STERLING – With a presidential election just months away, it is hard to turn the corner, turn on the television or listen to the radio without hearing a political advertisement.
Both candidates of the two major parties want you to cast a ballot in their favor. For years, that's been the only choice: Republican or Democrat.
But every 4 years, a third party crops into the picture. That is an independent candidate for election, or the Green Party.
I recently had the opportunity to interview A.J. Segneri, a Sterling native and the most recently elected member of the United States Green Party Steering Committee. He told me he believes most Americans want an independent or third-party candidate elected to office.
I also interviewed Fred Turk, a Democrat and local political activist. Turk touched on the difficulty in casting a ballot for a third-party candidate. It's like "throwing away your vote," he said.
Turk later shared with me a copy of an article published in The Progressive magazine by editor Matthew Rothschild. The article is titled "The Third-Party Dilemma."
The author interviews people who are frustrated with both parties and want to cast a ballot for someone else entirely. This November, there will be a Green Party candidate for election to the White House. Her name is Jill Stein, a Harvard-educated physician.
In his article, Rothschild points out a common argument against voting for a Green or third-party candidate. For Democrats, voting for a third-party is considered a vote away from the mainstream party. Voting Green could in turn hurt the Democratic Party.
Voting Green could be considered serving as a "spoiler" in the election, Rothschild writes.
That's where the problem arises. In order for the Green Party to gain traction, and validity, candidates for election need to muster considerably more votes. Right now, a vote for a third-party candidate for president means little. Symbolically it is significant, but not otherwise.
The only way the party can be in office and gain attention for its issues is by being elected. Getting elected is an uphill battle, to say the least. As the author of the article calls it, it's a "conundrum."
By talking to Segneri and hearing what he had to say, we gave readers a chance to learn more about the party and formulate an opinion. The rest is up to each reader.
We are given the right to vote, which I encourage all to do. Beyond that, I will do my part to keep the conversation going.
Sauk Valley Media reporter Kiran Sood covers government and happenings in Sterling and Rock Falls. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 800-798-4085, ext. 529.