Tonight, CBS 4 and Colorado Public Television kicks off our fifth election season of Colorado Decides, our election debate series. Our series this season begins with two third party candidate forums, featuring two alternate party candidates running in four different Congressional races. The episodes run on Channel 12 at 9:00pm and 9:30pm if you are interested in checking it out.
Now, you might be wondering why you should be interested in watching a forum with third party candidates. It’s not likely that any of these candidates will win, so why should you spend time learning about their stance on the issues?
Although I am biased, since I am the one who hosted the forum, I think watching third party candidates talk about their stance on the issues is a valuable use of your time.
First of all, third party candidates often hold stances that are closer to the average Colorado voter than most Republican and Democratic candidates. Few third party candidates are beholden to big funders or party leaders. Frankly, many third party candidates are the kind of politicians that many of us would find appealing.
Secondly, third party candidates can be an important reminder of how our democracy is supposed to work. When this country’s forefathers crafted our system of government, they envisioned citizens serving their country for a short time and then returning to their communities. The last thing they imagined would be career politicians.
Third party candidates are rarely millionaires, and usually trying to run for office while still working an honest day job. They are truly examples of citizen politicians.
Third, alternate party candidates are the answer to the question many voters ask themselves in frustration every election cycle when they wonder is there any other option than simply the two major candidates in a race.
So if third party candidates have all of these positive aspects, why do we not hear about them more and why aren’t they able to compete?
I don’t believe in conspiracies, but in this particular case, there are direct forces working against third party candidates. Many of the rules that apply to elections and candidates are based on a two party system because they are designed by the two parties who wish to stay in power.
Another key reason we don’t see third party victories very often is that most fundraising for candidates is based on desire for influence. Even if a Libertarian or a Green Party member wins a race, without a majority, they can’t guarantee much influence. Without that guarantee, fundraising is impossible.
With a system working against them, and fundraising impossible, it’s easier to see why we don’t see more third party candidates succeed.
But at some point, our country will see third parties succeed. Sadly, it will take our current parties to hit rock bottom first. As bad as it may seem sometimes, we’re nowhere near rock bottom. But at some point, we will be there.
When we hit rock bottom, it will be a dark day, but hopefully the light at the end of the tunnel will be a system that is much closer to how our government was founded, a system where alternate parties are able to see more success. It’s the government our forefathers envisioned, and hopefully we can get there again.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.