Opinion: Point/Counterpoint: Blue or Red?

Matt Vroom

Matt Vroom

By Adam Zmick

Blue or red? What’s your favorite color? What if you like orange, purple, or green? Tough nuggets for you; blue and red is all we’ve got.

This is what the two-party system says to the people of the United States.

Our nation was not designed to have a two-party system. Nowhere in the Constitution is a political party mentioned. In fact, George Washington, the only president to become elected without a partisan election, warned us against it:

“(It) agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one … against another … it opens the door to foreign influence and corruption.”

Democrats and Republicans claim the United States is this world’s bastion of liberty and freedom, but do they ever try to explain what those words really mean?

Webster’s Dictionary calls freedom the “state of not being coerced or constrained,” and it defines liberty as “the power of choice.” With that in mind, why are the elections in this free-and-liberty-filled country confined to just two choices?

Those aligned with the two “super parties” might tell you that third-party candidates are free to run and that their supporters are free to vote for them. That might be true, but current election laws are slanted so strongly against third parties that anyone who disagrees with the two major parties is effectively disenfranchised. People are forced to choose between one evil, another evil or having their voice go unheard.

There are many possible remedies that would increase our freedoms and liberties on Election Day. Instant-runoff voting would increase our power of choice by allowing us to rank the candidates instead of picking just one. Explained more thoroughly at Instantrunoff.com, this system would counter the spoiler effect. It also would allow citizens to vote according to their true preference without sacrificing the strategic effectiveness of their votes.

Providing free airtime to viable candidates in the months leading up to an election not only would give third parties a fighting chance, it also would counter some of the big-money influence on our current two-party system.

You might ask yourself, “Why should TV companies have to sacrifice potential profit from commercials?” I’ll tell you why. TV broadcasters were given licenses to use the airwaves – publicly owned property – for free. Those same licenses also require that TV broadcasters use those airwaves for the public good. I’m sure I’m not the only one who views the current situation to be more detrimental than beneficial to public.

The reason you never hear about these common-sense solutions is because a third, fourth or fifth party would have to take power away from the two major parties that are too childish to share.

In general, both Democrats and Republicans can be counted on to do what’s best for their party rather than what’s best for the country. When you think about it that way, we don’t really have a two-party system in the United States. All we really have is a one-and-a-half-party system. The whole country is either red with blue splotches or blue with red splotches. Either way, it’s an ugly pattern, and it’s about time we changed it.

Adam Zmick is a senior in engineering His column will appear next Thursday. He can be reached at [email protected]