America's choice for 2012: more options than candidates in spotlight

When I ask people about the 2012 Presidential Election and which candidate they favor, I usually get the response “I don’t like either of ‘em,’ followed by “I may not vote.” I understand the feeling because sometimes, when your choice is between two candidates you don’t really like, it’s all about choosing the “lesser of two evils,” and that is a negative way to make a decision. That was how I was feeling during this election.

During the Republican primaries, like many youth in my generation, Ron Paul was my guy. His stance on foreign affairs, personal liberty, individual rights and the role of government, delivered with profound substance and passion, was exciting. Here was a politician who understood how so many people felt. He was authentic and wise. Although he ran as a Republican, he was really a Libertarian.

The Libertarian Party candidate is now Gary Johnson, who is trying to take Dr. Paul’s previously established momentum and run on it. I considered the possibility of voting for this candidate, but when I expressed this to a family member of mine, they said, “Don’t even vote, then.” I’ve always been taught every vote counts, but in this case, that person could be right. Why is that? Because candidates from other parties don’t get a voice.

In 1992, Independent candidate Ross Perot was allowed to debate with Bill Clinton and George Bush. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein were not allowed to debate during this election. The media’s coverage of them was little to none. When I looked at my ballot for this election, I was surprised at how many choices we have for president other than Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. There are 11 candidates running for office. One could say that some of the parties, like the Prohibition Party or the We The People Party, are strange and insignificant. But if these candidates are running for office, shouldn’t they be given a platform? Shouldn’t they be allowed to debate? There could be numerous debates, like in a party primary election.

Gary Johnson has a following because people are tired of choosing between two candidates that they don’t connect with very much, but he won’t come even close to winning. These alternative candidates, like Ron Paul or Gary Johnson, speak to a generation that is ready for some sanity in politics. People are ready for more choices. In the future, I would like to read the ballot and know who every candidate on that ballot is because they were a part of the electoral process. It’s time for our democratic system to expand and allow more than two candidates to receive the spotlight.

Chris Beacham is a sophomore majoring in psychology. His column runs biweekly on Mondays.

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