Imagine if, moving forward, we were limited in choice of carbonated beverages to Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Despite the fact that both are very similar, and that there are many other flavors and varieties of soda that we may prefer, we could probably pick one.
But would we feel that our choice truly represented our tastes? Politically, we are currently being limited to Pepsi and Coke. Given the candidate choices in the past several elections, it is no great surprise that a majority of Americans are unhappy with the representation currently offered within our political system.
In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, only 40 percent of Americans feel that “the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job of representing the American people.” Despite this, the last person not belonging to one of these parties to be elected President of the United States of America was our 13th president, Millard Fillmore, who left office in 1853.
For a populus who feels under represented, the people of our nation are not doing a great job at electing more diverse representatives.
In fact, statistically speaking, voters have very little interest in local elections at all. Comparing voter turnout statistics from the past 20 years, here in Utah on average only 38.1 percent of eligible voters participate in midterm elections, compared to 57.14 percent in years including a presidential election.
The most recent midterm election in 2018 had a much better turnout than other midterms in recent memory at 50.6 percent, however half of all Utahn’s are still opting to remain under-represented. While upsetting one election and triggering change from the top down seems like a good idea, many see the presidential election as having too great of consequences, and therefore being too high stake to risk a potential “spoiler” and allowing an unfavorable candidate to win an election that they otherwise would not by voting for a someone not backed by one of the dominating parties.
Due to the smaller constituency of more local municipal, county, and state officials, electing candidates who do not belong to the Republican or Democratic parties is less difficult, and more likely to cause a long term paradigm shift.
Because these elections are considered by many to be lower risk, and because the number of voters required to rally behind a candidate in order for them to be successfully elected is much lower, people are more likely to abandon party lines.
My plea is that as each of us determine which candidates we will support in the coming election, we will intentionally look past political affiliation, and look at the platform of each candidate. We must consider the issues that each hopeful is able to address according to the office they seek, and we must pay special attention to how they intend to address those issues. No longer should we allow municipal, county, and state officials to float by on the platforms of the party with which they affiliate, and to forgo constructing their own.
Don’t allow tradition to limit your options to Pepsi and Coke. Both certainly have a place, and there are many who would pick one or the other regardless of the number of choices available.
But some people don’t like cola, regardless of the color of the label, and sometimes, a Sprite sure hits the spot. (Wood is a Serve Daily contributor.)