North Texas Daily

How unopposed politicians undermine the democratic system

How unopposed politicians undermine the democratic system

How unopposed politicians undermine the democratic system
September 28
17:04 2016

As the general election for Denton County nears, the 14 Republicans running unopposed are symbols of a bigger problem within our democratic system. It extends further than the simple boundaries between Democrats and Republicans, or the two major parties and third-party voting.

The whole point of the democratic system is that people have a right to choose. No matter who you support, it’s obvious that allowing this lack of competition undermines the very basis of our government.

Although this might seem to be a centralized issue, it extends farther than Denton, and even out of Texas. Thirty-three percent of all state legislative-district elections had only one candidate per seat in the 2012 race, according to Ballot Access News. If one-third of them run unopposed, constituents are forced to settle.

The issue here is twofold: incumbents run unopposed due to name recognition and funding while many Americans are already uninterested in local politics.

Most people cannot name even one local politician. Even some of the most politically involved people have hard times thinking past the presidential election. If they can muster the courage to look a little closer to home, most Texans know Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott, but not much else.

This makes it incredibly easy for incumbents to continuously win their seat election after election. Voters think, “Oh! I’ve seen that guy’s name on a sign somewhere so I’ll vote for him.” Name recognition is a big factor in casual political engagement.

People feel like voting, even if it’s uninformed, aids the democratic process. They feel like they’ve furthered humanity by checking a box and getting an “I Voted” sticker.

This isn’t an issue of party politics. Texas has been, and will probably continue to be, a red state. For the democratic process to truly work, however, people need a choice between differing parties. Democrats still continue to run in Texas because they have that option.

If your competitor’s name isn’t what gives them the edge, it’s their money. Incumbents will have more funding. Although money isn’t the most important thing in politics, a candidate with more financial backing will do much better, simply because they can run a better campaign.

Perhaps the biggest factor of why candidates run unopposed is utter laziness. Constituents don’t care if there are three people running or one person running. Most of the time, people just pick a random name and hope for the best. This is discouraging for potential politicians.

If you know you haven’t got any morsel of a chance to win, you’re probably not going to waste your time and money on a campaign. This is the downfall of the democratic system. Although in theory the system works for the people, a small amount of people work the system to their advantage.

American politics have become extremely lazy, particularly in local environments. By allowing politicians to run unopposed, we are voluntarily giving away our democratic rights.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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