with it, but I'd probably try. Still, I'm not crazy about the prospect of either of them being our next president.

What sort of political system leaves us with these two candidates? This is the question many of us have been asking ourselves, isn't it? The answer seems obvious: a broken one. Our best and brightest are not running for president. They are too smart, not wealthy enough, or both. At least one of our two large political parties was revealed as having been anything but neutral during the primary process. Not to be outdone, the other party nominated a reality-TV star with no political experience (or impulse control). Our corporate-owned news media exerts an undue influence on our elections by deciding which candidates to cover and how to cover them. This is how we end up with two of the least desirable candidates we've ever had. But of course, we ourselves play a role in that too.

When the system works the way it is supposed to work, we end up with at least two viable candidates. We evaluate their positions on the issues and other factors we deem relevant and decide which candidate to support. Those of us who are at least mildly oriented to reality recognize that no candidate will ever be perfect, and we do not pretend that the one we have decided to support is perfect. And even when we feel like we are selecting a candidate simply because he or she is the lesser evil, we decide that it is an evil with which we can live.

Our upcoming election seems different. At least, it seems that way to me. I'm having an increasingly difficult time imagining myself supporting either of the two major party candidates. This is one of those cases when the lesser evil seems far too evil. And so, I am leaning toward voting for a third party candidate in November. There is plenty about Jill Stein and the Green Party I do not like. Actually, the list seems to get longer by the day. At the same time, when I compare what I do not like about Stein with what I do not like about Clinton and Trump, much of it ends up seeming relatively trivial. I know Stein cannot win, but that really isn't the point.

What is the point then? The point is that it may be time to reject the two-party system that seems to be failing us. This election seems like something of a test, a test of whether we will continue to go along with a broken system and vote for whoever is placed in front of us no matter how objectionable they may be. This should be a great year for third party candidates, but will it? I just wish I felt better about any of the third party options. Instead, this is an election where I'm more likely to cast my vote against what I am increasingly perceiving as a broken system than for any particular candidate.