With both party conventions over, the US presidential Democratic and Republican candidates are now confirmed, and neither option is too enticing. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are two of the most disliked candidates in history, and they may unwillingly end up totally changing US politics.
For a long time, voters chose a president from one of the two major parties – Democratic and Republican. However, after a tumultuous primary season that left voters shaken, many are now feeling disillusioned. On the Democratic side, many Bernie Sanders supporters are struggling to follow Sanders’ call to vote for Clinton in November. On the Republican side, the opposition to Donald Trump is even more widespread. Many longtime GOPers – even Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush – have publicly announced that they will most likely not vote for Mr Trump in November. This begs the question: who will these people vote for?
To many, the answer has been the Libertarian Party, and for others, the Green Party. These two political bodies, having mustered support in the single digits (if at all) in previous elections, are now rising quickly in the polls. The Libertarian Party is currently polling around 9%, and the Green Party at 5%.
A Difficult Choice
Voters are now faced with a difficult decision. For the first time, many are seriously considering a third-party vote. This leads to the question: should one vote strategically, or for their ideals? Strategically means that someone who is against Trump might find that the most effective choice would be to vote for Mrs Clinton in November. Similarly, a Sanders supporter might find that they have the best chance of advancing their ideas, e.g. free university education, by voting for her. However, that same supporter might find that Jill Stein of the Green Party better embodies their ideals.
with their choice of candidates
This ultimately leaves them with the choice of voting for the candidate that will best summarise their goals or the one that best embodies their values and ideals. Many voters increasingly feel that the choice between Clinton and Trump is like picking the lesser of two evils. In some polls, Mrs Clinton has an unfavorability rating of 55% and Mr Trump of 63%.
68% of young voters feel disappointed with their choice of candidates. In an election that has broken records for voter dissatisfaction, will one see a shift away from the two-party system?
The New Normal
One may indeed see a shift towards a more European style of politics. In Spain, for example, the two main parties (after the end of Franco’s regime), were the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and the People’s Party. This was the status quo for decades until new parties such as Ciudadanos and Podemos emerged onto the scene. After the second election in just six months, the parties have yet to form a coalition, and no entity won a majority of the votes. In many European countries, the government is a coalition between many parties. In others, one party does have a majority, but a slim one, with the parliament being made up of numerous other parties. Bernie Sanders’ Democratic socialism drew comparisons to the success stories of many European countries. Might this election prove to be the start of a new style of building the government in the United States?