One of the fundamental elements in a democracy is suffrage, the universal right of adult citizens to cast ballots in municipal, state, and national elections and in doing so, exercise a degree of influence over the political process. However, "voter turnout is among the lowest in the Western world and America ranks in the bottom three of countries that hold free elections" (Ralph Nader for President Campaign, 1). There are many reasons why people choose not to vote, but the issue in this report is why it is important to vote even when a voter may feel that he or she is only choosing between the lesser of two evils and the related question of whether or not voters should support a third party candidate that has no chance or winning instead of supporting a major party candidate whose views are at least acceptable.
A brief analysis of the elements of political participation in the United States and the effects of political parties will be provided. The thesis to be addressed is that voting, even for a candidate with little or no chance of success or for the lesser of two evils is both a privilege and an obligation in a democratic republic.
America was formed as a democratic republic based on principles of representative government, an electoral system that encourages participation, and the rights of individuals to participate in a transparent political process (Shump, 1). The preamble to the U.S. Constitution "enumerates several guiding principles including the duty to 'secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity'" (Shump, 1). Shump (1) quotes Thomas Paine who asserted that "the right to vote for representation is the primary right by which other rights are protected."
Over time, the United States has evolved a political party system with two major parties and a small assortment of minor parties that represent narrow interests or ideologies but which still resonates with a substantial number of...