Sherri Winans
Whatcom Community College
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Brian Mapes
English 201
Essay 2
October 2000

A Two-Party System Is No Party At All

Choice is the driving force of this country. People came here hundreds of years ago for choice of religion. Their great grandchildren fought in the Revolution for choice of government. We as a country have always prided ourselves as being a nation of free choice. The power of freedom of choice is a strong one. It has allowed many great things to happen. On the other hand, the loss of this freedom has led to many of the most horrible events in our history. Lately I have been afraid for the future of choice in this country.

America is one of the most diverse nations in the world. People from almost every walk of life live here. There is a full spectrum of values and morals in this great nation of ours. With so many different people with different backgrounds and beliefs, it is amazing that two people can agree on anything in this country. This is why I am so astonished that when it comes to picking the leader of this nation—we have so few choices. Weren’t we the country that fought for all the choice we could handle just a couple hundred years ago? Then how can we possible accept only having two choices when picking a president?

People like going to restaurants because they offer them a wide variety of choices. Many ad campaigns for restaurants highlight this feature: "At Burger King you have it your way." When people go out to a restaurant, they do not like ordering items straight off the menu; they like to add their own touches: no onions, easy on the mustard, dressing on the side, extra anchovies. We are an entire nation of gray, and we do not like having to choose between black and white. However, we are almost forced to when choosing a president. Bush or Gore. That is all the choice we get. I believe that this is major reason why so many people do not vote in this country. If you only have two choices to vote for and you do not like either one, why go out and vote? And if the candidates are not discussing topics that concern you, but instead topics that have been deemed popular by the media, why even listen to them at all?

I went to bed the other night thinking of America’s political situation. I began to wonder what would happen to this great country if more choices were not given to the people, or even worse, if more were taken away. These thoughts slowly drifted into my subconscious, and eventually into my dreams, as I fell asleep. I dreamt that every pop machine in America had been filled with Coke and Pepsi. And that Coke and Pepsi had all the commercials on television. All the taste tests would only allow Coke and Pepsi to participate. The manufactures told the American people that they must come together as a country and decide if they want to drink Coke or Pepsi for the next four years. This did not seem fair to me. What about all the Sprite lovers, or the root beer fanatics, and let’s not forget about all the die-hard Dr. Pepper fans, or the Orange Crush groupies? And what about the small but faithful following of Shasta Black Cherry? In my dream these people were all upset that their favorite soda had been left out. Unfortunately, many of them believed that Coke was a better soft drink than Pepsi. So instead of voting for the drink of their choice, many people began voting for Coke just so they would not have to drink Pepsi. Some small groups did decide to vote for what they really wanted. This upset many of the people who had decided to vote for Coke instead of their favorite. They yelled, "If you vote for Mt. Dew, then we we’ll all be drinking Pepsi for the next four years." The few faithful asked them, "What is the difference between Coke and Pepsi?" The mob answered back that at least Coke is not Pepsi—Pepsi looks so stupid and will rot all our teeth out. The faithful responded that Coke will also rot our teeth out. And the mob responded that this is true, but Pepsi will do it quicker for sure. I woke up screaming, my sheets covered in sweat and my heart racing. I knew then that America was in for some trouble if we did not change something soon.

In this year’s election I have decided to vote for a third party candidate. This seems to upset many people I have mentioned this to. Almost everyone that becomes upset reacts in the same manner. First they look at me, a little stunned. Then they ask,

"What about Bush?"

"What About Bush," I respond. "I'm not going to vote for him."

"But if you vote for Nader you will only be helping Bush into office. It is not like Nader can win anyway."

This remark always troubles me greatly. I am not one-hundred percent sure how politics, or mathematics, work but I did take a political science class and five math classes here at Whatcom and I am fairly convinced that if Nader gets a higher percent of the votes he will become president. As for helping Bush into office, I say who flipping cares. People tell me all the time that Bush is evil and if he gets elected he will destroy our country, and steal our homes and families, and when he is through, he will have everyone executed. I think the truth of the matter is that Bush is a spoiled little rich brat that wants to play Washington with his little rich brat friends. I don’t think the guy is smart enough to tie his own shoe, much less change the country in any way, good or bad. Most of the things that he supports that really bother me, such as the death penalty or anti-drug laws, Gore supports as well. So to me a vote for Gore is a vote for Bush, and a vote for Nader is a vote for change.

I am not going to vote for Ralph Nader because I live in some hippie town where it is popular to vote for people like him. I not going to vote for him because I want to rebel against the system and be an anarchist. I am not going to vote for him because I see him at rallies with Pearl Jam and Michael Moore telling people to vote for him. I am going to vote for him because he wants what I want. That is the only reason to vote for anyone. I am tired of settling for less, taking the easy way out. I don’t even really cares who wins. That is not what my vote is really about. It is about having my own voice—being able to say, "This is what I believe in. This is what I want." And I feel that if I do not take this stand right now and say these things that I wish to say, then I will be affected for the rest of my life because of it. If I do not fight for my beliefs now, then they will be trampled by compromises for the rest of my life. If I do not use my voice now, then it will be silenced for the rest of my life.

I believe we are in need of a revolution. I am not suggesting we all go take up arms and try to overthrow the government. I am saying we should take up our votes and get ourselves out of this rut we are stuck in. This country has not seen a third-party president since 1860 when Abe Lincoln was elected to the office. Did Lincoln really do such a bad job that we never want another third-party candidate? If so, then why did we put his head on Mt. Rushmore? In fact, all the faces on Mt. Rushmore have been against the two-party system in some way or another. George Washington did not even belong to a party, nor believe that there should be parties at all. Thomas Jefferson was a third-party candidate, and won in a close three-way race. Theodore Roosevelt became tired of the two-party system, so he created and ran under the Progressive Party. He came in second, receiving more votes than the Republican Howard Taft. Aren’t these the presidents we most respect and admire? Shouldn’t we strive to make every president have Mt. Rushmore qualities, and not just be "less worse" than his opponent?

I shall retire from atop of my soapbox now, for I am not trying to encourage you to vote for a candidate just because I told you to. I am trying to discourage you from voting for anyone just because someone tells you to. Whoever that someone may be, whether it is your parents, or your friends, or your political party, or your media source, does not matter. Vote for who you believe in. Use your voice for something you have faith in. Exercise your freedom of choice. The country you may save could be your own.


Copyright 2001
Brian Mapes


Funded through the U.S. Dept. of Education, Title III Grant PO31A980143
Sherri Winans, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA