Image by Robert Palmer via Flickr
Rachel Young | Contributing Writer
Campaign season is upon us once again. All this talk of platforms and potential candidates is starting to become more and more relevant as I can now exercise my right to vote, having only turned 18 last summer.
I have always been interested in politics and voted for the first time in the midterm elections in November last year. Being exposed to more and more government-related topics has made me realize how bipartisan our political system is, and to an extent this worries me.
During the 2012 presidential election, I was a junior in high school taking AP U.S. History. Among the plethora of concerns a 16- or 17-year-old is burdened with, one of the dominant concerns in my classroom was who Mr. Andrews, our teacher, was going to vote for in the election. He must have had some party affiliation, so was he a Republican or a Democrat?
He refused to tell us which candidate he was going to vote for until after the election; a classic high school teacher move. For some reason, the majority of my classmates expected him to vote Democrat, but he surprised all of us when he revealed that he voted for Governor Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate in the election.
As we turned in our color-coded Electoral College map, we wondered who Governor Gary Johnson even was. This was when I realized that third parties don’t receive nearly as much attention as the primary parties.
After looking into the platforms of these third parties, I found that their lack of coverage wasn’t because they are obsolete. As a matter of fact, according to a Gallup poll taken in January of this year, 43 percent of Americans identified as political independents. An even more recent Gallup poll revealed that only 13 percent of Americans don’t favor the Democratic or Republican Party, meaning 87 percent hold up the bipartisan system. How can almost half of American voters consider themselves independent without it being reflected in election results?
These statistics really say something about the voter population. I think the majority of the American public is used to and comfortable with bipartisanship. As a result, people don’t tend to seek any information regarding other existing parties, since they’re either going to vote Democrat or Republican for the most part.
This lack of knowledge is something we should address, but it doesn’t currently seem like a priority. Even I find it extremely difficult to keep up with the fast-paced political world. Approaching the information provided by the media with a skeptical attitude gets exhausting after a while.
As an eligible voter, I wish I were given more valuable information regarding the platforms instead of the slanderous commercials that are aired. The political world is a battlefield, especially when it’s election season. I just hope there is still time and willpower for the American population to shift gears toward a more informed public.