Something is broken in the state of the union. Polling before and after the midterm elections showed Americans were extremely unhappy. Exit polls showed that the economy was at the forefront of many voters’ minds. As of late summer, 74 percent of Americans felt the country was moving in the wrong direction. On the day of the midterms, Joe Biden’s approval rating sat at a mere 41 percent. Yet Americans refused to vote the Democrats out.
The “red wave” the political world was anticipating didn’t materialize. The GOP narrowly gained control of the House, but it lost most of the key gubernatorial races. On top of that, the GOP will need a victory in Georgia’s coming runoff election to avoid losing ground in the Senate.
This disconnect between voters’ satisfaction and the actual election results across the country is a bright illustration of the failing Republican-Democratic duopoly and the need for election reform to give voters more options.
With the political environment ripe for a GOP resurgence, the conservative party ran a swath of dubious candidates and barely avoided a full-on faceplant.
In Arizona, Blake Masters was always a step behind. He began his campaign as an extreme candidate, even explicitly denying the 2020 presidential election results. He then tried to moderate on issues like abortion months before the election and then, at the last minute, attempted to appeal to libertarian voters in a failed Hail Mary effort to win his Senate race.
In Pennsylvania, Republican senatorial candidate Mehmet Oz, who cast doubt on the accuracy of the 2020 presidential election, was quickly painted as an out-of-state opportunist, precluding him from defeating his Democratic opponent, who had trouble putting coherent sentences together after suffering a stroke during the summer.
In Georgia, Republican governor Brian Kemp soundly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams. Meanwhile, because of a lack of qualifications and a scandal-ridden campaign, Republican senatorial candidate and 2020 election denier Herschel Walker could not avoid a runoff in a red state against Sen. Raphael Warnock.
The message is clear: The American duopoly is failing the citizens of this country. A plurality of Americans continue to identify as independents, but the vast majority of voters cast their votes for one of the two major parties. Every election cycle, voters go to the polls and often choose between two flavors they find somewhat repulsive. The country needs more options.
Elections need to be reformed for third parties to grow and their candidates to compete. In Tennessee, for example, to run a candidate on the ballot, a minority party must collect more than 56,000 signatures compared to just 25 for Democrats and Republicans. We must protest this discrimination.
Also, ranked-choice voting, which has been gaining popularity, ought to be adopted in more states and for more elections. Opponents of RCV claim that this system is too confusing and could lead to an increase in thrown-out ballots. However, the data strongly suggest this is not the case. Ranked-choice voting allows citizens to cast votes for their preferred candidate without feeling their voice was wasted or served to help their least favorite candidate land in Washington. This would expand the number of choices in the American psyche, making learning about third-party candidates and independents more worthwhile.
Democrats and Republicans are failing this country. The GOP put up a plethora of candidates who were unable to appeal to swing voters. Americans need more options, and election structures need to be reformed. Otherwise, the failing duopoly will continue to compound past errors as Americans use their vote to pick a supposed lesser of two evils.