A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of participating in a special edition of the Huckabee Show on Fox News. The program was called “Millennials Speak Out” and it was set up as a sort of question-and-answer session involving an audience of people between the ages of 18 and 28. Audience members were allowed to ask questions of a representative from the Democratic Party, a Republican congressman and Mike Huckabee himself. The idea was that we would get to hear from both sides in order to make as informed a decision as possible.
However by the end of the program, when it was my turn to ask a question of Mr. Huckabee, I had come to see a major flaw in the way the whole thing was set up. By allowing us to speak with a Democrat and a Republican, the Huckabee Show was not giving us all of the perspectives, they were only giving us two perspectives. As a person who doesn’t claim any kind of party affiliation, I wanted to know why the views of independent and third party candidates were constantly excluded from shows like the one I was currently on. This is why I asked this question of Mr. Huckabee:
Now first I’m going to commend Mr. Huckabee for giving a reasonable answer, and for encouraging a lack of partisanship amongst young people. It’s not often that you hear this kind of thing from the mouth of a cable news anchor, and it’s certainly refreshing to have a former politician honestly tell you to think for yourself.
However I did take issue with the answer that Mr. Huckabee gave to my question itself. It was a response that those of us who have grown tired of the two major parties have gotten used to hearing from members of the establishment. To paraphrase, “the media will start covering third parties once people start caring about third parties.”
The problem with this answer is that it puts the cart before the horse. At a time when the vast majority of Americans get most of their news filtered through the mass media, it’s almost impossible for “enough” people to care about third parties if they get no coverage from the mass media. In order for independent and third party candidates to poll in the double digits, as Huckabee suggests they must in order to gain the media’s respect, people need to become familiar with their ideas. This is something that’s unlikely to happen on a large scale if so-called news networks refuse to acknowledge them.
There are a variety of reasons why our only “real” choices in national elections are Democrats and Republicans. However, in my opinion, the biggest reason is the fact that we are constantly being told that our only real choices are Democrats and Republicans. If the media started treating independents and third parties as the very real candidates that they are, the general populace would soon follow.
This fact does not only pertain to independents and third parties, but to candidates within the major parties who take positions that are outside of the mainstream as well. Take Ron Paul, Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer for instance. All three of the these candidates were sidelined during the Republican primary debates, or excluded from them altogether. Paul couldn’t even get an ounce of respect from the media when he was polling in the double digits, as viewers were constantly reminded that, despite his growing popularity, he didn’t have a chance. It was this marginalization of ideas that are outside the establishment that led Gary Johnson to leave his party for the Libertarians, and which leads informed young people like myself to question whether or not the whole electoral game is rigged to begin with.
Those of you who share my distrust of the major parties should take the media to task on this whenever you can. Don’t just keep yourself informed, but keep your friends informed as well. Who knows? Maybe they’ll find someone with ideas for change they really can believe in.
Check out this Wikipedia page for a comprehensive list of the many independent and third party candidates for President of the United States.
You can also watch the full program, Huckabee Special: Millennials Speak Out here.