I'm sure you're probably tired of hearing about this topic. It seems like it never goes away and things just keep getting worse. When Donald Trump came around we all thought it was a joke, we all thought there's no way someone can be this horrible in real life, let alone become the Republican Party nominee for president. Alas, here we are.
I'm sure there are plenty of people horribly dissatisfied with the results on the other side as well. Hillary Clinton isn't perfect, far from it. Her deficiencies are glaring.
Hillary has become known as the poster child of bureaucracy, establishment politics, big money, and scandal. On the other side Donald Trump has become the poster child of bigotry, racism, idiocy, bullying, misogyny, the list can go on.
Everyone I talk to seems to be completely disillusioned when it comes to politics, and for very good reasons. Bernie Sanders, who was a very popular, progressive, candidate with a slate of fantastic ideas and a political record of integrity, toughness, and compassion, and who has been on the right side of history and issues since he first gained political office as mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1980, has decidedly lost the Democratic Presidential nomination. To those watching the election closely saw a pattern from the Democratic National Committee of blatantly hindering Bernie Sanders and aiding Hillary Clinton. There is a bread trail in each primary state of fishy activity from the Clinton campaign and from the DNC.
Bernie Sanders' supporters are now being sought after by both the Clinton campaign and the Trump campaign, and they are rightfully split on this. Sanders had a very loyal, young, and vocal supporter base, and a large percentage of these supporters are independent voters. This means that these voters chose Sanders because he most closely aligns with what they believe in, not because he is the chosen representative of the party they are loyal to.
Donald Trump is trying to appeal to the anti-establishment strain in the supporter base and Clinton is trying to appeal to loyalty to the Democratic Party, and by saying she more closely reflects progressive ideals than Donald Trump.
Clinton supporters try to guilt Sanders supporters by saying that if they don't join them then Trump would win. The idea they peddle is a vote for anyone other than Clinton will ensure a Trump victory.
Trump supporters try to appeal by pointing out the scandal and corruption of Clinton as a way to scare Bernie supporters by saying, "Well at least he's not as corrupt as Clinton."
This struggle has put Bernie Sanders supporters in a very uncomfortable tug of war, myself included.
A lot of Bernie Sanders supporters are people who do their homework. They read up on him, figured out what he's about, compared his policies and stances to Clinton, and came out choosing him. This is how making your choice should work when you vote, not just blindly choosing the party favorite.
This is the first presidential election season and primary season that I have paid intense attention to, and I have come to the same conclusion I'm sure a lot of us have come to: This system does not work.
I don't mean just the two party system, I mean the entire thing from top to bottom. The way we make political decisions over who to elect does not work.
I'll start with the primaries:
There are two parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, each party has their candidates who run to be the presidential nominee for their party. This time around the Republicans started their primaries with more than 15 candidates. The Democrats started with only 6, the field narrowing quickly down to just two, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
The way the primaries work for each party is that the candidates for their party must campaign to appeal to their base.
What does this mean?
As this year has shown the Republican base is primarily white, rural, uneducated, they value small government when it comes to taxes, and huge government when it comes to what you do with your body. They support war, detest immigration, and are largely Islamophobic and homophobic. (Note: This is not saying all Republicans are like this, more broad strokes on the people who voted for Trump)
.The Democratic Primaries have shown us that the Dem base is largely young, multi-ethnic, urban, supports raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, creating cheap access for education and healthcare. They want to keep the government off and out of their bodies, they support a path to citizenship, they oppose the TPP, they believe in global warming and believe something needs to be done about it, they detest big money in politics, and they are largely accepting of different cultures and customs. (This is also very broad strokes.)
This means that during the primary candidates on each side need to appeal to that base, whether they actually believe it or not, and since the base of one party is not necessarily the general views of the average person it is what gets pandered to.
What this leads to is candidates going as far to the left or right as they can to appeal to their base while alienating the rest of the populace and then once they gain the nomination they pivot back to the center to try to appeal to everyone else, alienating and turning back on the people in their base that they had made disingenuous claims to. So for example, to appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters, Clinton said she opposed the TPP, and now it seems as if she is going back on that.
