The general understanding of American politics is full of self-contradictions. Virtually anyone with whom you may discuss politics will concede that there is corruption in the system and that the respective leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties have too much power. However, seldom do you find an individual who actually believes it to be beneficial, or even worthwhile, to vote for a third party in any election.
This has left the millenial generation of voters perplexed. Whether it be a consequence of the current election’s particularly polarizing circumstances or a result of some other generational anomaly, millennials are more engaged with modern politics than any generation before them.
This unique level of involvement led to many apprehensions with which the majority of past voters had never concerned themselves. Recently popularized questions include: “Why do we only vote Republican or Democrat?” and, “How deeply entrenched into the actual voting system is the cronyism of American politics?”
These, among other doubts, now concern voters more than ever. It is no longer a question of whether one identifies as Republican or Democrat, but a question of whether and why they should attempt to do so at all.
Some members of older generations are understandably shocked by these questions. Regardless, that in no way disproves the validity or importance of these inquiries.
Here at the University of Dallas, students are increasingly concerned with not only the validity and impact of their votes, but also their morality.
In my short time thus far at the university, I have heard many and varied stances on the subject of this year’s election. This is understandable, as the community here is prominently Catholic, and there is certainly no obvious choice in this election when it comes to Catholic social teaching and policies.
Some argue that it is morally best to vote via write-in or third party this election, as neither the Republican nor Democratic candidate is worthy of vote.
Others argue that it is better to vote for Donald Trump this election, as he is more likely to uphold standards in agreement with Catholicism than his rival, Hillary Clinton.
Regardless of the various stances on this particular election, the difficult decision has led students to a larger question: Is it ethical and sensible to subscribe to a single political party?
Ethically speaking, I would argue that it is wrong to subscribe to a single party, regardless of that party’s general stance on issues.
Firstly, such an act only encourages the corruption of the two-party system in American politics.
Secondly, such loyalty can easily sway your views on political issues by always making you side with your chosen party. According to American media and American politics, there are two, and only two, sides to every issue. Whether it concerns gun control, healthcare or Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem, discussion always concerns only the Republican view and the Democratic view. It is precisely this polarizing oversimplification which drive an irremovable wedge between the two parties.
Practically speaking, abstaining from enrolling directly into one party offers voters more influence in politics.
Independents are able to vote for either candidate in open primaries. Closed primaries do present a slight inconvenience for independents, as they must first register to a party before voting. However, they can just as easily deregister following their vote. Maintaining party independence allows the voter to pick and choose more freely the candidate which aligns with their political and moral views, regardless of the party they belong to.
From both ethical and sensible stances, I believe it is best to enroll as an independent, or as unsubscribed from the major political parties, as it leaves the voter with a sense of personal and moral freedom.
Purely independent and uninfluenced voting represents how the American democratic system is supposed to work: giving voters the ability to vote for any candidate and not just the two presented by major political parties.
The act of choosing political independence comes with very little cost and leaves the voter to decide which, if any, candidate is actually suitable for office.