EDITORIAL: Options

Major parties aren’t alone in battle to win presidency

It’s been a foregone conclusion for two months, but Joe Biden clinched the Democratic Party nomination for president last week after several states held their party primaries. He faces Republican incumbent Donald Trump on the November ballot. Formal nominations will be made at each party’s national convention in August, but both Trump and Biden now have the delegates needed to win their respective parties’ sanction.

These two parties are so dominant in American politics that educational curricula even teach that our country has a two party political system.

Growing numbers of Americans, however, are becoming disillusioned with those two parties and wish they had more choices.

In fact, they do. Other parties do exist and at least a dozen other candidates will be on the presidential ballot.

Candidates representing 15 different parties received votes in the 2016 presidential election.

Some are single-issue groups, focusing on marijuana legalization or improving treatment of veterans. Others are more generalized in their approach. For example, the Libertarian Party, which has long been the country’s largest “third party,” supports fiscal conservatism and social liberalism, essentially splitting the all-conservative platforms of the Republicans and the all-liberal planks of Democrats. The Green Party supports environmental and progressive causes, and has gained strength in recent years.

Several major issues recently have become flash points, and more Americans could look to alternative candidates who might offer more appealing positions or solutions.

The power given police and the way it’s being used in some areas has gained new prominence in recent weeks, as have renewed calls for racial equity. The viral pandemic, officials’ reactions and their effect on our nation’s economy also could influence many votes.

To be sure, convincing large numbers of voters to look beyond the two dominant choices is a challenge, but doing so could improve American politics. In addition to the obvious benefit of offering more choices and reducing single-party dominance in various regions and entire states, a wider array of political parties would help ensure that more viewpoints are represented in our halls of governance.

Multiple parties could also pressure elected officials to truly engage in the political process, negotiating compromises and forming coalitions in order to advance policies that will earn the support of larger numbers of voters. Our country’s growing apathy, and steadily falling voter participation, could be reversed if more people saw their opinions represented and defended in our legislative bodies.

Most of the world’s countries have several parties representing larger, and more diverse, numbers of positions.

Nothing other than tradition prevents that from happening here.

Given the level of dissatisfaction with our current political parties, this might be the time to look for valid alternatives — they might just be out there.