Third parties in the 2020 race

Rex Snow, MVC News Editor

Howard Schultz, a billionaire and former Starbucks CEO, has announced that he may run for presidency in 2020. Schultz claims that he would run as centrist independent. Schultz’s declaration has stirred up quite the response from Democrats, who think that Shultz’s run would damage the Democratic party’s chances at winning the election in 2020 by taking votes away from their main base. This controversy sparks a larger conversation about independents and third parties, as a whole.

Are third parties beneficial to democracy, or do they inevitably damage the interest in which they are supposed to represent?

Those in favor of third parties argue that having a multitude of choices when electing leaders is ultimately the most serviceable option for voters. By diversifying the number of choices for voters, voters can choose the politician who truly represents them the most, as opposed to the binary choice that voters currently have. Furthermore, a diversity of choice might lead to more meaningful public debate. Instead of a binary discussion between two parties, in which discussion is limited by the talking points on both sides, a third party would introduce new concepts and broaden the boundaries of public thought.

“I like that third parties allow for diversity of thought and makes politics more interesting,” said Ryan Stranz, 12.

Another point that advocates of third parties might agree on is that third parties can draw more interest to the issues they would like to bring awareness to. For example, the Green Party might push the Democrats to support more environment-friendly policies, so the Democrats do not lose their pro-environment voters to the Green Party. In this scenario, however, the third parties are not actually trying to win elections, instead they are coercing the stronger party to push the third party’s agenda.

On the other hand, critics of third parties argue that these parties only do damage to the the movements they are advocating for. For example, the Libertarian Party would only take votes away from Republicans, and potentially cause Democrats to win the election. Although Libertarians may not agree with everything the Republic Party does, they certainly agree more on issues than Libertarians do with Democrats.

Instead of being able to fight against the more damaging party, third parties take away power from their allies. In 1912, the Republican Party split after Theodore Roosevelt lost his nomination and created the Progressive Party. The end results was 6,293,454 for the votes for the Democratic nominee; 4,119,207 for the Progressive nomination; and 3,483,922 votes for the Republican nomination. While not certain, it is possible that Republicans could have won if not for the division caused by a third party. Now the party least in common with the Republican party won.

Personally, I do not like third parties because I agree that they are damaging to the issues they advocate for. I would prefer if third party advocates would work within the the two-party system as opposed to doing damage to their own objectives.