UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | June 18, 2024

OPINION | Robert Kennedy Jr. can be the solution to the two-party problem

As the 2024 presidential election inches closer, the final two candidates are starting to appear. Though many people have predisposed opinions about Donald Trump and Joe Biden, some believe that underdog John F. Kennedy Jr. might be the solution to the political divide we have seen sweep the country. Mason Britton | Sun News Daily

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Many are skeptical of any third-party candidate because of the age-old mantra that a vote for a third-party candidate is a wasted vote, but that does not have to be the case. 

Nowhere in the constitution, or any other foundational document to this country, does it state that our democracy must only be run through two political parties.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is not only fighting to break that stigma, but he is also fighting an uphill battle to attempt a bid at the White House in this upcoming election. 

Kennedy Jr. is the nephew of the 35th president, John F. Kennedy, and his father, Robert F. Kennedy, was the attorney general for JFK. Many do not know, but both were tragically assassinated.

Running as an independent candidate with no current party affiliation, Kennedy Jr. would have to go through a process that varies by state to get on the ballot of every state. 

Each state has different requirements to get Kennedy Jr. on the ballot. Some require a petition with a certain number of signatures from registered voters, some only require a certain number of signatures and others are far more difficult, like California, which requires a petition with at least 1% of the total number of registered voters in the state.

Kennedy Jr. was able to qualify for the presidential ballot in January; however, the first state he was able to get on the ballot for in November was Utah.

Many have little faith in Kennedy Jr., but if there was ever a time that he could win, it is now. The justification for him not being a viable candidate is because there are only two viable parties, and that is just the way things are.

Why are things that way? Would change not be exciting to see? Would you be wasting a vote on Kennedy if he ended up winning? 

The reason that votes are viewed as being “wasted” on a third-party candidate is because of the chokehold the Democratic and Republican parties have on our political system.

Kennedy Jr. is far more popular than both Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the two presumptive candidates for each respective party for the upcoming election. Favorability polling of candidates in the November election shows Kennedy being the only candidate with an over 50% favorability rating. That happens to be a double-digit lead compared to any other presidential candidate. 

Both Trump and Biden are very polarizing candidates. A lot of people love both, but an equal amount, if not more people, hate both candidates as well. Many “double haters,” do not want to vote for either. 

If there was ever a presidential election where an independent candidate had a chance at winning 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for the next four years, this is definitely the election. 

Winning the presidency is not an easy task, but it will be impossible without getting on the ballot. It almost goes without saying, but Kennedy Jr. cannot win the presidency without being on the ballot across the nation.

Right now, Kennedy Jr. says that he has enough signatures to be on the ballot in only 7 states. Common sense tells us that it is impossible to win the presidency by being on the ballot in less than 15% of states. 

Although Kennedy’s last name is one of fame, politically he made his career as an environmental lawyer and activist. He is currently a centrist politician and is only running for office because he thinks the nation needs someone who is not a career politician: an outsider.

No matter how you swing politically, having more viable candidates can never hurt. Having a candidate running that has similar views to you is important, and with more than two candidates, it is far more realistic to expect that that happen. 

Truly supporting third-party and independent candidates can be a catalyst for change like never before.

Kennedy Jr. may very well not win. He may not even get on the ballot in every state, but all he needs to do is win one state. If Kennedy Jr. is able to find any type of success, then that can cause serious political changes.

Kennedy Jr. winning one state will be the key to unlocking the gridlocked political system that we are currently in because it will prove to everyone that votes outside of the Democratic and Republican parties are not “wasted.”

It’s beyond time that elections are not only fought between two candidates that represent a minority of voices in the country.