Posted in Opinions

US presidential debates need to include more parties

We’ve got to start listening to a wider variety of political voices

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Image Credits: Charlotte Steele

The US is fast approaching one of the most important elections in its history. Running for the Democrats is Hillary Clinton, and for the Republicans, the notorious Donald Trump.

However, the American political system is in desperate need of repair. One important factor in fixing this system is the acceptance of other parties, such as the Libertarian and Green parties, into the presidential debates. This would give them the necessary exposure to effectively counter corruption in the US political system and present new ideas to challenge the old.

I don’t see America’s two major parties working for their people, but rather, for the corporations donating to their campaigns. Past Republican candidates, such as George W. Bush, received donations from some of the US’ wealthiest companies. This election, Clinton’s received large sums from corporations such as the Soros Fund Management firm.

The elected candidate, whether they’re Democratic or Republican, works to ensure that their corporate donors are satisfied, even if that’s at the expense of their people. In essence, the two political groups are two sides of the same coin.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks recently demonstrated how candidates such as Bernie Sanders, who attempt to challenge the establishment, are conspired against. Leaked emails show the Democratic National Committee (DNC) alleging that Sanders is an atheist, and playing a narrative that he never had his campaign in order. The DNC isn’t truly impartial to its candidates; this indicates the American political system’s corruption, which discourages potential challengers of that system.

Operating within this two-party system severely limits Americans’ presidential choices. Both Clinton and Trump have historically low favourability ratings, which makes it clear that Americans want more choices. However, alternative parties need more exposure to become viable options — exposure which can only come from being included in presidential debates.

Excluding the Green and Libertarian parties from debates during elections results in a huge lack of fresh ideas. Having a variety of options is important in a democratic country; new proposals can challenge old notions that no longer serve the people effectively.

For example, both Democrats and Republicans support a counterterrorism policy that uses drone strikes to defeat groups such as ISIS. The leader of the Green Party Jill Stein, on the other hand, proposes a very different foreign policy. It includes a ban on drone strikes and challenges the mainstream narrative on how to deal with radical groups.

It’s not just Americans who are stuck in the two-party trap of political dialogue, though. It seems to me that SFU students are generally either unaware of the Green and Libertarian parties or simply refuse to acknowledge their ideas. This, again, contributes to the problem of a lack of new ideas.

Change in the American political system affects the rest of the world, including Canada. Our strong relationship with the US means that our foreign policy is closely linked to theirs; drastic change in how they handle situations overseas will ensure changes in our own policy. Perhaps Canada would spend less on dropping bombs and more on things like reducing college tuition.

The political system in the United States is damaged, and has been for a while now. Americans deserve better choices than Clinton and Trump, and given their current situation, are desperately in need of them. Accepting third-party candidates into the debates would greatly benefit not only America, but also Canada and other countries around the world.

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