As I write, CNN is currently hosting two nationally televised debates to determine which of the 70 some odd people who've thrown their hat in the ring to win the Democratic Presidential Nomination for 2020. There's also been a smattering of coverage about two long shot primary challenges to President Trump, despite the fact neither have a realistic chance of winning.
What's missing in all this coverage, are the many third party candidates who are currently running for President. Despite the fact as many Americans choose not to affiliate with either major party as do affiliate with either the Republican or Democratic Party and that polling shows the majority of Americans support third party participation in elections, third party candidates receive next to no visibility in the channels where most Americans get their information on elections.
Until, that is, they're blamed for spoiling the election in favor of one of the major parties.
To kick off September's dive into the two party system in America, I interviewed Trevor Barlow, who made a late entry to the race for Governor of Vermont in 2018 on an entirely self-funded effort and still came in third. During the interview, we discuss Trevor's politics, the events that shaped them, and the challenges our current political and media structure presents to giving third party candidates such as Trevor a real voice in the election.
While media outlets are technically legally required to provide fair and equal access to all candidates in an election, they also have the challenge of trying to balance voter choice with the need to provide voters information on the candidates most likely to have an impact on their lives. In 2016, around 160 candidates filed the required campaign finance disclosure documents with the FEC, meaning providing everyone with coverage would be the equivalent of providing no one with coverage.
Still, one has to ask, with the last two presidential elections featuring primaries that involved over 15 candidates from both major parties, does someone getting single digit support in the polls from a group that constitutes one third of the total voting population qualify as a candidate with a real shot of winning? Is it their true viability as a candidate, or the fact they have a party structure to finance their candidacy that gives them built-in credibility?
Trevor provides an interesting alternative to this problem, by running a campaign focused on connecting with voters at the most local level possible. We'll be exploring this issue and potential solutions throughout the month, so subscribe to read on.