The problem this also provides is the fact there are only two choices and these two choices might not be the best two choices. This is where I'm going to start getting radical in this ever growing post.
The way we have our primaries is stupid.
The better way to make an informed decision is to have everyone, from all parties (yes including Libertarian and Green Party), on the same debate stage and to hold the primaries not between parties but between individual candidates.
What this would look like:
Say you have 5 Republican candidates, 5 Dem candidates, 5 Libertarian candidates, and 5 Green Party candidates (with some kind of limit per party so it doesn't become 15 Republicans vs 2 Green Party), they will all be on the same stage of a debate, all talking about the same issues and arguing the validity of each viewpoint. The way we currently have it is to have a stage full of people generally agreeing with each other and then throwing petty insults about penis size and haircuts to distract from the fact that they all generally believe the same things.
This would help to actually see different viewpoints and have candidates discuss issues they likely wouldn't have to deal with in a debate with only their own party candidates on the stage.
From the debates come the primary elections, instead of voting for either a Repub candidate or a Dem candidate you would have the choice of all of the candidates. With four parties to choose from that are all given the same level platform to campaign from. It's likely that different candidates from different parties will win different states that would normally be firmly states for a certain party.
Here's where it gets more interesting:
The way the candidates for president will be chosen will be the two candidates who win the most states, not delegates, not super delegates, simply states, will be the two candidates for president. It is possible that there could be two Republican candidates or two Democratic candidates, or Green Party or Libertarian. But this would mean that the two people who the country voted for the most would go up against each other, these would be the candidates who most closely reflect the ideals and cultures of the voters, instead of just one group of people.
I am not naive, I know that if this were to ever happen it's a whiles away from now. But I feel this is a better alternative to what we currently have and would lead to a more honest political process where we could elect politicians truly is a democratic way where your vote would actually matter.
As for this years election, back to my point about the tug of war for Bernie supporters, (sorry this post has really gotten away from me and if you are still reading then kudos you deserve a cookie!)
We are currently left with two candidates who are just objectively bad. That's not just me saying this, according to CNN both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have astonishingly bad favorable ratings, with Trump registering at 57% unfavorable to Clinton with 52%.
But here's the thing: There ARE other choices!
I know third parties have gotten a lot of slack for ruining the elections for one party or the other, but we also haven't had a third party ticket in a presidential debate recently.
The Commission of Presidential Debates requires that candidates must poll at 15% in order to be included in the debates. So far Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson comes closest to this number polling at 11% and Green Party candidate Jill Stein is polling at 6%.
Normally a lack of funding and media exposure would hinder these third party candidates making it impossible for them to reach the 15% but now with the use of social media, as Bernie Sanders has done, they have the ability to build a grassroots organization to raise awareness of themselves potentially being able to reach the 15%.
The only chance these candidates have is to be on the debate stages. If both of these candidates reach the 15% we will be able to break the two party system and give this country an actual choice of who it wants to lead.
This is why it is crucial that we educate ourselves about these candidates. Do your homework, read articles about them, visit their websites, read their stances on the issues, If you like them, spread the word about them, maybe donate a bit of cash, share the articles with friends, with family. Sign petitions to get them on ballots and on debate stages, get involved!
The system is broken but it's not unfixable. If we make the effort and do the work we can change the system and fix it for the better.
I'm going to include links to the websites of both Jill Stein and Gary Johnson (the names are hyperlinked, yay Bryan knows how to internet!), as well the political quiz ISideWith, which is a useful tool to see where each candidate stands in relation to yourself, as well as details about candidates tax plans,
ISideWith: Political Quiz
Jill Stein: Green Party Candidate - A Green New Deal
Gary Johnson: Libertarian Candidate - "Make America Sane Again"
Don't let people guilt you for voting with your conscious. Vote for who you believe is the best person to lead this country, unless you think that person is Donald Trump, because then you'd be wrong.
Again, if you've stuck with me through this whole post then I greatly commend you, I don't think I meant to write this much but alas here we are. Proof of a complete reading of this article may entitle you to one beer, or hug, or high five from yours truly.