America is currently under the grips of the two-party system. Besides popular support, the real lifeline of Democrats and Republicans is how we do elections. Each state has authority over its own election process (aside from following a few federal laws) and, over the course of our country’s history, every state has created laws that favor both popular parties, making it nigh impossible for a third party to gain momentum.
Now, we won’t discuss every law relating to elections, it would far outweigh the point of this article and probably would need a book to go into the subject properly. What we will discuss is my idea of what could save the US from this dilemma: First, voiding all laws relating to elections except for what is in the Constitution; and second, introducing a new form of elections, the “Tournament Style.”
Third party candidates are at a disadvantage because of federal campaign finance laws, rules that dictate who can enter presidential debates, and a lack of media attention. This text was pulled from a PBS article discussing third parties:
“’It’s very difficult for third parties to get media coverage’ Bibby said, ‘In Nader’s last run, the questions they asked him ‘Why are you running?’ (came) all the time, not about the substance of his campaign.’
In addition, a significant amount of paperwork is required to become a viable candidate. When Ralph Nader announced in February 2004 that he would seek the presidential nomination, he was required to collect 1.5 million signatures in all states to appear on the ballot. Deadlines for those signatures begin as early as May 2004.
Campaign finance rules say that a political party can only get government funding to run a race if it received a certain percentage of votes from the previous election. Often this leaves third party candidates to fund their own campaigns. With less media coverage, the candidates are left to find other means of exposure to raise the millions of dollars it takes to run a successful campaign.”
As you can see, just at the federal level there are hurdles for individuals who don’t fall in with Democrats or Republicans, just to be in a “public” election for a “public” office.
Honestly, to me, this is insane. So, I think we should just take a step back and go back to the drawing board. Scrapping all election laws and starting anew is the best possible solution in my eyes;
but I am also advocating for a federal system to do elections instead of allowing states to decide themselves.
While I do advocate for states’ rights, I feel like elections (which in the long run can affect generations to come) need a universal standard that is fair to all individuals. That is where my tournament style election comes in.
I have discussed this idea with a peer and he looked at me funny when I said the name. It is a little unorthodox, but I couldn’t find any other word to describe what was running through my mind.
This will lay the foundation for future elections that are not completely in the control of the few powerful parties.
The election process starts like this: At the beginning of an election year, let’s say 2020, January 2 will be the opening for candidates to register for an election (which for this article we will focus on the office of president – though this system should work just as well for dog catcher to senator). All candidates will be able to register on a federally-run website at that time and have their own page that talks about them as person and what they stand for. Now anyone in the country can look at these candidates to see which ones they like best.
Another stipulation I might add is the avoidance of mentioning party affiliations as this would corrupt the process.
Now that all 2000 candidates are registered (that number is just a guess) by the cut off date of January 31, we can begin the election.
All candidates who registered will spend their time campaigning until the month of May. Summer months like May are currently reserved for parties to pick their candidates but for this new process it will set the stage for the real election.
In May, voters will choose their top ten candidates from the original 2000 – this is where the real fun begins!
Now for the summer months these candidates can get on stage and do debates for the nation and world to see. At the end of summer, say 1st of August, another election will be held where voters will choose their next top number of candidates.
This where I start to get undecided on things; we could do top five, top three, or move onto the joy of top two candidates.
For the sake of this article, we will go with top three (considering the 2016 election crisis of having two poor choices since no one else was apparently running).
From August until November these three candidates will debate and compete for office until the American people decide which of their top three candidates they prefer best.
Though I have yet to see a flaw in this system, I am sure there is at least one; but it is the best possible solution I could come up with to compete with our current winner take all system that has perpetuated the two-party system into a red and blue oligarchy.
The key to its success is the omitting of party ties between candidates.
Too many people are just voting Democrat or Republican without putting much thought into who they are truly electing. This system allows the people to choose candidates they want and forces candidates to appeal to more then one type of person.
* Melton Middleton is a 21 year old college student majoring in history and social studies education. He is also a new writer trying to get his ideas and theories out there for people to see.
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