Are We Slaves to the Median Voter?


Kurt Bouwhuis, Mackinac Center Intern

We all have seen the effects of a two party setup on our political system.  During the primaries, our presidential candidates tend to lean towards their respective parties (Republicans tend to be more conservative and Democrats tend to be more liberal).  After the two candidates have been selected, they tend to have a change in heart and lean towards the views of the median voter (moderate).  This should not come as a surprise to anyone, as a politician’s largest incentive is to obtain the maximum number of votes.

Take a look at this years election.  Both Obama and McCain will not take military invasion off the table when dealing with Iran.  Neither candidates will fix the issues in the health care industry – they will just dump government money into a broken system.  Neither of them understand what caused the financial crisis and therefore, have no idea how to fix the problem.  They do differ on some issues, but the margin is not as large as most of us are lead to believe.

But wait! – We have a third party candidate this election (as we do most elections).  This candidate has largely different views with policies not based on the median voter, but rather, on the principles of which he or she believes.  Don’t get too excited – few will vote for this candidate because we are lead to believe that no one will vote this candidate and thus, is considered to be throwing away your vote. This results in a portion of the voting population voting for the lesser of two evils.  The questions is, how many people think like this?

I am not saying that everyone should agree with the policies of the third party candidate.  What I am saying is this – If you want principle behind policy, rather than someone who allows politics to decide their policy, a third party candidate is most definitely the way to go.  Voting for a third party candidate is not throwing away your vote, but rather, relieving your actual preference!

If the population continues to vote within the two party system, our nation will not stray far from moderate views.

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