The only way to break or weaken the hold of our two party systems is to sufficiently threaten their power base. They will only change if they are forced to, and this needs to happen. Otherwise, the status quo will be maintained and we will not only get more of the same, but things will get progressively worse. And so what are we to do about this? Many believe there isn’t anything we can do, that we are powerless. On an individual level we are, but perhaps not if enough take to expressing displeasure at the polls.
I have my own method for expressing displeasure at the polls. I no longer vote for major party candidates, and haven’t for a long time. Many think they have to or it’s the same as throwing their vote away because a third party candidate cannot win. This is certainly one way of looking at it, but it’s not the only way. I know the person I’m voting for isn’t going to win, but that’s not the point. The message I’m sending by not voting for a major candidate is the point.
Withholding my vote from them is a definite way to get across my displeasure and mistrust of them. The more people do this, the more votes they lose. As percentages for third party candidates rises and theirs falls, even though they may still have control, they will definitely sit up and take notice. They don’t want to see this happen. If their voter bases are threatened in meaningful way then perhaps some actual reform can occur and better choices appear. Refusing to vote at all, or voting for someone who you really disapprove of, is to truly throw your vote away.
There are two other methods I employ to express displeasure at the polls. In my state we have a semi-open primary system. Voters must register as Republican or Democrat or they cannot vote. This is an example of the stranglehold these two parties have on the electoral process. What if I don’t like either enough to want to register as belonging to that party? I’m out of luck and cannot vote.
This is where it is clear that the election isn’t about the candidates so much as it is about the parties themselves. So, every time I vote in a primary I change the party I’m registered with. This is my way of telling them that I’m not happy with either party, and also that it isn’t any of their business anyway. I’m interested in individual candidates. The parties have proven themselves to be an unproductive nuisance.
Lastly, I will withhold my vote whenever there is only one individual to choose from. It is troublesome to me when there is no one to challenge them. This occurs often at the local level. Only one choice is no choice at all. Of course these people “win” because no one is running against them. But I will not “vote” for them, as this is not reflective of a democratic process.
The general consensus among the public seems to be that our political system is seriously flawed, if not broke, and has been for a long time. The hallmark of the monopoly the Democrats and Republicans have on the electoral process is embarrassment and shame. They look like fools, and by extension so do we. More importantly, they are reckless with their actions and words, and have no one’s best interests at heart except their own.
I realize that alone I make no difference and it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. However, I am uncomfortable with doing nothing, and if it is within my power to do something, no matter how insignificant, than I will do it. Hopefully, more people will find the little things that are within their power to do, and do them. The little things do tend to add up after all. If we want change we must start somewhere. This is mine.