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Emma Cunningham / Gavel Media

Literally Anybody Else: A United Rally Cry or Shot in the Dark?

Another presidential election brings another face-off between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, but many voters are wishing they could cast their ballot for anybody else – literally. Welcome, Literally Anybody Else to the ballot, a third-party candidate running for presidency out of Texas. Else announced his candidacy last month, and he speaks for the American people in that he opposes the polarized system the United States has reached.

In an interview, Else said, "If there was Literally Anybody Else on the 2020 ballot, I would have picked it. With that sentiment in mind, I thought, 'Hey, I bet that I could make money with this concept.'"

Although Else, formerly Dustin Ebey, began his campaign to make a few bucks, his campaign is symbolic of American's distaste for the identical 2020 rematch. The majority of Americans aren't happy with either candidate, and the current political state leaves many feeling hopeless. It is important for people to vote and exercise civic engagement, but when the least bad candidate is Literally Anybody Else, it is hard to inspire citizens to go to the polls.

Citizens can list the reasons for their distaste for the current political state and election lineup. Factors range from unhappiness with policy following both of their respective presidencies to Trump's current court cases and skepticism surrounding Biden's health.

Boston College history major Thomas Grist '24 said, "People are fatigued by the American two-party system and lack of robust political choice. I can imagine people feel like they cannot vote for representatives that champion their ideas because it is impossible for third party groups to ascend."

With all the social and economic disagreement and partisanship overcoming the US today, Else's campaign makes sense. He labeled his campaign a 'call for integrity, unity, and progress.' Regardless, it is hard to find unity at a time when the leading representatives and politicians are so far removed from most of America's population. Young adults and college students are also left out of many political conversations, and the lack of change made by the politicians they are voting for hurts civic engagement.

Grist said, "Young people throughout history have always felt disenfranchised with the political system of their elders, especially this generation. People in power are even older and even farther removed from our own experience than before. If someone grew up in the 50s, their politician might have grown up in the 30s. Now, people growing up in the 2000s are being governed by people who grew up in the 50s."

Furthermore, the recent instability in politics has led to increased mental health problems and despair with the political system amongst Generation X. Many young people are either voting for the first time or have only voted in the 2020 election, and they aren't happy about how the perspective 2024 presidential election lineup looks. It is difficult to inspire a spark to vote and engage with civic duties when the system looks repetitive and useless.

Boston College political science and philosophy student Thomas Wilkins, '24, said, "I am upset about it. I think most Americans do not want it. It is one of the worst symptoms of a primary system that panders to the extreme rather than the moderate centrist taste of the American people."

Young voters clearly are displeased with and not incentivized to support the current political system. Throughout history, young people have always been tougher to push into the polls, and young voter turnout was at an almost 50-year high in 2020 at 50%. With only half of the younger generations voting, rallying support around a third-party candidate is difficult. The lack of civic engagement amongst America's youth is not new, but young votes are extremely important. Literally, Anybody Else's campaign speaks for disengaged and upset young Americans as much as it speaks to older Americans.

With a clear anger amongst Americans, Else's attempts may seem like an interesting political campaign to support. He holds central views that many Americans can accept, and he is only 35 years old – eliminating two of the key problems with the frontrunners. Regardless, it would take an immeasurable amount of public action for Else's campaign to successfully make a difference.

Third-party candidates have impacted American presidential elections in the past, but they have never won. While third-party campaigns subtract voters from the two main candidates, they have never amassed enough support to win. There are already more popular third-party candidates running for the 47th presidency, and for a candidate to reach success, they must have years of experience and political backing.

Else's social media and merchandise will not be the force that shatters America's two-party system. In the end, Else's campaign for unity above any public policy is an invitation for US voters to acknowledge there is a problem yet still draw away from the realities of America's political system.

Grist said, "Obviously, we can work to change the political system. Engaging with it is the only way to do that, so pretending you can vote for anybody else is a little naive, but I understand the sentiment strongly."

While the campaign to get Literally Anybody Else in office may seem like a relatable sentiment to rally behind, his work will not be fruitful in dismantling the two-party system. With Americans at their wits-end and younger generations disengaged Else's call for change does not go unnoticed. Many Americans are fed up with their lack of voice and alignment within parties, but the current nature of the two-party system does not hold a straight path to getting Literally Anybody Else into the Oval Office. Regardless, his rally cry for change will carry heartfelt supporters through to November.

Registered voter Sydney Gerrain, Boston College '24, said, "He has my vote! Judging by the actions of our other two candidates, I will vote for Literally Anybody Else."

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