The Activities Council of Bradley University Critical Issues committee held a Crossfire forum about the presidential election Wednesday night, where students tackled topics like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s controversies, the role of media in this election and third party voting.
Senior mechanical engineering major Lamine Sadoun said he thinks voting for a third party is a waste of a vote.
“A. Your party isn’t going to win, B. It’s not much of a protest vote and C. Neither of the candidates from the libertarian party or green party have what it takes to be president,” Sadoun said. “Johnson and Stein don’t have the connections in Congress or the experience to get things done.”
Sophomore computer science major Alexander Perez disagreed with Sadoun’s criticism.
“We are always told that voting is important, but then people turn around and say voting for third party candidates is a waste,” Perez said. “I don’t think that’s right. It cannot be a waste to vote according to your conscience. And you never know, this could be the year a third party wins.”
Moderator and political science professor Megan Remmel explained why the U.S. has only two major parties and why this is difficult to change.
“Firstly, it’s hard to get a foothold in there when historically the United States has always had two parties,” Remmel said. “Secondly, most people think, ‘Well, I don’t want to waste my vote on a candidate who’s not going to win, so I’ll vote for the Republican or Democrat instead.’ So voters basically psych themselves out. Finally, it can be really hard for third party candidates to even get on the ballot in some states.”
Remmel said if voters want third party candidates, the effort has to start on the local level.
“You got to change your state election laws and make it easier for third party candidates to get on the ballot,” Remmel said. “Trying to be president is too big and too fast. You have to start with city councils, mayors and maybe state legislators.”
Although third party voting was a divisive topic, there was general agreement about the news media and its relation to bias. However, Remmel said the type of bias at play was different than what people assumed.
“A lot of people think there’s ideological bias in the media,” Remmel said. “That there’s a left-leaning media and right-leaning media, but most of the time most media is not ideologically biased, even Fox News and MSNBC. If you do content analysis and look at the words they use and how much they cover certain material, you’ll realize most of the coverage during the day is not ideologically biased.”
Remmel said the news media suffers from bias toward sensational news.
“The media has to make money, and so they show us what they think we’re going to tune into,” Remmel said. “If we wanted in-depth dives into the Syrian conflict, they’d show it to us. Most people want to see Trump say egregious things on ‘Access Hollywood’, so that’s what they show us. So when we criticize the media, we are partly to blame.”
According to Sadoun, college is the right time for people to be open to discussion and different perspectives.
“I think it’s really important to have a good discourse, especially at the collegiate level, and get your opinion heard,” Sadoun said. “College is the time to really engage with differing viewpoints. This was a good discussion, although I think a lot of us had a liberal tilt, and it would have been a more robust discourse if more conservatives had attended.”