Want to change the world? Inform yourself and vote.

Want to change the world? Inform yourself and vote.

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Photo Courtesy MCT Campus Wire Service

In less than one week, our country will choose a leader. The road to Nov. 6 has been long and difficult, dirtied by the mud-slinging campaign tactics of both the Democratic and Republican Party. It’s the same story we hear every four years—many Americans have become so disenchanted with both candidates they express their vote as being simply for the “lesser of two evils.”

It is fairly standard practice in journalism for a newspaper’s editorial staff to endorse one candidate over the other. In recent weeks, prominent papers across the U.S. have come out in support of Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. But what no paper has done is endorse a third-party candidate.

At The Arbiter, we decided against endorsing a candidate. We want to represent you, the students of Boise State, in all your diversity. We feel choosing to support one candidate over the others is simply not the best way to do that. But we do want to endorse this: The idea of fully informing yourself as a voter.

Many people are not even aware there are six candidates on the ballot for presidency.

Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, is running as a libertarian. If elected president, his plans include a 43 percent reduction in government spending resulting in a balanced budget, as well as an immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Jill Stein, a Green Party candidate, plans to use a 30 percent reduction in military spending to fund a drastic increase in green energy research and production, creating new jobs in the process.

Virgil Goode, a candidate for the Constitution Party, served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, during which his votes often crossed party lines.

And Rocky Anderson, a Justice Party candidate and former mayor of Salt Lake City, has been considered the “greenest mayor in the United States,” according to the Independent Media Institute.

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers,” Thomas Jefferson once said.

And was he far from the truth? As a journalist, it’s difficult for me to concede he is not. Newspapers have failed the American citizens they serve by becoming so rooted in our country’s bipartisan system they have paid little attention to candidates outside of the democratic and republican parties. The Arbiter is no exception—while we have attempted to bring you as much information as possible this year about both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, we too have largely ignored the other candidates who are vying for your votes.

What these third-party candidates bring to the election this year is an opportunity to vote based on the issues that matter to you, an individual voter. But many of you will choose not to do so, saying that a vote for a third-party candidate doesn’t count or doesn’t matter, because such a candidate stands no chance of winning the presidency. That may be true, but what if we stopped thinking that way? What if everyone in the country let go of that notion and voted for the candidate that best represented his or her views, regardless of party affiliation?

If enough Americans fully inform themselves of the policies of all eligible candidates, is it so strange to think that someone who is not a democrat or a republican might someday lead our country? If you fully inform yourself and vote for the best candidate for your views this year, it is unlikely to make a difference. But if we neglect to take the first step toward change, we guarantee change will never happen.