The first debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, seemed like it was a shouting match between twelve year olds arguing at the playground. It has come to the point in the American political system where the presidential election is no longer about who has the better policies, but rather a popularity contest. During the first presidential debate, both candidates acted extremely unprofessionally onstage, not allowing one another to speak and cutting one another off. Further, the interjections from both parties were not necessarily political but rather personal attacks on one another. The message that was seemingly displayed by the actions of these men were that they do not so much care about the policies nor benefiting the American people, but rather it seemed as though both candidates were merely trying to win a contest. However, this election is not just a contest, it is millions of peoples lives that is being decided with words such as “You graduated last in your [academic] class not first in your class.”, said by President Trump, and “Will you shut up, man”, said by Joe Biden.(Transcript) The debate was often not a debate on policy, but rather an argument between two men with policy debate sprinkled in between.
The electoral system today is breaking down. Instead of choosing the candidate that both parties believe will have the best policies and do the best job as the executive, the parties are largely backing candidates who they believe has the best chance at winning the election. Thus creating a popularity contest to be the way that the president is chosen. This can be seen not only in government, but the people seem to be following this sentiment as well. It is often seen that the most well known candidate is the one who makes it out of the primaries, and it can be further seen with celebrities now stating they will be running for president and large swathes of people will get behind these celebrities as seen with Kanye West and his famous plan to run for the executive position. Also, this two party system leads many to believe that there are only two candidates that are ever worth voting for, because our government pushes these candidates with huge budgets that no other political individual or party would be able to match. For example, we often do not even hear about the candidates from the libertarian party, nor do these candidates have an opportunity to be on a televised debate, even though a majority of Americans believe a third major political party is a necessity.
Without the American people even realizing, this system in place causes democratic erosion, year after year. It has even gotten to the point where a reality television star and businessman was elected into office and the opposing candidate is a near 80 year old man who often shows his age when speaking publicly. In recent gallup polls as many as 25% of Americans feel as though neither of the candidates would be a good fit for the presidency, yet these are the only candidates that are electable at the moment. This is due to the fact that the longer both parties are in place, the more entrenched they become in our society and through a number of different means such as huge marketing campaigns for candidates, these parties consolidate the power of the nation into just these two parties. Though it seems as though there is competition in government, there is very little as there will only be two viable options and no one besides the candidates from their respective parties will receive nearly enough votes to even be in the conversation of possibly being elected. This is seen across the world in somewhat similar instances in eroding democracies such as in Bolivia while Evo Morales was in power and the party in power repressed the other parties and set up an illusion of democracy. Morales had also had the term limit set in the Bolivian constitution changed by court ruling in order to stay in office longer than the set limit, a court of which he appointed many members. Similarly we can see the current president alluding to the notion he would unconstitutionally stay in power if he lost the election.
What is being done is that these two parties are essentially buying votes from the American people through marketing. All the while making people believe that they have chosen the candidate that would best represent them. It could be said that these parties are made up of our elected representatives, and therefore we are allowing them to make these decisions for us, and that we elect which nominee will be chosen as the candidate for each person’s respective party. However, thinking about how many thousands of possible candidates there are in an election year, the number given is never more than 5-6 legitimate nominees. There are almost certainly a vastly large number of possible candidates, yet these candidates are selected by the party opposing the incumbents and this is done so through caucuses that would not take place if the parties themselves did not fund them. Therefore, the only way to even choose a nominee is via party funded meetings in which only members of one of the two parties are chosen to be a nominee. Therefore, these parties seemingly control the entire parameters of who will be placed in the candidates seat and the majority of people will only choose between 5-6 people at most (including primaries) in a given election year. This is a scary thought as it seems as though these elections are far less free than most people realize but are rather set in a certain parameter and then within that parameter free elections are held. This does not allow people true freedom to vote who they would like in office as they will not have any exposure to outside candidates and even if they do, these outside candidates will not be on the ballot.