Hillary Clinton’s “historic” nomination demonstrates what’s wrong with the two-party system


Although they were all but over two weeks ago, the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries officially ended on Tuesday when the final states cast their votes. Hillary Clinton’s victory was cheered from sea to shining sea as a historic first. It was only a first if you limit the criteria and historical record to a very specific window. That’s the problem with our party system in the first place.

While she is the first female presidential nominee from the Democratic or Republican parties, those aren’t the only parties in our system. They’re not even the only parties who have won the presidency.

Jill Stein was the Green Party presidential nominee in 2012 and likely will be this year too. Last time, with two largely popular major party candidates, she received 469,501 votes nationwide but no electoral votes. Not even Stein was the first female nominee, though.

In 1872, feminist activist Victoria Woodhull was the nominee for president from the Equal Rights Party. Her vice presidential nominee was famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, though he never acknowledged the party’s choice of him. Woodhull received a negligible number of votes, if any. She was kept from voting even for herself after being arrested a few days before the election.

There has even been a woman to receive support in the general election Electoral College. In 1972, exactly 100 years after the first woman nominee, Tonie Nathan, the vice presidential nominee for the recently formed Libertarian Party, became the first woman to receive an electoral vote. A Virginia Republican elector dissatisfied with Nixon chose to swing his votes to the Libertarian ticket instead.

That’s the problem with these perpetual list of historic firsts. In order to keep adding to them, the criteria for inclusion have to be continually diluted.

Yes, Hillary Clinton is the first woman nominated for president from one of the two major parties at the time. No, she’s not the first woman nominated for president. No, she’s not the first woman to receive votes in a presidential election, not even electoral votes. But break out the ticker tape, I guess.


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