At Thursday’s televised town hall among Democratic presidential candidates presented by MSNBC and Univision, Democratic presidential candidate and independent U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders was asked a question that touched on the viability of third parties under America’s de facto two-party electoral system.
During the town hall, first-time voter Aidan Char asked Sen. Sanders, “So seeing that it is — as it is nearly impossible for a third party candidate to be elected and the fact you had to switch from an Independent to Democratic to be considered as a legitimate candidate, since reformation of our party system has never been addressed by a presidential candidate, how would you suggest to reform our system and allow for other parties and ideas to be represented?”
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“Well, I probably know more about that issue than any human being in the United States of America,” replied Sanders. “You know, when I became mayor of the city of Burlington, I had to take on Democrats and Republicans and so forth. Your point is well taken. I chose to run, proudly, in the Democratic primary and caucus process and I look forward to winning that process, but clearly, as a nation, I think we flourish when there are different ideas out there, when there are more differences of opinions.”
He continued, “If you go to Europe, for example, there are many, many political parties. Sometimes the two-party system makes it very, very difficult to get on the ballot if you are a third party, and I think that’s wrong. I think we should welcome competition, welcome different ideas. And I think the two parties should be open to making sure that people have a fair shake if they want to run on another party.”
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According to The Hill, Sen. Sanders, a political independent who caucuses with Democrats, has served for longer than any other independent in the history of the U.S. Congress.
For context, in July of 2015 the Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video highlighting the fact that independent voters, who incidentally are forced to fund major-party presidential primary elections that often fail to represent them, now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.
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