OPINION: Constricting parties and the illusion of choice

Some feel as if their choice among political candidates is restricted by the two-party system. (Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey/Flickr).
Some feel as if their choice among political candidates is restricted by the two-party system. (Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey/Flickr).

The election is finally upon us and we are adjusting schedules to ensure we get to the polls on time. Because the candidates have varying stances on very important issues, Americans want to make sure every vote counts. But, sitting in my friends’ breakfast nook, looking at my absentee ballot, I realize that there is only the illusion of choice: we live in a system where only the two main parties ever vie for positions of political power.

I was raised with the same political mindset of my parents, but eventually I was able to create my own political opinions. My parents, who are from Nicaragua, have experienced politics from a multi-party standpoint as a result of the significant political turmoil in their home country.  If you were to ask my parents where they lie on the political spectrum, they would consider themselves Republicans. Even though my parents lean towards a more conservative standpoint, in Nicaragua, they would vote for either the Constitutional Liberal Party or Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance. Note how both parties mention the word liberal, and yet some who have voted for these parties in Nicaragua would vote for the more conservative party in the United States. When it comes to political parties in other countries, the Republican and Democratic parties would be considered child’s play; it’s never going to be a 50 percent chance of who is going to win. Popular vote matters and, if you do not vote you can have Daniel Ortega, an ex dictator from the 1980s, win the election and claim power for as long as possible or indefinitely. Now, it is possible you may turn to your friend and say, “Oh, that is exactly what Obama is doing—he is a commie.” Well, here’s the problem—our political system is also locked into place by our constitution; you can’t throw the Supreme Court an amendment and have them pass it immediately.

So, as I look back at my ballot and see my choices, I feel like I don’t really have any. I look down at Jill Stein’s name, the Green Party candidate, and sigh a bit because I know her beliefs are more like my own. As usual, I know someone is going to scoff and call me a pothead or a flaming liberal, but some of the platform positions like abolishing the Electoral College, free education and universal healthcare would be nice in a perfect world.

I look back and also note the fact that my U.S. Representative Frank Wolf has been in office since 1981, when I was just a glimmer in my mother’s eye. His tenure has changed him from a strong conservative to more of a moderate, even though he still runs as a Republican. He has been doing his job well since I have lived in his district and throughout his 31 years in office.

Finally, I look at my choices for president. I am not going to make my position clear because I know some people are going to come after me and yell at me for making the “wrong choice.” I have been fed up with the ads on the television and on YouTube and, frankly, who knows what the truth is. Knowing I filled in the bubbles in my absentee ballot and sent it off into the hands of the Postal Service lifts a weight off my shoulders. I did my part and I cannot be accused of complaining like my peers do—I did my duty, and there’s no way to take it back. I just feel bad for the rest of my friends that still have to queue next week in order to secure America’s future of the next four years. 

Opinions expressed in this column are solely the beliefs of the writer. 

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