The Disappearing Middle

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The 2016 election found many Americans confused as to which party they aligned themselves with. Over the past few years, we have witnessed both parties move farther away from the center. Fringe movements, particularly those on the right, have seen their political influence surge as of late. Many voters found themselves trapped, not inclined to vote for Clinton or Trump. This led to nearly 4.5 million voters choosing Gary Jonhnson, with nearly another 2.2 million going to Jill Stein and Evan McMullin in the 2016 election.

A recent poll by Gallup found that 46% of Americans do not affiliate themselves with either party, and a 2014 Pew survey found that over half of all millenials identified as independents. Talking to ordinary citizens, you will find that most share a distaste for politicians in both the Republican and Democratic parties, sick of “politics as usual.” A theory for how Donald Trump was elected to office rests on this animosity towards the political establishment in both parties. Primary voters on the right soundly rejected over a dozen strong candidates with close ties to the establishment. While Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders captured the hearts and votes of millions of young progressives, who sought a change to the status-quo. Though these voters on the left and right do not necessarily share in their political ideologies, both groups agree that change is needed.

Here is my thought: Yes, voters want change; however, most Americans really fall somewhere in the middle of Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul. I see the American public as a socially liberal one, unifying around the cause of liberty and justice for all. Fiscally, most Americans seem to be centrists, resisting both Sanders’ yearning for expanded government intervention and at the same time resisting a a completely unregulated free-for-all economy. Do you see a problem? No party like this really exists. Yes, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld tried to mold their platform on this idea of social liberalism and fiscal conservatism, but the Libertarian Party in general has a more extreme vision for how miniscule the role of government should be.

It is time for a new political party, one that understands America’s role as a leader in an interconnected, global world, and uses our position to strengthen the nation. A party that recognizes that most Americans are progressive on social issues, but still strong supporters of a capitalist system that sparks innovation. We need a party with new leaders – leaders who are not corrupted by special interest groups that damage our democracy. Change requires people. Young people need to unite around our shared ideals and create a new centrist party that represents the ideologies of the majority of Americans.

Finally, we need a change in our electoral institutions. Let’s get rid of that stupid 15% rule that excludes third-party candidates from taking part in presidential debates—we all benefit from hearing every candidate, not just the two major party ones. Through a united force, we can destroy the broken two-party system that has holds our democracy back and reassume government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

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About the author

Rick Sarkar is a boarding student from Winchester, MA and a member of the St. Mark’s class of 2019. He enjoys writing and is a layout editor for The St. Marker (the school newspaper) as well as a part of the St. Mark’s panel of The Tavern, an interscholastic thoughts-paper. Rick is also a founder and head of the Young Independent’s Club. He loves to run and is a part of the cross country and JV hockey teams at St. Mark’s. He plays trombone and is a member of the jazz band. Rick is passionate about learning and has an interest in government, public policy, and economics. He is optimistic about the future and looks forward to working tirelessly to make the most of his time at St. Mark’s.

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