The United States needs a third political party



Brett Klein

America’s two-party system is nearly as old as American democracy itself, but it has become combustible and malignant. I could backtrack to the unofficial start of the 2016 presidential campaign and uncover countless disheartening, cringe-worthy examples of the brutal war between Republicans and Democrats, perpetrated by both politicians and civilians, but I don’t have to. Whichever side of the political spectrum you fall on, you’re keenly aware of the schism.

And that’s part of the now-dire problem—identifying yourself as leaning to the left or right causes people to make assumptions about your character and your worldview.

Red and blue presidential candidates have sent daggers at one another. Members of Congress hardly make efforts to pass legislation because their across-the-aisle counterparts will merely chuckle at the notion of compromise—it’s become a war of attrition. Everyday people flaunt their political allegiances and immediately reject those who think differently. 

If the political spectrum were a map of the United States, stereotypes would place Democrats in the Pacific Ocean and Republicans in the Atlantic. Democrats are self-righteous hippies, and Republicans are gun-toting racists.

No, they aren’t—there’s an entire mainland of middle ground where most Americans live. Our nation’s electorate has become so repulsively polarized, and it indicates a colossal failure on the part of all American institutions.

There has to be a better way forward. Maybe it’s time for a third party. No, not like the Libertarian Party, the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street, but a real third party that has name recognition and a massive base. Call it the “We’re All In This Together Party,” or the “Common Sense Party.” I don’t care. 

Who knows what that would look like, or if it’s even possible, but I know that I don’t agree with everything that candidates and citizens from either of the parties claim to stand for. Does anyone, when answering truthfully without fear of judgment, agree completely with one party across the board?

Can’t one be pro-life while also favoring new gun-safety measures? Or believe that the Iran Nuclear Deal deserves a chance to work while also supporting a plan to wipe the Islamic State off the map using our military might? My guess is that a lot of those people exist, and they’re lost in a sea of black and white, with no gray lifeboats.

And to those who strictly adhere to conservative values as if Jesus Christ penned them himself, and to those who believe liberal is a synonym for correct and that the globe should be a safe space, when did it become commonplace to abhor disagreement? 

The divisive culture is cornering politicians into extremes, because they are bound by reelection—they can’t go against their parties even in the name of logical compromise. At the same time, politicians perpetuate intolerance of the other party to their constituents, and around and around we go. 

In March, comedian Louis C.K., of all people, wrote something in an email blast to his fans that echoed a sentiment I’ve held since I was old enough to understand anything political. In a postscript to a note about his new web series, he implored the American people to reject Donald Trump—nothing shocking there, just a celebrity bashing The Donald. But in the midst of his rant, the never-politically-correct, filthy comic wrote something so simple, yet telling about the current political climate, and something that I believe many Americans have forgotten. 

“When I was growing up and when I was a younger man, liberals and conservatives were friends with differences,” C.K., 48, wrote. “They weren’t enemies.” 

You might scoff at the comedian’s lecturing everyone to play nice, but I honestly don’t know who our society’s moral voice of reason is anymore. Still, hateful animosity does exist and it must be treated. 

Whether you just entered college, or you’re at the peak of the roller coaster or you’re preparing to depart, this topic will impact your life at dinner parties and in voting booths, on first dates and in job interviews. 

Politics is the deliberation of how we live, and right now, it is dividing us, rather than bringing us together.