It seems that American media are finally dealing with the existence of alternative parties outside the Republican-Democratic duopoly. Recent polls are showing encouraging growths for the two presumptive Libertarian and Green presidential candidates, former New Mexico Republican governor Gary Johnson and retired physician Jill Stein, and their faces are slowly gaining visibility to the general public. These events show how much disgusted from the establishment is the American electorate right now, with many core voters from both Red and Blue sides turning their backs to these parties and looking for more fitting choices.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is upsetting many liberals and progressives with a centre-leaning programme and, despite Bernie Sanders’ surge and his ability to involve so many supporters in the primary system even after his inevitable defeat, it seems to have created a hiatus that would not be filled in a single generation. Meanwhile in the GOP, the absolute lack of ideas and strategies behind the flamboyant campaign of Donald Trump is enraging moderate and urban conservative voters, which are rightly accusing the national board of this mess, addressing particularly the weakness of their candidates.
But this is not only a matter of individuals, this is a matter of organizations. Dems and Reps are enormous catch-all structures without a precise platform, while third parties are the opposite, with wide and principled platforms and minimal structures. But minor parties, or at least the biggest competitors among them, have always had what major parties struggle to have nowadays: an active membership with tens of thousands of activists and volunteers, fully principled and convinced by their platforms.
This spirit recalls the spirit of politics in Europe, and their dedication should teach a lot to the Old Continent, currently affected by growing distrust of traditional institutions, aggressive populism and alarming racial tensions. But here lies the problem: European media persistently ignore the third party world, particularly in countries with bipolar aspirations like France, Italy and Spain. According to news sources from these nations, American politics is still a race for “two horses only”, even if in the US this prejudice is slowly fading away and that it is true only for a narrow majority of (potential) national voters, and when independent parties’ issues are considered, they are generally misinterpreted or report crass mistakes. Naturally this tendency is strong also in countries with proportional systems like Germany, Netherlands and Scandinavian states, but in these cases there is a more suited mentality for particular issues that has brought to relevance parties which differ from their classic Christian Democrat – Social Democrat duopolies, like Greens, populists and radical leftist movements. The only notable exception in Europe is United Kingdom, but it will need a separate analysis.
But there is something which can be done. If you, as the one who is writing this article, live in Europe and are tired by two-party systems, both EU or US, try to follow these short and simple suggestions:
- Find out, on the Web or anywhere else, every magazine, newsblog or opinion blog covering third party politics. If you are reading this on American Third Party Report, you are on the right track.
- Follow on you feed every site and social media profile of third parties which represent you the most. There are dozens: Libertarian, Green, Constitution, American Independent, Peace and Freedom, Progressive, Socialist, Conservative… just pick. There is a useful list on the home of this site. Also subscribe to their mailing lists.
- Suggest corrections on American politics to your national news outputs. This year, there are at least two third party candidates who are rising in the polls, why they should be constantly ignored? Send emails to newspapers and broadcasters, showing how much political strength is ready to burn under the ashes of the usual duopoly. Also keep track of campaigns like “Free and Equal” or “Fair Debates”
- Be critical. When American politics pops up in the banter with your friends, be the “third party guy”. Use your social presence to share and discuss contents on independent voting issues. If you are studying Law, Politics or Economics at university, find out more about the “15% rule” on national debates and discuss it with your colleagues and lecturers, underlining its devastating lack of democracy in comparison with other countries with similar electoral systems.
- Carry on with it, at the best of your possibilities. Reach American citizens living in your country and tell them how anyone can make the difference in the ballots and that, even without worldwide publicity, third parties are growing and getting known outside US.
It is a matter of freedom, democracy and respect, values all deeply rooted in the American Constitution, and when an autonomous political subject will finally challenge Democrats and Republicans to the bemusement of the general public of your nation, you would state proudly
“WE’VE ALWAYS BEEN THERE!”