Can We Break Away From Our Two Party System?

Can We Break Away From Our Two Party System?
Nick Brothers - The Free Weekly Managing Editor

Nick Brothers – The Free Weekly Managing Editor

So, who did you vote against?

It’s a sad day for Arkansas Democrats, as nearly every office for up for election was taken by a Republican candidate in this year’s mid-terms. For Republicans though, the tide has shifted to their favor, where the newly elected officials plan to remove some of the “liberal” programs put forth, and ideally balance out President Obama.

A lot of people complain that every election is just picking whoever sucks less in their opinion and values. I can’t remember the last time I heard a majority of people openly endorsing a candidate for office based on their track record and values.

Obviously, you could say Tom Cotton was the most popular candidate, but in all reality, most people likely vote candidates in because of what their party affiliation says (Democratic party, Republican party). My guess is most people vote along party lines and hope for the best. I know there are plenty who take the time to make an informed decision, though as well.

The whole two party system leaves an unpleasant feeling in my gut. There’s something just plain wrong about feeling like the only vote you have as a citizen has to be used in a lesser-of-two evils decision making process. It’s become a farce when the political debates we, the public, get from our candidates are just acceptable verbal abuse between the candidates about how the other is a bad decision to vote for versus clearly answering the debate questions. I imagine most people are left thinking, “Great. I don’t like either of these a-holes.”

I’m not spouting any new ideas here, but I wanted to take a look at how things got to be in this democratic, two-party system. Sure, there are other candidates on the ballot, but most people would say you “wasted” your vote if they find out you voted for the Green or Libertarian candidate.

Mark Swaney, of the Arkansas Green Party, ran for the Senate this year. He only received 1.98 percent. The Libertarian candidate, Nathan LaFrance, only received 2.03 percent. Looking at those numbers, maybe we shouldn’t call them third parties. A democracy is supposedly about choice. Based on the consistent numbers of third parties getting such low results, does it honestly feel like that? In my opinion, no.

A lot of sources cite money and campaign contributions as why third parties end up becoming the seemingly younger brothers and sisters hoping to hang out with their older siblings — the Dems and Republicans. According to data collected by, Mark Pryor (D) raised $11,663,210, and spent $13,484,442. Tom Cotton raised $8,082,815 and spent $6,459,648. The website’s data claims that Swaney and LaFrance raised and spent $0.

Here’s an anomaly for you. In the Rhode Island gubernatorial race, Bob Healey received 22 percent of the popular vote and he only spent $35 on his campaign. How did he do it?

Imagine if ballots didn’t display what political party the candidates affiliated with. Ideally, this would inspire people to really know who they wanted to vote for. If this happened yesterday, this would likely cause poll booth chaos, but with some preparation it might lead to more people leaving the idea of only voting across party lines on the ballot. It’s not a perfect idea, but it could work.

My point, that feels like throwing a pebble at a brick wall, is where is the choice on election day? We do get more than two candidates, but every time we’re left with the same realization; Democrats and Republicans have sealed their seats for the foreseeable future, and it doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon.

Thanks for reading.

Categories: Commentary