Far below the hustle and bustle of the media’s coverage of Hillary’s next email leak or The Donald’s next vulgar comment about women, there is another candidate who has been drowned out; who has neither displayed blatant dishonesty, nor has bragged about unsolicitedly groping women, and therefore has been taken for granted as the media propagates the campaigns of major parties to outlandishly grandiose proportions.
Treated as nothing more than an electoral nuisance, Gary Johnson — this candidate of perceived otherness — may actually be much more consequential to the American electoral process than many care to realize. As far as most know or care to actually corroborate themselves, there are only two parties that have the power to dominate the convolutedly labyrinthine American political scene: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. This, though warned against by our first President, George Washington, has been what some might call the “gold standard” of politics (if ever there were such a thing), for almost one hundred-fifty tumultuous years, but as of late, this “gold standard” has lost some of its shimmer.
Petty lies, bigotry, and rejections of the truth have warped and twisted the two-party system to the point where change is inevitable and, in some people’s minds, very welcome. But what kind of change are pundits suggesting will come in the wake of such political turmoil? Some say it will be the destruction or reformation of the GOP, but others point to something that may spell an end to the two-party system we know and loathe: the rise of a third party in America.
Third parties are not a new anomaly to the American political landscape. Instead, they are, like a long-forgotten phoenix, rising from the ashes of their predecessors and into the national spotlight. Entities like the Green Party or, to an even more prolific extent, the Libertarian Party, have made major waves to turn the tide of this election and elections to come.
If the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, being on the ballot in all fifty states hasn’t already made things clear, politics are on the verge of major change in this country. Johnson, in his most prime, polled at 13 percent nationally. Even after he very candidly forgot what Aleppo was on national television, he was able to maintain decent polling among his voters.
This kind of popularity, while it may be a fluke brought upon by a general contempt felt by all Americans for either Hillary or The Donald, or even both for that matter, may also be a signal of changing times and the yearning of everyday citizens to break the proverbial mold of electoral constraint. Maybe his popularity is beckoning American voters to imagine a world where their vote could mean something more than a polarizing display of distaste for the other side of the aisle; where their vote could help bring about a new political mindset that could, in all truth, stand to benefit the country in the long run.
Because really, what has the two-party system in this country brought us? Congressional deadlock? Unfounded hatred of others based solely on a difference of opinion? Fragmentation within political parties due to unclear policy stances? Try all three. The two pillars on which our government has stood since 1869, once thought to be infallible, are now crumbling before each and every Americans’ eyes, only to be saved by a third pillar, which could change majorities into pluralities, make an indelible mark on what the status quo should be, and could even be represented in the highest office of the land.
Sure, Gary Johnson may not take the White House on November 8th, and sure, we’ll have to deal with inter-party squabbling for a few more years, but what Gary Johnson has shown us is a path to a new nation; a path to potential, positive, and profound change. That path is ours, and ours alone to travel and one day we will.