For well over a year, weve been asked to choose: red or blue, elephant or donkey, Democrat or Republican. But there are some at NYU who arent giving in to that binary thinking, even with the election a day away.
Tisch junior Jason Blevins works for independent candidate Ralph Naders campaign. As a supporter of a third-party candidate, he knows firsthand how difficult it is for alternative campaigns, especially this year.
Both Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are focusing on moderate voters, Blevins said. Thus, because voters have more moderate options to choose from, the appeal of a radical independent dies down. People who agree with independent ideologies may choose instead to vote for Obamas moderate appeal.
Many people I know from swing states will still just vote against McCain, Blevins said.
Ralph Nader and Bob Barr, a Libertarian, are the most notable third-party candidates this year, Blevins said, but other groups in the running for the presidency are the Constitution Party, Socialist Party and Green Party.
Although Blevins believes the nonresponse to third parties is due to more moderate major parties, assistant professor of politics Patrick Egan said voters now see more of a difference between the Republicans and the Democrats than ever before.
When Americans see that there is a real difference between the two parties, they have little reason to vote for minor parties, Egan said. This is a difference that has been measured by polls for the last 50 years.
In a race that virtually only Obama or McCain has a reasonable chance of winning, what exactly do these third parties want to achieve?
According to the Facebook group of the College Independents and Third Parties at NYU, third parties arise from a growing discontent toward the two major-party system. By creating alternative platforms, they can force other candidates to adopt some of their policies. Though an independent may not win the presidency for years to come, he can still popularize an issue and get a major candidate to incorporate it into a Democratic or Republican platform.
Nader would like to see universal health care instituted, but not in the ways Obama and McCain champion. He backs the single-payer plan, which is used in England, Australia and Canada. Other issues that concern the independent, Green Party and Constitution Party include immediate withdrawal from Iraq, a return to the gold standard and increased sustainability legislation.