One of the things that blindsided me when I was able to vote for the first time in the 1996 U.S. presidential elections[wiki] was that there were more people running for president than I was aware of. The fact of the matter was that I was a very young voter who was a few months into my senior year of high school, and it was important to me to vote. Still, I was astounded that I had never heard of any of these other people, parties, or what it was that they stood for.
It’s true that Ross Perot[wiki] had his run with the Reform Party, and the Green Party always seems to be popping up here and there. The thing is that the U.S. election system is not a strict, one or the other choice. There can be, and there are, more parties to choose from other than just Democrat or Republican. Yes, in America, there is an unspoken, multi-party system, and if wasn’t for the massive amount of personal wealth that Perot used for his own campaign in 1996, his third party probably wouldn’t have ended up as front and center on Saturday Night Live skits, yet alone in the debates. It was also great entertainment, not to mention a boost to ratings.
In the district in which I am able to vote via absentee, I have nine, total options to choose from. It’s true that there is a write-in, and that is an amazing option that we have in the U.S. system. I once had a good friend write in Trent Reznor for president and Henry Rollins as V.P. You can call that a waste of a vote, but it’s still an exercise of your right to let the government know how you feel.
Outside of the two main parties and the write-in, my ballot has seven other parties to choose from. Hardly any of them are covered by the mainstream media outlets, and not one of them were involved in public debates with the other big two parties, yet alone chased around the country with TV cameras, dissecting every move they made.
It makes me go back to that day when I was able to vote for the first time. Who were those people? What did they stand for? You mean there is an option other than these other two guys I’ve been essentially forced to choose between?
Folks will tell you that is just the way things are and the two party system is how the world works, and it makes sense to me why there are people across many generations who are disillusioned with a system where you have to choose between two entities that they would rather not vote at all. It’s personally hard for me to comprehend that apathy, especially when that write-in exists, no matter who it is that you want to write in.
At the same time, you have other options. Look into the other parties who are running under the mainstream radar. Some of them might seem completely crazy, but if you are one deciding not to choose “between the lesser of two evils” by not voting at all, give it some thought, register to vote, and cast your ballot for who you want to represent you.